UK-based Thomas Fawcett & Sons Ltd is a seventh-generation family business that ships pale ale malt across the UK and internationally. 

The company was searching for a more efficient system to pack pale ale malt into 772-lb. to 2,205-lb. bulk bags before shipping them. Most of the company’s malt was previously supplied in 28-ton bulk truck loads and 55-lb. sacks. When the company first supplied malt in bulk bags, members of the malting staff transferred batches of malt from pre-weighed 110-lb. sacks into bulk bags by wheeling the sacks on a sack truck on the upper floor and tipping them into a bulk bag held on a fork lift truck on the floor below. This was a three person job: one filling sacks, one tipping sacks, and one operating the forklift truck.

Filler and conveyor cut filling time

Installation of a Flexicon twin-centerpost bulk bag filler and flexible screw conveyor in the packing room area has created a more flexible packing operation and saved operators from double handling of the malt. 

“By installing the bulk bag filler, we save between six to eight hours of operator time each week,” malting manager Brian Hickman says.

A bulk storage silo was fitted with a charging adapter for connection to a Flexicon horizontally-oriented flexible screw conveyor 25 feet long and 6.6 inches in diameter. From the conveyor’s discharge housing, malt flows through downspouting to the bulk bag filler inlet.

The bulk bag filler is equipped with an adjustable fill head that can be raised or lowered to suit all popular bag heights, and secured in place with two quick-release pins.  An oversized filling spout accommodates open-top bulk bags. Mounted on load cells, the unit can weigh-fill 772 to 2,205 lbs. of malt into bulk bags. To fill a bag, the operator positions a 47–by-39-inch pallet on the filler deck and attaches the bag loops to each of four retractable bag hooks on the fill head.  

The operator secures the bag inlet to the downspouting. The system’s PLC runs the flexible screw conveyor at a high feed rate, reducing the feed rate to trickle before stopping the conveyor when the accurate target weight has been loaded into the bag. The bag and pallet are removed by pallet jack.

“Individual customer orders are typically 24 one-ton bulk bags of malt,” says Hickman.

Upgrade saves time, increases production

“The system works well and we are pleased with the reliable operation it provides to our malting facility,” says Hickman, adding, “The Bulk Bag Filler and flexible screw conveyor operate separately from our 55-lb. sack filling system, providing another advantage as we can now do both operations simultaneously, saving time and increasing production. We fill the bulk malt outload silo in the evening when the 55-lb. sack line is not running, and then we can pack simultaneously during the day.”

Thomas Fawcett & Sons Ltd has been manufacturing quality malts for over 200 years on its original site in Castleford, West Yorkshire. The company supports and assists brewers of all traditions and sizes and its customers range from multi-national brewers to the latest start-up micro-breweries.

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