Premier Foods, located in Histon, UK, produces the well-known SMASH brand of instant mashed potatoes. It operates seven production sites in the UK and employs more than 3,000 people. Its Histon, Cambridgeshire, site has been in existence for more than 100 years and provides jobs for 350 employees.
According to Engineering Manager Kevin Murray, “Previously, instant potato product made on-site at Histon was held in storage hoppers and transferred from production to the packaging area via an overhead conveyor belt system feeding four main packing lines.” “In addition to being inefficient,” Murray says, “the old system allowed dust to escape from several locations, creating an unfriendly working environment and a potentially dangerous situation.”
With prior experience using conveying equipment from Spiroflow Ltd. for a sugar application, Premier Foods selected the vendor’s bulk bag dischargers and a flexible screw conveyor system.
With the new system, processed product is now filled into and stored in two cubic-meter big bags. These are brought to the packaging area by forklift truck at the rate of 16 a day. In packaging, these big bags need to be discharged in an efficient and dust-tight manner. The forklift truck removes empty bags and places full bags into position on the dischargers using the bulk bag lifting/support frames supplied with the dischargers.
When lifted into place, the bags sit in the discharger on an annular flexible membrane, which forms a dust-tight seal around the base of the bag. By way of access doors in the dust-tight cabinet below the membrane, the neck of each bag is pulled down through the aperture in the membrane and stretched over an upstanding spigot.
As the potato product is discharged, an alarm indicates when the bags are empty. When bags are removed, they can be tied off to prevent any residual dust escaping during lifting from the dischargers.
Each of the collection hoppers below the dischargers has bifurcated outlets from which two Spiroflow flexible screw conveyors from each of the two dischargers deliver product to the four packaging lines. These conveyors are controlled by low- and high-level probes in the buffer hoppers above each of the filling machines. The flexible screw conveyors range in length from 27 to 33 ft. and operate at a variety of angles. There is a fifth, pre-existing, flexible screw conveyor that is used to return perfectly good product to one of the packing machines after it has been recovered from any out-of-spec packaging.
It was this existing conveyor and other Spiroflow equipment on site that encouraged Murray and his colleagues to choose the vendor for the new SMASH handling system.
“The equipment has been in operation 10 hours a day,” and Murray reports, and “it has performed to satisfaction.” Since installation, Premier Foods has benefited from improvements to product quality and has also seen reductions in both labor and utility costs.
For more information:
Rotary magnetNu-Con’s rotary magnet removes ferrous particles in gravity-fed and pneumatically-conveyed powders. The magnet’s design allows for inspection and cleaning outside the product zone, reducing the risk of ferrous materials accidentally getting back into the product stream. Its high-capacity rotary action breaks apart lumps and minimizes the clogging common in applications using stationary magnetic grates. A variety of sizes for USDA and food-grade applications is available.
Nu-Con Equipment; 877-939-0510;www.nucon.com
Bulkflow heat exchangerBulkflow Technologies’ bulkflow heat exchanger does not require fans or large volumes of air to operate. Able to handle hazardous materials, the device provides gentle product cooling using a static design with no moving parts. The exchanger can be integrated with existing equipment and works in oilseed, grain, food and sugar applications. The fully-enclosed system prevents product contamination.
Weigh batching systemFlexicon’s bulk bag-to-bin weigh batching system discharges material from bulk bags, de-lumps the product and feeds it gravimetrically into rigid bins. The unloader’s bulk bag-to-hopper interface consists of a manual Spout-Lock clamping ring at the top of a pneumatically actuated telescoping tube, which allows an operator to make a sealed connection between the clean side of the bag spout and the clean side of the hopper. All material contact surfaces are stainless steel and conform to sanitary standards.
Flexicon Corp.; 888-353-9426;
Screen changerSet on durable casters, the Russell Finex screen changer enables mesh screens to be changed quickly by a single operator without the need for manual lifting or additional tools. The unit can be used with most round separators from approximately 48 to 60 inches in diameter from almost any manufacturer. The bottom screen can be changed without dissembling the decks above it.
