Biosphere selected a turnkey automated batching system engineered and manufactured by Ingredient Masters Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio on the basis of speed, repeatability, lead time for completion and cost.
The first of the five modules is a super sack bulk handling system comprised of six 54 cu. ft. dispensing hoppers arranged in a single row. Each is equipped with pneumatic slide gate valves with dual dribble positions to optimize cycle times and discharge accuracy. Air-activated vibration at each hopper is controlled by a PLC to ensure consistent product flow. A robotic scale cart, also governed by the PLC, moves under the dispensing hoppers and receives the precise amount of each ingredient specified in the recipe. The scale cart automatically docks with a transfer hopper to transport the ingredients. There are computer- controlled dust collection points at each of the five hopper discharge sites; dust collection can also be activated manually during hopper refilling.
The second module, a vacuum transfer system, is controlled by the central computer system. It automatically requests delivery of the next sequence of material whenever a premix hopper is empty. It has a primary premix hopper mounted over the mixer that discharges through the mixer port, and a secondary premix hopper that discharges into the primary. A vacuum receiver mounted above the secondary hopper transports ingredients sequentially from the scale cart transfer hopper into the secondary premix hopper. Module 3 is a fiber handling system with a mechanically agitated hopper mounted on load cells. It functions as a “loss in weight” scale hopper and can also be filled from an existing fiber shredder discharge conveyor.
System control is provided by an Allen Bradley Compact Logix PLC running RSLogic 5000 for the PLC logic and RS view for operator graphics. A Dell Pentium computer runs Windows XP and RSLix provides PC to PC communication. A Microsoft Access database stores recipe and ingredient information and records batch data. Read more about this case study.