Charles IFE

Supplier: Kockums Bulk Systems
11 November, 2013

"Twice the throughput, and at a lower investment, so why would I go elsewhere?"

So says Jock Charles of Charles I.F.E., one of Australia's leading lights in the design and operation of environmentally friendly rural production.

He was referring to the vertical form fill and seal machine recently installed at his potting mix packaging facility just West of Ballarat.

The Charles family have been residents in the Windemere district, Victoria, since their family migrated from Northern Ireland. They were among the first pioneers in the area.

Continual growth over the past 80 years has the farm increasing to 860 hectares, running, amongst other things, dry sheep and growing oats and barley.

Of recent times, the main enterprise at Berrybank Farm has become the piggery; established over 40 years ago, which has been remodelled and upgraded at different times into a modern, efficient and productive pig unit.

The breed is unique to Berrybank having been developed over many decades through selection and performance testing. Stringent measures and strict monitoring of farm visitors have helped to keep Berrybank Farm a minimal disease piggery with a high health status.

Over its many years involvement in Pig production, Charles I.F.E., Pty Limited has always been environmentally conscious; notable amongst the company's achievements is their recognition of the need to develop a Total Waste Management System. An impressive achievement sees ALL the effluent from the piggery converted into electricity which is sold into the power grid. The resulting odourless garden fertiliser is used to promote crop growth and is sold commercially through the Company's Garden Products Division.

The Garden Products Division has become a key supplier of premium quality potting mixes and soil conditioners to garden centres and nurseries throughout Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

The products are also distributed to a number of leading Golf Courses. The plant is acknowledged as world class and has received recognition and praise from leading authorities, including the E.P.A and the Renewable Energy Authority.

Kockums Bulk Systems were recently commissioned to supply Charles I.F.E. with a form fill and seal (FFS) machine, capable of filling in excess of 16 x 30 litre bags per minute. The demanding requirements were for a high speed, well proven machine with the capability of reliably handling a variety of products, such as a range of soils, potting mixes, peats, mulches and barks.

FFS machine that Kockums supplied is fully automatic and comprises a number of novel (some patented) features. The volumetric feeder is a standout; its unique features ensuring an accurate and reliable flow of all agricultural products. It is this unit that has placed the manufacturer amongst the leading suppliers to Europe's agricultural industry.

Simple, yet well designed, and equipped with up-to-the-minute electronic control features the rugged nature of the machine has proven itself in many hundreds of successful installations. High speed monitoring and control of heating and cooling cycles, "smart” energy saving features and techniques learned over many years of development, has led to the current design; well proven, ultra reliable and yet encouragingly, at a very competitive price.

Charles I.F.E.'s system is fed via a simple transfer from an intake hopper, the inclined conveyor controlled by level controls within the volumetric feeder. The bags are filled, sealed, and fed to a bag rotator / flattener before automatic palletisation via a 4-axis robotic palletising system. The robot places both empty pallets and slip sheets from adjacent piles, loads the pallets according to the pre-programmed pattern and repeats the cycle.

At this stage, the robot is fed from both a manual packing line operating on pre-made bags and the form fill & seal machine. Since the installation of the Kockums FFS unit, the throughput limitation has now shifted to the palletising area.

Units are available from Kockums' extensive range, using the same well proven technology, from pack sizes down to 100 ml, up to 125 litres, and speeds up to 60 packs per minute. Products fed so far include fertilisers, peats and composts, metallic and plastic components, chemicals, detergent, sawdust, vermiculite, ice, tobacco, salt, coffee, tea, seeds, sugar, pet food, pasta and kitty litter. Kockums are proud of being able to supply 'world's best' machines.

One of Australia's leaders in Bulk Materials Handling Systems, Kockums Bulk Systems, have made significant steps to be recognised as a leader in the supply of Packaging Systems with a well established range of core packaging products including cartoners, FFS machines, automatic bagging machines together with both robotic and stripper plate style palletisers.