Filling the need for baking mixes
PacMoore, a food processor that specializes in mixes for home-baked goods, blends and packages the mixes into boxes for more than 40 customers nationwide at its Hammond, IN facility.
The line it uses to fill and package the mixes was installed in June 2012, with PacMoore filling its first pouches a month later. The process starts with the baking mix, which is first blended, then moved to a second-floor filling station.
Two large bags, each containing about 1,700 pounds of mix, hang over vibratory hoppers and steadily feed mix down a chute into awaiting Spee-Dee servo auger fillers. A combined 3,400 pounds of baking mix is emptied in about 30 minutes; to ensure the line stays in motion, four additional bags are always in position, ready to be hoisted up.
The two fillers purchased specifically for this line are designed to integrate with automatic equipment such as baggers, pouch machines, cartoners, conveyors and vertical form/fill/seal systems. They are engineered to fill various dry products, from free-flowing granular powder to non-flowing powder-like substances.
“We’re very pleased with the fillers, and that’s why we continue to buy Spee-Dee,” says Scott Reid, vice president of operations for PacMoore. “Our Spee-Dee fillers are a great solution for the majority of what we do. Once we get them set up, we really don’t have to touch them.”
During normal operation, the filling line produces approximately 90 11.4-ounce pouches a minute. Integrated with a form/fill/seal machine, the fillers seal and push the pouches onto an incline conveyor where they are weighed, pass through a metal detection system and are deposited onto a collection table. Pouches that fail either of the two checks get rejected out of the line.
Next, three employees put the pouches, along with packets of seasoning, onto a cleated conveyor for a 20-foot trip to the cartoner. The mix pouches and seasoning are placed inside the boxes, which then move through a second metal detector that is set up in reverse to detect each seasoning packet; if one is not present, the box is rejected. The last stop for the boxes is shipping, where two employees package 12 in a case to be palletized.
PacMoore runs the line 24 hours a day, six days a week. Seven to nine employees work on the baking line. Although it produces about 90 boxes a minute, the line could be sped up by being further automated—something the company is considering in the near future.
Currently, PacMoore operates a total of five Spee-Dee fillers at its Hammond facility. It has a second facility in Mooresville, IN.
PacMoore has also taken advantage of the ability to test the mixes in real-life production runs in Spee-Dee’s testing lab located in Sturtevant, WI. “What’s important to us is being able to send product to Spee-Dee’s lab and getting the right tooling,” explains Dan Piller, head of engineering for Pac Moore. “I find value in getting that test back to show what our standard deviation is. We have to sell a job and negotiate with a customer on what the tolerances and weights are.”
Piller says sometimes customers want a tighter tolerance than what can be achieved, and in that scenario, it is PacMoore’s job to educate them. “Without the data, that’s hard to do,” he states. “But when you come back with the data and a graph, and you know what your standard deviation is, then you can talk.”