What is an AGV?


Introducing AGVs

Automation in technology and machinery have made many aspects of manufacturing and transportation more affordable, quicker and safer. AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) are particularly popular — in many cases replacing forklifts and other machines in factories and warehouses. Integrating one into your operations could provide you with the following benefits, provided you choose the right one for your needs. Keep reading to find out whether you should make the investment.

What Do AGVs Do?

AGVs are self-operated driverless vehicles that often use LIDAR (or Light Detection And Ranging) navigation to determine where they are, where to go and how to navigate the path in between. They're battery or motor powered and can be programmed or instructed via laser, radio, or other technological inputs.

You can find them transporting, stacking and managing heavy loads. They can also complete time-consuming jobs that would involve multiple people and dangerous conditions quickly, safely and efficiently.

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Unique Benefits Offered By AGVs

There are many types of AGVs, including automated guided carts, towing AGVs, unit load handlers and heavy burden carriers. However the main type is the Automated Guided Vehicle. In factory or warehouse settings, these are usually laser guided forklift type AGVs that can operate 24/7 without interruption, allowing your workers to get more done during the day. They also excel at performing repetitive tasks, preventing workers from developing injuries and strain. 

Employee errors are inevitable even with well-trained workers. Most AGVs use sensors to react almost instantly to prevent collisions and accidental damage to their surroundings. With some AGVs capable of handling thousands of pounds in weight, they also offer superior capacity to humans.


What To Look For When Selecting An AGV

As AGVS don’t need an operator and can carry loads far exceeding what an average person can carry, they can help increase productivity. They eliminate unnecessary walking and the moving of materials from A to B and in time, you can expect the AGV’s AI system to optimise workflow and prioritize tasks in a more efficient manner.

Most AGVs operate using a geo-navigation system or guidance system software, making external guides unnecessary. Geo-mapping software (as well as long range optical laser sensors and 3D cameras) scan and map surrounding areas to create routes and pathways for the AGV.

AGVs with central recording or traffic operating systems will work around other AGVs in the same space without collisions by queuing jobs in a certain order and stopping if a person or object stands in their way.

Integrating An AGV With Exsisting Systems And Equipment

Your AGV needs to be easy to network and build on. You should be able to start using it without connecting it to your existing operating systems. However it’s also easy to integrate with end of line equipment such as conveyors to create a fully automated packing line.

This should be possible without you having to install expensive infrastructure or make complex adjustments to your work space. Usually a simple IO Box can facilitate this connection and interface the systems.

Acquiring your AGV from an experienced supplier will ensure you make an investment that’s as safe as it is effective. Webster Griffin can help you navigate the many AGV choices on offer to pick the best one for what you need done. For more information, contact us today.


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Automated Guided Vehicles

How Did Norman Emerson’s Form Fill Seal Bagging System Help Them Improve Productivity?


Introducing Norman Emerson

The Norman Emerson Group is a private family owned business that’s operated for over 75 years. They manufacture and sell sand and gravel for construction, industrial, equestrian, surface dressing and silica bunker purposes. The Group contacted Webster Griffin as they knew of our experience in working with other high profile companies in this sector. Increased consumer demand meant that they needed a new automated bagging and palletizing system for dredged sand and aggregates at their factory in Craigavon. Here’s how we assisted them.

What Elements Were Essential For Norman Emerson’s On-site System Installation?

The Norman Emerson Group needed a system that would bag free-flowing sand and aggregates more affordably. In other words, it needed to have a low cost per bag, keeping production costs low by adapting to different bag sizes and weights. The system needed to handle new and reconditioned pallets and palletise them in neat and compact squares for delivery to customers.

As the system would be operating in a dry and dusty industrious environment, it would need to be constructed of heavy duty, robust components. It also needed to be compact in size, as there was limited space available. Finally, the system needed to be fully automatic and able to operate 24/7.


What Solution Did Webster Griffin Recommend?

After considering Norman Emerson's requirements, Webster Griffin proposed installing an integrated bagging and palletising system. The system included a machine to form, fill and seal bags simultaneously instead of using pre-made ones. A film reel unwinder device, tensioning device and an electric hoist helped with film reel changeovers and make the bag forming process quicker and more efficient.


