Pet Food Company Optimizes Product-Mix Accuracy for 10-20 lb. Bags

Equipment Upgrades Improve Production Efficiency

A top 10 American pet food company needed to improve the accuracy of the amount of freeze-dried meat additions included in their primary kibble products on two production lines. BW Flexible Systems (BWFS) – the pet food company’s provider of bag filling equipment – helped them reach this goal by providing upgrades to several components of their OmniStar baggers including the ingredient inclusion scales, hoppers, PLCs and HMIs. As a result, they were able to increase production rates, optimize product-mix accuracy, shorten changeover times, and improve product distribution. 

I had high expectations and they were met. We achieved ROI in the first year.

Engineering Manager

The Challenge

In 2019, the pet food company discovered that there was an improper mix of freeze-dried meat within their 10-20 lb. dry pet food bags. While the freeze-dried inclusion product was aimed at 4%, the actual average inclusion ended up being between 3-7%. They needed this range to be narrowed down with a 4% target amount.

The bottleneck resided in the company’s inclusion delivery system, which timed product inclusion rather than weighing the product to be included. This hindered their ability to properly control and distribute the bag filling process because the bulk density of the kibble product (27lbs/Ft3) was vastly different from the density of the freeze-dried meat product (9lbs/Ft3).

During a visit to pet food packaging facilities, BW Flexible Systems observed the underlying issue with the existing inclusion system and suggested an alternate solution that would improve inclusion accuracy and production efficiency. Given that the company’s specialty freeze-dried product was very expensive, the company accepted BW Flexible Systems’ proposal.

The Solution

The BW Flexible Systems solution was to create custom-designed inclusion delivery scales, to be positioned above existing OmniStar baggers. Unlike the original inclusion systems, the BW Flexible Systems inclusion scale weighed product before adding it to the bag. The BWFS design did not match the existing configuration, so they customized the delivery system to avoid having to modify the main feed hopper. This resulted in a faster and more cost-effective installation.

The inclusion system upgrade included:

  • A new Compact Logix processor with CIP motion
  • All necessary I/O modules
  • New hoppers for the Inclusion system
  • All required hardware
  • PLC and HMI program changes, including new buttons placed on the HMI screens to set up and operate the inclusion system

The Results

The success of this project was measured against four predetermined goals to increase production, improve weight accuracies, reduce maintenance downtime, and improve product distribution in the bag. The project succeeded in all four categories:

  • Increased production by 70% when combining the inclusion product to the primary kibbles.
  • Weight accuracies improved by 300 %. The pet food company calculates that average giveaway improved from 2.5% to .5% after the installation of the BW Flexible Systems solution.
  • Changeover times and downtime improved. The company said there were clear improvements to changeover times and downtime in general.
  • Product distribution improved. Following this project, the company said they have been getting better product distribution in the bag itself. 
Pet Food Company Optimizes Product-Mix Accuracy for 10-20 lb. Bags