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Mobile three-tier bulk bag discharger delivers high expectations in low ceiling environment.

The combined ceiling height restrictions and limited floor space in the factory of a chemical process plant prompted the review of the raw materials handling system, where two receiving vessels were to be gravity fed separately from above from the same bulk, raw material source. Overcoming the height restrictions and delivering system mobility were essential to the brief. The final result, after consultation with bulk solids handling specialists Flexicon (Europe) Ltd, was an unusual bulk bag handling system consisting of a three-part, bulkbag frame comprising: cruciform, intermediate frame and a base frame mounted on castors for mobility, a model D-24 hopper to interface with a model 1312, round screw conveyor and two control panels.

The uppermost part of the frame, the cruciform, is first separated from the bulk bag frame using a fork-lift truck and located onto the fleaxible intermediate bulk container (FIBC) at floor level, hooked up and made ready for loading. The intermediate frame is then lifted clear of the base frame and place remotely from the system on the factory floor. The FIBC is then relocated onto the intermediate frame. With the FIBC now in place, both bag and intermediate frame are lifted and negotiated through the low ceiling hazards and re-located onto the base frame. The clearance is very fine and was only overcome by careful engineering of the system.

Incorporated in this custom built system is a sophisticated bulk bag/hopper interface consisting of a manual Sprout-Lock[TM] clamp ring positioned above a pneumatically actuated Tele-Tube[TM] telescoping tube. Together, the devices enable an operator to make a quick, dust-tight connection between the bag spout and hopper, and to automatically elongate the bag as it empties to promote flow and evacuation. When FIBC has been properly located onto the base frame, through one of the control panels the telescoping tube raises the clamp ring assembly that seals the clean side of the bag spout to the clean side of the telescoping tube, then lowers until the bag spout is pulled taut. Once the spout is untied, the telescoping assembly exerts continual downward tension on the spout, elongating the bag as it empties. The high-integrity, dust-tight seal between bag spout and clamp ring allows full-open discharge from the bag, often eliminating the need for iris valves commonly employed to reduce the escape of dust by reducing the initially high rate of flow from the bag. A second frame-mounted control panel regulates the rate of the feeder screw from fast to trickle speed to allow precision transfer of material.

For applications requiring retying of partially empty bags, the system also comprises a new Power-Clincher[TM] pneumatically actuated flow control valve. Unlike opposing bars that pinch the spout from two sides, the new valve contains a series of curved, actuated stainless steel rods that clinch the spout concentrically on a horizontal axis for easy tie offs and vertically in a tight zigzag pattern to prevent leakage of fine powders.

Although the powder in transit is free-flowing, at the point of discharge strategically mounted Flow Flexer Plates massage the lower side walls of the bulk bag at pre-set, timed intervals, assisting the flow and directing product to the central flow column. As discharge continues and the bag slowly empties, the massaging strokes increase, raising the side walls of the bag creating a V shape, eliminating dead spots and maximising the amount of product discharged.

Product is then gravity fed via the hopper into the throat of the flexible conveyor, housing a round screw driven by a 0.75Kw geared drive assembly. Raw material is then transferred through 20i along 1 metre long conveyor and gravity fed, via a flexible sleeve, into one of two receiving vessels below, first at a fast rate then slowing to trickle-speed for +/- 1% accuracy. The three-tier system enables easy movement of the bulk frame to the second receiving vessel for continued product transfer.

Contact Flexicon (Europe) Ltd. on tel 01227 374710 or visit
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Title Annotation:PLANT & EQUIPMENT
Publication:Food Trade Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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