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National Bulk Equipment, Inc: Material handling system for fragile food

With a process rate of 12,000 lbs./hr., National Bulk Equipment’s (NBE) automated material handling system provides a total process solution for moving highly-fragile food product through multiple process operations into bulk storage for temporary holding prior to final packaging.

Bulk totes of the food product are nested into a lift carriage. The tote is sealed to a custom-designed discharge hood, then vertically conveyed--using 1-1/2 in. solid 304 stainless steel track and cam rollers--to a 23-ft. discharge height. During tilting of the tote, optical sensors ensure a maximum product discharge drop distance of no more than 5 in. throughout the entire 150º rotation.

Additional material handling occurs as three stages of vibratory conveyor move the highly-fragile food product through two stages of high-speed image processing and sorting to ensure the material maintains its original characteristics throughout processing. The finish-processed food product is then moved into a storage tote using a reverse-tilt fill method to again ensure the product drop does not exceed 5 in. during filling. The final take-away conveyor section includes an integrated, NTEP-certified weigh system to ensure the filled tote weight is accurate to +/- .01% of the tote’s 4,000-lb. total capacity.

Conveyor and container routing is directed from a single, menu-driven HMI designed and built by NBE. NBE automation expertise integrates the system-wide control, communication, monitoring, and data reporting to the facility’s central control system architecture.

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