Food Engineering

Processor saves money buying in bulk

April 1, 2010
Bulk-bag discharger allows the purchase of 1-ton bags of ingredients instead of multiple, smaller and more costly bags.

At GEM Pack Foods, a Type 6 Spiroflow bulk-bag discharger, in combination with either a Spiroflow flexible screw conveyor or a vacuum conveyor, delivers food product at a metered rate to a Fawema packing machine. Source: Spiroflow.


Gem Pack Foods manufactures and distributes sugars, rice, cereals, desserts and dried fruits to major food wholesalers and large supermarket chains in Ireland as well as export markets. The Dublin-based company processes about 350 tons of sugar a week in various forms, ranging from granulated to fine icing grades, along with large quantities of rice and corn flour to produce an extensive range of Gem and Gem Gourmet brand products. The processor uses a Fawema packing machine with two feed points to package product in sizes ranging from 6.5-lb, in-box bags to single-portion sachets. One of the two feed points requires that product be delivered at a metered feed rate. The other feed point has a dedicated auger that regulates the flow from a mass transfer system.

“To keep up with growth and demand for our products, we wanted to take advantage of the efficiencies and the economics of scale by having key ingredients delivered in 1-ton bulk bags rather than in 55-lb sacks,” states Gem Pack Foods Engineering Manager Enda Brady. “The big challenge was to convey the product to the two inlets of our Fawema packer in the condition specified by the manufacturer.”

The processor asked Spiroflow’s Ireland representative, Power Process Systems, to find the best way to discharge product from bulk bags and deliver them via conveyor to the packing machine. The solution was installation of a bulk-bag discharger capable of connecting to a flexible screw conveyor or to a vacuum conveyor.

Power Process recommended a Spiroflow Type 6 bulk-bag discharger with a hoist because the discharger was located on the mezzanine floor of Gem Pack’s main packing area, and the space could not accommodate a lift truck. The hoist system facilitated delivery of the bulk bags to the discharger on pallets without the need of a lift truck.

One operator controls a standard, 1-ton hoist that positions the full bulk bags into the discharger. This is done only after the flexible screw conveyor and vacuum conveyor are in position below the discharger, and its umbilical cord is connected to the electrical control panel. The hoist runs along a fully load-tested, integral I lifting beam.

The loops of each bag are attached to a lifting frame to ensure that it is lifted squarely into place. Once in place, bags sit on a substantial support dish while being stretched vertically by compression springs within the side arms to ensure total discharge. The side arms support the lifting frame used to raise the bag.

The support dish houses the base massager paddles, which can operate manually in case product is reluctant to discharge from a compacted bag. The aperture in the support dish, through which the outlet spout of the bag passes, is surrounded by an elastic membrane that seals the base of the bag. Below the support dish, a containment cabinet houses a spigot that leads directly to the inlet of the conveyor positioned below.

Each of the two conveying systems is mounted on mobile frames to allow quick and easy changeovers between the systems. According to Brady, “It’s a good piece of kit. It has been in operation for over three years now and has not given us any problems.”

For more information:
Mathias Lee, 704-291-9595, mlee@spiroflowsystems.com