Upgrading an automated bagging line has led to one of the UK’s leading animal feedstuffs manufacturer, I’Anson Bros Ltd, achieving a 15% increase in output. With significant volumes being packed each day, the innovative new FastPac Sack Placer, installed by Pacepacker Services, has significantly improved line efficiency with the ability to handle a new range of sacks. 

I’Anson’s North Yorkshire automated production plant manufactures and annually packs tens of thousands of tonnes per year, including micronized ingredients and feed for horses. For several years the company has been steadily introducing new bagging and palletising lines to achieve premium pack presentation to its portfolio of products. Packed into four different bag sizes, weighing between 15-25 kilos, I’Anson products are sold to over 30 countries worldwide. 

Seeking to improve the bagging efficiency of its patented product Speedi-Beet™, I’Anson approached longstanding supplier of automation equipment Pacepacker. The company’s recent addition to its sack placer portfolio - the new FastPac range of bagging solutions - provided the ideal solution.

While traditionally packed within paper sacks, I’Anson observed that demand among customers was increasing for the high fibre ingredient to be packed in laminated woven propylene bags, as these offer enhanced durability to reduce produce waste and better graphics. However, bagging produce using this plastic material was causing a production bottleneck. Brian Hobbins, Production manager at I’Anson explains: “Plastic sacks can be tricky to handle as they are either too slippery or contain static. Previously, this often resulted in more than one bag being picked up at the same time, so our operatives frequently needed to intervene. Having one worker permanently manning the line, manually lifting the bags when they became stuck was causing significant machine downtime and consequently impacting our productivity.”

Capable of running at 17 bags per minute, Pacepacker’s new FastPac sack placer is up to 20% faster than its previous models. Although the speed increase had large appeal, it was also the system’s ability to handle an unprecedented range of sacks. 

Benefiting from the integration of mechanical grippers along with the conventional suction grippers found in most sack placers, Pacepacker’s FastPac sack placer counteracts the issue of bags sticking together by picking bags up by the bottom and peeling them off the stack, rather than picking up the top of the bag. When the bag is picked from the pile by the sack placer it is immediately held in place on a sack clamp for filling.  

I’Anson’s new FastPac sack placer was installed alongside Pacepacker’s flagship Total Bag Control System (TBC). Once the sack is placed onto the clamp by the sack placer the TBC takes over. Using motorised grip arms, the TBC transports each filled sack of Speedi-Beet™ to be stitched. The sacks are then stacked onto pallets using a robotic palletiser.

“Since installation we haven’t looked back.” Brian comments, “We no longer need to intervene, which allows our operators to focus on other key areas within the production line. Pacepacker has been instrumental in keeping us abreast of new technology and upgrading our systems over the years which in turn allows us to continue meeting our customer’s evolving needs.”

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