The company said it safely and efficiently opens and discharges 25kg bags of powdered ingredients into food production lines automatically, without operator involvement, minimizing contamination risks and virtually eliminating powder waste.
GEA said the new system, which maintains control of the bag at all times, ensures accurate repeatability and safely extracts the waste packaging for recycling. The HYGiTip can be used in a wide range of processing applications, including milk powders, nutritional formula, dairy and food ingredients, coffee, tea, bakery and confectionery ingredients, and pet food.
With more than 6m tons of dairy powder packed into 25kg bags every year – most destined for secondary processing, of which 90% are opened by hand – the ability to handle bags automatically represents a step forward for the food processing industry, the company said.
The HYGiTip is a fully enclosed automatic bag emptying system that is hygienic, safe and ensures product integrity while reducing operating costs. The complete system receives depalletized bags, which are introduced manually using a vacuum lifter or robotic de-palletizer; removes the Kraft paper outers manually from the bags and separates them for recycling; sterilizes the plastic inner packaging using UV light; conditions, inverts and discharges the bag contents into the receiving system; and removes the used packaging for recycling.
Features of the new HYGiTip include the Positive Grip mechanism and Clean Cut rotary blades. The Positive Grip mechanism controls the bag during the entire process. Once gripped, the clamping device inverts the bag to a vertical position, where static bag spikes penetrate the body of the bag prior to cutting; this provides further support and equalizes the pressure within the bag to aid powder discharge.
Handling the bag in this way ensures reliable repeatability and mitigates any distortion of the bag which would otherwise leave powder residue behind. The bag is always held away from the powder stream to minimize the risk of contamination.
The Clean Cut system has twin, non-serrated, curved slicing knives that use a rotary action to slice open the bags. The absence of any sawing action means plastic contamination cannot be introduced to the downstream process. The knives cut through the bags on three sides, from the inside out, allowing the bottom corners of the suspended bag to be unfolded and cut simultaneously, preventing pockets that could trap powder and therefore maximizing discharge efficiency.
Kyle Hogarty, product manager, powder packing, at GEA, said traditional manual cutting and tipping of bags compromises the integrity of any secondary processing or dry blending operation.
“Once bagged, the powder contents are at their most valuable and vulnerable state,” Hogarty said.
“This is the exact point where the most care must be taken because this product is exposed to the highest risk of foreign body and pathogen contamination due to the manual handling and the presence of hand-held sharp knives. Our new HYGiTip eliminates this risk and improves the efficiency of the entire plant.”