Bulk container packaging to be worth over $6bn by 2024

Bulk Container Packaging Market size is set to exceed USD 6 billion by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights.

According to the report, increasing edible oil export from SEA, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, is one amongst the major factor propelling the overall bulk container packaging market size over the projected timeframe. For instance, Indonesia exported more than 14 million tons of palm oil in 2007 and reached roughly around 20 million tons in 2013. In addition, more than 30% of the total edible oil exports from Southeast Asia was done through flexitanks owing to its high operational efficiency along with low cost.

Flexitanks tanks are widely preferred by the oil exporters, as it helps in increasing the profit margin, by reducing the operational expenses. Increasing palm oil demand from Europe, India and China will complement the bulk packaging container market size over the estimated period. Furthermore, increasing biofuel production across the globe on account of its environment friendly characteristics along with government support will subsequently boost the product demand for transportation applications. Thereby propelling the global bulk container packaging market size by 2024.

Flexitanks are widely preferred in the foodgrade product such as malts, edible oil and fruit concentrates, beverage and non-hazardous chemicals transportation due to its high efficiency along with superior protection against contamination. These tanks offer value added traits as compared to prevailing substitutes including barrels and drums. It is easily disposable, and hence there is no associated cleaning cost as in the case of tank containers and barrels. This, in turn, diminishes the product contamination risk. In addition, flexitanks can transport over 20 times more quantity of liquid than other substitutes in the same cost. These above mentioned flexitanks features will consequently boost the bulk container packaging market size over the projected timeframe.

Major raw material including PE or PP, used in the bulk container packaging market share are petrochemical derivatives, therefore the industry is influenced by similar price dynamics. Oscillating crude oil price trends is likely to obstruct the global business size over the estimated period. For instance, PP price in 2010 was around USD 0.75/kg and was close to USD 0.90/kg in 2012.

In 2015, flexitank segment was valued close to USD 150 million and is likely to observe highest gains by 2024. Superior and value added product characteristics makes the product suitable in transportation of fruit juices, edible oil, beer and wine. For instance, these tanks offer minimum food grade product contamination threats.

In 2015, FIBC (flexible intermediate bulk container) led the overall bulk container packaging market size in 2015. FIBC is broadly used in the transportation of polymers, building materials, chemicals and detergents.

In 2015, food grade & beverage application was valued roughly around USD 900 million. Growing population has substantially increased the food demand in massive volume along with low prices. This has positively influenced the food grade & beverage trade across the globe and thus will push the bulk container packaging market size by 2024. Bulk container packaging market size for chemicals will observe growth more than 10% by 2024.

In 2015, North America accounted for the largest chunk in the bulk container packaging market. The region is the major exporter corn, soybean, oilseeds and feeds and therefore has enormous product demand. However, Asia Pacific, mainly led by India and China, will observe highest growth close to 11% by 2024.

In 2015, bulk container packaging market size was extremely consolidated with top three companies holding over 50% of the industry share. BLT Flexitank Industrial, MY Flexitank (MYF), SIA Flexitanks and Braid Logistics are few key industry players.

Large scale bulk handling project boosts gluten-free production at bakery

Gluten-free, once considered a fad, is now becoming mainstream with more than 15% of North American households eating gluten-free foods.  As a result, the market for gluten free foods has doubled within the past five years and is now estimated to be approximately AUD 4.2 billion.

To meet this growing demand, Bakery On Main, a commercial bakery specializing in gluten-free foods, needed to significantly increase its capacity.  “We were operating at 100 percent of capacity.  Our bulk handling equipment, which consisted largely of inclined conveyor belts, was inefficient and very labour intensive,” says Michael Smulders, owner of Bakery On Main.  “It was also an open system, so ingredients were exposed to the atmosphere.”

