Every machine builder emphasizes its experience. However, once out on the plant floor in these fast-paced times with all its tricky raw materials, unpredictable end products, more-complex machines and ever-tighter deadlines — well, even traditional expertise starts to break down and get overwhelmed. Luckily, a few builders really have seen it all and have the knowledge to be ready for almost any challenge.
Haver Filling Systems in Conyers, Ga., celebrated its 35th anniversary in the United States last year, but its heritage goes back way farther than 1977 because it's also a subsidiary of 125-year-old Haver & Boecker in Oelde, Germany. So what appears to be an already-impressive three decades of experience in dry-bulk filling equipment is actually closer to four times greater. Most of its filling machines are valve bag, open mouth or form, fill and seal (FFS), but Haver acquired a liquid-filling company 10 years ago, so now it also offers solutions for liquid and pasty filling.
SEE ALSO: Filler Brushes Up on Speed, Precision
"Every customer's product and application is different, so our job is to adapt to serve each of them," says Bernd Steppler, Haver's technology manager. "Our main experience started in custom filling machines for cement products, such as the rotary packers we've been making for more than 50 years. These include the four- to 16-spout Rotoclassic rotary packer with MEC 4 weighers, which can fill 25-kg or 50-kg valve bags with loose or bulk product at up to 5,200 or 6,000 bags per hour, respectively (Figure 1). For filling bags with granulated or grainy products, we make different types and capacity classes of FFS machines, such as our FFS 600 to FFS 2500, which can fill 600 to 2,500 bags per hour. These machines typically run plastic, polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) tubular, aluminum/PE or woven-band films with weights from 5 to 50 kg."
From in-line fillers to faster, higher-volume rotary fillers, Steppler adds Haver's controls evolved from mechanically linked systems to PLCs to its latest MEC 4 proprietary weighing system that works in conjunction with PLCs from Rockwell Automation or Siemens Industry. These innovations and its long experience helped Haver diversify from handling cement to dry-bulk filling of other building materials, chemicals, food, pet food and other products, and move from packing them in traditional paper bags to packing them in plastic bags.
"The issue with filling plastic bags with powder is that air can be trapped, but these bags stretch and can blow up like balloons," Steppler explains. "So their filling machines need different vibration units under and inside these bags to let the air out, but still allow the bags to be filled quickly." One of Haver's machines that solves this problem is the one- to 12-spout Haver Adams rotary packer with MEC 4 weighers, which can fill 10 to 25-kg plastic bags with powdery bulk product at up to 2,000 bags per hour (Figure 2).
Because its philosophy is to solve its customers' individual challenges, Haver investigates the unique characteristics of their products and packing needs before offering a solution. Its testing labs in the U.S. and Germany evaluate product flow and velocity, bag material, air retained and other physical characteristics, and then determine the right valves sizes, spout configurations and other specifications.
"Our 125 years of experience puts us ahead of other builders, but we also build our own test bags and then work with our customers or bag suppliers on what they'll need," Steppler says.
"Everyone wants machines that can run faster and with more capacity, which makes it even more important to evaluate each application," Steppler adds. "And where we previously only used ac motors, we're now switching to more servomotors because they can be faster, more precise and also reduce noise. For example, our Topline open-mouth bagger only has one spout, but it can fill 30 50 lb bags per minute using SEW Eurodrive's servomotors and servodrives, and it has a very small footprint. It uses Haver's MEC 3 weighing system, Rockwell's ControlLogix PLC and EtherNet/IP networking for both internal and external communications.
Likewise, to help users keep Topline and their other machines up and running, Haver offers a remote, Internet-based maintenance service, which can perform monitoring, troubleshooting and control. Most recently, the machine builder launched its Haver Service Pad, which is an industrial tablet PC that gives users an immediate wireless connection to Haver Customer Service for monitoring and maintaining their machines (Figure 2).
"This service runs over Ethernet and wireless networking, so it also can incorporate a camera feed, allowing local operators to show problem areas to customer support experts and videoconference with them," Steppler says.