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3 Ways Additional Bulk Bag Unloading Accessories Can Assist Your Operation

Gus Carrington

Gus Carrington About The Author

Apr 29, 2020

Modular Bulk Bag Unloaders are extremely customizable and can include varying mechanisms and additions that assist an operation in different ways. 

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From operator safety to dust minimization to assisting product flow, there’s more than one reason to ask about what kind of equipment you should include with your bulk bag filling equipment. Here are a few accessories you can add to your bulk bag filling system to ensure a smooth (and/or safe) operation.

Material vibrators and bulk bag massagers help dispense product 

One of the biggest holdups to an otherwise efficient unloading process is when products turn out to be particularly troublesome to manage in the conveying process. When dealing with these poor-flowing products, there are a few options you can specifically include with a big bag unloader’s support table. Two commonly known mechanisms AZO can incorporate to aid product flow are bulk bag massagers and material vibrators.

To effectively discharge the product outward from a bag with a bulk bag massager, an operator can simply press a button that influences three massagers to move in sequence on the bag. Conversely, material vibrators shake the entire bag to dispense product. 

Both of these options can save time and an operator's energy by providing an alternative to ceasing the entire unloading process when products aren’t flowing well. If operators at your facility are finding themselves fiddling with control settings to fix flowability problems on a regular basis, a material vibrator or bulk bag massager could be an extraordinarily worthwhile investment. 

AZO bulk bag adapter

An AZO Bulk Bag Adapter (BBA)

BBAs greatly minimize dust in bulk bags, “shop vacs” help 

We’ve mentioned the importance of controlling dust when unloading bulk bags before. It is particularly important to monitor and ensure that a bag is properly connected to what AZO calls a Big Bag Adapter (BBA). Air will accumulate as product is dispensed to the BBA, and this air will contain some degree of dust. This dust will need to be properly vented as the bag is collapsed. Certain AZO bag adapter models can separate dust from the clean air being expelled and removed.

How a Big Bag Adapter is connected to a bulk bag

How a Big Bag Adapter (BBA) is connected to a bulk bag

Operators are also tasked with diminishing as much dust as possible during the bag removal process. As the bag is disconnected from the BBA, a residual amount of dust could still fall out of the bag. After big bags are unloaded and then collapsed by a BBA, a vacuum source can remove this pesky residual dust. 

Simple “shop vacs” are nice to include as an accessory to remove any small amount of dust that could be left in a collapsed bulk bag. They aren't nearly as effective as expediting the bag’s collapse as a BBA, but are a good idea for a facility’s general cleanup once a bag has been unloaded and disconnected from a BBA. Plus, they’re available at practically any retail outlets catering to large businesses or even home improvement stores.  

More than 500 combustible dust-related fires and explosions were reported by the Combustible Dust Policy Institute after analyzing 2011 data from the Department of Homeland Security's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). The accumulation of combustible dust is an ever-important consideration and it’s imperative to worker safety to actively minimize the build-up of this dust. 

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By using the AZO-specific BBA device in tandem with a simple vacuum source following a bag’s collapse, you can exhaust the air from a bulk bag in a clean and efficient manner. This effectively takes care of lingering dust within the bag and is one of a few ways to prevent combustible dusts from accumulating in your facility at every turn.  

Light curtains offer an automated “watchful eye” over bag lifting

For some plants, painting an “X” on the floor in front of a bulk bag unloader is the extent of their safety precautions when it comes to lifting bags. At the very least, it’s necessary to entrust a professional with watching over the lifting area. This should be considered the bare minimum. To maximize operator safety during bag-lifting, additional accessories can be installed with a bulk bag unloader. Light curtains represent an effective mechanism that acts as an automated “watchful eye” over the process. 

Here’s how they work: Light curtains entail a photo-eye and a light-emitting device. They include a sender and a receiver to communicate with a control system. As long as there’s a constant send-and-receive signal that is going back to the control system, the system will shut itself down if the light curtain senses something that isn’t supposed to be present. Everything at that point will be electrically isolated and locked out (akin to how our safety switches on centrifugal screeners manage inspection doors).

Proper care should always be taken into account when utilizing super sack unloading equipment, but the learning curve for implementing this equipment properly into a process is well worth it. There are many ways that bulk bag unloaders decrease risks related to workplace injuries, product quality concerns and a company’s overall reputation. 

If you’d like to hear more about the robust equipment AZO manufactures and the accessories that can be added to them, contact an AZO sales representative. You can also download our thorough Bulk Bag Unloading Buying Guide for more critical tips on super sack unloading. The AZO team has years of application experience to help you with your plant automation challenges, and we’ve shaped the ingredient automation industry since 1949

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