TMI - bagging & palletizing

AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE OR SEMI-AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOUR PROJECT?

March 02, 2022

Are you looking to install an end-of-line bagging machine but unsure of the level of automation you require? This article will help you to understand which type of bagging machine suits your needs the best.

‘Are you looking for an automatic or a semi-automatic solution?’ asks a TMI sales adviser, near the start of a telephone call with a new client.

The voice on the other end of the phone hesitates:

‘Well… We’re not sure. Could you tell me more about each type’s characteristics?’

‘No problem’, and the adviser goes on to explain the key differences between the two and their features.

This conversation happens a lot at TMI. And that’s completely natural, because our clients tend not to be bagging experts. But we are, so we can help them every step of the way to design their end-of-line project.

To do so, various factors must be taken into account. Let’s take a look at the main characteristics of these two types of bagging machine and some key tips for identifying which kind of solution you need for your project:

 

SEMI-AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE

What is a semi-automatic bagging machine?

A semi-automatic bagging machine is a system for packaging products in bags. Its main function is to precisely weigh out, dose and insert a solid product into the bag, based on a previously established recipe. It may be equipped with a net weight or a gross weight weighing system, depending on the type of production. However, as its name indicates, a semi-automatic bagging machine cannot function on its own; it needs a human to operate it. An operator must place the bag at the filling point, press a button to start the filling cycle, and remove the bag once it is full.  

 

The main benefits of semi-automatic bagging machines are as follows:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Swift cleaning process
  • Quick return on investment, thanks to its low cost
  • Easy operation: no need for prior training
  • Quick, simple installation
  • Flexible, quick format changes

 

But they also have their disadvantages:

  • Production limited by operator efficiency
  • Need for an operator to be available for bagging
  • Significant physical effort required from the operator

 

In what cases is installing a semi-automatic bagging machine advisable?

Both net weight and gross weight semi-automatic bagging machines can be used in all industries for a huge variety of products. But, broadly, they are more suitable for projects with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • The required bags-per-hour production speed is low
  • The planned budget for the investment is low
  • Small batches are being produced or the product is changed frequently, especially if strict hygiene measures must be followed between products, or the product manufacturing speed is low
  • There are operators available in the area and labour costs are low
  • There is little space available for bagging

 

Are all semi-automatic bagging machines the same?

Not at all. The type of product to be bagged and the type of bag used are also important to consider when designing the solution that meets your end-of-line needs.

TMI offers a wide range of semi-automatic bagging machines, including the models ILERFIL AB, ILERFIL ABS, ILERFIL AN, ILERFIL VBG and ILERFIL VBF.

 

AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE

What is an automatic bagging machine?

An automatic bagging machine is a packaging system with the same ultimate goal as a semi-automatic bagging machine: to weigh out precise quantities of a solid product and insert them into bags. The main difference is that an automatic bagging machine does this without human intervention. In other words, the machine itself takes the bag, opens it, places it at the bagging point, fills it, removes it from the bagging point, closes it and ejects it.

Of course, the technology used to carry out all of these processes automatically is more complex than the technology used in manual bagging.

 

The main benefits of automatic bagging machines are:

  • Total automation of the bagging process
  • Optimized production at the bagging point
  • A single operator can take care of supervision and supply of consumables
  • A safer, cleaner workplace
  • Control over the bag position at all times while it is being handled

 

But this kind of machine also has some disadvantages:

  • The initial investment required is usually higher than that needed for a semi-automatic bagging machine
  • They usually take up more floor space than semi-automatic bagging machines (though there are some very compact versions available)
  • Installation must be carried out by a qualified technician sent by the manufacturer

 

In what cases is installing an automatic bagging machine advisable?

TMI has automatic bagging machines for all industries and all products. We have made automatic bagging machines for animal feed, additives, chemicals, granules, pellets, minerals, and much more. However, of course, an automatic bagging machine is not always necessary. These are some of the key cases in which an end-of-line project will require an automatic bagging machine:

  • The required bags-per-hour production speed is medium to high
  • The product requires you to guarantee a ROI through sustained production and productivity
  • There are few operators available in the area or labour costs are high in the country 

 

Types of automatic bagging machines

Automatic bagging machines can be divided into four main groups: automatic bagging machines for open-mouth bags, automatic bagging machines for SOS bags, automatic bagging machines for valve bags and automatic FFS bagging machines.

