When it comes to filling highly toxic, carcinogenic or strongly corrosive substances, such as hydrofluoric acid or formaldehyde, the employee's health and safety must be ensured. The Greif-Velox A-DOS-K canister filling system is therefore a closed system in accordance with the TRGS 500 hazardous substances ordinance in order to minimise substance-specific hazards.
Containment with an seven-stage safety system
The filling area is completely enclosed ("containment") so that no dangerous substances can escape and encounter employees. The following additional properties distinguish the stainless-steel system, which Greif-Velox developed in cooperation with a well-known manufacturer:
1. Automatic capture of label data
The labels are applied to the canisters fully automatically - monitored by a camera system. In addition to the position of the labels, it also records the label data (QR code) so that this can be compared with the order data. This ensures that all warning labels are correctly affixed to the canisters and that no product ends up in a canister that is not properly labeled and associated. This is also a protective measure for the employees as well as the end customers.
2. Container control
After the canisters have been transported to the filling area, their presence and their tare weight are checked. This is an additional safety and quality control: The canisters are only filled if they match the specified values for container size and weight. This further check ensures that the product weight matches the type of canister fed and that there is no overfilling.
3. Calibrated filling and suction during filling
If the containers have passed the checks, the substances are then automatically filled with accurate calibration and weighing, so that the containers can be brought into circulation in accordance with the law.
During the filling process, the bunghole suction is always active directly at the emission source, the bunghole.
4. Automatic shutdown in the event of overfilling and leaks
If a container is overfilled during the filling process, or if there is a leak through a canister, an automatic stop mechanism takes effect. In this case, the excess liquid safely lands in a collecting tray with appropriate detection by a liquiphant. In this way, the employees in production are protected because the highly toxic substances do not escape from the system.
5. Secure sealing process
When closing the container, there are strict requirements with regard to the screwing torque. The system precisely checks and documents this for each container in order to obtain evidence and traceability. For one thing, this process ensures that the containers are properly closed and that no employees in production are harmed by leaked product. For another thing, that canisters have been demonstrably and securely closed is also of essential importance for smooth transport. This being the case as if the product is released, it can be very expensive for the producers: if this occurs, a road may have to be blocked or, depending on the transport route and storage, a hall or an entire ship may have to be cleared and decontaminated, as the toxic or highly flammable substances can endanger people. Such operations quickly cause financial losses amounting to tens of thousands of Euros.
In addition, the system is equipped with automatic lid color detection and seal detection - this ensures that the correct lid (standard or degasser lid) is always screwed onto the containers and that there is always a cup seal in the lid.
6. Automatic palletisation and load-securing systems
After the liquid substances have been safely filled and the containers closed, the palletising stage begins. Here, too, safety is of the highest priority: the process runs fully automatically and no manual intervention is necessary to protect employees. The four-axis robot Velopack first positions the pallet and then places a cardboard holder on it in order to avoid possible damage to the canister from things like protruding nails. The canisters are then arranged on the pallet, depending on the canister size and pallet type. The Velopack robot is not only flexible in building different pallet patterns, but it also guarantees a precise packing pattern, which then enables the load to be secured with an automatic cover sheet applicator and stretch wrapper (for a standing pallet) regardless of the container size.
7. Highlight: fully automatic product change and system cleaning
The system is equipped with three independent filling and cleaning units for the product path. This makes it possible to fill at one station, clean a second and carry out sampling with a third, all at the same time. All of this takes place without any manual intervention by the operator on product-carrying assemblies.
If the product is to be changed or the system is to be serviced, the system parts that meet the product can be cleaned and decontaminated fully automatically - including automatic flushing of the drip catching system. Greif-Velox A-DOS-K guarantees a very high level of flexibility: the customer can safely fill different types of products with the system without complicated modifications. Thanks to the fully automatic system cleaning process, there is no mixing of the products with one another, which could possibly cause major damage through chemical reactions. Furthermore: the safe cleaning process without manual operator intervention means that there is no undesired product residue in the containers. In fact, the canisters only contain what is clearly marked on the label.
These features, with which the system can be expanded as required, mean that highly sensitive and hazardous substances can be filled safely in accordance with the latest version of TRGS 500. This is because personnel and product are separated from each other and thus both are protected. Neither can hazardous substances escape from the production process, nor is the product contaminated by foreign substances in the environment. Thanks to multiple built-in safety checks based on the STOP principle, both occupational safety and loading and transport safety are massively increased when handling the highly toxic liquids.