Packaged peanut producer Golden Grove of Warsaw, NC, sells its Carolina/Virginia-style peanuts to wholesalers around the world. While some peanuts are made into candy and some are roasted, packaged, and sold to retailers, the majority of Golden Grove’s 10,000-ton harvest is left raw and sold in bulk. The company’s raw in-shell peanuts are packed in 900-lb bulk bags and shipped to customers around the world. Not long ago, as Golden Grove’s wholesale business began to grow, the company saw opportunities to improve its bulk bag filling efficiencies.
In the past, Golden Grove employees manually filled 20 bulk bags per day. Three filling stations each contained a hopper fitted with a slide gate and a scale positioned below. An operator would open the slide gate allowing the peanuts to fall into the bulk bag until the bag was within ± 2 lb of the target 900-lb weight. The process was extremely slow and labor-intensive. Weighing accuracies could be improved to increase profitability as well.
The process also generated some spillage and possible product contamination. If the bag spout was not held firmly beneath the slide gate, peanuts fell on the floor and had to be swept up daily. Operators were easily bored with the tedious process and would sometimes look at their cellphones during filling. On occasion, cell phones (and other items) were dropped into the bulk bag, contaminating the contents.
Golden Grove required a significantly faster, contamination-free process to meet the growing wholesale demand. To find a solution, the company turned to Spiroflow Systems, which recommended an automated gain-in-weight filling system.
Golden Grove initially invested in a single Spiroflow C1-2 bulk bag filling system, and the solution worked so well that they quickly purchased two more identical systems. A large elevator conveyor continually delivers peanuts to a hopper installed above each filling station. Each hopper is fitted with a 10-in. slide-gate valve automatically operated by the filling system control panel. The C1-2 bulk bag fillers are designed to fill customer-specified 40-in. square bulk bags but can be adjusted to accommodate bags that are 50 to 64 in. tall with corner loops 8 to 10 in. long.
All product contact parts on the bulk bag fillers are constructed from 304 stainless steel to meet food safety standards. A flexible connection is installed between the filling head and the base of each hopper, as rigid connections would interfere with accurate weighing. A flexible connection is also installed between the bag inflation fan and the filling head. Load cells on each filler are connected to a NEMA 4-certified control panel with digital weigh batch controls, a slide-gate valve position control, and a bag inflation blower fan.
Speed and more
With the installation of three Spiroflow gain-in-weight filling systems, the number of dedicated bulk bag filling operators was reduced from nine to one, and Golden Grove’s filling rate increased to 300 bulk bags per day—a 15X productivity increase. Weighing accuracy increased by more than 400%, and product spillage was reduced. The automated filling system also eliminated all operator contact with the product, which significantly reduced possible product contamination.
The new bulk bag filling system delivers the speed the company needed to meet their growing wholesale business demands. Says company founder Lee Swinson, “Spiroflow is always willing to work with us. Their Controls Engineer worked on-site to program the control panels, which was well worth the investment.
“Spiroflow bulk bag fillers are simple and durable. The Spiroflow solution delivered the filling speed we needed and more."