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Bulk Storage Facility Improves Productivity, Safety With Pneumatic Railcar Opener

A busy agribusiness storage facility in the heart of Ontario’s feed production zone is saving time and money with a powerful pneumatic railcar opener, expediting the opening and closing of stubborn railcar gates while reducing the risk of injury.  The versatile design features an adjustable capstan and handle to compensate for variations in cars, unloading platforms and operator preferences, with pivoting wheels to facilitate maneuvering in tight locations.  It delivers 2700 pounds of torque at 90 PSI to open even the toughest gates efficiently, without excessive manual labor or damage to cars.

Seaforth is saving time and money with a powerful pneumatic railcar opener, expediting the opening and closing of stubborn railcar gates while reducing the risk of injury.

Seaforth is saving time and money with a powerful pneumatic railcar opener, expediting the opening and closing of stubborn railcar gates while reducing the risk of injury.

Seaforth Elevators and Expediting specializes in storing and shipping agricultural products such as grain, seed, micronutrients and by-products.  The company maintains three main receiving elevators, with two serving truck and rail lines and one dedicated to trucks.  Although throughput is seasonal, the facility averages more than ten rail cars per month, with the tallest elevator capable of receiving as much as 5000 bushels per hour.  Rail cars are typically unloaded in about three hours, with contents destined for packaging, storage in silos or bins, or loaded directly from railcar to truck.

“Our customers include farmers and commodity traders that merchandise and distribute their products throughout the region,” explained Co-Owner Jason Oud.  “Like most facilities, we had been using manual labor to open each railcar gate.  That sometimes included pry bars, chains or even blow torches for extreme cases.  We’ve had three people at a time trying to free up a stuck gate, spending as much as an hour just to open one car,” he recalled.

“Opening the gates manually was costing us time, as well as causing a great deal of frustration and fatigue,” Oud continued.  “It also exposed us to possible injuries if a tool slipped or someone lost their grip.  We knew there had to be a better way.”

The Railcar Opener from Martin Vibration Systems delivers 2700 pounds of torque at 90 PSI to open tough gates efficiently, without excessive manual labor or damage to cars.

The Railcar Opener from Martin Vibration Systems delivers 2700 pounds of torque at 90 PSI to open tough gates efficiently, without excessive manual labor or damage to cars.

Oud said that older, leased cars in particular don’t see much routine maintenance, and little attention is paid to how well the gates operate.  Exacerbating the problem was the fact that some of the facilities that load the incoming hoppers use railcar openers, and at times they would over-torque the gates upon closing.

After doing some research on the Internet and evaluating several types of railcar openers, Oud contacted Martin Vibration Systems (Marine City, MI).  “We liked the fact that the Martin design was driven by plant air rather than electricity, which made it less expensive,” he explained.  “Adjustability was also important to accommodate the different railcar configurations and the condition they’re in.”

The Martin Railcar Gate Opener is built on a wheeled carriage that can be positioned by one worker, and its 10″x4″ pneumatic wheels maneuver easily over rough rail side conditions.  The unit delivers smooth, non-impacting force to open gates without damage, and the heavy-duty construction delivers a long service life under real-world service conditions.

Engineered to operate on 90-120 PSI of compressed air (6.2 to 8.2 bar), the design consumes 18.5-20.5 CFM (8.7 to 9.7 liters/second) during normal use.  Seaforth employs a twin piston compressor with a 100-gallon tank.

“This opener saves us significant time and effort, which means we can be more productive,” Oud concluded.  “With less worker fatigue and a reduced risk of injury, it also helps us comply with stringent health and safety protocols.  We’re a hands-on operation, and I can say from personal experience that the benefits are unmistakable.  We use it on every railcar.”

Seaforth Elevators and Expediting is a family-owned and operated business, including two facilities specializing in loading/unloading, storage and product packaging.  With more than 2500 metric tonnes of storage available, the company is located on a well-maintained daily short rail line, near major border crossings and highways.  The rail siding from the Goderich/Exeter Rail Line can handle up to five cars at a time, and flexible storage options include bin capacities from 15-500 metric tonnes.

