PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest, April 2013

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34 BEST PRACTICES // APRIL 2013 www.PackagingDigest.com Filling with minimal labor, maximum output At Grain Millers, PACKAGING PRODUCTION GETS A 40 PERCENT BOOST by upgrading to a new automated filling system. and, finally, place it on a pallet. "It was a tedious and extremely tiring process," Selby says. "It really took expertise to properly run the manual machine, and it was extremely labor intensive work." Te physical strain left operators fatigued, often with sore arms and backs. In addition, the system required two or three operators at any given time. In a typical workday, operators would rotate out and take frequent breaks to keep fatigue at a minimum. Tat created another problem. Te constant pauses and downtime meant inefficient production and lower bag filling rates. Te Grain Millers team knew it needed to find a solution, one that would increase production efficiency by decreasing labor requirements. Te company's research led to the Topline, a machine that seemed like the ideal solution. Even so, Grain Top of the line Te fully automated system accomplishes the entire bagging process from product weighing, to filling and finally bag closure. "It's really a remarkable system," Selby says. "One of our biggest challenges had been finding operators who could run the labor-intensive system, both from the skill level required and the physical demand. When we saw Edited by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor how easy the Topline system was to operate, we were pretty much sold." Te Topline weighs the product, fills the bags, seals the filled bags and, best of all for Grain Millers, Tere's tired and there's down for the count. requires only one operator to oversee the process and Eugene, Oregon-based grain processor Grain stack empty bags into the automatic bag placer. Millers Inc. was both before changing bagging Product flows into the machine through a machines. Today, with a new machine on its floor hopper system. Once inside, the Topline takes an and workers who no longer have to break their empty bag from a preassembled bundle, fills it to its backs to get the bagging job done, Grain Millers specified weight and then ends the process with the increased its production by about 40 percent. densification and sealing of each bag. From there, an optional robotic system Grain to table takes the bag from the Topline machine Grain Millers has been packaging and places it on the pallet for shipping. conventional organic whole grain Te system works quickly and requires products for more than 30 years. Tese minimal manual labor by the operator. grains are used in baked goods, breads, To further ease operation and cereals and a range of other products increase efficiency, Haver also equipped served around the world. Grain Millers' Topline with its Haver Getting the grains from raw MEC weighing control system, which commodity to finished product is a acts as the machine's brain. Haver long process, one that involves several engineers programmed the MEC with steps before packaging. From flake weight and specifications of every grain rollers and dryers to vibratory trays the company bags. Whenever a product and bucket elevators, Grain Millers or bag size is switched out during a relies on several machines to come shift, the operator simply enters the together and create a smooth, cohesive new product ID number and the process. "We operate a closed-loop machine automatically adjusts to the system," says Tony Selby, plant specified product. manager at Grain Millers. "Basically, it Te MEC ensures the Topline is means we're able to connect each piece filling each bag to the exact weight of machinery together so we don't specified for each product. Te system interrupt the flow and disrupt the The filler takes an empty bag from a preassembled bundle, fills it to its specified works by controlling a gate that allows progression of steps." weight and ends the process with densification and sealing of each bag. material to flow into a netweigher. Once Each machine is important, but the the netweigher is filled to the designated weight, key to the entire Grain Millers system is in the final Millers explored all its options. "It seemed like we the gate closes. Flaps from the netweigher open to step—packaging. Grain Millers now accomplishes just lucked out finding the Topline, so we didn't a filling spout and the grain flows into the bag. If this key step with the Topline bagging system from stop there," Selby says. "We communicated our the netweigher is inaccurate, the MEC will pause the Behn + Bates brand of Haver Filling Systems. needs to several manufacturers and asked them production until operators address the problem—an to let us know how their bagging machines could meet them. At the end of the day, we couldn't find a issue Grain Millers has yet to encounter. Fatigue and frustration "Grain Millers processes so many different types system that fit what we were looking for better than Before Grain Millers had an automatic filling of products throughout the day, so this has been system, its people were shouldering all the weight in the Topline." an incredible time saver," Selby says. "It's the most Selby and his team were also attracted to a manual bagging system. Te strain was beginning consistent scale I've ever seen in my life. If you need a Haver Filling Systems because of its extensive to show, not only in the workforce but also in 50.1-lb bag, you are getting a 50.1-lb bag every time." knowledge and experience. Haver has been the company's bottom line. Te manual system Haver worked side by side with Grain Millers, not developing technology for greater production required operators to move bags that weighed only in equipping the Topline with the MEC, but anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds, weigh each bag to efficiency and ease of operation for more than also customizing the entire machine to fit the existing 125 years. ensure accuracy, take the bag through heat sealing magenta cyan yellow black ES220456_PD1304_034.pgs 03.26.2013 20:08 UBM

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