Since 2003, KB Ingredients has sourced, mixed, packaged and distributed ingredients to the baking and food processing industry. The company currently operates a production facility in New Jersey and an international distribution center in Puerto Rico. 

“We’re a food ingredient manufacturer specializing in dough conditioners, bakery concentrates, premixes and toll dry blending,” says CEO Brad Keating. KB also does liquid processing and repackages liquid sweeteners.

From distribution to manufacturing

Although the company was originally a distributor only, it chose to branch out to the manufacturing side in 2015, offering customized ingredient blends, premixed dough conditioners and toll blending.

To house the new manufacturing line, the company erected a mixing production room with a 28-ft. ceiling at its New Jersey facility. For the new space, it purchased three ribbon blenders to mix combinations of dry ingredients, including flours, sugars and fine granular products, as well as a packaging line to fill, heat-seal and palletize 50-lb. bags or cartons.

Bulk bag system prevents bottlenecks 

Since the combined output of the ribbon blenders exceeded that of the packaging system, KB Ingredients decided to store blended material in bulk bags for subsequent packaging. Each blender now discharges mixed product into palletized bulk bags that weigh 1,000 to 2,500 lbs. depending on material density.

When needed, the bulk bags are unloaded using a Bulk-Out BFF bulk bag discharger supplied by Flexicon Corp. An operator slides the bag’s four lifting straps into Z-Clip strap holders on the bag lifting frame, which is raised by forklift and placed into top-mounted receiving cups atop the frame’s four posts. 

The operator then connects the bag spout to a Spout-Lock clamp ring that creates a sealed connection between the clean side of the spout and the clean side of a Tele-Tube telescoping tube, protecting the integrity of the blended mixture. As the tube then lowers, it keeps the spout taut, promoting flow and total evacuation while preventing dust. The discharger also includes Pop-Top upper frame extension arms that raise and elongate the bag as it empties to further promote complete discharge.

The blended material flows from the bulk bag into an 8-cu.-ft. floor hopper designed for powdery, semi-free-flowing materials. A pneumatic turbine vibrator on the hopper aids flow. The hopper feeds a 15-ft.-long, 4.5-in. O.D. flexible screw conveyor inclined at 45°, which transfers material to a 12-in. diameter circular separator mounted above another hopper, from which the product gravity feeds to the packaging machine below.

Second system expands capacity

To provide redundancy, the company added a second model BFF bulk bag discharger in 2017.

“At the time, we didn’t need the capacity,” says Keating, “but now our volume is picking up to where we’re utilizing them both.”

The second system incorporates the bulk bag discharger, a 24-in. diameter vibratory screener and a packaging machine, all stacked in a 17-ft.-high discharger frame. The high ceiling in the process room allows this arrangement, Keating points out, minimizing footprint. A bulk bag is loaded into the discharger by forklift as with the original discharger, except the operator climbs a step ladder to access the higher bag spout connection. 

To control flow to the sifter, the bag spout interface is fitted with a Power-Cincher flow control valve containing four elliptically shaped cincher bars that converge and overlap to allow partial or complete closure of the bulk bag spout. The discharger also incorporates Flow-Flexer bag activators that raise and lower opposite bottom edges of the bag to promote material flow and total evacuation.

“The systems are essentially maintenance-free with few moving parts,” says Keating. “The only thing on the flexible screw conveyor that you have to maintain is the 3 hp motor.”

“We are cautious about cross-contamination because allergens are present,” Keating says.

Cleaning takes two to three hours, including the hoppers, flexible screw conveyor, screeners and packaging machine. KB Ingredients uses the original discharging system with flexible screw conveyor for longer production runs where changeover time has less impact, and the newer discharging system for shorter runs.

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