Carefully managed integration timelines and offsite fabrication were critical during the upgrade of an automated packaging plant for seeds. A major delay from a key supplier was overcome with a creative engineering solution by EPIC, reducing the full project timeline by 40%.
CLIENT: Fortune 500 Company
INDUSTRY: AG Chemicals
KEY ENGINEERING FEATURES:
- Fully automated packaging plant treating five tons of product daily
- Bulk weigh feed system and controls
- Box tote dump and end-of-line filling
- Gas-fired 35,000 lb drying drum treating 1200 seeds/hour
- Moving waterbed with hot water and lye based chemical soak
- Dust collection system
- Process feed tank and 100 PS packaged boiler
- Neutralization system
- Conveying systems including:
- Wet product conveying
- Tramp material reject conveyors
- Dry material hoppers
- Vibratory seed conveyor
- Conveying elevators
- Project management – coordination of a condensed timeline across multiple facilities and crews. The project manager from EPIC oversaw everything from on-site field upgrades to off-site fabrication. If the lines were ready to install before the electrical wiring was complete, time and money would have been wasted waiting for the onsite upgrades to catch up. Site civil upgrades, controls programming, FAT testing, line integration and dryer drum fabrication schedules coordinated, ensuring the automated packaging plant met the client’s timeline for startup. By taking responsibility for the complete project scope, EPIC completed the project in five months. This was three to five months sooner than initial projections.
- Dryer Drum Sourcing – A challenge to the schedule was exposed when the client’s dryer drum manufacturer could not deliver a drum within the necessary timetable. EPIC designed and built a custom dryer drum in-house, avoiding a severe project delay.
- FEA analysis & mechanical design: The size of the drum required careful engineering. The momentum and weight of the spinning drum could cause the body to rotate off itsbase if designed incorrectly. EPIC’s expert mechanical design team used FEA analysis to ensure their plan would safely function in the long-term before fabrication began. Extensive FAT testing ensured safety before installation.
- Civil site upgrades: EPIC used ISOs for successful field installation. EPIC’s project manager had direct management of site upgrades to ensure coordination between the fabrication shop, automation engineers and site contractors. The EPIC team kept the project on schedule.
FULLY AUTOMATED PACKAGING PLANT: AN EPIC SOLUTION
Front-End Engineering/Design Engineering
Instead of providing a fixed-bid quote, EPIC uses a front-end engineering (FEE) approach. During FEE we are solely focused on providing you an accurate bid based upon fully extracting your requirements, completing due diligence at the critical stage of the project. This guarantees the projects will be delivered on time and budget. At the end of the front-end engineering stage, we provide a contract with a fixed price to complete the design, integration, installation and startup of the complete line. The key benefits to front-end engineering are:
- Risk is minimized for both the client and the supplier because “unknowns” are turned into “knowns”
- Contingency is drastically reduced in the quotation.
- Issues surrounding technical feasibility are uncovered early.
- The careful, informed development of an accurate project schedule based upon actual equipment lead times results in a high probability that the system will be producing product on the agreed upon date
EPIC used the front-end engineering stage to fully plan the project schedule and fully scope the drum design and fabrication. Equipment lead times, fabrication schedules and field contractors were all specified during front-end engineering.
EPIC’s Proven Solution
EPIC reduced the project timeline 40% by delivering a fully automated packaging plant in five months. The final system treats 1200 pounds of seed an hour.Bulk dry seeds are dumped into a bucket elevator. A dust collection system was installed to control dust coming off the conveyors and box dump.
Seeds pass through a moving water bed where they are treated with a water and lye solution. A 100 horsepower packaging boiler heats water from a process feed tank for the moving water bed. This system includes a heat transfer system and dual bank filtration. A neutralization system was integrated to process the effluent from the moving water bed.
A wet product conveyor moves seeds to the dryer drum, where drying rates are controlled by speed and angle of the drum. Dry seeds leave the drum and pass along a vibratory conveyor to reject the tramp material. A bulk weigh feed system feeds a custom box tote packaging system.
EPIC managed the field contractors for mechanical, civil and electrical upgrades, utilizing local contractors. Conduit installation and field construction took several months, during which the machinery fabrication progressed. FAT testing for the drum was completed in EPIC’s plant before shipment. ISO’s were used to make the field installation quicker by simplifying the complete process, making it easier to manage. A full week of training for automated packaging plant operators and maintenance personnel was conducted on site.
- A fully automated, packaging plant processing five tons of product daily replaced a small scale manual operation.
- Project timeline was reduced by nearly five months through full scope responsibility by EPIC’s project manager. The project stayed on time and on schedule, avoiding major work-site delays and keeping costs low
- Custom solutions for both the dryer drum and tote packaging systems were successfully engineered, designed and integrated during the five month project
WHY EPIC PACKAGING?
A good packaging line integrator works with you to design a line that meets your packaging goals, your budget and prevents problems before they occur through careful line design. EPIC believes we can help you “Make It Better” when it comes to automated packaging by:
- Utilizing Front-End Engineering to guarantee that the proper steps are taken during project scope development
- Applying our plant engineering experience to identify needs, pinpoint objectives and provide the most appropriate manufacturing equipment for the application
- Maintaining an open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering
- Being accountable to responsibly manage our clients’ projects from start-to-finish and beyond
- Imparting a transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the systems and equipment we provide
- Providing a single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project