A vibrating chute guided or wet and damp sand into the machine before a volumetric dosing system accurately filled each bag. Forming tubes were included to cater to bags weighing from 5 to 40 kg. A parallel vertical bar would seal each bag with anti-adhesive Teflon, followed by chilled air sealing. Each filled bag would then be perforated to expel excess air.

The robot palletizer included an automatic magazine with a 15 pallet capacity with one magazine supported up to 400 kgs in weight. It automatically adjusted itself to a 1200 x 1000 size for UK clients, a square 1100 x 1100 pallet, or 1143 x 914 export pallet.

An Okura Robot’s bag hand with side grippers, guiding plates and top clamps moved filled bags to conveyors. Users could detect faults and view logged activities and even create and modify palletising patterns using the palletizer’s touch screen control panel. Finally, a stretch wrapper made each pallet waterproof and ready for transit. 

Once the system was commissioned they dispatched an engineer to stay on site to train the team until they could operate and maintain the system without help. 

How Did These Systems And Equipment Help Norman Emerson Hit Their Production Targets?

Almost Immediately, Norman Emerson increased their throughput up to 1200, 25 kg bags an hour. As the system was automated, it freed up employees to focus on other production tasks.

Thanks to the improved palletizing and waterproofing system, they could also ensure that clients would receive their orders on time and in much better condition than before.


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Form Fill Seal Machines

What Maintenance Problems Can Occur With Big Bag Filling Systems?


Why A Big Bag Filling System?

A Bulk Bag or FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) filling system will save you time and increase your throughput dramatically. However, even the most well made machine needs maintenance.

If executed correctly and timeously, it’s a small price to pay for enjoying a well-functioning system. Let's discuss what you should focus on to keep your system in tip-top shape.


Preventing Avoidable Problems

You can prevent many problems by following the manufacturer’s recommendations and system’s manual. It will tell you how it should and shouldn’t be used and what it can and can’t fill. Make sure that only trained workers clean, operate and maintain it to prevent further issues from occurring.

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Inspecting & Troubleshooting Your Filling System

Before seeking help from your system’s manufacturer, remember that the system’s manual can troubleshoot common issues. Making sure the system is powered off before you begin, you can try turning certain components on and off (or disconnecting and reconnecting them) to see if any connections need adjusting.

If certain system parts will require frequent replacement, keep spares in stock and ensure a staff member is trained to make the switch. This will prevent delays from having to shut down your machine and seek out external assistance. If you suspect a complex or electrical component has a problem, seek our professional advice instead of trying to resolve it yourself. Failure to do so could lead to damage and even serious injury.


Properly Maintaining Your Bulk Bag Filling System 

Regular maintenance will keep your Big Bag filling system operating properly 24/7. Remember that maintenance isn’t always to prevent or fix malfunctioning components. Here’s how you can maintain some of its key components.

  • Ideally a trained operator would complete a weekly visual inspection of the system’s fasteners, linkages and pneumatic housing. Listen to the air connections to make sure that there are no leaks. Use the operator’s manual to cross reference and confirm there is the correct psi and required air volume. This will keep the slide gate, settlers and lift platforms moving consistently. 


  • You can maintain your bagging accuracy by monitoring the product’s condition. For example your particle size could change during production due to atmospheric conditions, affecting its flow characteristics. Be aware of the product density and adjust your scale settings accordingly.


  • If you’re using vibration during the filling process, inspect the vibrator’s rubber isolator mounting pads for deterioration and check that its bolts stay in place.
  • Make sure you engage the system’s lockout valve to isolate it during maintenance and prevent an accident then


  • Drain your water separator to ensure your solenoids and actuators only get dry air. Moisture in the air supply can cause premature aging and swelling, which can impact their movement and slow it down. 


  • Look for blockages or obstructions in or around the weighing platform that keep it from being level. 


  • As the electronic load cells become stretched over time, you may notice your readings becoming less accurate. It’s a good idea to recalibrate it using a known weight and instructions from your system’s manual.


