Case Study: Premier Tech Installs Fully Automatic & High-Speed PTK Open-Mouth Bagger at Grain Millers Mill in Yorkton, SK, Canada

Company Profile

Grain Millers is a diversified agricultural food ingredient company.

Since 1986, Grain Millers has been a leading manufacturer of conventional and organic whole grain ingredients.

Their core business is milling human consumption oat products.

Grain Millers does not brand and market its own consumer products; rather, they provide products and ingredients to food company clients who package or further process it into various forms, including granola bars, cookies and ready-to-eat cereals.

Grain Millers has locations across North America and three flagship oat mills, one of which is Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

What about low-margin products?

When dealing with low-cost and low-margin products, optimizing production becomes all the more important to keep up with the industry.

It is therefore essential to partner with a supplier who not only understands the reality of the market, but also who can provide the appropriate technology.

“With a relatively low-cost and low margin product, decisions about growth a lot of times become about volume, increasing efficiency in order to squeeze everything we can out of the tonnage that we put through the plant,” says Terry Tyson, General Manager.

Grain Millers and Premier Tech had already worked together in the past.

As Grain Millers must now keep up with an increase in demand from their clients, Premier Tech has, on the other hand, developed new technologies to even better package bulk material.

Therefore, when Grain Millers sought to modernize their packaging capabilities for a second time, it became natural for them to return to Premier Tech, considering Premier Tech’s deep understanding in handling and packing free-flowing grain ingredients.

“As we looked at the marketplace, we determined that the best option from a technology and efficiency standpoint was Premier Tech,” adds Tyson.

“It became a question of familiarity and expertise. Obviously, technological advances have happened since the installation of our first Premier Tech line, but there's still familiarity and some synergies.”

This time, Premier Tech installed a PTK Open-Mouth Bagger with advanced motion control.

It’s servomotor technology controls the critical functions of hanging the bag, filling the bag and moving the bag from the spout to the bag closing conveyor.

With this equipment, Premier Tech has created the first bagger with true robotic precision at all stages of the bagging process.

The newly redesigned and innovative dust collection system during the bag filling process provides excellent dust control to greatly limit emissions from the bagger’s filling spout.

“Even though price is important, and cost is important, the operation of the system is probably more important so that we can get our proper return on investment” says Ian Slimmon, Process Application Manager.

"A lot less downtime"

Grain processing is extremely complex and rigorous.

Essentially, the kernel is cleaned, adjusted to the proper moisture content, and then reduced to the required particle size to make flakes, flour and flour byproducts, such as bran.

It is important that all components of the automation system meet food-safety requirements.

Thus, it is imperative to implement an automatic bag filling system specifically intended to package grain.

“Now with the new equipment, there's a lot less downtime.

"Before, it was a solid 10 to 15-minute process to blow out the scale and make sure that there's no cross-contamination going on. With the programming, in general, it allows us to do a faster and more thorough cleanup.” Adam Rusnak, Industrial Packaging Operator.

“Oat flakes tend to be very bulky and low density,” Slimmon continues.

“It was very specific in our design to buy packaging equipment that can handle the settling of this type of product in a bag.”

Go home without getting hurt

The improvements on the equipment installed by Premier Tech are not limited to the execution of the process, but also it’s safety.

“Safety on this equipment is absolutely top-notch.

"The security fencing and the doors, the light curtains that keep people from crossing into dangerous zones. It’s very good” says Dallas Stevenson, in charge of maintenance for packaging operations.

“Everything you do, there seems to be some kind of a safeguard to it. We get to go home every day without getting hurt” adds Joe Gamracy, Supervisor of Industrial Packaging Operations.

Superior Pallet Wrapping Products

While Pallet wrapping is the last step in the palletizing process, it is certainly not the least.

The wrapping process is a crucial phase in the packaging of a pallet since the stack will be moved, handled, and transported.

Products on an improperly wrapped pallet lack stability and have the potential to shift and become damaged or pose a safety threat..

To make sure the product arrives intact, Grain Millers went with a stretch hooder pallet load securing system also from Premier Tech.

This system allows the manufacturer to secure a large range of stacked loads and ensure safe handling of the pallets through the warehouse and during transportation.

The system guarantees optimum product quality by protecting it against humidity, UV, and severe weather conditions.

“We squared in our pallets nicely so that we don't have damages and tears,'' says Dallas Rsnak, Warehouse Manager.

“It’s much easier for our forklift operators to load it into the racks and onto the trucks.”

The film hood used by the system exerts vertical and horizontal tension on the load, gently pressing it down onto the pallet, which considerably improves the packaging quality of unsteady or heavy loads.

It can produce between 500 and 700 pallets with one roll of film, and less frequent replacements mean reduced downtime and increased productivity.

“The difference that the structural hooder makes compared to our old wrapper is that it is probably three times as fast and it's very efficient. It keeps our product on the pallets better and it's not as loose, so that's one thing we're very happy about." – Dallas Stevenson

Feeding the world

Knowing that Grain Millers supplies products intended for human consumption, it is an utmost priority to present their customers with the highest quality.

Ian Slimmon insists: “Our product goes into baby food; it goes into senior homes. Would you feed this product to your baby? That’s our intention.”

“At the end of the day, Grain Millers wants to supply nutritional food-safe products; top-quality; on-time; every time; to our customers.” – concludes Terry Tyson.

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