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Intelligent Bagging and Packing

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World Cement,

World Cement asked three leading companies how trends in automation and Big Data were impacting the bagging, packing, and dispatch of cement.

Gregor Baumeister, Director of Packaging & Palletising, Beumer Group

For best results and to ensure full material and data tracking, cement filling, palletising, and packaging components, as well as other system components, should ideally be perfectly matched. For this, Beumer Group has developed the modular BG Software Suite data processing system. It can be adapted individually to particular tasks. Products from other companies can be easily integrated. Users can extend this solution at any time and optimise their material flows. BG Fusion’s cross-program user interface shows process data and reports. All available data can be accessed without having to switch between different applications.

With the Beumer Group warehouse control system the BG Software Suite can be easily connected to the warehouse management system or the customer’s ERP solution. In this way, communication between the different control levels for the user is ensured. As a single-source provider, Beumer Group can create an intelligent connection between the individual systems, and integrate them into the existing process and inventory control systems of the customer.

Beumer Group has also developed the new Operation Monitoring app. With this application for mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, the operator or the management has an overview of all relevant key figures of the complete packaging line or individual systems. The app shows the status quo of availability, performance, and quality levels, as well as the energy and compressed-air consumption. This ensures the efficient operation of all systems. Customers can adapt the program to their specific requirements. For a better organisation and control of their logistics value chain, the task is to integrate all participants, systems, machines, and products in one dynamic system – horizontally and vertically. Thanks to this increasing networking, highly linked system structures are possible, in line with the ideas of Industry 4.0.

Dario De Angelis, Project Development Engineer, Concetti

The great challenge of industrial automation, in the field of product packaging, including ofcement-based materials, is represented by the collection, processing, and efficient management of Big Data. Nowadays, new devices, such as the latest-generation sensors connected to the internet, allow the performance of all the sections of a weighing, bagging, and palletising system, as well as all the events in the process between feeding and palletising, to be analysed in detail.

Currently, however, it is believed that less than 10% of the data held by companies is used strategically. This is why Concetti offers customers the opportunity to purchase automatic machines capable of operating continuous improvement plans, especially in terms of efficiency and extension of the life of a plant. The further development of these tools will be a focus in the coming years, along with predictive maintenance.

Concetti is improving software and applications for monitoring the status of the machine and data analysis, to make the plants more efficient and help customers to monitor the entire production cycle, plan the activity, minimise plant downtime, and increase productivity.

In 2017, Concetti began to customise the Historian application software package, a very flexible analysis and reporting tool, according to customer needs. Concetti was asked to extrapolate data to monitor and compare the efficiency and deviations of different work teams, both to make corrections – such as improving the training of a single operator – and to trigger competitiveness mechanisms, with the aim of raising the quality of work and the performance of technicians.

Through predictive maintenance, the analysis of the operating parameters of the various electrical-mechanical devices, based on comparisons of cycles and workloads, enables the forecasting of the remaining time before a breakdown, minimising plant outage and better managing the spare parts inventory.

By analysing the operation of a machine and an entire factory in real time, Industry 4.0 is set to transform manufacturing. It is also important for worker safety and the reduction of waste, which is guaranteed by improved monitoring of the filling and formation of the bag. This approach, integrated into intelligent factories, with interconnected systems, will revolutionise the future of industrial plant management.

Markus Grabenweger, Product Manager, and Andrea Hackl, Marketing Manager, Starlinger

Like every other industry, packaging is headed towards increased automation. To increase efficiency, proven machinery is combined with state-of-the-art technology. In the spirit of Industry 4.0, Austrian manufacturer Starlinger has equipped the next generation of its sack conversion line – the ad*starKON HX – with a number of intelligent features. These features result in production efficiency, as well as superior quality of the cement sacks. Overall, modernisation in cement packaging is highly desirable: automation and innovation result in high bag quality, which is the basis for smooth filling, handling, and storage.

High sack quality through automation

In achieving high sack quality, automation is a key factor. Technology can be used to keep track of the production process, as well as maintaining high production standards. With this purpose in mind, the ad*starKON HX, the latest generation of Starlinger’s sack conversion line, has been equipped with intelligent features that focus on optimising sack quality. The input material for the conversion line is fabric produced on circular weaving looms; as a result of the weaving process, slight variation in fabric size may occur. To compensate for this variation, the iSHAPE feature monitors fabric dimensions during production and automatically adjusts bottom forming and closing in order to produce a sack with precise geometry. A similar purpose is fulfilled by the iPATCH feature: the length and position of cover and bottom patches is adjusted automatically to achieve a perfect fit on each cement sack. The result is tight packaging that protects cement from external influences, such as moisture, while perfectly closed corners prevent the loss of cement due to leakage. Waste is significantly reduced, both in terms of production waste and product loss. Little product loss means that there is no need to replace it and less packaging is required. Consequently, less greenhouse gases are produced, making AD*STAR sacks an environmentally-friendly solution for cement packaging.

How automation benefits filling, handling, and storage

Automation also has advantages in sack filling, handling, and storage. In the cement industry, packaging and filling go hand in hand. Poorly manufactured sacks can cause product loss on the filling line because cement escapes through stitching holes or through missing or incomplete surface coating. While sacks do not have to be air tight (many products require proper aeration), sack perforation must not result in product emission. Advanced perforation systems, such as the optional microSTAR+ unit on Starlinger’s ad*starKON conversion line, keep the product inside the sack.

Poorly manufactured sacks may also cause downtime on the filling line, if sacks are too big or too small for the filling nozzle. If this happens, the sacks cannot be filled properly and the line has to be stopped in order to address the problem. By contrast, high-quality sacks lead to smooth filling and thus increase machine uptime and overall productivity. Starlinger’s AD*STAR sacks are highly suited to automated filling, and are therefore an ideal match for modern filling lines, such as high-speed roto-packers.

Besides filling, automation also has a positive impact on handling and storage. In the case of low-quality sacks, stacking and palletising can prove difficult, due to their varying shape, resulting in uneven stacks and increased floor space requirements for storage. Quite often, these sacks are manually loaded onto trucks or train wagons. For high-quality sacks, this process is much more efficient, as they can be palletised automatically with little manpower. The sacks can be stacked neatly and take up little floor space; during storage, the cement is protected from moisture because the sacks are properly coated.

Improved working conditions for operators

Automation of filling, handling, and storage can even be said to improve working conditions for operators. This is the case because sewn sacks are prone to suffer from lack of strength and durability; the fabric is more likely to break because the tapes are damaged by stitching holes (this damage can reduce the strength of the sacks by up to 60%). Consequently, cement escapes through the stitching holes of the sacks as well as through insufficient coating. Given that cement dust contains harmful substances that are likely to cause health damage, this leakage creates a hazardous atmosphere for workers.

To conclude, automation helps produce tight sacks that prevent dust, which in turn improves the working conditions in cement filling plants, but also for workers that take care of handling and storage of the sacks. AD*STAR sacks are an example of such a sack type that has a positive impact on all levels, due to its tightness and precise manufacturing. This aspect may seem inconsequential at first, but on closer inspection, sack quality is a factor that benefits the entire cement industry.


The quality of cement sacks increase, as a result of innovation and higher automation in the cement packaging industry. High-quality sacks have a positive impact on cement filling, handling, and storage, and even improve working conditions for operators and other personnel through dust prevention.

Note: AD*STAR® is a registered trademark. AD*STAR sacks are produced exclusively on Starlinger machinery.

This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of World Cement. Interested in reading more like this? Sign up for a FREE TRIAL subscription here.

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Cement news 2018