After investigating various ways to upgrade the existing equipment, all of which proved unsatisfactory, Smulders decided to build an entirely new facility with an integrated bulk handling system designed specifically for gluten-free baked goods.  He commissioned an independent engineering firm to handle the overall design.  The firm worked closely with the Project Engineering Division of Flexicon Corporation to create a fully integrated system based on the company’s FLEXI-DISC Tubular Cable Conveyor (TCC) system.

Tubular Cable Conveyor principle of operation

Inside the TCC system, a series of low-friction polymer discs attached to a stainless steel cable gently slide bulk materials through smooth stainless steel tubing.  Because of its gentle conveying action and dust-tight operation, a TCC system is ideally suited for transfer of fragile, contamination-sensitive food products.

The stainless steel tubing can be positioned horizontally, vertically or at any angle.  Because the system is modular, inlets and outlets can be added as needed to control the flow of material.  The system can also be lengthened or shortened to fit the available space.

Regardless of configuration, the low-friction polymer discs and cable are driven by a rotating wheel at one end of the circuit, and maintained under tension by a wheel at the other end.

Two integrated systems produce granola and oatmeal

Bakery On Main offers five flavors of gluten-free granola including Cranberry Orange Cashew and Rainforest Banana Nut.  The bakery also offers six flavours of instant oatmeal, including Blueberry Scone and Maple Walnut Muffin.

The new building spans 10,200 sq m and has 6.1 m ceilings.  Because granola and oatmeal each require a different production process, Bakery On Main operates two separate bulk handling systems from Flexicon within the new building.

System integration permits fully automated granola production

 The granola handling system includes two Flexi-Disc TCC circuits, a Tip-Tite Box Dump Station, a Twin-Centerpost Bulk Bag Filler and two Bulk-Out Bulk Bag Dischargers.

The major granola ingredients are discharged from an extruder into the Bulk Bag Filler, which is equipped with an inflatable seal and a high level sensor and indicator.  Adjustable extension posts accommodate bulk bags as tall as 2300 mm when full–necessary because lower density materials, such as those used to produce granola, occupy more space per kilogram.

Palletized bags are then transported by forklift to a Dual Bulk Bag Discharger System which consists of two identical Bulk-Out BFC Series Dischargers, each with a cantilevered I-beam, electric hoist and trolley for loading and unloading bulk bags.

From each Bulk Bag Discharger, major granola ingredients flow onto a vibratory feeder and through an adjustable weir gate into a non-metered inlet adapter on a 150 mm diameter, 30.6 m long Tubular Cable Conveyor having one vertical and two horizontal sections.  The weir gate is programmed to adjust the feed rate according to the bulk density of the material.

Both dischargers rest on load cells that measure weight loss and signal the vibratory feeders to stop when a pre-programmed weight has been transferred from the discharger to a mixer purchased separately by Bakery On Main.

Minor ingredients are manually deposited into a small hopper due to the need for higher accuracy, and introduced to the TCC through a metered inlet adapter.  The combined ingredients are then discharged from the TCC through a full flow inline discharge adapter and fed into the mixer.

Once thoroughly blended, the ingredients are fed into an oven, which deposits baked material onto a moving conveyor belt. Baked granola then discharges into the surge hopper of a vibratory feeder that delivers the material into a non-metered inlet adapter of a 100 mm diameter, 52 m long TCC.

The TCC discharges finished product through inline tubular discharge valves into two packaging machines equipped with level sensors that signal a PLC to maintain surge hopper fill levels by starting and stopping the conveyor. Any excess granola is discharged through the system’s drive wheel discharge adapter into open boxes, which are transported by fork truck to a Flexicon TIP-TITE Box Dumper positioned at the intake end of the TCC. The boxes are hydraulically raised to create a dust-tight seal against a discharge hood, which is then rotated to mate with a gasketed non-metered inlet adapter of the conveyor, for re-transporting of the material to the packaging machines.

Oatmeal production process also fully automated

The oatmeal process is also fully automated, but without baking.  Received in 907 kg bulk bags, all ingredients are emptied by a BULK-OUT BFC Series Bulk Bag Discharger equipped with an electric hoist and trolley that can accommodate bags up to 1600 mm tall.

