National Bulk Equipment, Inc. (NBE). This bulk bag unloader system conditions and discharges various semi free-flowing, hygroscopic, contaminable powders at a rate of 3,628 kg/hr, while feeding the powders to the end-of-line container filling system. The operation’s increased production requirements dictate greater frequency of line changeovers to accommodate processing of other types of powdered materials and filling of multiple consumer packaged goods (CPG) container sizes. This process-specific, NBE bulk bag unloader and container filling system was designed based on the particular changeover and throughput specifications of the application. Changeover times were reduced as a result of design features, such as: the elimination of internal angles, corners, and dead spaces to reduce accumulation of contaminants; angled planes, rounded-radius framework, highly finished plate, and stand-offs to speed moisture run-off away from product contact areas; and sub-assembly access, removal, and replacement as single-operator, tool-less actions to reduce time and labour per event. Despite the process demands requiring more frequent changeovers, total line uptime and throughput performance increased due to significant reductions in the time-per-changeover event. Process throughput was further increased due to the effective in-line conditioning of the multiple material types. Container fill rates reached beyond the target of 15 containers per minute; rates unattainable by the previous system.
Process safety, and product safety gains were also realised from the NBE bulk bag unloader and container filling system. The enclosed bulk bag discharging, material conditioning, feeding, and filling systems protect operators by preventing migrant material dusts from entering the process area. The enclosed design also protects process material from contamination.
This fully automated, bulk material handling and packaging system is built on the NBE integrated construction and controls infrastructure. The complete process sequence, including: bulk bag loading and conditioning, material size reduction, feeding, and package filling, operates on paired, process-specific structural framework chassis with all automation and control functions centralised to a single, menu-driven HMI to enable standardised and system-wide data reporting. The NBE integrated construction and controls infrastructure provides the basis for reduced total cost of ownership, relative to the common systems integration concept of bolt-together, divergent ‘islands’ of equipment and controls, while also improving process performance and the accuracy of production data shared throughout the enterprise.
This NBE bulk bag unloader and container filling system was built based on HACCP assessments that guided the determination of the framework and component materials of construction. This pro-active effort ensured the highest compatibility with the specifications and conditions of the process, material, and production environment.