BAGGING CORROSIVE MATERIALS EFFICIENTLY
Corrosive products can be the bane of a production line. Even if your machines are well built, you need to take certain precautions if you’re dealing with compounds that can eat away at the parts of your bagger. Depending on the category of product, a commercial bagger that is not properly set up or cared for can be out of commission in a matter of months.
Powders are particularly dangerous because they’re hard to contain, and even those extremely fine particles can wreak havoc on your machinery. Your bagger is obviously at risk, but if you don’t keep your powder under control, your entire production line can be affected.
In fact, even products that aren’t powders per se such as fertilizers and ice melts create powders by tumbling around in the machine, so you still need to be very careful even if your main product is a flake or larger grain. Let’s take a look at 5 main precautions you can take to ensure a long life for all your machinery, even if you’re dealing with corrosive products.
1. Regular washes
When dealing with corrosive products, anything you can do to reduce the amount of contact with your machine will end up helping. Obviously, the frequency of washes on your commercial bagger has to do with the type of product, the volume you do and how often you run the product through your bagger, but the answer is as often as you can afford to.
We understand that not everyone can afford to stop the machine between each cycle to wash it, but at least establishing a consistent washing schedule will greatly increase the life of your bagger.
2. Dust control
A lot of commercial baggers now come integrated with dust aspiration ports, filters and innovative bagging methods(bottom-up filling) that reduce dust to a minimum or at least keep it contained. If your product is highly corrosive, you should definitely select a commercial bagger that has all of these features.
3. Stainless steel components
There are no two ways around it, if you’re handling corrosive materials, your entire machinery should be made out of stainless steel. It’s by far the most resistant material, and its properties actually improve as it’s used and product runs through it. The main downside is that building a machine entirely out of stainless steel can easily increase the price by 2x and even 3x for complex machinery. However, even with the higher upfront cost, stainless steel machines are actually cheaper in the long run since they are far more durable.
One little-known fact is that most commercial baggers are actually quite modular machines. So if you can’t afford to go all stainless steel right away, consider at least having the parts most exposed to product built out of stainless, and then upgrade the remaining parts throughout the life of the machine when you have more available funds.
If stainless is completely out of your price range, and all you can afford is soft steel components, you’re not completely out of luck if you process corrosive products. Enamel can be applied over large soft steel components to protect it from corrosive properties. While this is much cheaper than opting for stainless, it does come with its downsides. Enamel can chip over time, and powders can seep under and still attack at the soft steel underneath. Not only can this happen during a normal product run, but your staff will need to be much more careful during cleaning since certain enamels can get chipped just during a rough cleaning.
5. Seal your bags
If you’re dealing with corrosive powders, it’s important to seal your bags completely as soon as they’re filled. As your bags move around on conveyor belts toward the pallet, the movement can easily agitate powders and disseminate them all around your production floor. All of a sudden, it’s not just your bagger that’s being damaged, but the rest of your machinery. It’s simple, seal your bags!
Safety is an investment
A bagger is a big investment for any company, and the type of product you use it with can determine the lifespan of the machine. However, the way you use your machine can also improve or shorten the life and even uptime of your bagger long term.
Building a plan like this one and putting it in place is not a big effort and can easily give your bagger a few more years. It’s one of the few no-brainer decisions you can make in this industry.