Case Study

Two-Stage Auger Filler Improves Filling Accuracy

As the world's leading producer of oral contrast systems used by radiologists, E-Z-EM, Inc. strives to eliminate product giveaway and exceed compliance requirements while maximizing its manufacturing productivity. When E-Z-EM decided to modernize its barium sulfate packaging line recently, the company selected GEI Mateer's auger fillers to handle the challenging dense powder. The unique configuration of the new barium sulfate packaging line combines a continuous-motion rotary auger filler that increases production volume with a servo-driven top-off auger filler that enhances fill accuracy.

"Improving fill accuracy and increasing packaging line productivity are usually opposing production goals," notes John Giambrone, director of manufacturing at E-Z-EM. "Integrating both a rotary filler and a top-off filler into one packaging line brings us the best of both systems, meeting our capacity requirements and tight fill accuracy specifications."

E-Z-EM's barium sulfate packaging line includes a GEI Mateer Model 6600 rotary auger filler followed by a dynamic checkweigher from Hi-Speed Checkweigher. An automatic reject system diverts both under- and over-filled containers to a tandem line. The rejected containers are conveyed on the tandem line to a GEI Mateer Model 1800 servo-driven top-off auger filler positioned over another Hi-Speed checkweigher that incorporates a second reject device. After topping off, acceptable containers are automatically combined back into the main production line.

Rotary auger filler from GEI-Mateer handles dense powders for E-Z-EM, helping the chemical company eliminate product giveaway.

In order to increase productivity, E-Z-EM focused on reducing the downtime associated with changeover and sanitation, in addition to faster line speeds. "We produce six different formulations of barium sulfate product, each having substantially different handling characteristics, product densities, and varying fill weights," says Giambrone. For the Model 6600 filler, E-Z-EM selected GEI Mateer's optional modular receiving funnels, which are quickly removed to minimize cleanup time during product changeovers.

"We sanitize the equipment between product changes, and the design of the filler speeds that process. The funnels on the rotary filler are easily removed because there are four funnels grouped on each section." E-Z-EM purchased additional sections so the full set of funnels is ready in advance of the changeover. Pre-programming product settings into the system further improve the speed and accuracy of changeovers.

GEI-Mateer's controlled volume filler is part of a unique configuration of E-Z-EM's new barium sulfate packaging line.

"In general, barium sulfate is not free-flowing and creates a challenge for auger fillers," Giambrone notes. The large-fill packages that exceed 300 grams also challenge the fillers. The laboratory that GEI Mateer maintains for product testing identified the need for optional vibrator systems on the Model 6600 to help move the product through the turret and compact the product in the containers.

"We were looking for the right balance between capacity, control and equipment cost. We considered technology from a number of different vendors. GEI Mateer and Hi-Speed Checkweigher gave us the best combination," concludes Giambrone.

GEI Mateer is an international designer and manufacturer of auger filling, specialty filling, roll-through labeling and pressure-sensitive labeling machinery whose products serve a diverse marketplace, including the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, chemical, personal care and household product industries.

For more information contact: GEI Mateer-Burt, 700 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, PA, 19341. Tel: 610-321-1100. Fax: 610-321-1199.
Hi-Speed Checkweigher Systems, 5 Barr Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850. Tel: 800-836-0836. Fax: 607-257-6396.