Thanks to this technological diversity, automatic bagging machines can handle different types of bags and materials: flat bags or bags with gussets, made from paper, polyethylene or woven PP (WPP); SOS bags; valve bags; FFS (form-fill-seal) bags, and more. So, automatic bagging machines can handle more types of bags than semi-automatic bagging machines.

 

HOW DO I CHOOSE BETWEEN ALL OF THESE OPTIONS?

You have probably noticed by now that this issue is a bit more complex than it might seem at first. We have therefore put together a series of questions you should ask yourself in order to find the right solution:

  • What level of production are you aiming for?
  • What type (or types) of bag will be used?
  • Will there be more than one bagging format?
  • How much space is available?
  • What ROI do you require for the project to be viable?
  • Is there plenty of labour available near the plant? Or is it scarce?

Now you know the difference between automatic and semi-automatic bagging machines and the importance of specifying the level of automation you need when embarking on an end-of-line project. Would you like some advice at this stage in the process? Contact us now for a no-obligation consultation.


WHAT PALLETIZER SUITS YOUR PROJECT BEST? – A QUICK GUIDE

February 02, 2022

If you need to find out about the different kind of palletizers, its benefits, and applications, here you will find a quick overview of the main advantages that each type of palletiser can bring to your production.

There are several types of palletizers in the market, that can cover different needs of production and packaging. But not every palletizer is suitable for every manufacturer, production, and project. So, how to choose the right one?

Let’s find out about the main features and benefits of each, focusing on bag palletizing:

 

ROBOTIC PALLETIZERS

When considering palletizing for your bagging line, surely the first that comes to your mind is the Robotic palletizer: a Robotic Arm that picks bags, boxes, bundles… and puts them on a pallet with mathematical precision, normally using a gripper or a vacuum system. But do you know the advantages of this system?

Robotic Palletizers are…

  • Flexible: A robotic arm palletizer is able to palletize bags, boxes or bundles simultaneously in the so-called multi-palletizing configuration.
  • A useful tool for simultaneous palletizing of different products or batches, providing from different production lines, onto different pallets.
  • Cost saving: a well-designed layout will allow one single robot palletizer to do the work of 2 or 3 conventional palletizers. 
  • Modular: you can start with a simple configuration and later on upgrade the line with automation elements.
  • Versatile in the layout configuration: very convenient to those sites with space constraints such as hindering constructive elements and low-height.

So, if you have identified some of your project’s characteristics above, a robotic palletizer such as ILERPAL R may be the type of solution you need for your line.

If not, maybe what you need is not necessarily a robotic gripper, so let’s find out about further options.

 

GANTRY PALLETIZERS

Gantry palletizers are simple and robust solutions that can offer a quick return on investment, thanks to its optimized design. Despite not being known as such, these are also robotic palletisers, since palletising is carried out by a 4-axis Cartesian robot that moves within the frame of a gantry. Hence the name.

They are mostly suitable for end-of-line applications with a low to intermediate bag output (up to 420 bags per hour) where bags need to be overlapped (open mouth bags), although they can also palletize valve bags and FFS bags successfully.

Gantry type palletizers offer…

  • Small footprint and optimised space: its modular design also allows compact configurations suitable for small spaces. 
  • Adaptability: they can be configured as a full automatic solution with pallet dispenser, palletizing station and pallet transport on roller conveyors, or as a half automatic solution, with a pallet on the ground configuration with human intervention in the palletising process.
  • Little investment for great results: It’s a cost-effective affordable solution to palletize goods.

There are several companies in the market offering gantry palletizers that are fairly good, but the flexibility of TMI’s Gantry type palletizer ILERPAL P, is to be highlighted: It has been extremely optimised, and with its simple structure and composition reaches great results on palletising while keeping costs in check, which is key to ensuring competitiveness.

 

LAYER PALLETIZERS

There are several kinds of layer palletizers. Amid them, the most common distinction in the industry is between high-level-layer palletizers and low-level layer palletizers. Aside from the differences in operation between the two types, layer palletisers work as follows:

The bags are lifted to the palletising position, i.e. the layer forming deck, where 4 side pushers are responsible to drag bags together and shape each layer. Layers lie directly on gates that open to place each one on top of the previous.

At TMI the model for High-level layer palletizer is ILERPAL C, which can reach an output of up to 2200 bags per hour, depending on configuration.

Layer palletizers are…

  • Fast: using side pushers to form layers, ensures the highest possible output at the end of line, as several bags can be placed in position at the same time.
  • Useful for those production lines where volume and productivity are needed to ensure competitiveness.
  • Effective: pallet layers are perfectly aligned and stable at all times during transport.
  • Energy saving: the components of ILERPAL C have been chosen to provide savings of between 20% and 25% compared to other types of gears generally used in palletizing systems.

