Dry Processing

Dust-free solution for stick packs

February 6, 2012
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Stick packaging (flexible pouches typically filled from vertical form-fill-seal machines) can be a particularly dusty business with the transfer of fine particles and powders into the hoppers of the packaging machine.  At T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing), a packaging solutions provider and copacker based in Marlton, NJ, dust and its associated housekeeping had become a major problem. 

fex0212dpt1_inbod.jpg
Product is suctioned from containers by the VS200 positioned on top of a Sanko filling machine. Product then flows through the Sanko machine into stick packs. Source: Volkmann

The single-serve, on-the-go aspect of stick packaging has made it a popular choice for leading consumer products, including powdered beverage brands, snack items and nutraceuticals. As a result, T.H.E.M. handles the wide variety of materials diverse clientele brings to it in pilot and larger production runs within its seven-room production area, housing 15-20 filling/packaging machines of varying sizes. 

Such production diversity can be a nightmare when handling food powders. Dust becomes quickly airborne and readily affixes itself to machine parts, slowing down the ability to effect the quick changeovers needed to maintain manufacturing efficiencies in small run production, and leaving a less-than-clean manufacturing environment. 

T.H.E.M. was initially handling the transfer of powders and granules by dedicating an employee to scoop the material out of totes or hanging bulk bags directly above the packaging machine hopper. This labor-intensive hand transfer of powder resulted in significant airborne dust in this busy facility where changeovers occurred often on a daily basis. 

“Cleaning for new runs became extraordinarily time consuming,” says Stephen Belko, vice president of  T.H.E.M. “Not to mention that the presence of dust throughout the production floor didn’t reflect the best practices we follow, and that is not what we want to present when demonstrating our production capabilities to new customers. 

“In addition, the transfer of product by hand put workers at risk as most runs required them to be positioned on top of the machine,” adds Belko.
T.H.E.M. believed vacuum conveying might provide the solution to its problems of dust and safety, but when broaching the subject with processor clients, concerns about product segregation and separation were raised. To resolve this issue, T.H.E.M. turned to a neighboring equipment supplier, Volkmann, Inc. based in Hainesport, NJ. Volkmann’s sanitary vacuum transfer systems gently and efficiently transport powders in lean, dense or plug flow conditions without segregation and separation, and without dust escaping during the process.

Based on the specifications of the materials to be transferred and the physical set-up of the production equipment within the T.H.E.M. facility, Volkmann suggested its VS200 conveying system as an appropriate solution. The VS200 conveyor gives T.H.E.M. the flexibility needed for its diverse production needs by covering the required conveying distances of 16 feet, height of eight feet, a transport capacity of 400 lbs./hour for granular particle sizes of 100-500 µm and a bulk density of 40 PCF. The fact that the unit’s standard, full-bore discharge valve completely isolates the valve actuator from product contact was a distinct advantage in this application.

T.H.E.M. conducted its own in-house testing on the VS conveyors. “We quickly recognized that by using the Volkmann vacuum conveying systems, we could satisfy client concerns on transfer without separation and segregation, and the facility would remain free from dust,” says Belko. 

For more information:
Nick Hayes, Volkmann, 609-265-0101, usa@volkmann.info


 

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Wayne Labs, Senior Technical Editor

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

FE August 2014

2014 August

The August 2014 issue of Food Engineering explores how your operation could be doing more to create a culture of employee engagement. Also, read more on how your business and insurance partners must know the basics of your business and its nuances as well.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +