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How to Design a Safe Bulk Bag Unloading System

Mike Miller

Mike Miller About The Author

Feb 26, 2019

Bulk Bag Unloaders Put Safety First

A bulk bag unloading system the first, and often only place, where your employees and your ingredients interact. It's also the place where bulk material handling safety starts. When designing a bulk bag unloading system there are ways to not only make it more efficient for your company. But make sure your bulk bag unloader contains these safety features, too. 

Join AZO Inc's Bill Nesti as he draws on years of experience in this brief video tour of bulk bag unloader safety considerations. Not only does he cover the important safety factors and nice-to-have "comfort" features for your team members, but he dives into facility safety (e.g. dust control) and even product safety (e.g., protecting it from contamination.)

If you're considering adding or replacing bulk bag unloading capability, be sure to consider the safety recommendations in our free downloadable buying guide


Lightly Edited Transcript Follows Below

Hello, my name is  Bill Nesti, sales manager for AZO Vital Group here to talk about bulk bag unloader safety for a few minutes.

Bulk Bag Hoist Safety

We'll start at the top of the unit here. If you go up to the orange colored unit, that's what we call the Traverse. Now, the Traverse is used for looping the bag and lifting it into place with the hoist and trolley. One of the fine features of that you'll notice, is that there's not only hooks for looping the bags loops onto, but it also has catch latches. These are one-way position latches, so once you slide the loop over that hook, the latches lock it into place and it's a one-way arrangement. It cannot come out of there unless it's brought back down to the ground and an operator unhooks it. It's an inherent safety feature. In addition to that, the monorail and hoist assembly is rated for a specific load capacity, and it's also certified for that load capacity with an ample factor of safety. 

Bulk Bag Unloader Frame

Working our way down, you'll notice that the complete structure is made of robust 4-inch square structural tubing and closed on both ends. Fully welded, no "stitch welding" allowed. This gives a very robust design. There's no shaking or vibration to deal with.

Full Safety Table

Another key safety feature of our unit has to do with the vibrating table. This also serves as a safety table. It has the purpose of allowing the bag to rest on a surface, and at the same time, prevent any pinch points where the operator has to reach in and do the bag docking and clamping arrangement.

You'll also notice that it's notched out. This eliminates head-knocking. When the operator has to reach into the apparatus, grab the handles, do the bag connecting, untying, we notched this one side of the table out. There's also a resilient bumper on there. You eliminate the head-knocking factor that could otherwise be involved. You're reducing risk of injury and operator safety is greatly enhanced.

The Configurator

Consistent, Repeatable, Dust Free and Ergonomic Bulk Bag Spout Connection

Additional safety measures have to do with the ergonomics of the docking device. We call this the BBA, but think of it as the docking device. The key point here is this is where the operator and the bag all interface with the equipment. That's why it's important. The pinch points are eliminated, there are no moving parts involved. There's no rotating parts, no moving parts. Flow enhancement is all done with vibration, so there's no rotating shafts, pins, or flights or anything like that. The red handles allow the operator an ergonomic way to clamp the bag down and make a dust-tight connection. You'll also notice that it has guide blocks. This allows the operator to grab these handles, pull it down tight and give a closed system. When you do that, these guide blocks allow the cylinder to always go up and down in the same place, precisely, every time.

Fully Grounded For Facility Safety (Combustible Dust Consideration)

Another key feature that has to do with safety with this unit, you'll notice that when it comes from AZO, they're factory installed, properly grounded cabling and straps. This stackup is made up of many different parts and modules that come together to make it complete stackup. If you look close, you'll notice that every single piece of equipment that assembles together in the stackup, there's proper jumpers and cabling for proper grounding. This eliminates the risk of static electricity, static shock to the operator, and equally important, the risk of hazard of combustible dusts.

Product Safety - Prevention of Contamination

From a product safety perspective, I'll point out the fact that we have this closing lid. When you clamp this down and you're not using it, this provides safety. Not for the operator, but safety for the product, which is another key feature that customers are really concerned about.

  • we're trying to protect the product
  • we're trying to protect the facility
  • and also, last but not least, protect the operator.

All those three factors come into play when we're talking about safety.

We've talked about the operator safety already, which is a key point. We've talked about safety of the operation. Now, the last key point is product safety. This lid, once you put it in place, you clamp it down tight, this prevents the ingress of extraneous material when the unit is not in use. You don't want insects, birds, loose materials, shipping, packaging products, any kind of extraneous material to get into the equipment when it's not in use. 

Comprehensive Approach to Bulk Bag Unloading System Safety


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