October 18, 2021
Agropienso is a cooperative founded in 1979, whose more than 40 years of history with a constant evolution in infrastructures and investment in R&D, has made it one of the main producers of compound feed, both in Aragon and at a national level.
Among its greatest achievements are ensuring the profitability of farms, food safety, respect for the environment and animal welfare and health, with a positive and direct impact on the agricultural economy of the surrounding area.
The company aims to meet the needs of both large and small farmers, and this largely involves diversifying its activities. For this reason, Agropienso also has a petrol station, cereal drying and storage facilities, an insemination centre, etc., which provide a service to many livestock farmers in the area.
José Enrique Calderón, Head of Agropienso's factories, explains: "We offer the same product as many other feed producers, but we go further thanks to our cooperative mentality. For the farmer, coming here is like going to the supermarket, we have: a medicine shop, hardware store, phytosanitary products, products for the fields, our petrol station... we have a lot more things around us and people take advantage of this. This differentiates us from other feed producers and that is why the farmers in the surrounding area trust Agropienso".
Although it is true that the automation of livestock farming, with increasingly larger installations, has increased the demand for bulk at the expense of bagged products, small farmers continue to use the bag format, which is more suitable for small-scale consumption. Agropienso wants to continue looking after all these farmers around them who have always trusted the company, offering its products in this format as well.
On the other hand, Agropienso also dedicates part of its activity to packaging services, offering them to other feed producers who do not own bagging machinery. Therefore, the company needed modern machinery that would allow them not only to bag their own products, but also to be prepared to provide a packaging service to any producer who might require it.
Agropienso already owned two bagging lines (the first one equipped with a TMI palletiser and the second one completely manufactured by TMI).
The need to modernise the first line had long been considered, given the disadvantages a bagging line presents after 30 years of use: weighing was carried out using weights, the components were already obsolete and it was difficult to find spare parts, almost more time was spent on small repairs than on the actual use of the machine, etc....
In addition, the existing line consisted of a bagging and palletising machine, with a semi-automatic turntable stretch wrapper. This had initially been installed to be used occasionally for the storage of pallets outside. However, in practice, it came to be used on a regular basis, because the handling of unwrapped pallets often resulted in broken bags. Therefore, it became clear that it was necessary to integrate an automatic stretch wrapper into the new line.
So Agropienso contacted directly TMI for advice on the possibilities of modernising this line.
Not only did Agropienso own a complete TMI bagging line, but it had also worked very closely with its engineering and technical team in changing an existing bagging machine's dosage from gross to net weight. This long-term relationship had generated "a good experience track record with TMI".
Another decisive factor in the choice of supplier was proximity. As we have already mentioned, one of Agropienso's missions is to bring life to the region around it, opting mainly for local companies as suppliers. Not to mention that proximity speeds up all maintenance, interventions, and communication in general.
After a thorough analysis of the project and Agropienso's needs, TMI proposed a complete line consisting of:
In the case of Agropienso, ILERSAC A has been equipped with a net weight dosing unit by conveyor belt model ILERPES NT, hence the full name of the bagging machine: ILERSAC ANT. This bagging machine reaches 700 bags/hour when combined with this weighing and dosing module. It therefore optimises production at the bagging point, while always maintaining a constant production rate.
ILERPAL R has a layer forming system using a gripper that allows the overlapping of open-mouth bags. It is also highly versatile, simplifying format changes in a range from 5 to 50kg.
In the case of Agropienso, it helps to ensure that the loads are kept intact during handling in the plant, providing great savings in safety and labour costs (compared to the semi-automatic system previously available).
This line has recently been installed at the Agropienso plant in Esplús, Huesca, Spain.
José Enrique explains that, although not everything in the garden is rosy and there have been moments of "pressure trying to start using the machines as soon as possible", cooperation and perseverance have been the key to the success of this project, given that "good results have been obtained when working in partnership with TMI".
"After many years without undertaking a new installation, when you actually do it, you find out a lot of surprising things; a lot of improvements that ultimately you realise you would like to apply to the old [machines]. TMI has learnt a lot and has incorporated them into its new machines. TMI has acquired knowledge from the installations it has made, and you can see an evolution". - explains José Enrique, who sees an improvement in this line, not only in the bagging process but also in the entire plant environment and in the day-to-day life of the workers: "The cost of the machine is not only what you can recover, but also all the safety and labour costs that a manual system entails and which are saved thanks to a line with these kind".
The agri-food sector is very changeable and the future is always full of surprises. In the case of Agropienso, having an end of line with these capacities means being prepared for whatever may come - both in terms of their own production and the outsourcing services they offer.
"You never know when someone is going to come along asking you to make 40,000 bags every day. Now we are prepared. Before, we weren't. We have been offering packaging services for many years using the old line and now we have increased this capacity".
Thus, this new installation provides Agropienso with a greater entity in the sector and establishes it as a reference company for those producers in the area who need packaging services.
Trust and partnership have been the key to the success of this project. Among others, because offering professional service and attention, collaborating with customers in the development of their business and the desire to exceed their expectations are key links in TMI's chain of values.
