Bulk bag fillers of the future: a response to COVID-19’s supply chain interruptions

BULK bags have been in use for decades, but the global bulk bags market has seen a significant surge over the last few years due to bulk bags’ ease of transportation and cost and space-effective storage.

In light of recent global events, many in the industry are looking for reliable ways to increase bulk bagging flexibility in case of future supply chain interruptions. Bulk bagging equipment manufacturers are adapting to provide innovative solutions to increase productivity and profitability.

When evaluating the right bulk bag filler to meet both a manufacturer’s current and future needs, it is essential to first understand what characteristics are important for the specific application.

Understanding the Right Bulk Bag Filler for Your Application

Selecting the right bulk bag filler for a given application is the crucial first step in the process. During this time, a customer should be asking the following questions to identify the right bulk bagging equipment for their applications needs:

  • What type of bulk bag style and size will we need to use?
  • How can we contain dust best?
  • Does our application and floorspace allow for this equipment to be grounded?
  • Is our product dense or highly aerated?
  • Do we have other containers we may need to use the equipment with?
  • Where can we incorporate automation in our processes?

Once you have determined the type of bulk bag filler machine that will best work within your given application, it is time to consider how recent events may affect your overall supply chain in the coming weeks and months.

How COVID-19 Has Changed the Way Manufacturers Function

2020’s introduction of the global pandemic touched nearly every industry in one way or another. Public Health England indicated that the volume sales for snack foods in 2020 were 16.5% above the equivalent sales for 2019. As lockdown orders remain in place, more and more individuals are headed to the supermarket to find ingredients for their next meal and the demand grows to record highs for household food production and packaging markets.

With COVID-19 interrupting supply chains and increasing the demand for more agile, extended solutions particularly within these food and pharmaceutical industries, equipment manufacturers are now required to think outside the box for long-term solutions.

Still, as the pandemic stretches on, so does the demand for powdered food products and their correlating ingredients. This has significantly increased the pressure on food manufacturers to invest in ground-breaking solutions that are equipped to meet these growing needs.

Capability and Versatility at its Finest: The Cone Table Elite

A common issue that occurs, particularly for powder-based applications, is poor densification during the bulk bag filling process, which in turn creates instability with the bags while being stored. Spiroflow has developed the Cone Table Elite (CTE) bulk bag filler solution, proven to offer 10% – 20% more fill per bag, which in turn offers rapid return on investment for powder manufacturers.

Unlike other fillers, the CTE bulk bag filler utilises Spiroflow’s patented cone table densification system to densify the powder within the bag, which in turn stabilises the bag and helps to fill the bags with an incredible rate of thirty to forty bags per hour. This increased amount of product contained within the bag and the rate at which these bags are being filled substantially reduce both shipping and storage costs.

The bulk bag filler can also be customised to integrate foil or plastic bag liners, which, when combined with a nitrogen pure and heat-sealing process, can significantly increase the stored product’s life.

The Impact of Nitrogen Purging in Food, Pharmaceutical, and Chemical Production

Traditionally during the bag filling process, the bulk bag would be inflated with air before it begins to fill. Manufacturers are seeing the benefit of nitrogen purging to eliminate any oxygen within the bag, since bacteria feeds on oxygen and removing its ability to seep in with a heat seal can significantly improve the product’s overall storage life.

Spiroflow’s bulk bag filling equipment now comes with the option to integrate foil or plastic bag liners, which, after a nitrogen purge and heat-sealing process, will significantly extend the stored product’s lifespan while on the warehouse floor and result in a fresher product in its final consumer packaged state.

The innovative method is highly attractive to those food, pharmaceutical, and chemical manufacturers who could benefit from extended storage solutions, especially as end-consumer packaging shortages have led to the need to extend storage life in the bulk bag until the packaging becomes available and product can be processed and packaged.

One customer reported less than 1% oxygen left in the bag after the nitrogen purging process, confidently increasing their ability to store their bagged peanut product for longer periods of time without issue.

Spiroflow is proud to offer customised bulk bag filler units that include premium features such as a built-in oxygen sensor, hygienic lance for bag filling with nitrogen and evacuating oxygen, a heat sealer, and a vacuum.

Finding the Right Solution for You

In the end, it is crucial to stay abreast of all the upcoming changes to the industry over the next few months. Having an equipment supplier who you can rely on will be essential, which is why Spiroflow designs its solutions with the end user in mind. The company strives to make a profound impact that is both immediate and enduring by creating value through innovation.

By James Podevyn, Managing Director of Spiroflow Ltd.

About the Author

James Podevyn is the Managing Director of Spiroflow Ltd., a global manufacturer of Powder and Bulk handling equipment. Mr. Podevyn has been in the sales department at Spiroflow for over 9 years; starting as Regional Sales Manager for the North West before becoming Sales Director and then Managing Director. He has experience with a wide range of bulk materials handling equipment which includes bulk bag dischargers, bulk bag fillers and a wide range of conveyors and weighing systems all of which made to suit individual applications.

About Spiroflow

Spiroflow is a global leader in mechanical process conveying, bulk bag loading and unloading equipment, and an emerging leader as a Control Systems Integrator. As an engineered solutions provider and equipment OEM, we offer the industry’s most expansive line of mechanical process conveying solutions and bulk bag handling equipment to convey bulk materials, both powder and granular, within the factory process. At Spiroflow, we are committed to providing not just any solution, but the right solution for your bulk material handling and automation needs.