Why Is Regular Maintenance Important?

Regular maintenance will protect your system from unexpected failures. However, partnering with the right supplier will ensure your system requires minimal maintenance in the first place. Contact Webster Griffin for all your Big Bag filling system supply, maintenance and servicing needs.

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Big Bag Filling Machines

Celebrating 21 Years Distributing & Integrating Okura Palletising Robots

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Celebrating 21 Years Distributing & Integrating Okura Palletising Robots

We are delighted to acknowledge being a UK distributor of Okura Robot palletisers/de-palletisers for sacks, bags, boxes, cartons, rums and shrink-wrapped packs for over 21 years.

The highly accurate, fully automated systems have a maximum capacity of 4500 programming lines catering to any palletising needs. The highly efficient robots are capable of a maximum payload of up to 140kg with a throughput up to 2000 cycles per hour.


When Is A Mobile Big Bag Filling System Appropriate?


Understanding Your Requirements.

Your business needs a Big Bag or FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) filling system. However you’ve noticed that some suppliers let you choose a stationary system or a mobile one mounted on wheels or a subframe that a forklift can move around. If you aren’t sure which option would be best for your business, here are a few questions you can ask to make the answer more apparent.

Male and Female Industrial Engineers Talk with Factory Worker while Using Laptop. They Work at the Heavy Industry Manufacturing Facility.

Do I Need To Move My Big Bag Filling System?

Not all businesses fill, package and palletise products in one location. You might need to move your products to where they’re packaged and loaded for transportation. This is common when you dispatch goods via ship, store them off-site or when they have to be loaded into a vessel for transport. A stationary machine would add hours to process. With a mobile system you can fill bags at their final destination.


Do I Need A Compact Big Bag Filling System?

Not all businesses have space to spare, and it might not be practical to upgrade to a bigger facility. A filling machine that takes up less square footage can be useful here. It can be stored away when not in use or moved to fill products in different parts of your factory. It can even operate in another location entirely. Some machines also come with low headroom, making it the perfect application for low ceiling spaces.


What Materials Are Mobile Big Bag Filling Systems Best Suited For?

Mobile Big Bag fillers can fill any product that a stationary machine can. While it can fill dry or moist products, it cannot fill liquids. Keep in mind that if your product is aerated and prone to dispersal, you might need a machine that offers dust free filling which would require a dust tight inflatable collar and a dust extraction unit.

How Much Do I Need To Pack With My Big Bag Filling System?

Your mobile filling system’s capacity will depend on the make and model chosen. That being said, they have the capacity to offer surprisingly fast filling speeds and accommodate a wide range of bag sizes. For example, Webster Griffin's IBC-MB (mobile Bulk Bag filling model) can fill bags ranging from 500 kg to 1000 kg at a high speed of 60 bags an hour.

Do Your Filled Bags Need To Be Stored For A While?

Depending on what product you manufacture, your factory location and how far your product travels to reach clients you might need a system that makes storage easier. This will apply to you if you sell products with a long shelf life or palletise them for transportation. This system might need a pallet handling system. This can include automated pallet rolling chain conveyors to move bags between areas and a sheet applicator for protecting stacked sensitive goods.

Asking yourself the above questions will help pinpoint which option you should choose. However if you still have questions that need answering, you can contact Webster Griffin to find out everything you need to know about mobile Big Bag filling systems.

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Big Bag Filling Machines

What Bagging Machine Solution Did Webster Griffin Provide For Blazers Fuels?


Who Are Blazer Fuels & What Product Do They Sell?

Since 1999, Blazer’s Fuels Ltd has manufactured and supplied UK clients with blazer fuel logs and fuel pellets. These dense and combustible wood and biomass pellets are used for commercial and residential heating.

In 2015, the business ramped up production by investing in expanding their facilities and systems to meet increasing demand. They approached Webster Griffin for the installation of a superior Form Fill Seal (FFS) bagging line for their waste and energy products. Here’s how we helped them automate their production.


Why Did Blazer’s Fuels Want To Replace Their Old Bagging Machines?