Do you want to know how you can improve the productivity of your production line with TMI? Contact us through this form and get customised advice.
August 25, 2021
A whole world of possibilities opens up when we talk about polyamides, composites and masterbatches. Talking about "polymers" as a general term is like talking about "the stars in the universe" (also as a general term): This is a highly technical type of product, and few are the lucky ones in this world who are up to date with all the existing materials in the field. Only the manufacturers have an in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of each of their products.
So, no: in this article we will not go into detail on whether this or that solution is better or worse for each type of polyamide. What we will do is focusing on the most common concerns when packaging polymers and masterbatches and on those technical packaging solutions that can dissipate them.
If there is one thing that differentiates the production of technical compounds from that of polyolefins (PE, PP, HDPE,...), it is the volume: specialisation in the production of increasingly technical materials micronises production, resulting in a large number of small batches.
These are batches of generally +/-200kg, that once packaged turns into 8 standard 25kg bags. This amount allows no room for error: accuracy is of paramount importance, and you need to fit your bagging equipment with a dosing system capable of guaranteeing it from the first to the last bag you produce. This would be, for example, an ILERPES BG gravity gross weight dosing system, which has been designed to optimise the height for maximum accuracy.
Wondering what height and accuracy have in common? You see...
There are several variables that influence weighing accuracy: the product behaviour, because it is not the same for a product that flows in a regular way (such as granules) or one that tends to vault (some powders); the product density, because the higher the density, the greater the challenge of accuracy; and the height of the product column, i.e. the distance between the dosing unit and the inside of the bag, in the case of gross weight, or between the dosing unit and the weighing bucket, in the case of net weight.
The latter is decisive for the weight controller to be able to perform its predictive function and stop the flow rate at the right time, taking into account the falling product in the product passage column. The lower the height, the more precise the flow cut-off and thus the weighing.
Still on the topic of manufacturing technical materials in small batches: If your company produces masterbatch or other technical materials with very specific and/or powerful characteristics, you know what it's all about: cross-contamination is to an extruder like food after midnight for Gremlins, it can have devastating effects!
This is why it is extremely necessary to implement a cleaning protocol after each batch change. Of course, this has a direct impact on the optimisation of the production line, because applying the cleaning protocol costs time and labour (hygiene, change of consumables, ...).
How can you optimise this process to reduce downtime and related costs? Well, by choosing the right equipment:
Humidity can intrude and invade polymers in many ways: by binding to their constituent molecules, by resting between constituents, or by remaining on their surface. In the case of hygroscopic plastics, moisture absorption into the granules is particularly insidious. When polymers are subjected to processing temperatures, humidity negatively affects the aesthetic and functional quality of the final product in many ways (scratches, bubbles, structural stresses, cracks, ...).
To prevent this possibility, polyamides must be properly protected during transport and storage.
First of all, make sure that you choose a technical bag that meets the requirements of the product. There are a variety of bag manufacturers offering bags made of complex laminates of PE, PET, metallised PET, sandblasted PET, OPA, APP, aluminium, .... Make sure that the bag you choose can be thermo-sealed correctly and that your supplier fully understands your needs. The type of bag, pre-made or reel type, together with the target output, will determine the bagging technology to be applied: manual, automatic or FFS (Form-Fill-Seal).
Whatever the bagging machine, what really matters in terms of product protection is that the bag sealing system is capable of completely extracting the air, and even inerting the atmosphere, thermosealing the bag perfectly (without the possibility of breakages or leaks). This can be achieved using a vacuum cannula thermosealing system such as the one you can see in this video.
In addition, a thermosealing machine with vacuum cannula such as the ILERSEAL C, can contribute to cost reduction, because it can eliminate bag deaeration systems and valves that add technical costs to the consumable.
One of the top concerns of the petrochemical industry is, and will increasingly be, safety. This covers operator safety, product safety, asset safety, property safety... the safety of EVERYTHING in and around a production plant.
The key to keeping every task and every gesture under control in these circumstances is the standardisation of procedures.
What if there were procedures that do not require standardisation?
Automation of the packaging process can make a big contribution in this sense: An automatic bagging machine for pre-made bags with integrated heat sealing, such as the ILERSAC H, or an FFS (Form-Fill-Seal) bagging machine, such as the ILERBAG H, is a step forward. In an area of about 15m2, an automatic bagging machine takes the bag, fills it, thermoseals it and lays it down on the exit conveyor.
This way, no human intervention is required in these processes and the operators can be assigned to other tasks where they are less exposed.
By now you probably know that recyclability, sustainability and the famous 3Rs no longer sound like a tall tale. Preserving the environment has become the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Thus, not only is legislation to regulate the consumption and management of plastics gaining importance (especially in the European Union), but also initiatives are emerging in industry to prevent the dispersion of plastics, such as the OCS-Zero pellets loss.
The main objective of this initiative is to control the risk of product leakage at all stages of the value chain, including the filling and handling of bags. And it is here that the need for the bagging machine to be fully leak-proof, designed to prevent product losses at all times, becomes particularly relevant. And in the event that leakages do occur, they should be detectable and recoverable.
