Food and beverage processing companies are always looking for ways to streamline production, reduce manual labor, and increase production output. Mayorga Organics—a coffee producer that offers 30 different roasts obtained through family-owned Latin American coffee bean farmers—is no different.
Mayorga has already streamlined part of its process by purchasing directly from these farmers, bypassing supply chain complexities and simultaneously striving to alleviate systemic poverty through the direct trade of artisanal organic foods in Latin America.
“We produce a product that is sustainable, not only for the planet, but for the people growing it as well,” says Erin Dall, president and COO of Mayorga.
But Mayorga found that after streamlining its supply chain, the processing side needed to follow suit. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Rockville, Md., the company opened a new 42,000-sq-ft roasting and packaging facility in Miami to produce its premier product, Café Cubano Roast organic coffee, in vacuum-sealed brick packs. The company saw this new facility as an opportunity to increase production efficiency with up-to-date technology to streamline the transfer of coffee beans from the roaster to the grinder and to the packaging line.
To accomplish this task, Mayorga installed a bulk handling system comprised of two bulk bag dischargers, three flexible screw conveyors, and a bulk bag filler, all from Flexicon. The system was installed when the new facility was built in 2019.
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From roaster to grinder to packaging
The roasted coffee beans are discharged from the roaster into open-top bulk bags and delivered to a BFF Bulk-Out bulk bag discharger. A forklift then positions a bag-lifting frame immediately above the bag, allowing an operator to slide the bag’s four lifting straps into Z-Clip strap holders, and the forklift to lift the frame―with suspended bag―into receiving cups atop the discharger’s frame posts.
The discharger houses a bulk bag spout interface chute with an integral access door. With the bulk bag in position, the operator opens this door to gain access to the bulk bag spout tie. Once the spout has been untied, the access door is closed while roasted beans are discharged from the bulk bag.
The beans flow from the bulk bag into an 8 cu ft floor hopper, which charges a 15-ft model 1350 flexible screw conveyor inclined at 45 degrees to feed the grinder. The 3.5-in. diameter enclosed conveyor tube prevents product and plant contamination. The inner screw is the only moving part contacting material and is driven by an electric motor positioned beyond the point at which coffee beans exit the conveyor, preventing material contact with seals.
From the grinder, ground coffee gravity discharges into a 4 ft3 floor hopper that charges a second 15-ft, 3.5-in. diameter flexible screw conveyor, this one equipped with a spiral designed to efficiently propel the fine-ground material to a Flexicon model BFB bulk bag filler.
A palletized open-top bulk bag is placed inside the filler frame, which can be adjusted to accommodate bulk bags ranging from 36- to 72-in. high. Strap hooks, mounted on each of the four corners of the fill head, hold the bag open and stabilize it during filling.
Filled bulk bags are forklifted into a second discharger which unloads coffee into an 8 ft3 floor hopper charging a 15-ft long, 2-5/8-in. diameter flexible screw conveyor to feed the packaging line.
Minimized manual labor and other benefits
Low- and high-level sensors on the packaging machine hopper signal the system's programmable logic controller (PLC) when to start and stop the conveyor. Having the automated system under PLC control minimizes manual effort, aiding worker safety as well.
The bulk handling system improves productivity and plant cleanliness, according to Dall. “Flexicon provided a solution that fits within our space limitations, allows immediate packaging, and provides for future production expansion,” says Dall.
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