Blazer’s Fuels needed to install a low cost FFS system that would bag, palletise and protect their pellets. It would need to be able to fill 5, 15 and 30 litre bags at an accurate and improved output of 600 to 650 bags an hour. The packing line would need to operate automatically 24/7. The palletiser would then finish the process by transferring the bags into neat, compact and waterproof loads ready for easy transportation.


What Systems And Equipment Did Webster Griffin Install At Blazer’s Fuels?

Webster Griffin recommended that Blazer’s Fuels install a vertical FFS machine. The system came equipped with conveyors, a surge hopper, forming tubes and an automatic net weighing and sealing system. It also came with an additional handle making device and gusseting device to make block shaped bags for ease of palletising.


Which Systems And Equipment Did Webster Griffin Deem Essential For This Installation?

The system used belt and roller conveyors to convey the product throughout the system, from single pellet stage to packaged pallet stage. The machine featured dedicated forming tubes for each bag size with an automatic device for easy reel changeovers. The bagging handles could also be manually adjusted for each bag size.

The system’s weigher has been calibrated to ensure a product weighing accuracy within +/- 0.5%. After filling, a gusseting device shaped each bag into blocks for easy palletising. A smart robot was programmable to offer different automated high throughput palletising options. The pallet magazine came with the capacity of loading up to 10 pallets or 400kgs in weight. An automatic stretch wrapper with a 1750mm maximum wrapping height was also on hand to waterproof each pallet ready for dispatch. The entire system could be easily controlled and operated, thanks to a HMI colour touch screen control panel.

Did Blazer’s Fuels Experience Any Lasting Benefits Post-installation?

Once Webster Griffin’s engineers installed the FFS system at the Blazer’s Fuels factory and trained staff on operating it, they immediately began to benefit from increased productivity in the warehouse. The most prominent benefit was the improved 600 to 650 bags hourly bagging rate and +/- 0.5% weighing accuracy rate.

The client enjoyed lower production costs by switching from costlier pre-made bags. Labour costs were also reduced by the machine automating certain activities and consequently eliminating the number of employees required onsite. Finally, the system’s waterproofing of palletised products during storage and transportation meant that the client experienced reduced product wastage and improved protection.

The system we installed was a modular one, which means that Blazer’s Fuels can build on and adjust it in future to better meet their needs. This is a more cost-effective solution than completely replacing the system with every change.

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Form Fill Seal Bagging Machines

How To Plan Ahead For A Packaging Machine Installation


Planning Is Everything.

Are you planning a FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) or Big Bag filling machine installation? If so, it might seem like there’s never an ideal time to do it.

With production operating 24/7 and urgent matters constantly demanding attention, you might feel like putting the installation off. With the right preparation, the process can go more smoothly than you think. Here’s how you can execute it painlessly.

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How Long Does Installation Usually Take?

It’s difficult to predict how long an installation will take. It will depend on the supplier, how small or large the installation is or if the machine is ready. At Webster Griffin, after designing and planning, we usually take one to two weeks for installation. Having open communication with our clients helps us adhere to deadlines and deal with any setbacks. We’ve also found that focusing on the following activities can further ease the process.

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Let The Right People Know

Make sure that your teams know about the machine’s installation date and downtime in advance so they can raise any questions or concerns. You’ll also need to speak to the supplier to see if they’ll need help with installation and moving the machine into place. Ideally, the machine’s suppliers should manage the installation process from start to finish. Because of the downtime, you might also need to let your clients and suppliers know of any delays so they can make the necessary arrangements.


Prepare The Area

Before you begin installation, ensure that the area has its connections ready. This will require a licensed professional ensuring your electrical, compressed air, dedusting, communication and lighting connections are safe and up to code.

At the same time the installation area must be cleared and existing connections disconnected. Don’t forget to ensure the path from the machine’s arrival point to its final destination is unobstructed.

Adjust & Test The Machine 

A ‘one size fits all’ installation process and machine rarely applies to any business. You’ll likely need to finetune the machine’s position and finetune how it operates.

Once this is done you’ll need to test that it works and if it integrates with your upstream, downstream and ancillary equipment.