The contents discharge onto a vibratory feeder that flows into a non-metered inlet adapter of a 100 mm diameter, 11 m TCC circuit that, in turn, discharges through a full flow inline discharge adapter into another separately purchased mixer.  Blended ingredients are then auger-fed to a packaging machine.

A second 100 mm diameter, 8.4 m TCC circuit, fed by a TIP-TITE Box Dumper, hopper and vibratory feeder, supplies a second packaging machine.

Close cooperation with engineering firm eliminated obstacles

Throughout the design, engineering and installation of this totally automated and integrated system, a team of engineers from the Flexicon Project Engineering Division worked closely with the independent engineering firm commissioned by Bakery On Main to handle the overall design.

“The Flexicon people were detail oriented,” says Smulders.  “They had all the engineering resources needed to tailor the system to our exact needs, including suspending everything except the fillers and dischargers from the ceiling in order to minimise our space requirements.  They were responsive and very easy to work with.”

Mark Parisi, a member of Flexicon Representative Flo Dynamics, which supplied the equipment, played a key role.  “Mark shepherded the project along, solving any problems,” Smulders recalls.

“The new facility gives us the increased capacity we need without increasing our manpower requirements,” says Smulders.  “It now takes less time to produce a batch.  The new systems reduce damage to ingredients and are much easier on the workers.  Also, because the new systems are enclosed, ingredients have much less contact with the atmosphere.”

Smulders anticipates the need for additional capacity as the market for gluten-free foods continues to grow.  “With the production lines and team we’ve put together, we don’t anticipate any problems with meeting future demand,” he says.

Fresco Systems handles crumbs with new bulk handling system

When a food manufacturing firm in Sydney had a requirement to feed bulk crumbs mixed with oils out of pallecons and into a process line, it knew it had a challenge on its hands.

The product compacts under its own weight causing it to bridge and rat hole, making it hard to deliver into conveyors.

Fresco Systems was able to prove through a series of product trials they had ability to work with the product. Fresco then designed and quoted a system that would allow the client to reduce the physical handling of the product while maintaining a continuous throughput, thus both reducing costs and improving productivity. The system provided is completely unmanned except for the loading and unloading of the bulk materials.

Fresco Systems’ design philosophy makes it a natural choice for this type of application – where ergonomics, safety and productivity go hand in hand. For this application it was imperative that all contact materials were manufactured to the highest standard from 316 S/S and incorporating full safety guarding and interlocks to a category 3 level.

The custom designed solution incorporates a hydraulic bin tipper, with a graduated tipping angle to allow an even flow of product through a mesh into the charging hopper. The hopper was specifically designed with an agitator and fluidisers to negate any chance of bridging or flow issues. This then feeds a charging adaptor for the flexible conveyor, which is tuned via a VSD to match the downstream flow requirements.

This complete system had to fit within tight space requirements meeting site specific protocols around operator access to controls and forklift loading of bulk materials.

Fresco systems is the obvious choice when the requirements are for anything that requires thinking outside of the square, with their team of specialist engineers they are able to customise solutions to cost effectively meet or exceed clients’ expectations.

Bulk handling

Whatever the system, having a thorough understanding of a products specifications before commissioning and being competent in the running of the system after implementation are vital.

As a supplier offering specialist knowledge and turnkey solutions, Fresco Systems believes a major problem with designing and maintaining efficient bulk materials handling system is the fact companies do not know enough about their products.

Turnkey solutions are highly specific and specialised to a company’s particular needs. Different types of sugar, for instance, require different hoppers depending on the flow rate.

“The ingredients size, shape, flowability and density will determine the solution put in placem,” said Fresco System’s Ken Hetherington.

“Many companies will just tell you that they are supplied sugar, but will not know whether it is icing or granulated.”