The big problem for generations to come will be the tons and tons of plastic released into the environment, along with the lack of resources to produce more. This is an issue of growing concern to consumers, who are increasingly aware of the problem and are becoming more picky about the product they buy and its entire value chain. This has an upstream impact on the industrial producer, who needs to reduce plastic consumption, starting with optimising packaging.
One way to achieve this can be through FFS technology, which allows you to optimise bag sizes based on product density and weight for each format, so that you can ensure that only the minimum material required to protect the product is used for each bag. By working according to recipes and format adjustments, machines such as the ILERBAG H or ILERBAG HS enable you to reduce the tonnes of plastic used annually to package your product.
This reduction not only translates into sustainability, but also into profitability for the company: the less material used, the lower the cost of consumables per unit.
Do you know if your end-of-line really allows you to achieve the expected ROI?
Low equipment availability may be slowing down the return on investment. It is important to provide your end-of-line with a control system that allows you to collect data, especially OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) indicators, in order to carry out an objective analysis and identify those points that need improvement, both in terms of equipment and procedures. In this way, you will be able to make better decisions for the profitability of the company based on real data.
You can read more about OEE and real-time control in this article.
Do you want to know how TMI can help you optimise the packaging process of your products and achieve your improvement goals? Contact us and we will study your case.
July 23, 2021
Developing and manufacturing premixes, correctors, and ingredients for the agri-food industry is not a simple task: in order to cover the vitamin-mineral deficiencies of different types of animals and to meet the demands of this market, a wide range of products with different characteristics and behaviours are produced.
Managing such a variety of products in a single plant is complex: not only does it affect the manufacturing or the mixing process, but also the packaging and the packaging process.
In this article we want to show you the main points you should take into account when defining your packaging line for animal feed ingredients:
There are many aspects to consider when defining the technical solution that meets the needs of each manufacturer. Here are the ones you should take into account:
Vitamins, macro-correctors, micro-correctors, preservatives, pro-nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, flavourings, ... The range of products that a manufacturer of agri-food ingredients can work with is very wide. Production is often micronised, resulting in many small batches. This has a direct impact on the optimization of the production line, as every changeover costs time and labour (hygiene, replacing consumables, ...) thus penalizing the total production.
If your company produces a lot of batches, you probably already know what we are talking about: the famous and dreadful downtime. So what you need is a bagging system that allows you to make quick and agile changeovers and avoid cross-contamination. You can achieve this with a purpose-built bagging machine with a hygienic design finish. As well as the application of the tool-less concept: i.e. the machine can be cleaned without the need to use tools to access all parts of the bagging area.
Bagging pelleted animal feed is not the same as bagging a powdered vitamin corrector: the dosing system is not the same, nor is the complexity involved.
In an animal feed pellet production facility, the conventional approach is belt dosing and packaging in paper sacks with stitching or perhaps a more complete closure in certain cases. There are no major technical complications.
By contrast, in the case of powdery products, such as vitamins, premixes, additives, agri-food colourings, medical ingredients, etc., where the granulometry of the product is usually measured in µm, things change: It is necessary to ensure a certain degree of tightness in the packaging process, as well as in the packaging itself; it is also necessary to provide for the aspiration of dust that may be released during the filling and bag handling process, or even to prevent the release of dust; The surfaces of the equipment must be prepared to be easily sanitised to avoid accumulations of dust that could result in sources of contamination; as aluminium bags are typically used, it is likely to be necessary to include some system for extracting air from the bag, and even for defluidising the product to ensure the stability of the bags and pallets.
The above aspects directly affect the configuration of the bagging line and the technology required to ensure an optimal bagging process in each case.
All food production facilities must maintain certain hygiene conditions to guarantee the quality of the product, whether for human or animal consumption (while in the case of products intended for human consumption the requirements are generally higher).
To this end, it is important to keep the environment clean and free of dust, avoid any remains in the ducts through which the product flows, and establish a cleaning protocol that ensures the elimination of any product remains at each batch change.
This brings us back to downtime: the longer spent on hygiene, the shorter the uptime of the bagging line, and the lower the profitability. This is why you need your bagging machinery to be as accessible as possible and designed in such a way that operators can clean it quickly. In other words, it has to meet the precepts of hygienic design.
When defining technical solutions for end-of-line, logistical requirements must always be taken into account. To this end, certain questions have to be considered:
Does your product need an airtight bag to maintain its properties for longer?
Are you going to transport your goods in containers?
Are you exporting your product to countries with strict packaging regulations?
Do you need to ensure that your product arrives fully intact at its destination?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you may want to consider investing in good packaging and protecting the pallet with more than just plastic to ensure that unexpected costs do not arise in the long run.
Make sure you choose a bag that can maintain the properties of the product, and that it is suitable for the bagging technology that permits the correct extraction of air from the bag. If the vacuum is carried out correctly, palletised loads will also be more stable. And if you also protect the pallet laterally with film and cardboard, you will ensure that no breakages occur along the entire handling chain of your goods avoiding returns.
Whatever your product is and whatever bag you pack it in, there is one question you can't ignore before setting up your bagging line: How much space do you have for the end of the line?