Testing the equipment will require using actual products and consumables and not just doing a dry run. Once you’re done with this, update your technical drawings and documentation so that your workforce can refer to them in the future if any changes/modifications need to be made.

Train Your Workers 

Your supplier can advise you on what safety and operator training your staff needs and how long it will take. You can schedule this after installation, but before production Ideally your supplier should be available on site to handle any scenarios your workers might encounter in real life. As each installation will have elements unique to your business, this is important. 

Working with an experienced supplier is key to enjoying a packing machine installation that interferes with your operations as little as possible. With years of experience working with a range of clients, Webster Griffin can assist you with this, so contact them today.

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Big Bag Filling Machines

Is Dust Free Filling Of Big Bags Possible?


Can Dusty Products Become Dangerous If Filled Incorrectly?

When you’re selling powder products, dust has the potential to become a costly and dangerous workplace issue. Your workers could develop health issues from repeated inhalation of it and in time it can lead to product wastage.

Owing to the EU’s ATEX (equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres) regulations, the combustive qualities of dust can constitute an explosion risk. It’s why you should be aware of ATEX regulations and zoning guidelines. This will ensure your equipment and protective systems have passed conformity assessment procedures and third party certification.

Even if you adhere to these regulations, you might find that your FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) Big Bag filling machine releases dust. Thankfully, dust-free filling is possible with the right system in place. Here’s what you need to know.


How Do Big Bag Filling Machines Fill Bags Without Emitting Dust?

The prevention of dust emission during the bag filling process is achieved via controlled aspiration of internal feed pipe. The ‘dust vapour’ is removed from inside filling spout before the full bag is released from the bag filling station. Accelerated aspiration with variations in air flow velocity can provide different levels of suction during the bag weigh-fill-clean process.

Most FIBC filling machines can fill a wide range of products with relatively few limitations. This doesn’t mean that they might not need an adjustment to work with powder products. Machines working with powders might need additional support before, during and after filling. The more bag sizes are being filled, the more prevalent the potential dust issue becomes as each bag will have different inlet and outlet components.

Pile of ammonium sulfate powder inside a warehouse of chemical plant. Mineral organic fertilizers for agriculture industry.

As you fill each bag, you’ll need to account for any dust-filled air it displaces. This can be removed via a dust vent and collection system that vacuums the displaced air via an annular gap in the bag. Once the bag is filled via its inlet spout, the spout itself must be contained and kept under negative pressure. This will keep dust from dissipating when the filled bag is being removed and an empty one is being attached.


Designing Your Bulk Bag Filling Equipment

As you can see, it is now possible to fill big bags of powdered products without emitting dust — and at the same time, save time and money while ensuring your workplace remains safe. To do this, you might need to upgrade or replace your Big Bag filling machine.

If you need guidance in finding the right machine that will both meet your needs and eliminate dust in your environment, Webster Griffin can assist you in finding a solution. Contact our team today to get started.

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Form Fill Seal Bagging Machines

Why Did Mansfield Sand Upgrade Their Packing Line?


Who Are Mansfield Sand & What Product Do They Sell?

Silica sand is often used in golf courses and sports fields. It can also filter water, make glass and act as an industrial abrasive.

Manufacturers add it to paints and coatings to increase their wear and tear resistance. It’s added to ceramics to regulate expansion and shrinkage and improve durability. When added to construction materials it can also improve durability and structural integrity.

For the past 170 years, Mansfield Sand has developed and produced silica sand based solutions. Over the past decade they’ve faced increased demand and needed to upgrade their bagging systems — with help from Webster Griffin.


Why Did Mansfield Sand Replace Their Old Bagging Machines?

Mansfield Sand’s bagging system wasn’t keeping up with their increased product demand by itself. It struggled to pack 25kg bags of sand in the time required. They wanted to add another system to work alongside the existing one. They could run either line or both concurrently, saving time and giving them a way to process old sack stocks.


What Imperatives Did Mansfield Sand Demand?