Once installed, operator competency is essential. Taking the time to read the system’s manual and develop a Standard Operation Procedure will help Turnkey solution providers like Fresco Systems benefit manufacturers as they not only custom design systems but provide valuable after sales support, maintenance and training of staff.

Safe biscuit bulk handling

When an iconic Australian food company needed a new method of reliable, continuous supply of snack biscuits to its high-speed weighers and feeders for packaging, it sought the assistance of two Australian manufacturing companies, who are both leaders in their fields.

Victoria-based Kiel Industries collaborated with Pro Ali Design in Sydney on the project to design and build a new production line for the snack biscuit manufacturer. A project that illustrates the expertise and skill of the two companies.

From a modest beginning as a small, family-owned and operated company, Kiel Industries has grown into a prominent leader in the rotational moulding industry. 

Founded in 1989 by the Kiel family, the company now supplies the largest range of plastic pallets in the southern hemisphere and continues to dominate materials handling with innovative designs for pallets, bins, and ancillary products. 

Kiel utilises some of the most technically advanced moulding equipment in the world and over time, its custom moulding division has grown to be a prominent participant in the industry. Their equipment was specifically selected so that the company can offer economical short production runs, together with competitive pricing on high volume production. 

Pro Ali Design's dedication to quality, design and service, coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement and technological innovation, has made the company one of the most reputable and respected providers of conveying solutions for many of Australasia's leading food manufacturers.

A major requirement of the biscuit packaging line was to replace the existing bins and handling system with a line that used a cleaner, more versatile bin. Colin Kiel, Managing Director of Kiel Industries, said “For the production line, 'cleaner' meant that the bins had to empty completely with no residual biscuits being trapped by corners or edges.”

The biscuit production process involves several basic steps. Pastry is made and spread before the topping is added and then cut to shape and baked. Once through the ovens, the snack biscuits are   placed into the Kiel designed plastic storage and transport bins in large plastic bags. When the biscuits are ready for packing, the bins are moved and the biscuits decanted to portion pack sizes of 25g and 70g. Portion packs are retained in the Kiel bins until bin emptying is required to create multipacks on the packaging line. The portion packs are then boxed, ready to be sent out to supermarkets across the country.

The customer requirements were for 650 litre, food-grade polyethylene bins that were standard pallet-sized with smooth walls and easy to clean. The bins also needed the capability to be safely stacked up to eight high.

The biscuit manufacturer ensures the freshness of its product by insisting on a 14-day turnaround between baking and packaging. During this two-week period, approximately 1000 bins of snack biscuits are produced. To meet this demand and ensure there were always sufficient bins, Kiel Industries manufactured 1500 bins in total.

Kiel Industries tendered for the project but were only given four months to produce the minimum number of 800 bins. “This was a little tight because during our normal operational shifts, one mould can only produce 100 bins per month,” Kiel stated. “We had to maximise the efficiency and utilisation of the production line to make best use of the machines.”

Once the design of the bin had been confirmed, prototypes were sent to Pro Ali Design in Sydney for development of the automated tipping machinery that was to be part of the new production line. “It was interesting for a change for us to develop a bin and have the handling equipment built for it,” said Kiel. “Usually, a company designs and builds a processing plant and then asks us to give them a bin that fits their system.”

Pro Ali was selected because it specialises in the design and construction of state-of-the-art stainless steel conveying systems for the food industry, including customised package and box handling conveyor lines. In addition, all the company's equipment is manufactured to meet the appropriate Australian Standards, as well as AQIS, MAF or FDA 'clean design' specifications.

According to Jon Ball, Pro Ali's Business Development Manager, his company received a very specific brief from the biscuit manufacturer for the development of its new production line. The main requirement was to improve efficiencies and remove the need to manually load biscuits from different shaped bins.

The cubic-metre bins developed by Kiel Industries had to be robust to withstand being picked up and moved around in areas where there were multiple forklifts operating, so the Pro Ali design incorporated a heavy duty bin tipper. 

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