All in all, layer palletisers are a very good option for medium to high outputs, where products are bagged in valve bags or FFS, which do not require overlapping.

For those cases where high output bag overlapping is required, hybrid palletisers were created:

 

HYBRID PALLETIZERS

Hybrid palletisers aim to fulfil the following needs:

1. Palletising open-mouth bags

2. Doing it at high speeds

How to do it without compromising the shape of the bags and pallet stability?

Hybrid type palletizers combine features of both robotic and layer palletizers, to achieve further palletizing performance levels for open mouth bags. They are similar to high level palletizers, but they perform the layer forming by means of robotic grippers and cartesian axes, always with the help of side pushers. This means higher output can be achieved while keeping the bag shape and the pallet stability optimal.

Hybrid Palletizers offer…

  • Optimal pallet finishes in high production with open-mouth bags, keeping its shape thanks to overlapping.
  • Versatility: Combined bag gripper and layer forming guides ensure an optimum handling of a wide range of bag formats.
  • Stability of the pallet as it still counts with side pushers that aligns each layer perfectly to the other and at an optimal pallet size.
  • Small footprint, whether it's because of the compact design or the shorter upward travel of the bag, hybrid palletisers are often great space optimisers.

TMI counts with two models of Hybrid palletizers:  ILERPAL H and ILERPAL W, each of them with different features and strengths, which can respond to the needs of a large number of manufacturers.

 

 

WHICH PALLETIZER DO YOU NEED?

Does some of this palletizer features suit the needs of your project? Ask us for a quotation and we will be glad to study your case to offer you the best solution for your end-of-line.


MOULIN DESGUÉS – A PALLETIZATION AUTOMATION SUCCESS STORY

December 28, 2021

Moulin Desgués is an independent, family-run mill founded in 1891 that produces premium flour for the region’s artisanal bakeries and strives to use technology to maximize quality. We talked to Nicolas Desgués about his experience with the TMI bagging line installed at the mill.

 

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Moulin Desgués was born in 1891 when Philidor Desgués became a miller at Bazoges Mill. In 1949, the family acquired Acigné Mill, in Brittany, France, and named it Moulin Desgués. This is where the company’s production would take place. The company, directed by David and Nicolas Desgués, is still an independent, family-run business today.

Its main activity is the production of flour for artisanal bakeries in France, which they deliver exclusively within a radius of 200 km. Proximity to the customer is one of the three pillars of the company’s values. The other two are premium quality and the origin of the wheat, which is always 100% French.

Indeed, the business aims to produce flour of a higher quality than was ever possible before. Thanks to these efforts, Moulin Desgués flour has been awarded LABEL ROUGE certification. To maintain this label, the company undergoes yearly audits and the quality of its flours is analysed on a very regular basis.

 

THEIR NEEDS

Previously, flour sales consisted of 50% bags and 50% bulk, as was the standard in the industry. But for around five years now, the trend has evolved considerably, leading to a ratio of 80:20 in favour of bags. The main reason for this is that bakers are less and less willing to invest time and effort in maintaining flour silos, when they can simply buy a bagged product that offers the same return.

As a result, almost all flour today is sold in 25 kg bags, which requires palletization of the packaged product.

Moulin Desgués already had a TMI ILERFIL ANS manual bagging machine, with net weight dosage and an auger, which was installed in 2014. However, all palletization was done by hand, which was time-consuming and onerous for employees, due to growing demand for bags. To help them along, the need for an automatic palletizer was identified.

 

WHY TMI?

Nicolas Desgués defined his end-of-line needs precisely and got in touch with TMI: the company that made and installed the bagging machine with which he is still very satisfied. He says, ‘I bumped into Gerard Martinez, TMI’S salesperson, at the Vrac Tech Trade Show in Le Mans. I’ve known him since we got our bagging machine installed. We talked about my new palletizing project’.

 

THE TMI SOLUTION

Our technicians analysed the client’s needs, the space available, and the production and working conditions, and concluded that the most suitable solution for Moulin Desgués was the ILERPAL P: a gantry-type Cartesian bag palletizer with robotic gripper that can palletize up to 420 bags per hour. This is a simple installation that guarantees high precision. As well as being robust and cost-effective, the ILERPAL P is a compact machine, so it fits easily on a business’s premises, even in a tight space. It can palletize bags from 5 to 50 kg and offers flexibility and speed when it comes to bag changes.

