Plant Automation - Form-A-Feed


Form-A-Feed is a rapidly growing Minnesota based agri-business providing animal feed bagging of their custom nutritional blends, premixes and minerals. In addition to packaging their own brand of products, Form-A-Feed also has a robust contract packaging business, packaging products for a wide variety of customers. Plant management approached Hamer-Fischbein looking for a flexible bag hanging solution that would handle any type of open mouth bag: plastic, paper or poly-woven. A critical requirement was that the bagging equipment would efficiently handle different bag sizes/heights. They visited the Hamer-Fischbein plant and reviewed the Model 1200BH Bag Hanger, testing many of their bags to confirm they would run effectively on this machine. The team liked its structural build quality, ability to run all of their bags and the simple design of the machine. They were also considering a robotic palletizing system to complete their automation project. Their challenge was footprint. The targeted facility had very little space available for the complete automated line.

The Hamer-Fischbein Solution

Hamer-Fischbein Sales and Engineering developed a system with a duplex belt feed Model 600NW Net Weigh Scale dosing product to the Model 1200BH Bag Hanger. All bag conveyors were designed for the small footprint and manufactured by Hamer. In addition, the Hamer team incorporated a Fischbein automatic sewing system for their paper bag applications. When running poly bags, the seweing system is caster-mounted and simply rolls out of the way, with a Hot Air Sealer rolled in to close poly bags. The bags then travel along conveyors that feed directly to a dual cell, semi-automatic robotic palletizer. After pallets are built, their fork truck operator transfers them to the shrink wrapper. Form A Feed has two bagging and palletizing plants very close to each other. The North plant contains earlier installed competitor bagging equipment and robot palletizer. It is interesting to learn about the differences in operation and production efficiencies that the feed company encounters with the 2 different packaging lines. In the South plant, the Hamer 1200BH Bag Hanger offers the advantages of reduced set up time, ease of programming and speed.

In their robotic palletizing systems, Chuck Boehme, Railyard Supervisor at Form-A-Feed, notes several advantages with the Hamer Robotic Palletizing Module vs. earlier robot palletizer installation. Ease of programming with the Hamer Easy Pic software makes changing pallet configurations easy and done “on the fly, when everything is running and with no down time,” explains Boehme. At the North plant, a laptop is required, the robot needs to be shut down, and then everything started back up. Boehme goes on to summarize that “speed to accurately bag out material is what makes you money. Let’s just say Hamer wins hands down”.

Customer Service is Key

Customer service and on-going technical support are also areas that Hamer has provided a clear advantage. When visiting the plant one afternoon, Chuck described how “Hamer on-site technical service is world’s above that of the manufacturer of our robot palletizer at our North facility. Hamer’s robot control technicians provide very clear communication and innovative solutions and quick problem solving.” With any service or upgrade, Hamer has handled this well and in a timely manner. Form-A-Feed is a company that seeks innovative customer solutions with their products; therefore, they appreciate that Hamer has been a close partner, providing innovative ideas and solutions to any issues as well as direct communication and hands on problem solving.