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More Miller time for Kennedy

Rice descends from the hopper, through a dome valve and downspouting into the twin-centrepost bulk bag filler

Rice descends from the hopper, through a dome valve and downspouting into the twin-centrepost bulk bag filler

A new bulk bag filler speeds packaging at Kennedy rice mill.

Each year the US rice harvest amounts to several million tonnes. In 2014, the country produced 11 million tonnes. The vast majority of the harvest comes from six states Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas – and as much as 25 percent alone is from Louisiana.

Because the Louisiana harvest takes place primarily over two months, it places a huge demand on the area’s processing capacity. Any delay in moving the processed rice to market can result in severe cash flow problems for growers. To deal with this peak demand, Kennedy Rice, one of the largest growers in Louisiana, has constructed a new rice processing facility to convert freshly harvested and dried grain, known as rough rice, into polished white rice ready for sale to customers.

Opened in September 2012 with the capacity to process up to 136,000 tonnes of rough rice per year, the facility took about two years to build, and cost over £6.2 million. The Kennedy rice mill fills orders as they are received rather than stockpiling polished white rice in a warehouse. Ninety-five percent of the finished product is shipped in bulk by rail or barge, but a growing amount of it is packaged in 907kg bulk bags which the company fills using a Twin- Centrepost bulk bag filler from Flexicon.

Bulk bags filled in response to orders

“We usually try to complete bulk bag orders two to three days in advance. The bulk bag filler is located in the warehouse, so filled bags do not need to be moved until they are ready to be shipped,” said plant manager Marley Oldham.

We expect demand to increase significantly

“Since we only recently began offering polished white rice in bulk bags, they account for a small percentage of our total production,” explained Oldham. “We expect demand to increase significantly, however, and our bulk bag filler is designed to meet our future requirements.”

The polished white rice to be packaged in bulk bags is aspirated to remove dust particles before being fed into a 2m high, 2.3 cbm capacity hopper mounted above the bulk bag filler. The rice flows from the hopper through a dome valve and 25.4cm diameter flexible downspouting into the bulk bag suspended above the deck of the Model BFL-CFHW-X Twin-Centrepost bulk bag filler.

Plant air inflates the 1.3m high bag for filling while an inflatable collar on the fill head holds and seals the bag spout. A filtered air vent at the fill head assures dust-free delivery of material to the bulk bag while providing a simple way to allow displaced air to exit the bag.

Kennedy rice

A bulk bag of polished white rice is ready for shipment. The filler is designed to meet increased demand for Kennedy Rice in bulk bags

Except for manually connecting the bag spout to the inflatable collar, the process is automated by a programmable logic controller (PLC). Load cells beneath the pallet deck send signals to the PLC, which automatically stops the flow of rice by closing the dome valve when the bag reaches its target weight.

The operator only needs to pull the bag spout off the inflatable collar and tie it closed. The filled bag and pallet are removed by forklift. “Connecting, filling and disconnecting a bag takes only about three minutes altogether,” said Oldham.

“Flexicon’s representative, Robert K Wilson & Associates, of Houston, Texas, worked with Flexicon’s engineering department to evaluate our needs and determine equipment specifications, and then helped supervise installation and startup,” continued Oldham.

“This new facility has created over 20 permanent local jobs,” said Elton Kennedy, who along with his daughter, Meryl, oversaw design and construction of the mill. “It also gives regional producers another outlet for their rice crops with lower transportation costs and a faster return on their investment.”


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