Whether it is a new plant or an existing plant being renovated, it is important to consider the space that can be dedicated to packaging (including bagging, palletising, stretch wrapping, and handling and stocking of full pallets). And not only in terms of square meters but also in terms of height: A low building height can mean limitations for a defluidisation probe or a Cartesian palletiser.
Furthermore, unlike many might think, a fully automatic packaging installation can sometimes be more compact than a semi-automatic installation: bear in mind that the systems for closing bags, labelling, lying bags, etc. after bagging, also require space. Whereas an automatic bagging machine can contain all these processes in just 15m2 (depending on the machine model).
All the above factors must be analysed one by one, to finally define the appropriate technical solution in each case. TMI can help you with this so that the implementation of your automatic or semi-automatic bagging line is a complete success. Just to give you an example, we tell you how we designed the line that you can see at the following link video:
This producer manufactures additives and blends for animal feed. The particle size of its products ranges between 190 and 212 µm, with densities between 0-5 and 1,3 gr/cm3. In other words, powdery products that are a potential source of contamination in the plant, if not properly treated.
Initially, these mixtures and additives were manually bagged in aluminium and PE bags, from which the air was partially extracted manually, and a Goglio degassing valve allowed the evacuation of the remaining air. But this system, despite being practical in terms of hygiene, given the easy accessibility of the manual bagging machine, entailed certain disadvantages: labour, special bags, the reduced shelf life of the product, ... Not to mention the difficulty of making higher pallets.
The need to automate this process was obvious. So this was the reason why this client consulted TMI.
TMI carried out a laboratory study of the different products, concerning densities and behaviour. As a result, it was possible to define the appropriate dosing system for a wide range of products as well as the bag size for each of the ranges that could be distinguished.
From here, a bagging and palletising line was designed to cover all the customer's packaging needs, consisting of the following machines: ILERSAC HCBSD automatic bagging machine for heat-sealable open-mouth bags, ILERPAL H hybrid layer palletiser, ILERGIR automatic stretch wrapper, and ILERBOX corrugated cardboard side protection module.
This installation has a small footprint, given that the processes of bagging, air extraction, heat sealing of the bag, weight control, rejection of non-conforming bags, palletising, wrapping, top cover with film, and side protection of the pallet with corrugated cardboard are carried out in a surface area of approximately 75m2.
Moreover, the conventional ILERSAC H has been redesigned to include a hygienic design, becoming the new ILERSAC HC, with the aim of making it a more accessible, easy-to-clean, and dust-free machine. Among others, the new improvements consist of:
The customer can therefore carry out batch changes much more quickly, optimising time and resources.
Further optimisation has been achieved by the customer at a logistical level: With the new ILERPAL H automatic bag palletiser, it can produce pallets up to 2.7 m high. This is clearly a logistical advantage, as it allows full use of the capacity of the HQ containers that are used for sea export. In addition, thanks to the ILERBOX module, side protection with cardboard has been automated, ensuring that the bags arrive unbroken at their destination.
As you can see, TMI offers very specific solutions to meet the requirements for end-of-line bagging.
What are yours? Tell us about them via the contact form and we will prepare a custom-made proposal for you.
June 29, 2021
17:30 on any given Friday - An alarm rings. The bagging line has been stopped. While a technician checks the fault and replaces a part that had been on its last legs for days, production has to be stopped as well. It's almost the weekend and by Monday orders must be shipped in, no matter what! But the production rate has dropped, and you have to make up for this time lost in repairs with overtime.
You wouldn't want to be in this situation at all, would you?
The opportunity cost of a spontaneous shutdown is beyond quantification. For this reason, it is necessary to rethink maintenance as a strategic need for the company and implement a preventive maintenance plan. Its main purpose is to prevent emergency situations that could jeopardise production and to achieve maximum operational efficiency.
Do you want to know more? We tell you about it:
Preventive maintenance consists mainly of planning and carrying out those actions that are necessary to prevent breakdowns and reduce the probability of asset failure, so that the installation continues to provide the performance for which it was designed. It is recommended whenever the equipment is necessary for the normal operation of the production activity.
Interventions consist of analysing the existing problems of the machine, whereby sensors and internal mechanisms are readjusted, consumable elements such as filters or suction cups are replaced, cleaning tasks are carried out, guides, chains and bearings are greased, belts are centred and tensioned, etc...
Several methodologies can be distinguished:
Preventive maintenance increases the useful life of equipment, reducing maintenance costs in the long and short term. When machinery is kept in good working order, clean and well-adjusted, its mechanical parts and components do not suffer as much wear and tear and maintain the performance for which they were made for longer. Thus, preventive maintenance is a very effective way of ensuring the proper operation of the critical points of the production line and extending its useful life.
A well-structured and carried out preventive maintenance plan can be very advantageous for your company, because it...
Back to the introduction: No manufacturer wants to be in an emergency situation where the factory is down at the least expected moment. That is why it is particularly interesting to adopt a methodology that reduces the percentage of spontaneous breakdowns and downtime and increases the actual availability of the machinery, while at the same time enhancing the safety of the plant.
