Truck Loading & Palletising From the Packing Machine straight to the Truck Bed

Editor: Marcel Dröttboom

In emerging countries transshipment of bagged goods is increasing and labour costs are climbing. Therefore, companies in these countries are looking for solutions to increase their handling capacity and reduces the number of workers. For truck loading, for example, systems are available that load bagged materials like cement directly from the packing machine onto the truck bed. The bags are palletised automatically in stacked rows or patterns.

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Fig. 1: The bags are automatically loaded and palletised – even when no pallets are available.
Fig. 1: The bags are automatically loaded and palletised – even when no pallets are available.
(Picture: Beumer Group)

Ona of such systems is the Beumer autopac, which simultaneously loads and palletises bagged goods, such as cement or other material – without needing pallets. Therefore, it is suitable for use in countries were no pallets are available, or where their use is uncommon. In rows or stacking patterns with a pre-selected number of layers, the Beumer autopac works quickly and effectively. Depending on the performance class, the system stacks between 2400 and 3000 pieces of 50 kilogram bags per hour. The loading height, including the height of the truck bed, can be up to 3.5 meters (for a platform height of 5 meters). The user has flexibility in forming the layers, dependent on the bag dimensions and the proper width-to-height ratio. The system can be used adaptively to handle bags of various materials.

Gentle and efficient Handling

The user can move the autopac to its starting position from the control desk. Then, the user defines the number of rows or layers and enters the number of bags to be loaded. The loading process then happens automatically. For each layer, the control program recalculates the height setting. This eliminates readjustments. The machine can load bags in double patterns of five or ten bags. In order to attain the highest possible degree of stability for the whole load on the truck, and in order to optimally utilize the truck bed, two mirror-inverted layers are always palletised next to one another. The bags are flattened by the loading process using two stacked belt conveyors, which releases the air from the bags. After being positioned, the bags are also pressed by the loading head, which makes the stack more compact and more stable. The bag feeding lines can be adjusted to the installation conditions. Corresponding technical solutions are available for variable conveying lines. The bags are handled gently. Unlike on the systems from other suppliers, where bags are suctioned and lifted, the bags are not deformed by the Beumer autopac. This is primarily advantageous when loading woven fabric bags, because it prevents the bags from breaking and stops material from being suctioned up into the vacuum filter. An electronic counting device ensures that the truck is not loaded too lightly or too heavily.

“In contrast with loading and palletising systems from other manufacturers,” Beumer says, “the autopac is equipped exclusively with electrical drive units in its standard design. This drive concept means significantly less maintenance costs for the user.” On the vacuum drive units and hydraulic drive units from other manufacturers, leaks that pollute the load and the system are inevitable. Additionally, the energy-intensive vacuum pumps and hydraulic drive units require additional cooling units, a fact that is clearly reflected in the purchase and operating costs, as well as in energy consumption.

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With the energy-efficient electrical drive units, the Beumer autopac provides high levels of availability and economical operation. The 3000 model uses just 0.15 kilowatts per hour at full capacity. The drive units and machine parts are clearly arranged and easily accessible. Due to its simple design, the Beumer autopac is service-friendly and dependable. The robust construction of the system can withstand exposure to extreme environmental conditions and has proven itself a hundred times over. With a track width of 5.5 meters between the loading lines, the system is also extremely space-efficient.

For an ambitious Growth Strategy

The Dangote Group, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, has been operating 15 Beumer autopac systems in its factories since 2004; an additional 81 machines are either being assembled, have been delivered, or are on order. Africa is an emerging continent where the demand for cement is steadily increasing due to rapid population growth. The cement company has an ambitious growth strategy. In order to compete with global leaders in cement manufacturing and be duly prepared for an upcoming construction boom, Dangote is striving for a high degree of automation with the solutions from Beumer. Dangote maintains a fleet of more than 5,000 trucks, some of which have very high rooflines with wind deflectors. Therefore, the inner clearance height near the autopac is 4.8 meters. Due to the tall ceiling height, the experts at BEUMER had to modify the systems. For example, they extended the lowerable conveyor. More powerful, frequency-controlled drive units are used. Also, the performance of the Beumer autopac will be enhanced to load and/or stack the required quantities of cement bags. n