Bulk-solids handling system 'gels' for Multisorb's packets

January 29, 2014

4 Min Read
Bulk-solids handling system 'gels' for Multisorb's packets

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A locking spout-clamp ring and a telescoping tube allow for quick connections between the bag spout and the hopper.

Multisorb Technologies, Inc. (www.multisorb.com) is finding that productivity is "jelling" at its new European facility that produces silica-gel granule adsorption packets. The company's sorbent packets are used to eliminate moisture and oxygen in the final packaging of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics, aerospace and other products. Based in Buffalo, NY, Multisorb built the 22,000-sq-ft plant to capture opportunities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, delivering product according to BS (British Standards), MOD (British Ministry of Defense) and DIN (Deutsche International Normal) standard accreditations. The bulk-solids handling system has been fulfilling production expectations and will allow higher productivity as the plant expands into different products for new markets.

Thanks to the automated, multi-line conveying/feeding system, which simultaneously feeds four form/fill/seal machines, the packeting process at the new plant is under control and humming along smoothly. Expandable for future market growth, the system was designed, built and commissioned by Flexicon (Europe) Ltd. (www.flexicon.com), which equipped it with a programmable logic controller, a bulk-bag discharge station, four flexible screw conveyors and four feeding hoppers that gravity-discharge the silica-gel material to the f/f/s machines (the supplier for which is proprietary). Described as being "airtight," the system protects the granulated silica-gel adsorption product while it's being conveyed so that the lines operate at high capacity.

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The first of three transfer points, a slide valve between the flexible screw conveyor and the hopper inlet opens and closes to regulate product flow.

Multisorb chose this more complex layout instead of a lower-capacity, single line of flexible screw conveyors that would supply the f/f/s machines one at a time in part because it says mechanical conveying offers more gentle product handling and maintains a particle size of 0.04- to 0.15 in. The conveyor's self-centering, stainless-steel spiral feedscrew rotates within an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) tube, providing clearance between the screw and the tube wall so that the gel particles are able to flow without damage.

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The granules arrive at the new plant in 1-ton bulk bags that are lined to prevent moisture or oxygen from entering, which could also possibly damage the fragile, hygroscopic material. A forklift operator then attaches one of the bags to four Z-CLIP(TM) bag-strap holders on a bag-lifting frame and maneuvers the forklift to secure the lifting frame onto a 12-ft-high discharging frame, above an 8-cu-ft-capacity receiving hopper. The bulk bags discharge dust-free. A bulk bag/hopper interface consisting of Flexicon's manual Spout-Lock(R) clamp ring is positioned above a pneumatically actuated Tele-Tube(R) telescoping tube to facilitate making dust-tight connections between the bag spout and the hopper. This automatically elongates the bag as it empties to promote smooth product flow and evacuation.

The telescoping tube pneumatically raises the clamp-ring assembly, allowing for connection to the bulk-bag spout and for sealing the "clean" side of the spout to the clean side of the telescoping tube. The assembly then lowers until the bag spout is pulled taut. Once the spout is opened, the telescoping assembly exerts continual downward tension on the spout. Thus, as contents of the bag empty, the bag elongates without dusting. The dust-resistant seal between the bag spout and the clamp ring allows the mouth of the bag to fully open as the granules discharge.

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A bulk-bag discharger, foreground, delivers the silica-gel material through a receiving hopper and a flexible screw conveyor to four hoppers simultaneously.

From the hopper, the 20-ft-L, 3-in.-dia, flexible screw conveyor draws the silica-gel material at a 45-deg angle up to the first of the four 4.5-cu-ft feeding hoppers, which is mounted at a 14-ft height. Three 15-ft-L, 3-in.-dia flexible screw conveyors connect the feeding hoppers horizontally in a series. Each hopper gravity feeds the product to an auger and a f/f/s machine. The PLC control lets any combination of feed hoppers be filled simultaneously, dictating how much material fills a hopper by activating a slide valve between the conveyor discharge and the hopper inlet to open or close. High- and low-level warning indicators on the hoppers and above each slide valve tell the control to stop or resume the flow.

A parallel line of the conveyors can be added should Multisorb's production demands increase. The hopper inlets are offset to accept another conveyor that can discharge into a second inlet.

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