We want to help you achieve all the benefits of preventive maintenance, so here are some tips to help you make your plan effective:
In order to carry out preventive maintenance in a meaningful way, the first thing you need is a PLAN. To draw it up, you must take into account the available resources (human and budgetary) and all the critical parts of the line. To this end, you can create a criticality matrix, helping you determine which assets to focus on. If you have a TMI bagging line, you can use the preventive maintenance chart included in the documentation, which details the frequency at which all the parts that make up the machines must be checked, greased, adjusted and cleaned (weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly).
Keep in mind that, if the preventive maintenance plan is correct, you will spend only 10% of your maintenance time on reactive actions. Therefore, generating a realistic plan and sticking to it will save you time in the future.
A checklist can help you to ensure that all parts, assemblies and sub-assemblies of your bagging and palletising machines are properly maintained and keep an overview. You can use it as a maintenance guide and at the same time as a record of what has been observed so that you can take immediate action or take it into account for the next check-up.
TMI technicians who carry out preventive maintenance are provided with an inspection checklist for each machine. Depending on what they notice during maintenance, they will highlight those parts or components that need to be replaced, and give it to the customer so that these parts can be stocked and subsequent maintenance can be carried out.
To make preventive maintenance interventions and reactive repairs as efficient as possible, you should make sure that you have in stock those parts that are most likely to need to be replaced. In addition, keeping the necessary spare parts available in advance of maintenance interventions is a good idea, especially if an external technician is coming in. This will help you save costs on additional interventions.
Stocking critical parts and pre-assembled modules can make a shutdown that could last for days, waiting for a part from the manufacturer, last only hours or even minutes.
TMI's Spare Parts Service can help you keep your spare parts inventory up to date so you never have to wait for parts to arrive for maintenance or repairs..
Use the information provided by the OEE module to make decisions. OEE represents the amount of time a line is actually productive. Keep in mind that generally 85% is considered a very good percentage of availability, performance and quality, and that below 60% corrective action should be taken. The goal, however, is always to reach 100%.
UsingTMI's OEE module s a way to maximise the availability of your bagging line, as it provides you with data on bags produced and alarms in real time. This helps you to anticipate operation and maintenance actions.
Many of the faults that reduce the availability of a machine are problems in the configuration of the working recipes. If your bagger is not handling bags correctly, or the palletiser delivers unstable loads, it may be due to program maladjustments that often occur at shift changeovers. These malfunctions can end up resulting in breakdowns later on and that is why it is important to include program updates in your maintenance plan.
TMI's Telecare service can help you keep your bagging, palletising and stretch wrapping line programs up to date: The PV Service team connects remotely to the bagging line and can upload upgrades and fix faults with no need to physically come to your site.
By focusing on machine-specific failure modules, you can detect machine malfunctions early and carry out repairs before they affect the performance.
If your bagging and palletizing line is a TMI one, you can request lists of recommended spare parts and critical spare parts from the Spare Parts Service. You can use the information they will provide you with to identify the critical parts and spare parts you need to keep them in good working order.
If you already have your preventive maintenance plan in place, you know which days and weeks you are going to dedicate to each area/machine in your plant. This way, you can also foresee the human and tool resources that will be necessary to carry out the maintenance work. Don't wait until the last minute to decide which operator will be assigned to a task: if you plan ahead, your resources will be better distributed.
Nobody knows a TMI machine better than its technicians. Take advantage of the interventions of the technicians to get to know your machines better. You will then be able to use this knowledge not only in maintenance, but also in the daily use of the machinery. The visit of a TMI technician is the perfect moment to solve your specific doubts: how should x be checked, how can x be adjusted, ...?
TMI's Preventive Maintenance service not only offers you the support of an official technician once or twice a year (or as many times as stipulated in your contract) to check all the critical parts of the machine. Each intervention will also provide you with much more than electrical and mechanical checks, software updates, cleaning, adjustments, ... Because the TMI technician always advises you on how to improve the use of the machinery and takes advantage of this maintenance to extend the training of your technicians on the machines, advising your staff and correcting any misuse that is detected. It will also remind the operation of bagging machines, palletisers and wrapping machines to all workers who require it, resolving any doubts on the spot.
If you would like more information on how to contract TMI's preventive maintenance, you can request it using the After-sales contact form: we will be delighted to help you!
May 27, 2021
Food producers have an important and unavoidable mission: to guarantee the safety and traceability of their products at all stages of the chain, from the production of each ingredient until the final product is consumed.
To this end, there are various food safety regulations that define, among other things, the requirements to be met by equipment and facilities that may be in contact with foodstuffs. These regulations not only constitute the legal framework that producers must comply with, but also define what is known as hygienic design.
In this article you can find out about the basic principles of hygienic design and its importance in the food industry:
Hygienic design is of major concern in plant and equipment construction, being the systematic focus of the food industry, where ensuring the safety and health of consumers is of paramount importance.
The aim is therefore to eliminate sources of physical, chemical or microbiological contamination of foodstuffs. This is a risk that must be avoided at all costs, and this is achieved by minimising any possible source of contamination, making it visible at all times, and making it easy to clean.
