Proper equipment is essential for safe and efficient handling of bulk bags, also known as Super Sacks®. The equipment you choose must conform to the specific characteristics of your product and the operating conditions in your facilities.
At FormPak, we understand that you need to trust that your equipment will get the job done right. That’s why we guarantee the performance of our equipment if we test your material in our test lab.
Bulk bag unloaders and flexible screw conveyors are the products we test most often, however, filling bags, lump breakers, vibratory or screw feeders are also possible. Unloader testing determines whether your material will discharge from the bag correctly, as well as the rate of discharge measured in pounds per minute.
Flexible screw conveyance testing measures the pounds-per-minute flow rate of your material. We also determine whether any special flow enhancement components are required, such as vibrators, beaker bar agitator or air pads, and the type of screw auger required (flat, round, square or beveled).
How Bulk Bag Equipment Testing Works
In order to conduct a test, the customer must submit the following:
- A sample of the material to be tested
- An online test request form
- An OSHA-compliant Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
OSHA requires an SDS as part of its hazard communication standards. The SDS alerts employers and employees to the presence of hazardous materials in order to reduce the risk of harmful exposures. The SDS helps us determine whether a material can be safely tested in FormPak facilities or whether the test must take place at the customer’s location.
Testing conditions must also conform to the way in which the material will be handled. For example, suppose a customer needs to test a powdered cheese material for use in a macaroni and cheese product. The characteristics of the powder will be different when it first comes off the line than after it’s been stored and shipped. In those cases sending test equipment to the customer’s facility may be more beneficial.
Characteristics of the material will affect the testing procedure used and, ultimately, the FormPak equipment best suited for the customer’s needs.
New materials are introduced frequently, so our testing process adapts along with them. If the customer has an unfamiliar material in need of evaluation, they will send us a quart-sized sample for material bench testing. An example might be a product that breaks down food waste into fertilizer.
There are a number of handling characteristics that we evaluate using small sample testing:
- Agglomerating: whether the material is sticky, cohesive or adhesive.
- Fluidized: whether it is difficult to stop the flow of the material.
- Compressible: whether the material has a memory of compression, which can lead to conditions like bridging or rat-holing. An example of a compressible material is flour, as opposed to sand, which is not.
- Aerated: whether the material is very light and dusty, which makes it easily airborne.
- Hygroscopic: whether the material takes on moisture.
There are additional criteria we assess when testing products with flexible screw conveyors:
- Loose bulk density: Bulk material that hasn’t been vibrated or compacted. Should be similar to material that has just been conveyed.
- Packed bulk density: Bulk material that’s been vibrated.
- Angle of repose (loose): Angle between the floor and the slope from the top of the pile to the base. The floor represents the horizontal line against which the angle is measured.
- Angle of slide: Angle with respect to the floor at which material will slide off an inclined surface.
- Particle sizes: Screen analysis of bulk materials achieved by subjecting material to a shaking action. U.S. standard screens are recommended, and the percentage by weight of each screen is recorded.
- Aeration: Property whereby a bulk material allows particles to separate via a cushion of air. Achieved through agitation.
With some materials, a material bench test is insufficient to guarantee the performance of the equipment. When that is the case, the customer will send a bulk bag pre-filled with the material, along with one empty bag, for more extensive testing in our facilities.
The customer is invited to visit FormPak and witness the test on the equipment they are planning to buy. Testing the material in an actual bulk bag offers a better indication of the customer’s needs, such as flow-ability and rate. If the customer is unable to witness the test in person, we will provide them with videos, photos, and a written report detailing the findings of the test. In some instances, we will send the equipment to the customer so they can conduct the test at their location.
The results of testing help determine which equipment we recommend to the customer. For example, the client may need a particular type of screw to convey their product. The customer may also require additional options such as an agitator or flow enhancer, depending upon how their material responds to testing conditions.
Equipment testing at FormPak is free, but the client is responsible for all shipping costs.
Are you trying to select the best bulk bag handling equipment for your operations? Would you like more information on our free equipment testing? Give us a call at 800-936-7672 or reach out online at any time.