Client: Ferrero Ireland
Project Delivery: Custom Designed Dispensing Unit
Ferrero is a Confectionary Manufacturing Company, established in Cork since 1975, currently employing 250 people, Ferrero are a world leader in their space for long established and recognisable brands around the world.
As a new Bonner customer, we were approached to solve a manually labour intensive tasks within the facility that was taking operators from more detailed and important jobs within the operations. The requirements seemed simple and basic - Supply a unit that can dispense a fixed weight of a powder accurately.
The only requirements was that the unit has to be hand loaded by an operator into a storage hopper and that the dispensing would be into a special container as needed and that the history of the dispense could be saved for later use. To accommodate this the original approach was to use a known batching system provider, with manufacturing outside of Ireland. However, after some time had passed and the cost of importing such units had increased significantly in cost, it was decided to attempt to use our control solution offering with B&R and locally available manufacturing for the steel works.
Since this is a food-grade unit, all metal in contact with the powder needed to be made of Stainless Steel 316 and the remaining metal of Stainless Steel 304. The original design was a simple gravity fed conical hopper in excess of 2 meters tall with a stairway to the top for loading. 2 Solenoid valves would open and close to dispense onto a scale that would trigger at the correct weights.
From our detailed investigation and inspections, we found the material would generate a lot of dust and a very high viscosity resulting in clumping, bridging and thus impossible to gravity flow (even through a 50mm / 2 inch funnel). To be able to accurately control this with the existing design would be impossible. We went to the open market to look for ideas, and in the end found none. Its clear that the challenges we were experiencing were significant enough to cause the industries involved with such a powder to keep it as a manual, and no automation.
Our methods led us to concluded to use an auger-and-trough design. In its own this is not unique as farmers and industries have been using this for centuries, but we took this to a new level. We had to find a new way of calculating the size, speed and shape of an auger to be able to deliver under varying conditions a constant and predictable delivery of powder.
Also, we now had to find a way of very accurately controlling the rotation of that auger, building into it “smart” self-corrections should bridging and clumping take place, and at the same time ensure that the now relevant EU regulations regarding moving equipment are met. Additionally we wanted to find a way of shrinking the size of the unit thus the client would not need to add additional steps or landings risking safety of the operators.
The final result is that by using the Bonner Control Solutions system, we were able to dispense a difficult powder product, within 20-30 seconds with 100% accuracy and this is repeatable. Additionally, we are able to acquire the details of the operator, the batch data and the production line and export this data with the client’s IT network and via portable USB.
This unit delivered, fills a market niche that we are not able to find any matching alternative product for, it is able to be adapted to a variety of uses, can be modularized with add-on functions (such as an extraction and filtration unit) and the software is generic, and can be preassembled, as well as allows for easy remote updates and monitoring options.
This unit is compact yet large volume, accurate, customizable and inherently safe (interlocks and guards). It also becomes easy to relocate and can even be made mobile.
- B&R Industrial Automation PLC, HMI & motor control
- High Accuracy Kern Balance with Status Instruments Amplifier
- Precision Batching
- Self-cleaning and error handling
- full client control for administration and user access
- Full alarming system
- Safety protection shut-off and guards
- Adjustments to control features (such as target weights and motor behaviour) and even alarm level settings for dispensing
- Remote Monitoring of unit.