In order to ensure the necessary hygienic production conditions, regulations have been established, differing from country to country, which define the criteria to be followed and the measures to be taken in the design of safe equipment and facilities.
In the European Union, the legal framework that defines it is the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, together with Regulation (EC)1935/2004 on materials and articles used in contact with foodstuffs, European hygiene legislation and the legislation of the individual member states. In addition, the non-statutory standards ISO 14159 and EN 1672-2 have to be taken into account. These standards define requirements for materials, surfaces, joints, liquid drainage, contamination and cleanability.
Additionally, there is the fundamental role of the EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group), which is the body that assists European legislators, defines and spreads hygienic design standards and provides certification of equipment.
Beyond the EU, there are also other reference regulations: in the USA there are the sanitary standards 3-A, the NSF (National Sanitary Foundation), the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points); in the UK, there is the BRC (British Retail Consortium).
The norms and guidelines established by all these bodies and systems give rise to what is known as hygienic design, which aims to fulfil the requirements set by them.
Some directives provide for certification of the hygienic design and issuing of certificates if the hygienic design guidelines are met and the prescribed hygiene tests are successfully passed.
Basic premises of hygienic design are: to avoid dirt accumulations on all surfaces, making them visible and inspectable, to ensure that cleaning can be carried out easily and to keep the production environment in good condition so as not to constitute a potential contamination source (including the floor of the facility).
Hygienic design concerns the definition of materials, processes, surface treatment, joining techniques and the morphology of the parts themselves in order to ensure the proper construction of the machines to be installed in food production lines and all their components.
Therefore, the following criteria are defined as the basis for hygienic design:
Given all these criteria, it is important to distinguish between surfaces that come into contact with the product and those that do not, for a right assessment on the risk and the hygienic design to adopt in each area.
Producers who build their facilities including the hygienic design concept into the plant and into their equipment, achieve:
TMI has designed and manufactured many bagging, palletising and stretch wrapping lines for the food industry worldwide, which have included hygienic design in their conception. With the aim of supporting food producers, we have developed solutions that contribute to the following improvements:
In the bagging process there is one key point where surfaces are of vital importance for food safety: dosing. Here the surfaces are in full contact with the product, and it’s vital that the cleaning can be carried out easily, quickly and thoroughly.
For this purpose, TMI has designed a series of applications that improve maintenance throughout the product dosing units:
Beyond dosing, there are many other factors and points in the bagging line where hygienic design is key to ensuring safe food products for consumption:
Beyond directive definitions and the concept of hygienic design, in many cases it is also considered necessary to integrate metal detection systems along the line, as well as checkweighers, to always ensure the safety of the packaged product. These detection systems can be connected to alarms that instantly notify operators, as well as to data collection systems, so that the manufacturer can have actual data on the conformity of the units produced.
Such solutions have been incorporated, among others, in the design of the ILERBAG HC, a tubular FFS bagging machine designed for industries requiring a high level of hygiene; also in the construction of an auger net weight dosing system for glucose for pharmaceutical use; another example is TMI's latest development: the ILERBAG V for the food industry, a VFFS bagging machine that has been designed based on the requirements of sugar and chocolate producers.
At TMI we are aware that each project has its own specific requirements. Therefore, we assess the hygiene requirements of each individual project and propose solutions that meet them. If you want further information about the solutions that TMI can offer for your project, please contact us by filling in the quotation form: we will help you!
April 30, 2021
TMI has developed and manufactured a customised solution for a major international sugar producer that needed to bag two different products with very different performances. The in-depth knowledge of our product engineers, together with the customer's expertise, has allowed us to develop this solution for bagging two types of sugar using a single bagging machine.
The customer produces mainly two types of sugar: Soft Brown Sugar (SBS), which is highly mellow, adherent and difficult to handle, and Coarse Medium Sugar (CMS), which has a completely different behaviour and can be easily dosed by gravity.
Up to now, the customer was using a semi-automatic belt-weighing bagging machine, which was not specially designed for SBS. This generated a significant loss which at the end of the day would result in hundreds of kilos being stored in a reject bin. Therefore, one of the main goals was to reduce it.
The customer had assigned a limited space for this process automation project, which was too small to accommodate two bagging machines. Therefore, it required a single bagging machine that could handle both products.
A further important factor for the packaging of the two different products was the preservation conditions, which depended on the properties of each product: SBS requires an airtight vacuumized bag in order to preserve its properties for a longer period of time. CMS, on the other hand, requires breathable packaging to prevent the forming of clumps.
Because sugar is a food product, it requires a high level of hygiene. In this case, frequent water cleaning together with thorough drying of all parts in contact with the product were key to the design of the solution, which had to include food-grade finishes, such as parts in contact in AISI 304 stainless steel or FDA-certified.
And all this while maintaining a minimum nominal production of 7 bags/minute, and a maximum speed of 10 bags/minute in 20kg bags of FFS film.
TMI proposed the ILERBAG V flat film bagging machine to the customer, given the need to install an automatic bagging machine with FFS technology.
