FIBC bags are a regular sight in many industries. However, while they’re ideal for storing vast quantities of raw material, handling and filling these bulk bags can be a challenge if you’re relying on manual processes. Thankfully, FIBC filling stations are on hand to help. Even so-called manual FIBC filling stages can bring a level of automation to production lines, while fully automated solutions can transform everyday operations.
Eager to maximize efficiency, reduce waste, and enhance the health and safety credentials of your facility? Read on for everything you need to know about FIBC filling and bagging essentials.
Bulk material packaging like FIBCs is vital for optimizing supply chains. They’re used throughout many sectors for bulk material containment, but can also be used for material logistics and transporting vast quantities of product to customers. Although they’re cost-effective and hard-wearing, FIBCs themselves only go so far in streamlining an operation. If you want to make your processes as automated as possible, you’ll need to consider FIBC filling solutions.
There are numerous filling and unloading options available for those looking to streamline everyday operations. Some systems are relatively basic, while others can be readily customized to meet the exacting needs of specific facilities.
Without a reliable filling system in place, businesses stand little chance of expanding their activities. By utilizing filling stations, it’s easier to remain compliant with the latest safety regulations, mitigating the chance of harm to workers. What’s more, embracing an automated solution does away with many of the drawbacks of depending on manual processes. A quality filling station will dramatically reduce waste as materials are discharged into FIBCs, while delicate materials are protected from contaminants.
If you rely on FIBC bags and want to streamline your operation, automated bagging equipment and filling stations are a worthwhile investment. Which one you choose will ultimately depend on your industry, the facility you’re using, and your bulk material handling requirements.
Standalone filling stations are the most common type of machinery in this category. They’re an automated solution for filling and streamlining bagging processes. With user-friendly controls, they’re simple to operate and can be integrated into a wide range of facilities.
A standalone filling machine dispenses contents into a bag placed beneath it. In most cases, they’re used alongside FIBCs with a spout time, which helps with material spillage prevention. Owing to their basic design, standalone fillers can be incorporated easily into an existing production line. With very little effort, you’ll be able to slash filling times and speed up your workflows.
Conveyor filling stations are another option. Along with discharging materials into FIBCs, conveyor fillers can be used to move materials around your facility. With a standalone filler, you’ll first need to haul materials to the station itself before they can be discharged into a bulk bag. With a conveyor filler, materials are transported to the filling station itself, before being dispensed into FIBCs. Some conveyor fillers are simple in design and can be introduced into existing production lines. Alternatively, modular-style systems provide you with more scope for customization. Because of their unique benefits, conveyor fillers are more expensive than standalone ones. However, by automating an additional process, you’ll enjoy significant savings in the long run.
Finally, there are pneumatic filling stations. They’re comparatively complex pieces of machinery and tend to be used in environments where large volumes of material need to be moved and discharged into FIBC bags. What’s more, pneumatic systems can be used to handle different types of material. As these systems are sealed against the outside environment, they’re ideal for handling and packaging sensitive material. This makes them suitable for use in industries like the food processing sector. Although these automated filling solutions come at a premium, they can be heavily customized. Once installed, they can bring considerable time and cost-saving benefits.
Efficient FIBC bagging and filling depends on numerous factors. Spending a small fortune on a new filling system is all well and good, but without following proper FIBC filling techniques, you can still expect plenty of waste.
Make sure you’re using the full capacity of FIBC bags during filling. A simple way to do this is to rig a bulk bag and ensure it’s slightly suspended prior to filling. This way, the sides of an FIBC will properly expand as it is filled. Additionally, a more uniform shape makes filled FIBCs easier to stack and store.
If you’re using FIBCs with a spout top, make sure this is enclosed over the fill head of your machine. This creates a tight seal that not only prevents spillage but protects material from contaminants. It also keeps dust from escaping into the environment, which can cause a hazard to human health. Before you begin filling, make sure the bag itself and any liner you’re using have been fully inflated.
To make your operation as efficient as it can be, you also need to focus on removing filled FIBC bulk bags from the production line as quickly as possible. If you’re using a fully automated system, this shouldn’t present a problem. However, if you’re still depending on manual processes, it’s something to think about.
FIBC bags are the preferred choice of packaging for handling large quantities of materials. However, you need to ensure you’re selecting the right FIBC bag types for your industry. Type-A FIBCs can be used to store and transport non-hazardous contents, but they can’t be used in environments where static electricity poses a risk. Type-B bags are another option. They’re fairly similar to Type-A bulk bags but do offer some protection against brush discharges. This means they can be used for more sensitive materials, such as flammable powders.
