Six Challenges of Bulk Bag Unloading - Pharmaceutical Technology
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Six Challenges of Bulk Bag Unloading

Bulk Bags offer supply chain cost reductions in the life sciences industry, however, they also introduce significant material handling challenges within the manufacturing process. Rheo Engineering has substantial experience with these challenges from years of field experience and testing in our Testing Center.

We have developed a wide range of Bulk Bag Unloading Stations that have solved these core challenges, increasing manufacturing efficiencies.

The following are six key challenges that should be considered when looking at the bulk bag unloading process. Reach out to your Regional Sales Manager to hear specific examples of how we solve these challenges.

Challenge one: Bag Connection Process

Most systems need to accommodate a wide range of bag sizes with varying bag spout diameters as well as the amount of spout available for connecting to the transfer module. For high-throughput systems, creating a fast-changeout method may be required to minimize supply shortfalls downstream in the process. Most GMP unloading stations require a dust-free transfer and some sort of bag tensioning capability to ensure a completely emptied bag. Addressing these issues while creating an operator friendly and safe mechanical system can be a real challenge.

Challenge two: Powder Flow

Most Bulk Bag Unloading Stations must be able to handle a wide range of powders, some of which may not flow well. Large agglomerated chunks or ratholing can result in an incomplete powder discharge. Selecting the correct flow aids for a system is an important step in the design process.

Challenge three: Dust Control

Bulks bags transfer a large quantity of powders in a relatively short amount of time resulting in a lot of displaced air. This creates a lot of process dust that, if not properly managed, can end up leaking around the bag connection. A poorly contained system is a dust explosion hazard and can expose operators to hazardous levels of airborne dust.

Challenge four: Loss in Weight

Many process designs require control over the net product transferred. Managing product flow to control the loss in weight of the bulk bag can be a challenge, especially for processes with tight weight tolerances. The load cell system, bag tensioning, and product flow control mechanism are critical elements of an effective loss in weight design.

Challenge five: Partial Bag Unloading

For processes that only call for a partial bag quantity to be transferred, the bag connection and then re-closing of the spout must allow for a re-connection of that same bag on the next iteration. Improperly designed systems can make this nearly impossible to achieve and result in product leaks or spills.

Challenge six: Integration of Second Order Transfer Receivers

Integrated transfer modules are designed to transfer the powder into a subsequent step in the process. This could be vacuum conveyance, gravity drop, or powder induction into a liquid solution. Each of these methods are effective but can produce unique challenges as you consider the flow characteristics of the powder. Inline pre-processing tools such as de-lumpers, controlled rate feeders, or venturi waterfalls may be required to ensure a reliable system.

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