First of all, we proposed a new ILERPAL P palletizer to Moulin Desgués, as is the norm for TMI, as our main activity is manufacturing machines. But just at that time, a TMI client in Spain decided to increase their production capacity with an ILERPAL H palletizer, and put their existing ILERPAL P up for sale.

As it had a similar configuration to the one Moulin Desgués needed, TMI spotted a great opportunity for the client and let them know. Nicolas Desgués tells us more: ‘First, we received a proposal for a new ILERPAL P palletizer, then we were offered the same model second hand. It was a great deal, because the palletizer was very new and in perfect condition’.

 

PROJECT EXECUTION

The palletizer sold by the Spanish client was used for seeds and needed some modifications. Moulin Desgués was notified that this would take some time, but much less than making a new machine would take.

Some adjustments also needed to be made to the mill, before the palletizer could be installed: ‘We needed to raise the floor level where the palletizer was going to be in case of flooding’.

Meanwhile, TMI adapted the machine configuration to the client’s bags, and it became clear that not all bag formats would work: some made the pallet unstable for transport.  The client explains:

‘During testing in the TMI factory, we were told that the shortest bags were causing problems. And it was true: we saw that we needed to change the bag format for the pallet to be stable and arrive at its destination without a hitch’.

We therefore adapted and standardized the bag measurements, ensuring better stability with bags of the same length to make sure the pallets stay secure during transport.

When the palletizer was ready to be installed on the client’s premises, the TMI after-sales department technicians picked up the baton. According to Nicolas Desgués, the installation process went smoothly: ‘We got on well with the TMI technicians, who were very professional. They listened to our needs and agreed to make a few small modifications on site. The training was really suited to our use of the machine. The technicians took their time to explain how to use the palletizer in an optimal way’.

 

IN ACTION

The complete bagging and palletization line has been in action for four months now at Moulin Desgués. This is not much when compared to a machine’s total useful life, but the results seen by the client are already excellent: ‘It is exactly what we were expecting, and above all, we are relieved not to have to put the pallets together by hand any more. We have adjusted some of the palletizing pattern settings, like the TMI technician taught us’.

As well as a significant reduction in health and safety risk on the premises, as ‘less pressure is put on the joints and the back’, the client is seeing an optimized work process and a serious productivity boost: ‘This saves us a lot of time: now, just one person can do this work, whereas two were needed before. This frees up time to do other things within the business’.

 

ALWAYS AT THE CLIENT’S SIDE

One of TMI’s core values is to accompany the client throughout the journey of defining their bagging line project and in the decision-making process. Here, TMI identified an excellent opportunity for the client and provided the technical support needed to successfully install a palletizer that fully meets their expectations and fulfils their needs.

Want to know how TMI can help to improve your production line’s productivity? Contact us through this form for advice adapted to your needs! 

 

 


ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, IIoT and VIRTUAL REALITY: OUR COMMITMENT TO INDUSTRY 4.0

December 20, 2021

Everyone’s talking about digital transformation; it’s a challenge which, now more than ever, industries and companies of all sizes are having to take on. In this article, we’ll look at the steps TMI has been taking on the road to Industry 4.0.

TMI offers customised solutions to meet the bagging and palletising requirements of its customers, who come from a wide range of sectors and have products with diverse characteristics. At a management level, this implies a certain degree of complexity.

Within this context, for a company defined by its open capacity for innovation and process improvement, like TMI, Industry 4.0 is a godsend.

 

WHAT IS INDUSTRY 4.0?

The main aim of the transformation is to move to smarter and more efficient production processes by digitalising factories. This approach to industrial processes affects production mechanisms and the value chain, enabling machines to exchange information in real-time so that manufacturing processes become more visible and controllable and decision systems become more autonomous and data-driven. Ultimately, this all leads to improved flexibility in production chains.

This process of optimisation focuses on 3 fundamental pillars:

  1. Improving processes, by enhancing the efficiency of employees, the materials used, energy consumption, etc.
  2. Improving product performance, including enhancements in quality and adaptability, and the consistency of those two aspects.
  3. Creating new value, which involves generating new features and business models that operate within the circular economy.

In short, everything goes through some type of enhancement, but this in itself presents us with another obstacle: you can’t improve something you can’t measure. Therefore, measurement and digitalisation tools become a critical part of the process.

But, how do we achieve this much-talked-about digitalisation?

