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Packaging automation helps to reduce strain, speed up production, and improve accuracy. However, unlike humans, machines cannot detect when something is wrong with the process, such as excessive dust release. When dealing with powder products, packing becomes even more dangerous. Even when dealing with non-invasive products like food, dust particles can disrupt the process by compromising the integrity of the sealing on pouches for packaging food to accelerating damage to machine components like friction pull belts and jaw drives.

Here are some improvements you could make to your powder packaging business to improve dust containment.

Select Enclosed Jaw Drives

The first line of defense for a powder packaging machine is to keep all moving parts of the machine free of airborne dust particles. Choose a powder packing machine with enclosed jaw drives for dust and moisture protection. Enclosed jaw drives are powder-coated to prevent rust and corrosion and are sealed to block debris that may interfere with the machine’s optimal operation. While different manufacturers apply powder coating in different ways, the electrostatic application produces the most resilient coating.

Include a Dust Suction

Some machines include a dust suction component that suctions or recirculates airborne dust particles to prevent them from landing on critical parts of the machine or the packing process. However, after purchasing the machine, such equipment can be installed as a secondary component. Dust suctioning prevents airborne dust particles from landing on pouch seams during heat sealing, which can compromise package integrity and cause waste.

Use Vacuum Pull Belts Instead of Friction Pull Belts

Friction pull belts on vertical-form fill seal machines typically pull packing films by creating friction. Dust particles can settle between the friction pull belts and the packing films, reducing their efficiency. Over time, the friction pull belts will wear out faster than usual. Vacuum pull belts, on the other hand, offer the same functionality by using vacuum suction. Vacuum pull belts are more expensive than friction pull belts, but they last longer because they are not affected by dust particles.

Include Static Elimination Bars

Static elimination bars, also known as static eliminators, static dischargers, or antistatic bars, are high-voltage low-current components that use the static charge that may be present on plastic packaging films to prevent adherence with dust particles. If such energy is left unattended, it can attract dust particles in the interior, jeopardizing the sealing process. Static elimination bars are standard on some machines, but they can also be purchased and installed in areas of the machine where powder may be drawn towards packing films.

Dust Caps or Hoods should be Included

Dust hoods are also known as powder containment hoods or powder filling station hoods. When the product is being filled into bags, the dust hood collects dust particles. It draws dusty air into the tubing and includes a dust filter to separate dust particles from the air. The dust hood is equipped with a baffle system to prevent dust from escaping and can be used in conjunction with a powder dust collector. The dust collector sits near the packing machine, collecting powder that escapes the process and filtering it through a series of filters before collecting the powder and releasing the air.

Choose higher IP Ratings

Dust and moisture can cause damage to the machine’s electrical and pneumatic components. Check that your powder packaging machine has adequate protection against such matter by reading the Ingress Protection Rating (IP Rating), where the first digit represents protection against solids and the second digit represents protection against liquids. An IP-65-rated machine, for example, provides optimal protection against airborne dust particles and moderate resistance to water pressure.

You can improve your machine to meet the majority of your operational needs by selecting the right components, as explained above. However, because cleaning is an essential part of the process, especially when using pouches for packaging food, maintaining a consistent and timely preventative maintenance schedule will go a long way toward extending the lifespan of your powder pouch packing machine.