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‘Spiroflow’ Bulk Bag Discharger – Tea time, T6 to be precise!

T6 unloader

When it comes to tea, Tetley is the UK’s favourite cup of! Their entire range of teas are blended and packed at their impressive factory at Eaglescliffe, Teesside in the North East of the country, using leaf material originating from places as far apart as Indonesia, India and Kenya. Much of the tea at Eaglescliffe is prepared in a blending system supplied by Spiroflow back in 2004.  Their current output is running at 50 million tea bags per week!

So, in early 2006, when it was decided to improve the efficiency of their Decaffeinated Tea handling, by taking delivery of teas in 1,000 lb bulk bags instead of 50 lb sacks, we were asked to propose a bulk bag discharging solution. For reasons of transportation efficiency, the tea bearing bulk bags are delivered to Eaglescliffe stacked 2 high on a single pallet. As a result, even though forklift trucks are used to deliver the loaded pallets to the discharger, we proposed, and ultimately supplied, one of our model T6 Bulk Bag Dischargers – which comes complete with its own bag hoisting system. Once the loops of the upper bag are attached to a lifting frame, the bag can be hoisted up, traversed across and then lowered in to position on the discharger leaving the forklift to undertake other duties in the meantime. Similarly, when the first bag is empty and returned to the ground, the lower bag can be installed into the discharger. Some 11 bags are emptied a day in a factory that operates 24/5.

Teas are currently discharged into the rigid containers into which the 50 lb bags used to be tipped. These containers are specifically designed to act as tumble blenders and to dock with the Decaffeinated Tea packing lines. The ‘Spiroflow’ Discharger incorporates a pneumatically operated, telescopic docking connection, which makes a dust-tight seal with the inlet of the container below. An easily removable magnet is fitted above the docking system to trap any tramp metal that may have become mingled with the tea at the point of origin.

To ensure the dust-free transfer of tea, the T6 Discharger is furnished with a containment cabinet in which the neck of the big bag can be untied once it has been ‘strangled’ by a pair of pneumatically powered Vee shaped closure bars. With the interlocked dust cabinet access door closed, the Vee closure bars can be opened to allow flow to commence from the bag, through the central feed spout of the docking connection into the container below. There is an annular ring disposed concentrically around this feed spout to facilitate the escape of air displaced from the container as it fills with tea. Both the dust cabinet and the docking device are connected to the factory’s central dust collection system. This means no escape of dust into the atmosphere during filling of the rigid containers nor each time the cabinet doors are opened to untie or retie the neck of a bulk bag.

The total height of the discharger is 21 ft to accommodate the 8 ft tall containers, the telescopic docking system, the bulk bag and the lifting hoist. As Roy Goodlad, a Project Manager at Tetley, confirms, “We did go out for quotes from others but, based on the competitive price offered by Spiroflow and the excellent performance of the tea blending system supplied previously, we decided to place the order for the bulk bag discharger with them. It has been installed since April 2006 and we have no complaints about its performance either”. The installation and commissioning was carried out by engineers from Spiroflow.

Tetley is a subsidiary of Tata Tea, India’s leading tea brand, which is itself part of the Tata Group one of India’s largest business corporations. And they own Good Earth Teas, one of the USA’s most exciting specialty tea brands and JEM?A, the market leading tea company in the Czech Republic. They also own one third of Joekels Tea Packers, the third largest player in the South African tea market. To learn more about Tetley, their teas and their history visit

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