 

STAGES OF DIGITALISATION

According to the “Industry 4.0 Maturity Index” study published by Acatech, the German Academy of Technical Sciences, companies today are still tackling the challenge of creating the fundamental conditions needed to implement Industry 4.0, whose basic requirements revolve around computerisation and connectivity.

 

COMPUTERISATION

This is the first requirement and provides the basis of digitalisation. In this stage, different information technologies are used in isolation from each other. This stage is already well advanced in most companies and is primarily used to perform repetitive tasks more efficiently.

 

CONNECTIVITY

The isolated deployment of information technology is replaced by connected components. Widely used business applications are all connected to each other and mirror the company’s core business processes. Parts of the operational technology (OT) systems provide connectivity and interoperability, but full integration of the IT and OT layers has not yet occurred.

 

VISIBILITY

Consists of creating a digital shadow of the company. Sensors enable processes to be captured from beginning to end with large numbers of data points. This makes it possible to keep an up-to-date digital model of factories at all times. We refer to this model as ‘the company’s digital shadow’, and it can help show what's happening in the company at any given moment so that management decisions can be based on real data.

 

TRANSPARENCY

The company focuses on understanding why something is happening to later use this understanding to produce knowledge by means of root cause analyses. To do this, it has to identify and interpret interactions in the digital shadow, and the captured data must be analysed by applying engineering knowledge, which will support complex and rapid decision-making.

 

PREDICTIVE CAPACITY

Once it has reached this stage, the company is able to simulate different future scenarios and identify the most likely ones. As a result, companies can anticipate future developments so that they can make decisions and implement the appropriate measures in good time.

 

ADAPTABILITY

It allows a company to delegate certain decisions to IT systems so that it can adapt to a changing business environment as quickly as possible.

 

SMART FACTORIES NEED SMART WORKERS

One aspect of digitalisation that cannot be overlooked is training and the human factor: successful implementation of the stages described above relies heavily on having a human team that is prepared to adopt new work methodologies that will make them more agile.

In the Industry 4.0 paradigm, the work team must be considerably more agile, cohesive and coordinated at all times, and initiative and self-management skills become vital. This is where new work methodologies and ‘Agile’ tools come into play, with multidisciplinary teams seeking maximum operational precision through clear and effective communication to save time and anticipate any changes that might arise during the course of a project.

 

 

INDUSTRY 4.0: TMI’S COMMITMENT

We are a highly technological company with a team of 30 engineers from different work areas: electrical, mechanical, automation, etc. These engineers interact in an agile way to be open to the constant flow of information that comes with Industry 4.0. Ensuring day-to-day integration can sometimes be challenging, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintaining this constant flow of knowledge and tools.

It is with this mindset that TMI has embraced the following concepts and integrated them into its processes and products:

 

1. ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING MEANS SIMPLIFICATION

TMI specialises in product customisation - the reality faced by each of our clients demands it, and, as a result, we manufacture machines that can comprise around 1,000 parts or more. If we expand that to a whole packaging line, which can include a bagging machine, a dosing system, a palletising system and a wrapping system, we’re looking at 5,000 parts per installation as a minimum.

Due to their high degree of customisation, many of these parts are unique, one-off pieces rather than being manufactured in a series. How, then, do we simplify the manufacturing process of this vast quantity of parts to improve in terms of costs, masses, mechanics, etc.? The answer is additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is a constantly advancing technology that reduces the waste, cost, manufacturing time and intermediate processes, like producing tools, involved in the production of customised components. It has allowed the task of making complex parts that used to require multiple manufacturing processes (machining, laser-cutting, metalwork, various treatments, ...) to be simplified to an almost unsurpassable level.

 

2. IIoT MEANS KNOWLEDGE

IIoT stands for Industrial Internet of Things. Although related to the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s a somewhat different concept because, in addition to pursuing the interconnection of all the electronic parts of a system, it also seeks to ensure that they, and the processes they’re involved in, achieve maximum efficiency.

Currently, most of TMI's machines have integrated sensors that collect information on their efficiency and display it on a screen to assist the operator. This is known as OEE, and it’s a TMI standard that we believe to be vital, because it provides essential knowledge for both the user and the manufacturer of the machine.

Data acquisition is one of the advantages of IIoT: it contributes to decision-making based on quality information and opens up new ways of predicting what maintenance will be required or how regularly spare parts will need to be ordered.

 

3. VIRTUAL REALITY MEANS SECURITY

One of the great challenges of manufacturing customised lines is its complexity: TMI works with diverse sectors with very different requirements and products with a range of different behaviours. Consequently, our projects involve a high level of innovation, and innovation means doubts.

