As folks in the packaging machinery world, referring to such a wide variety of products like baking mixes, ground coffee, spices, powdered sugar, simply as "powders" is probably a bit odd if you're a manufacturer of one of these products but across all of these industries, producers have many of the same priorities when evaluating packaging solutions for their products.
When choosing packaging equipment for your free-flowing powder product, the variety of models and brands available can be overwhelming. Before you start comparing run rates, technical features and bag styles, you’ll need to determine which factors are most important to your business. Some of the most crucial considerations include automation, accuracy, accessibility, and long-term support.
Depending on the product type and your performance needs, the hierarchy of these categories might differ- but they're all of key importance to the long-term success of your operation.
High Automation for High OEE
One of the biggest factors when choosing a powder filling machine is how much you need it to automate production - or even disruptions thereof. Some auger filling machines are designed with advanced automation in mind while others have features that allow for more manual operation. If your current volume is relatively low and staffing isn't a pressing issue, investing in a solution with high automation might not have a justifiable return, but if you are looking for higher output, automation will greatly affect your performance.
While not exclusive to powder filling, automated filling components are often better suited for higher volume operations. The reason being that they typically have more advanced features that allow you to do more with less labor. For example, some models have hands-free washdown or can adjust the auger screw rotation based on measured weight or volume so you don’t need as many operators monitoring it. This kind of automation is especially helpful in high-speed operations where there’s little room for error, which leads to our second evaluation category of filling accuracy.
The higher the value of your powder product, the higher that filling accuracy is going to fall on your list of priorities. Powder packing filling accuracy can be tricky, because even environmental factors can affect the density of the product being fed to your filling component.
For example, humidity level changes from day to day can change how dense a powdered product will become at room temperature. Temperature fluctuations throughout shifts can cause similar problems- so to avoid having quality issues with low-accuracy machine components, it’s important to choose products that are built to adapt as the production environment fluctuates.
These machines can be fully integrated with the bagger to include auxiliary sensors to monitor fill weights and can adjust settings automatically, minimizing variance in density across different powders. Accurate powder filling machines help ensure that end-users do not experience quality issues due to too much variance in overall powder weight percentage and help you to minimize product giveaway.
Powder Filling Machine Accessibility
A third crucial factor to consider when evaluating powder packaging solutions is the level of accessibility. What is packaging machine accessibility? This is the level at which operators and maintenance people can visually and/or manually gain access to a variety of components on their machinery, as needed. This can be anything from the electrical components, to the product in the machine.
High machine accessibility ultimately translates to shorter periods of downtime for washdown, which saves you money. It’s important that maintenance tasks are not only easy but also safe so they can be carried out effectively shift after shift, year after year.
There are a variety of solutions available to help your operation meet hygiene and automation requirements and allow for faster changeovers. ROVEMA auger fillers are available with automated, chemical-free washdown systems as well as a split door hopper that allows for easy cleaning and maintenance and also feature a window on the side of the hopper to allow operators to monitor the product.
Tech Support and Long Term Customer Experience
When you invest in capital equipment that you plan to have for decades, it's important to have a good understanding of what your experience will be like if when issues occur. If you shell out a lot of money to invest in high-quality and reliable packaging machinery, you'll want to make sure that the technical support, training, and wear parts have the quality to match as well.
It's also key that your support team is not only knowledgeable, but that they are accessible when you need them the most, and you won't have to pull out a credit card just to have a 10min phone conversation. Your vendor support team should feel like an extension of your own team and understand that machinery issues are emergent and expensive and are addressed efficiently.
Diving Deeper: Evaluating Your Machinery Solution
If you're currently deep in the weeds of evaluating a solution for your products and need a tool to help break down additional specifics, I recommend downloading our free comparison matrix spreadsheet. It's a good starting point for evaluating different vendors and machine specs and can help you understand where ROVEMA falls on the spectrum for many critical factors.