Mansfield Sand wanted to double the throughput of their existing line and reduce the labour required to operate it. They required the new system to pack 25kg bags at a high throughput. The new system needed automatic conveyors to further maximise throughput. As they had limited space available, the old line and new one would need to be small enough to operate near each other effectively.


Which Systems And Equipment Did Webster Griffin Deem Essential For This Installation?

Webster Griffin needed to develop a solution to facilitate Mansfield Sand’s new and old system. An angled powered conveyor and a pick-up station helped upgrade the existing system without taking up space.

The system’s Form Fill Seal bagging machine featured PE cell film registration and had an electric hoist for reel changes. Each bag was filled via a volumetric doser, settled via a vibrating device and sealed with hydraulic pressure. The machine’s rubber lined forming tubes could fill 25kg, 12.5kg and 40kg bags.

A rotating support frame supported the tubes, reducing the time required to switch bag widths. A cylinder ejected the bags onto a mechanical bag belt conveyor. The system was controlled via a HMI touch screen. A robot palletizer finalised the process by moving and stacking the filled bags onto pallets on a conveyor.

What Benefits Did Mansfield Sand Experience?

Thanks to the new system, Mansfield Sand was able to increase its throughput to 1000 bags an hour. They also went from having to have six workers supporting the system per shift to three. 

The new system used improved bags which cost less than the previous ones. This improved quality meant that the bags could be filled, packed, stored and transported without getting damaged. Film reel change times were reduced in duration and frequency to 10 minute sessions two or three times a day. And with the addition of a palletiser, the production process was simplified and much more consistent.


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Form Fill Seal Bagging Machines

What’s The Typical Weight Accuracy When Filling Powders Into FIBCs?


Why Is Weight Accuracy Important In Big Bag Filling?

No matter what type of powdered product you’re selling, you’re responsible for each package weighing what it’s supposed to weigh. This is important when you’re filling FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) Big Bags. Rechecking the weight of filled Big Bags can be impractical or challenging — which means that you need to get it right the first time. 

Accurate weighing shows clients that you value the quality of their product and that they can trust you, while repeated inconsistency could alienate loyal customers. Accuracy will also help reduce product giveaway. This loss can be hard to visualise when dealing with powdered products but over time even minor amounts can add up in value. 

Because of the size of most Big Bags and the nature of powdered products, you’ll need the right filling system to do the weighing for you. Here’s how these systems work as well as the weighing accuracy you can expect from them.


What Weighing Accuracy Can You Expect From A FIBC Filling System?

To understand weighing accuracy, you must first understand how Big Bag filling systems handle weight. Most systems use gravimetric weighing via an electronic scale and load cells.

Systems have load cells underneath a weighing platform or suspending arms that hold up the bags. When a load is applied, a portion of its weight is transmitted to each cell. The cells then send a signal proportional to the sensed load to a junction box. This box will add each cell’s signals up and convert them into a weighted reading.

IBC-PF2-PF3 with conveyors - Light

The electronic scale automatically opens and closes the system’s filling valves when the bag has been filled with the correct amount. Hang weighing requires less weighing and taring (zeroing out).

It’s usually more accurate as it uses smaller load cells that only account for the bag’s weight and the weight of the arms holding it. With platform weighing the scale must weigh the bag, its contents, the pallet and the platform support structure.

The sophistication of the system impacts its weighing accuracy. For example, some systems use an algorithm that learns to stop and start product flow over time, provided you have a consistent product flow rate. This means that the longer you use the system, the more accurate its weighing becomes.

Webster Griffin’s range of Big Bag filling systems can offer a filling accuracy down to the nearest +/-500 grams. This translates to between ±0.1 and ±0.5% of a target’s weight, depending on the nature of the product and how it’s dosed. It’s a high level of accuracy for mass quantities.

Choosing The Right Filling System

Filling accuracy is important, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of time. Webster Griffin’s Big Bag filling systems ensure weighing accuracy can keep up with high output rates by filling each bag as it’s weighed.

This means that when operating at higher speeds, the chances of error won’t increase as much as it should. Our Big Bag filling systems can also be customised in other ways to better meet your needs. Get in touch with our team for more details.

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Big Bag Filling Machines