Fortunately, we can now use virtual reality to address them: it allows us to anticipate, and this is invaluable in the design process. Being able to see a machine or a line and interact with it allows us to visualise its dimensions and how they affect safety, ergonomics and operation.

 

FROM SCIENCE-FICTION TO REALITY: A REAL-WORLD EXAMPLE

To demonstrate how virtual reality can be applied to the design process of a packaging line, let’s take a look at how TMI helped a large global food manufacturer with a project that was critical for its business and its future.

What were the customer's expectations?

  • Improve productivity
  • Change the packaging to move the target from B2C to B2B
  • Optimise energy consumption in all their industrial processes
  • Reduce the environmental impact of the packaging, eliminating the cardboard boxes the bags were previously placed in.

It was a made-to-measure project from start to finish, which entailed increased risk, demanding deadlines, and a complex solution with high-level requirements.

TMI turned to virtual reality to simulate the line and share the design with the client to get a real feel for their expectations and see if both companies were on the same page.

This interaction with a fictional reality prior to manufacture gave us several advantages:

  • We were able to put all the critical aspects of the project on the table and reach an agreement.
  • Both parties felt more secure and confident in the project.
  • We were able to simulate the technicians' working environment in advance: all the people involved in manufacturing the line (designers, electricians, technicians...) were able to familiarise themselves with it. This gave them prior knowledge of the order in which the components had to be assembled, how to do it, how to access the multiple parts, etc.

 

IN CONCLUSION

The tools that come with Industry 4.0 are neither a utopia nor are they only applicable to large multinationals or huge-scale projects: SMEs can also benefit from using them, albeit one step at a time.

 


AGROPIENSO - DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A COMPLETE BAGGING LINE FOR FEEDSTUFFS

October 18, 2021

Agropienso, a Spanish cooperative feed manufacturer, has modernised its end-of-line with a bagging machine, a palletiser and a stretch wrapper from TMI. The mutual trust between the two companies has been the key to the success of this project. José Enrique Calderón, Head of Agropienso's factories, tells us about his experience:

 

ABOUT THE COMPANY

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".

 

ITS NEEDS

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.

 

WHY TMI?

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.

 

THE SOLUTION FROM TMI

After a thorough analysis of the project and Agropienso's needs, TMI proposed a complete line consisting of:

  • ILERSAC ANT: This is a precise, rigid, and cost-effective bagging machine, and is therefore very well suited to the needs of the animal feed sector. ILERSAC A makes the bagging process fully automated: from the moment the bag placer module picks up each bag to place it at the filling spout, to the evacuation and closing of the filled bag, all the processes are carried out automatically within the same bagging machine. It is also a flexible and modular bagging machine, which can bag from 5 to 50kg of feed in pre-packed bags, with a quick and agile format change.

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: This is TMI's robotic arm palletiser. With the change of palletiser type - from Cartesian gantry to robotic - Agropienso has been able to increase its palletising capacity from a maximum of 400 bags/hour to 700 bags/hour, without taking up more space in the plant and obtaining optimum pallet finishes and great stability.  

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.

  • ILERGIR: The pallet wrapping system from TMI is very compact and highly efficient: This automatic stretch wrapper ILERGIR can perform a complete wrapping of the pallet, from the bottom to the top, protecting the loads against the weather and improving safety in the plant.

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).

 

THE RESULT

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 FUTURE

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.

 

EXCELLENCE IN RELATIONSHIPS

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.


BAGGING OF POLYAMIDES, COMPOSITES AND MASTERBATCH - TECHNICAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER

August 25, 2021

This article deals with the technical particularities of packaging in petrochemicals, more specifically in the field of polymers and technical resins.

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.

 

 

SMALL BATCHES, BIG REQUIREMENTS

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.

 

CLEANING, CLEANING, ... AND CLEANING AGAIN

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:

  • The bagging machine should be designed without any corners, especially in the product circulation ducts. In this way, there is no possibility of uncontrolled product remains.
  • Include a blowing system through the product circulation ducts prior to the cleaning protocol: you will ensure that no product is left and also shorten the time the operator spends on this task.
  • The cleaning process will be considerably shortened if the equipment is easily accessible. The tool-less approach is highly recommended in as many parts of the bagging machine as possible. This will make your bagging process much more agile.

 

HUMIDITY: IT'S NOT ONLY BAD FOR YOUR BONES

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.

