Bulk bags (or FIBCs) have increased in popularity significantly over the past few decades due to the reduction in packaging and transportation costs. However as more companies move and store materials in bulk bags, some struggle to discharge agglomerated or hardened solid material.
In particular where bulk bags contain material such as hygroscopic chemicals, certain types of spice blends, heat-sensitive products and other materials prone to solidifying to the point where bulk bag dischargers are inefficient or completely ineffective, a bulk bag conditioner could be the answer.
A bulk bag conditioning system is an easy and effective way to break up solid ingredients, thereby increasing productivity. The system is also able to reduce operating costs and promote a safer working environment, and, with a relatively small equipment footprint, can minimize the use of valuable floor space.
How a bulk bag conditioning system works:
Most bulk bag conditioning systems can be configured to meet your operational requirements. Using either fixed or movable masts, they can be integrated into an automated bulk bag discharging system, or as a manually operated free standing piece of equipment. Depending on application, systems can differ greatly, but generally, consist of a metal frame structure with hydraulically actuated conditioning arms mounted on two opposing sides. The bag is usually placed between the two conditioning arms using a forklift, integral hoist or motorized conveyor. The conditioning arms then apply pressure in a squeezing motion, typically 2-3 squeezes to opposite sides of the bag, thereby breaking up the solidified material and allowing flow during discharge.
Types of Bulk Bag Conditioners:
At Spiroflow we manufacture three types of bulk bag conditions: fixed mast – manual operation, movable mast – manual operation and moveable mast – automated. Each suit a variety of applications and material types. But is a fixed or movable mast best?
Fixed Mast: Ideally suited to materials which require minor conditioning. The design requires an operator to use a forklift or hoist to move the full bulk bag between the pole arms of the conditioner while it is conditioning. The raising and lowering of the bag between each actuation then break up the compacted material.
Moveable Mast: The best choice for stubborn material that requires a more intense conditioning process. On a moveable mast – bulk bag conditioner, the polearms move up and down allowing conditioning at various locations along the sides and/or corners of the bulk bag. As a result there is no requirement for a forklift, hoist or pallet truck during the conditioning process. The moveable mast bulk bag conditioner can be operated manually and also as part of an automated operation.
With an automated operation, the bulk bag is placed on a motorized roller conveyor, fed into the conditioner and removed.
Most suppliers will offer a range of customizable options that are suitable for different applications and will influence the overall cost of the conditioning system.
- Manual turn table: this enables the bulk bag on a pallet to be rotated 360° for 4-side bag conditioning.
- Automatic turn table: a table that automatically moves the bag on the turntable for conditioning on all sides.
- Scissor lift: used with a fixed mast bulk bag conditioner, the manual or automatic operated scissor lift moves the bulk bag up and down. Conditioning at different levels of the bag.
- Integration: the ability to have the bulk bag conditioner integrated with support framework of the bulk bag unloader or other processing equipment.
In summary, when selecting a bulk bag conditioning system, look for high quality electrical, hydraulic and mechanical components and ensure you select the right design system for your material conditioning requirements. If you are still unsure which would suit your product material best, choose a supplier who offers a test facility so you can assess exactly how a material behaves during conditioning. Selecting an experienced supplier is key, particularly ensuring system longevity for the future.