Russell Finex Inc., 704-588-9808;
Quick-access screenerThe air-lift, quick-access system for Kason (or other manufacturers) 40- to 84-inch circulatory vibratory screeners allows rapid cleaning, inspection and screen changes while reducing manual effort. The device consists of two vertically-mounted air cylinders that are located on the lower and upper screening frames. One raise/lower cycle (including disconnection and reconnection of the frames) can be accomplished in five minutes by a single operator, reducing inspection downtime and manpower.
Kason Corporation; 973-467-8140;www.kason.com
Refractance window dryingMCD’s refractance window drying technology uses water to transmit energy to dry any food product from slurries to powders while retaining vitamins and nutrients. Assisted by conducted heat from circulating hot water at 210°F, product moisture rapidly evaporates and is carried away by mechanically boosted air flow.
MCD Technologies Inc.; 253-476-0968;www.mcdtechnologiesinc.com
Drying systemThe PowerDry system from Paxton Products provides a blower-driven alternative to compressed air drying systems. Powered by a 3 hp motor, the system’s FDA-compliant hose carries the airflow to a six-nozzle air tube that delivers successive hits of high-impact air. The system withstands washdowns and is suited to food and beverage applications such as container drying prior to date coding, sealing, labeling, etc.
Paxton Products; 800-441-7475;www.paxtonproducts.com
Metal detector for powdersLock’s MET30+ vertical fall metal detector checks incoming raw materials, such as granular and powders, for metal fragments and features a quick release reject system to reduce downtime and product rejects. This system is approximately 25% smaller than previous models, and its sealed flap reject system allows it to be cleaned without removal from the line.
Lock Inspection Systems; 800-227-5539,www.lockinspection.com
VibroscreenerPennwalt’s Vibroscreen is a circular unitized gyratory screen with three-component, multi-plane mechanical vibration. The motion is through a motor with a double-extended shaft, fitted at both ends with eccentric weights. The device uses low-power motors since all energy is used to create screen motion rather than vibrate a massive frame and foundation.
MPE Group USA; 856-241-9970;www.mpegroupusa.com
Sanitary feeder scaleThayer sanitary scale model PF-LC-S is a large capacity loss-in-weight screw feeder that handles a wide range of materials, from free-flowing to very fine cohesive powders. Made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel, the scale handles pet food, cereals, chips and snacks. Weight loss is measured by a sensitive, high-output force measurement sensor. The scale handles from one lb./hour to 10,000 tons/hour.
Thayer Scale/Hyer Industries; 781-826-8101;www.thayerscale.com.
Bag fillerMaterial Transfer’s Material Master Powerfill bulk bag filler for hazardous locations maximizes filling while ensuring product purity. The Easy-Load rotary bag hanger rotates, allowing the operator to rig bags while standing directly in front of the unit, reducing fatigue. The unit incorporates a fully integrated gain-in-weight scale system, densification system, inlet valve, power strap release, bag inflation and dust collection system.
Material Transfer; 800-836-7068;www.materialtransfer.com
Bulk bag dischargerNBE’s custom bag spout interface includes a pneumatic actuated tote bin sealing interface mechanism that can be raised and lowered, and includes a diaphragm seal designed to integrate with the inlet of the customers’ existing tote bins. The vendor’s loop retractor bulk bag hanger, massage paddles and E3 discharge assembly are combined for optimal bulk bag discharging productivity, safety and cleanliness.
National Bulk Equipment;
Bulk bag unloadersBulk bag unloaders from Cyclonaire can be customized for safe and clean unloading of any free-flowing, dry material in bags. The unloaders feature rugged construction and support all sizes and styles of bulk bags, preventing slippage and spills. Flow aids that lift bag sides and massage bags to ensure emptying are included on basic models.
Cyclonaire Corp., 800-445-0730,www.cyclonaire.com