But, how?

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.

 

SAFETY FIRST

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.

 

SUSTAINABILITY

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.

 

REGARDING PROFITABILITY...

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.

 


BAGGING AGRI-FOOD INGREDIENTS - THE KEYS TO SETTING UP YOUR OPTIMAL BAGGING LINE

July 23, 2021

Do you want to know which are the key points to consider when defining your bagging line? In this article, you will learn more about it

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:

 

5 KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN DEFINING THE BAGGING LINE

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:

 

1. NUMBER OF PRODUCTS AND BATCHES

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.

 

2. PRODUCT PROPERTIES

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.  

 

3. HYGIENE / ACCESSIBILITY

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.

 

4. LOGISTICS

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.

 

5. AVAILABLE SPACE

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).

 

A CASE STUDY

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:

https://youtu.be/-oCm0dfeNRA

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:

  • Prevent any dust emission during the bagging process, using a new mobile, flexible and airtight bagging spout.
  • Apply hygienic finishes throughout the product flow path as well as in the design of the machine surrounding the parts in contact.
  • Extend the distance between sections within the bagging machine to make it more accessible.
  • Prevent dust accumulation and contamination with hygienic cabling integrated into the chassis.

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.


THE KEYS TO PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE ON END-OF-LINE

June 29, 2021

Something wrong with your preventive maintenance plan? In this post, you can review the basics of preventive maintenance and get 8 tips to ensure you get the maximum return on your preventive maintenance plan.

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:

 

¿WHAT DOES PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE STAND FOR?

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:

  • Time-based: regular checks are planned, independent of the actual operation of the installation (e.g. quarterly, half-yearly, etc.).
  • Usage-based: Check-ups are carried out on the basis of the operation of the installation. For example: every x production cycles, every x bags produced.
  • Predictive: In facilities with OEE measurement and artificial intelligence modules, it is possible to predict when certain parts of each machine need maintenance based on the data and indicators obtained. This method is associated with Industry 4.0 as it requires a high level of automation.
  • Prescriptive: This consists of anticipating breakdowns, through recurrent checking and monitoring, and preventing them from occurring by scheduling repairs before a malfunction becomes a breakdown.

 

WHY IMPLEMENT A PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE PLAN?

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.

 

SO WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE?

A well-structured and carried out preventive maintenance plan can be very advantageous for your company, because it...

INCREASES

  • The availability of machinery and bagging lines, allowing you to meet ratios and customer orders.
  • Equipment reliability, allowing you to make better production forecasts and reduce delays.
  • Production throughput, which also provides a better return on investment (ROI).
  • Safety and comfort for operators, because you reduce the likelihood of accidents, as well as noise and dusty environments that can be annoying and even harmful to workers.

REDUCES

  • Expenses for corrective maintenance and major repairs, which are often emergency repairs (with all the added costs that this means).
  • Costs generated by spontaneous breakdowns, including opportunity costs.
  • Unexpected production stoppages, which can jeopardise contracts and agreements with your customers.
  • Product losses, which in case of high-value products may also result in economic losses.
  • Employee overtime: there is no need to compensate for lost hours, if production ratios match the target.

 

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:

 

8 TIPS FOR PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE IN YOUR PLANT

 

1. Plan

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.

 

2. Use checklists

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.

 

3. Optimise your stocks

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.. 

 

4. Make decisions based on real information

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.

 

5. Optimise work recipes

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. 

 

6. Identify critical parts and give them priority

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.

 

7. Anticipate

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.

 

8. Watch and listen to the TMI technicians performing the inspections

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

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!


ABOUT HYGIENIC DESIGN AND HOW WE APPLY IT TO BAGGING MACHINERY

May 27, 2021

Find out about the basic principles of hygienic design and how we apply them to TMI bagging solutions.

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:

 

WHAT DOES HYGIENIC DESIGN STAND FOR?

 

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.