Having carried out the required tests in the TMI laboratory (ILERLAB), it soon became clear that this project required two different dosing systems: gravity and conveyor belt. This automatically opened the door to develop a bagging machine that could switch between the two dosing systems and which would allow:
- packaging 2 products with a single bagging machine,
- to use the minimum space necessary for packaging,
- to alternate filling and cleaning cycles,
- to pack hermetic or breathable bags, depending on the product.
These were the keys to the design of the ILERBAG VNGT:
Easy and precise position switch: The ILERBAG VNGT shifts from one dosing system to the other by means of an upper rail system. It has three positions, enabling the bagging machine to be placed under each of the weighers and in a third position for maintenance.
Automatic connections: as soon as the machine is in position under one of the weighers, the connecting mechanism is activated by means of a pneumatic cylinder and flexible connections, the connector drops down, locks into position and automatically fastens onto the bagging machine.
Quick and easy water cleaning: An automatic cleaning system with internal circulation and strategically placed sprayballs that apply hot water to all the internal surfaces of the dosing system. This water is evacuated by means of a watertight collecting system and is directed to the drainage point. This cycle is activated automatically by recipe and runs for 5 minutes. Finally, an air drying cycle is activated, preparing the surfaces to come in contact with the product.
Minimal floor support: Thanks to the upper guiding system, the bagging machine remains in contact with the floor only during bagging operations.
Minimised loss: A double scraper system optimises the packaging process by recovering the product stuck to the conveyor belt, which falls into the weighing bucket during filling. This minimises the wastage of product, which occurred with the previous system used by the customer.
For the packaging: The same bagging machine can be used to produce airtight bags for Soft Brown Sugar, and it can also perforate the bags with the integrated punching system.
For operation: While the ILERBAG VNGT is working under one of the two dosing systems, the cleaning cycle can be activated in the other, so that the overall operation and hygiene process is optimised.
Tool-free operation: Both dosing units are designed to be completely disassembled without the use of tools, likewise the reel change system, the forming tube and the punching device.
Safe position change: The position change is carried out using a pushbutton terminal with dead man's device, which ensures safety around the machine during movement.
Quick and safe connections: The harting connections ensure that the change of position of the bag exit conveyor belts can be carried out quickly and easily, with a quick connection of the wiring.
February 19, 2021
The main response to this new era is to monitor the production line constantly to make the right decisions through objective data analysis. Meanwhile, knowing where the final product is at all times is no longer preferable: it is essential. The key to achieving these goals lies in data traceability and communication systems and the integration of marking and coding systems into the production line.
What are OEE indicators and what do they measure?
Overall Equipment Effectiveness, or OEE, refers to key indicators that measure the overall effectiveness of the equipment in a production line (a packaging line, in this case). The advantage of this parameter, compared to others, is that it measures a production centre’s fundamental parameters, like availability, efficiency and quality, through just one indicator. Using this metric, the plant manager can see the bottleneck in the line and make decisions to optimise production and operation costs on the packaging line.
Real-time production line monitoring
It is highly important for pieces of end-of-line equipment to be connected to each other in order to send production data in real time to those supervising operations in the factory. With this in mind, as a manufacturer of complete bagging, palletising and stretch wrapping lines, TMI has developed its own management software named ILERPORTAL, which can monitor production data from various machines and create common working recipes.
Specifically, the software measures the availability, efficiency and work quality of each machine and can recognise why a machine is not running (lack of product, lack of consumables or technical fault). It can also detect how many units have been produced correctly, and how many are defective. The software’s ability to measure each machine’s performance over a certain time and communicate with higher systems ensures a very effective monitoring of the factory packaging line’s production.
Traceability solution integrated into the packaging line
Final product traceability within the production line makes it easier to monitor the production process. This traceability is achieved through individual product marking, so that each unit can be identified during each production process, thus improving the subsequent logistical process. Traditionally, on industrial packaging lines, bags can be identified in one of two ways: with marking (using ink or thermal transfer) or labels (sewn directly onto the bag or adhesive). But both of these solutions can pose problems, as this marking or labelling takes place in dusty environments, on irregular bag surfaces. Labels can come off easily.
TMI has developed a solution to mark the bag when it is empty, rather than when it has been filled. With this subtle change, the issue of the irregular surface is removed and the problem of the dusty environment is reduced considerably.
August 11, 2020
TMI is an innovating company with a great product knowledge that can supply customized solutions for each customer and product. One of the main goals of the company from its beginning has been the cooperation with the customer, not just as a mere supplier but as an advisor and a trusted ally.
Keeping with this spirit, TMI has got involved once again in the turnaround of one of its clients: An important producer of dextrose for the food sector who decided to adapt a part of its plant to produce dextrose for pharma and cosmetic applications.
These are industries requiring severe hygiene measures, which the bagging machinery must comply as well. Even so this manufacturer relied on the advice of TMI and together they met the challenge.
Glucose is a fine cohesive product which tends to lump and release powder. Previously, this client used a gross weighing system with gravity dosing which, besides releasing a big amount of powder all around, also tended to fluidise the product, hindering the accuracy in dosing and weighing. All in all, the dosing system needed an improvement in order to provide a clean environment and an accurate filling of the bags.
