For many wholesalers, one of the highest margin activities is buying in bulk sacks of anything from confectionery products to pulses, flour and breakfast cereal, and repacking them into smaller bags for resale to retail customers.
While repacking can be carried out manually, a growing number of wholesalers are opting to automate the process, as this reduces reliance on manual labour, minimises the health and safety risk, results in a more consistent product and boosts productivity. One such example is cash & carry operator Bestway, where one tonne bags of rice are repacked into smaller paper sacks.
As noted by Paul Wilkinson, Business Development Manager at Pacepacker Services, a specialist in turnkey automatic packing systems, efficiencies gained through automation may be cancelled out if product is wasted – either due to spillages or contamination – and such wastage is not uncommon.
“On many systems installed at wholesale operations, bags are filled whilst on a sack clamp, then dropped onto a moving conveyor and transported to a stitcher. All this time, the mouth of the bag is wide open and the bag is completely unsupported. This not only can result in sacks falling over and spilling, but means that anything from a nut or bolt to an insect could fall in and contaminate the product.”
Pacepacker’s Total Bag Control (TBC) system addresses both of these issues, making it an increasingly popular choice among wholesalers looking to automate their repacking operations.
Designed to handle paper, plastic, woven polypropylene, hessian and even nets, the TBC supports and guides bags throughout the closing process, presents sacks to the stitcher / sealer with precision that eliminates seal integrity issues and accurately seals even the most difficult-to-handle sacks to create consistently premium looking packs.
“The single most important principle of the TBC system is that it never lets go of the sack after it has been filled,” says Paul Wilkinson. “The second the sack is filled, a pair of motorised grip arms move around the bag and as it drops from the clamp, they close on the top of the bag, holding it in its formed state. The bag is then held shut as it is transported to the sealing device – usually either a stitcher or heat sealer – so at no point is there an opportunity for anything to drop into the sack. And because the sack is supported throughout the closing process, there’s no risk of it toppling over and the contents spilling.”
The TBC closes up to 14 bags per minute, can handle a range of bag sizes from 2 to 50kg and runs independently or in conjunction with sack placers, most gross and nett weighing systems, and palletising systems also supplied by Pacepacker.
The advantages of the TBC can be seen in action at cash & carry operator Bestway, where one tonne bags of rice are repacked into smaller paper sacks, ranging in size from 5 to 25kg, at speeds of approximately 10 sacks per minute.
“We chose the TBC system because it offered flexibility in terms of being able to cope with multiple bag sizes, and Pacepacker was able to come up with a line design that allowed us to run both fabric and paper sacks on the same line,” says Mr Iqbal Fazaldin at Bestway.
The TBC system forms part of a completely new packing line, at the group’s Park Royal site in London, which also includes a bulk hopper mounted on a support frame and an electronic weighing system.
One of Bestway’s requirements was that the system could also accommodate hessian and jute bags, which are notoriously difficult to handle on an automated system.
Pacepacker’s answer to this challenge was to design the sack placer so that it could be manoeuvred out of the way to allow bag placing to be carried out manually.
“Normally bags are placed on the sack clamp automatically, but with fabric sacks this can’t be done with a machine, so instead the operator places them by hand,” explains Paul Wilkinson.
When running paper bags, the tops need to be trimmed and taped before stitching. Pacepacker built the trimmer and over-taper so it could be moved out of the way when packing fabric bags. The TBC was also designed so that it could both re-form the gussets of paper bags and stretch the tops of fabric bags.
The line also features a new type of sack turning device, which takes hold of the bag when it is standing upright, and, via a rotating frame, turns the bag 90 degrees while it is travelling so that it lies flat and ready for palletising.
Paul Wilkinson, Business Development Manager
Tel: 01371 811544