MARTIN® PKL® Impactor Video Wins Award

The Web Marketing Association, as part of the 2013 Internet Advertising Competition, has selected our “Don’t Be a Caveman! Stop Banging on Bins!” video as the 2013 Best Manufacturing Online Video. The video was released to our customers via email leading up to the 2012 Pack Expo in Chicago.

Click below to watch the video:

Created by IHS Website Solutions, the video showcases the Martin® PKL® Interval Impactor  which creates individuals blows similar to a hammer and keeps materials from getting clogged in bins or storage vessels. The impactor is able to reduce noise, energy costs, bin damage and injury. The PKL® is the most controllable impactor in the world, with settings for 10-60 blows per minute or simply a single blow when needed.

 Interested in learning how an impactor could help your facility? Call us at 1-800-474-4538 or click here.

For details on the award and the video contributors, click here.

Pond Supply Company Uses Automated Feeder to Cut Filling Time, Raise Productivity

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Airmax Ecosystems has slashed filling times from manual filling of roughly one package per minute to filling and weighing as many as six units a minute.

[Armada, MI] — A leading Midwest supplier of aeration technologies and natural treatments to maintain ponds and lakes has slashed filling times and labor requirements with an automated feeding system, transitioning from manual filling of roughly one package per minute to filling and weighing as many as six units a minute.  The equipment allows the packaging operation to significantly reduce labor costs and expand capacity, improving its potential for growth.

Airmax Ecosystems is a long-established supplier of natural pond care products.  What started as a hand-filling operation 10 years ago has expanded to a new, 57,000 square foot facility in northern Michigan.  “We used to need five of our people on the plant floor for months at a time during the busy season,” observed Warehouse Manager Mike Kroll.  “Now we can do the same volumes with three people in a matter of weeks.”

The company has been using the MARTIN® E-ZTM Auto-Scoop Filling System from Martin Vibration Systems Solutions for several months to package a variety of dry products, including natural pond treatments, fish foods and pond salts.  “In the past, workers used to scoop these products from 40-60 pound bulk containers and fill retail-size containers on a scale,” Kroll explained.

“Now we use the keypad to set up our fill and establish the tare weight, and operators use a foot switch to automatically fill and weigh each package.  Even the five-pound units only take about

15 seconds each.  It’s almost faster than the operator can seal the bags and box them up,” he said.  Kroll estimated that the company has packaged about 24,000 pounds of materials over the last three months.

The E-Z Auto-Scoop Filling System incorporates a precision digital scale with programmable logic and a high-performance vibratory feed system that assures fast and consistent flow of material.  The system was developed for small to medium-sized packagers, but has proven capable of 750 fills per hour (depending on the material and package size), an average of more than a dozen per minute.

The electro-polished stainless steel construction is well suited to chemicals, food, powdered beverage and spice operations.  “Cleaning is very easy on these models,” commented Mike Lindbeck from MVSS.  “The live storage hoppers lift off easily, and because they’re mounted without fasteners, no tools are required.”

The E-Z Auto-Scoop Filling System incorporates a digital scale and high-performance vibratory feeder that assures fast and consistent flow.

The E-Z Auto-Scoop Filling System incorporates a digital scale and high-performance vibratory feeder that assures fast and consistent flow.

MVSS supplies both loss-in-weight feeders and volumetric feed/weigh systems.  Customers find benefit in the company’s worldwide network of parts and service, and from the use of industry-standard components and non-proprietary software.

Kroll said that the productivity increase has been substantial, eliminating the need to hire temporary help to manage the spikes in activity.  He estimated payback on the system would be between 6-12 months, depending on order volumes.  “It’s incredibly easy to set up and run,” Kroll concluded.  “It’s made a big difference in our output, and has reduced spillage and cleanup time, also.  Overfills are pretty much a thing of the past.”

Martin Vibration Systems Solutions is a leading innovator and supplier of feeders, weigh systems, and material handling products for a wide range of industries, including chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, and foundries.  The firm supplies electric, hydraulic, and pneumatic vibrators, vibratory feeders, hoppers, and other components.  MVSS has built its reputation on developing the quietest and most energy-efficient designs available.  They are engineered and built to deliver precise energy transmission, long service life, and low maintenance.  For more information, call (800) 474-4538 or visit www.shake-it.com.

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