 

REGULATION OF HYGIENIC DESIGN

 

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 GUIDELINES OF HYGIENIC DESIGN

 

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:

  • CLEANING AND SANITIZING: It must be possible to clean the installations, machinery, or surfaces in an adequate manner, eliminating the remains of dirt that can cause the growth of micro-organisms. For this purpose, they must be designed to allow easy cleaning access.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: the installation should be easily and tool-free disassembled to ensure access to all areas requiring hygiene, whenever possible and especially when wet cleaning, in which case it should also allow for easy drainage of liquids.
  • SURFACES: must be resistant to corrosion generated by the hygiene processes and food itself, while avoiding, as far as possible, the use of surface coatings that could be a source of contamination. They should therefore be smooth, minimising roughness, and dead spots should be avoided. Therefore, they should not contain joints or fissures where leftovers can accumulate, so appropriate welding techniques should be applied for this purpose.
  • MATERIALS: The choice of materials is key in the design. Priority is given to materials that are corrosion resistant, non-toxic, easy to clean and prevent the growth of micro-organisms. Stainless steel is generally considered to be the best choice, although corrosion may occur in chemically aggressive environments (e.g. when using cleaning products containing chlorides). For these cases, it is recommended to use FDA and/or 10/2011/EU compliant plastics that are suitable for food contact. The use of metal-detectable plastics is also recommended.

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.

 

ADVANTAGES OF HYGIENIC DESIGN

 

Producers who build their facilities including the hygienic design concept into the plant and into their equipment, achieve:

  • FOOD SAFETY: the main purpose is to ensure hygienic production conditions, thus making it easier for food producers to comply with safety regulations and to ensure consumer safety.
  • COST REDUCTION: In all production facilities, downtime for cleaning reduces production efficiency and increases costs (labour, energy and quality control). In the case of hygienic design, although it involves a higher investment in the purchase of the equipment, in the long term the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is comparatively lower. This is due to reduced cleaning times, energy consumption, personnel costs, together with increased compliance with guidelines and regulations, which results in greater safety for the consumer.
  • REDUCED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: The hygienic design, which aims to optimise the sanitising process, allows for a reduction in energy, water and cleaning product consumption.

 

APPLICATION ON BAGGING LINES

 

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:

EASY CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE

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:

    • Dismountable dosing units: Whether belt or auger dosing units, they can be completely dismantled without the use of tools. This allows operators to carry out a thorough cleaning and inspection quickly and efficiently.
    • Automatic water cleaning cycles: Using sprayballs, waterproof connections to water collection systems and air-drying systems, it is possible to initiate automatic water washing cycles from the PLC of the bagging machine itself, optimising cleaning times to the maximum.
    • Inclined augers: they allow easy draining of all liquids used in the cleaning cycles.
    • No corners: all dosing units are designed to be free of corners where product could accumulate, with open and visible edges, watertight welded joints and no horizontal edges at all.

 

CLEAN AND SAFE FACILITIES

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:

    • Materials: TMI can adapt the materials of construction of its bagging machines to the customer's requirements and washing methodologies. Our bagging machines can be built in stainless steel, partially or completely, and FDA-compliant plastic materials are also used for those elements that for technical reasons cannot be made of steel (e.g. flexible product discharge tubes, telescopic bagging spouts, or mesh conveyor belts).
    • Minimising product build-up: flat surfaces are one of the main places where product remains or residual dust accumulate and can become a breeding ground for micro-organisms. To prevent proliferation, TMI applies the EHEDG criteria to hygienic constructions, e.g. with the diamond shape construction, which prevents any build-up due to the edge angles. The contact surfaces between components are also reduced to the essential minimum, including the wiring, which is installed along cable guides for easy access and cleaning without the need for removal, giving priority to a vertical rather than a horizontal position.
    • Easy cleaning of the line surroundings: the bagging machines, as well as all bag and pallet conveyors, are fitted with as few floor supports as possible, thus facilitating good hygiene in the immediate area around the bagging line. Moreover, the support legs can be cylindrical and/or made of stainless steel.
    • Separate electrical cabinets: placing the electrical cabinet in another room allows water washing cycles to be carried out while preserving the safety of the room where the bagging machine is located. It also enables maximum hygiene to be maintained in cases where the bagging machine is located in a clean room. The cabinets can be equipped with different degrees of IP protection and/or inclination of the upper part of the cabinets, if required by the customer.

 

TRACEABILITY

 

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.

 

SOME EXAMPLES

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.

 

DESIGN THE HYGIENIC END OF LINE YOU NEED 

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!


ONE BAGGING MACHINE, TWO DOSING SYSTEMS: FLEXIBILITY AND SAFETY IN FOOD PACKAGING PROCESSES

April 30, 2021

TMI's new solution enables two very different products to be bagged with a single FFS bagger with hygienic food grade design.

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 needs of the customer

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.

 

The solution from TMI

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:

 

MOVABLE BAGGING MACHINE

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.

 

HYGIENE

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.

 

FLEXIBILITY

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.

 

EASE AND SAFETY OF OPERATION

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.


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