Furthermore, the configuration of the existing hopper caused an irregular flow: the slant of one of its sides lead to product dispersion so that thick particles settled first to the bottom of the hopper and falling then to the screw. Thus, the thinnest particles would stay in the upper part of the hopper preventing a homogeneous mixture of the final product.
Moreover, the weighing and dosing system was placed two floors above the bagging spout in a clean room environment with an external palletizing system. This was one of the critical factors when designing this equipment: the existing layout had to be kept, while fulfilling the strict hygiene measures that dealing with a pharma product requires.
Both technical and empirical approaches to the project were decisive: TMI counts on a laboratory able to simulate material segregation, thus typifying the product behaviour and preventing the critical points on the dosing.
The result was the current design of the weighing system, which fulfils following criteria:
May 15, 2020
A technology company like TMI that develops solutions for so many different industries, will have to face from time to time a challenging project that, once taken, represents the opportunity for a quantum leap.
The experience and know-how that TMI has gained in the food industry, together with the previous experience of the customer, have led to developing a bagging machine that is highly accurate and efficient in the hygiene processes that are essential to food industry.
This was the challenge for TMI:
The customer needed a solution to bag an unstable hygroscopic product (sodium lactate) in 25kg bags for the food industry, which implied a strict washing routine. Additionally, the cost and market price of the product required a high dosing accuracy.
A crucial point was that powder release during bagging process had to be avoided at any costs and the structure had to be designed to prevent product accumulations.
The customer’s experience so far suggested that the continuous washing process needed to be improved in order to reduce the rusting, wearing and maintenance of the bagging equipment.
The customer had been bagging its product with HFFS system and wanted to continue using the same kind of technology. HFFS allows for a consumable standardisation while keeping the approved technical configuration of the bag, which protects the product from the air moisture.
The space for the machine had to be a small area, as the room to be placed needed to be completely climatized, thus saving climatization costs to the customer.
This is the solution by TMI:
Given this scenario, TMI has developed the ILERBAG HC: This special FFS bagging machine has been designed to be completely washable, tool-less operational, complying food-grade specifications and highly accurate and safe, while staying compact.
The applications of ILERBAG HC
All these features make from ILERBAG HC a perfect machine to work in the food and the chemical industries where powdery products are produced. ILERBAG HC is suitable for those industries where a thorough cleaning and a dust-free environment are key for the proper operation of the plant. This compact solution is designed to suit small climatized or white rooms. Its tool-free configuration together with its high-accuracy contribute to increasing overall production efficiency in the bagging process, while saving a big amount of downtime implying a reduction of labour costs.
January 10, 2020
Within the current global context where more and more business is generated in the packaging sector, TMI keeps working towards internationalisation during 2019 in order to achieve a wider global presence. The promotion actions carried out during the year are a clear example of this endeavour.
In 2019 TMI has exhibited in several international trade shows, and there are still others to come during the last quarter of the year. Thus, directly or thanks to the cooperation of the different local partners, this year TMI has satisfactorily exhibited in:
PROPAK CAPE 2019 – This leading show on Packaging took place between the 12th and the 15th march in Cape Town, South Africa. TMI was represented in the event by our distributor in the whole Sub-Saharan Africa: USS PACTECH.
AUSPACK 2019 – This packaging trade Show to watch out in Oceania was held from the 25th to the 26th March in Melbourne. Thanks to our local partner, PACKWEIGH, TMI was present in the event, where also David Padullés, sales director of TMI, could attend and give support.
POWTECH 2019 – This fair dedicated to solids handling took place in the well-known Bavarian city Nürnberg between the 9th and the 11th April. The event hosted all kind of solid products producers looking for handling solutions. TMI exhibited in a joint stand with its local partner ICOMA ZGS, where Iryna Siutsova and Ariadna Rovira advised the visitors about the newest bagging technology for their products.
COMPOUNDING WORLD EXPO 2019 – The first edition in the USA of this trade show dedicated to plastic compounds and its handling technologies was held the 8th and 9th May. TMI exhibited in it as an expert in the packaging of plastic compounds, plastic granules and products alike. The goal was to get in touch with its producers in North America and providing them insight on the bagging technology and specific innovations for this sector. We had the pleasure of the presence of our partner HS AUTOMATION, who supported Gerard Martinez and Ariadna Rovira ,from TMI, advising the visitors. The results of this show were immediate.
EXPO PACK Guadalajara 2019 – The young TMI LATAM was responsible for the successful presence of the brand in the Packaging leading trade show in Mexico. This show, held between the 11th and the 13th of June in Guadalajara, was a success for the subsidiary with seat in Queretaro, who has received the support of Jordi Martin from TMI. This edition has resulted into another demonstration of the good position of the subsidiary in this market. After the great success in the show we expect it to expand even more.
Still, these are not the only actions the company has planned for 2019: the third quartal of the year will be marked by other European shows, such as VRACTECH in Le Mans, France, or MASTERBATCH in Vienna, Austria. The company expects to consolidate with all this its international presence as a bagging and palletizing technology provider in all the sectors.