Compliance with FIBC standards is important if you’re storing and transporting more hazardous materials. Type-C FIBCs have conductive properties, making them suitable for use with materials like flammable powders. They can also be used in more hazardous environments, including facilities where combustible gases and vapors might be present.
Handling large quantities Type-D bags offer far more protection against static electricity and brush discharges and are suitable for transporting hazardous materials.
Regardless of what type of bag you are using, you can make the filling process more efficient by selecting FIBCs with specific tops. Open-top FIBCs are the most basic variety, but they can result in a lot of waste during discharging from a filling station. Open-top bulk bags with duffel panels offer some protection against material spillage but still aren’t perfect. If you’re keen to stamp out waste and keep harmful contaminants out of your working environment, a standard or conical fill spout is the way to go. You can also increase the stability of FIBCs during filling by selecting customized lifting loops.
If bulk packaging efficiency is a paramount concern, you should really be investing in filling and bagging machinery. However, there’s a lot to bear in mind when selecting a suitable filling station. While manual solutions are generally cheaper, they’re not always the best long-term solution. To make the right choice for your operation, you need to consider the individual equipment that makes up the larger machine.
The base of a filling station is one of the most important aspects of the design. The more robust the base is, the less likely it is that spills will occur during filling. What’s more, a firmer base will allow you to achieve faster fill rates. This is essential for automated processes or production lines working with significant quantities of material.
You’ll also need to consider filing system controls. There is a lot of variety here. Manual systems tend to be easiest to use, making them suitable for use in environments that depend on manual input. Automated systems are also straightforward once installed.
There are also fill heads to think about. The type you use will ultimately depend on the type of materials you’re handling. The right spout can help protect delicate materials, while also mitigating spillage and waste. However, they can also be used to ensure more precise measurements during the discharging stage. If you’re working with hazardous materials, you will also need to adapt your filling station with additional valve controls, dust protection equipment, and more.
Finally, there’s the actual framework of your filling station. Along with hangers, the framework supports the overall filling station structure. A reliable framework needs to be able to comfortably support the filled weight of the FIBCs you’re using. Attachments for hanging lifting loops also need to be robust. If you’re working with different types of FIBCs with varying attachment options, you’ll also want a framework that can be readily adapted to meet changing requirements.
Sometimes known as a discharger unit, an FIBC unloading station is called into action to remove materials from storage. They’re typically used when materials are hard to handle or hazardous. Fine materials have a tendency to clump over time, making them initially unsuitable for feeding into a filling station.
Unloading stations will also make your work environment far safer, with dust protection as standard. This makes them suitable for handling things like construction materials and toxic chemicals. However, they can also be used to unload grains and fine foodstuffs.
Unloading stations come in a variety of forms. Some are designed to work in conjunction with a forklift, with bags suspended over the unloading unit itself. Crane unloaders are also common and typically used for handling larger FIBCs with heavier capacities.
The simplest unloading stations feature little more than a basic framework and a hopper for discharging material from FIBCs. Others have a more modular design, where several units can be adapted to meet different requirements. If you’re keen to maintain a safe and hygienic environment for employees, they’re a must. What’s more, they’re relatively simple pieces of machinery and can be easily cleaned and maintained.
Safety in FIBC operations should never be overlooked. By bearing in mind regulatory considerations and adhering to FIBC best practices, you can always ensure your production line is as safe as possible.
Before attempting to fill or discharge a bag, you should first check FIBCs for any sign of damage. A single tear could render a back unsuitable for use with a filling or unloading station. You also need to determine whether or not the FIBC you’re handling is fit for use in your particular working environment. If there’s a high risk electrostatic discharge and your facility houses flammable materials, a standard Type-A bag should never be used.
Even if you’re not handling hazardous materials, it’s a good idea to invest in dust protection for your FIBC bags and filling stations. Even food items can release a lot of fine particles into the air during filling.
When filling a bag, never attempt to fill it beyond the quoted safe working load. What’s more, it’s important to ensure a bag is filled evenly. This not only ensures you’re making full use of the capacity of a bulk bag but also makes storing and transportation easier. Once filled, any spout should be removed from the filling machine and properly secured. The bag is then ready to return to the ground or a pallet.
FIBC bags are a staple of many industries, offering a convenient storage and transportation solution for bulk materials. However, if you’re truly looking to streamline your operation, you’ll need to consider filling stations. From budget-friendly manual stations to automated modular designs, there’s a great deal of choice here. Even the most basic filling stations can be optimized by using FIBC bags with the right fill tops and attachment loops. When used correctly, filling stations can enhance the efficiency of your production line, while also making your working environment more safe and comfortable for employees.