In 2019, the engineers at GREIF-VELOX developed a technology that checks whether valve bags have been properly positioned during bagging and whether they can be properly sealed afterwards. This check ensures that no bags are palletised with a faulty seal. This in turn means that no impurities arise as a result of incorrectly positioned bags in the welding stage – a very important factor concerning hygiene requirements in the food industry and safety requirements in the chemical sector. This development was triggered by plant manager Thomas Jörder, an employee of our customer ICL at their Ladenburg site in Germany. Mr Jörder was looking for a way to reduce the recall costs that his company was having to cover due to leaky bags with faulty welds.
In an interview, we talk to Thomas Jörder about how it all started:
Mr Jörder: How did you become aware of this issue?
It was a painful one! We were dealing with recall costs of at least 20,000 euros a year due to contaminated pallets. On top came immaterial losses such as loss of reputation when customers aren't satisfied with their delivery. It's a shame if a premium quality product gets judged by one contaminated pallet.
What exactly was the cause of this contamination?
A reason that is widespread in many industries and always keeps cropping up: some of the bags were not properly sealed. This led to product escaping from the partially open valve. As a result, our customers would return whole pallets, which in turn led to high return transportation costs.
Did you find the reason behind the faulty welds?
Yes, it is due to fluctuations in bag quality or an incorrectly set machine. This can result in the bags not being 100 percent straight when positioned for bagging. For instance, if valve openings stick together, the bag will be wonky when put on the spout. Immediately after filling, the valve will then be welded shut at an angle. Depending on the angle, it can happen that one side remains partially open and the product can escape. If you are unlucky this opening can contaminate the entire pallet during stacking.
Is that a well-known problem?
Not only known, it's largely accepted! The problem has been happening across many different industries for decades. Many companies have even started calculating recall costs into their projections for that very reason. The fact that GREIF-VELOX has now found a solution to the problem is saving us recall costs of around 20,000 euros per year as well as lots of man-hours in complaint management. A big benefit for us: at the end of the day we also have more customer satisfaction and a better brand reputation!
Can you describe the solution in your words?
Of course, because it is simple and logical: our pneumatic packers are now fitted with a new optical measuring system, the GREIF-VELOX VALVO DETECT. The VALVO DETECT measures the positioning angle of the valve bags. If the angle is faulty, so that the weld cannot be applied with 100 percent precision, then the bag is not palletised and is separated out. This means that we only have correctly sealed bags on the pallet, effectively eliminating contaminations
The ICL Group is a global manufacturer of mineral-based products used in agriculture, food and technical materials. As a successful chemicals company, ICL has a turnover of approximately USD 5.6 billion and employees around 11,000 people worldwide, over 1,000 of which are based in Germany and Austria. At the BK Giulini GmbH site in Ladenburg, around 450 employees work in the development, production and sale of additives for: paints and coatings, the cosmetics and construction industries as well as in the production of high-quality foods in the food industry.