Bagging Sand for Aquariums is No Day at the Beach

April 12, 2011

4 Min Read
Bagging Sand for Aquariums is No Day at the Beach

CaribSea Inc. was founded in Miami by husband-and-wife team Dick and Nancy Greenfield. Dick, a trained geologist, former Navy fighter pilot, and lifelong SCUBA diver, shared with Nancy a passion for travel and adventure in the Caribbean, Europe, and North Africa. A family obsession with marine aquariums grew into a business, officially incorporated in 1975. Dick and Nancy have since given ownership to their son, Rick Greenfield, and daughter, Betsey Moore.

The finished product: The B-500M provides continuous band sealing on all Caribsea Inc. products like this 40-lb bag of Caribbean sand.

Bagging Close to the Source
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed their Miami facility, so they moved the company to Fort Pierce, FL to take advantage of the port facilities, which enabled CaribSea to move raw materials by bargeload from both Caribbean and domestic sources. The company distributes and sells its products through individual retailers, superstores, such as Petsmart, research institutions, and to large facilities like public aquariums and zoological gardens. Though CaribSea has always offered a variety of products for both fresh and saltwater aquariums, the reef aquarium hobby has propelled most of their growth in the last decade.

Reef aquarium aficionados take their hobby quite seriously. As a rule, they must. The chemical and physical parameters that are required to maintain a delicate and thriving tropical marine ecosystem in their living rooms are stringent. CaribSea Inc. understands this dedication to the hobby and provides natural products engineered to demanding specifications.

Natural materials give high-tech reef systems their look of authenticity, but they are potentially corrosive to all forms of packaging equipment. High salt content, combined with moisture and the highly abrasive character of sand, can create a maintenance nightmare if the packaging equipment is not up to the task.

A Reputation Built on Reliability
It was the need to bag the sand quickly, and under rugged conditions, that led the CaribSea team to Bosch Packaging Technology, New Richmond, WI, and resulted in the eventual purchase of a Doboy band sealer.

The Doboy series of industrial-grade band sealers possessed several characteristics in line with the company’s manufacturing needs. For instance, the machinery’s small footprint and optional castors made it ideal for ease-of-use in wheeling the equipment around the plant floor as required. Its optional bag top trimmer ensured a premium package appearance when sealing premade bags of bulk product.

Doboy continuous band sealers from Bosch come with digital temperature control, as well as adjustable sealing pressure control and air cooling bars. The heat bars are made with a super hard surface treatment that virtually eliminates surface wear, a benefit when packaging gritty sand. Compression rollers insure secure sealing of side gusseted bags, a feature very important to CaribSea because sand is such a fine product that even the slightest gap in sealing can cause leakage and spillage.

The B-500M provides heat, temperature, and speed data to operators, allowing it to be used in applications requiring sealing process validation.

Heavy Demand Calls for Industrial Performance
Doboy sealers from Bosch also feature tool-less sealing band changes and positive-gap urethane timing belts that securely grip bags and transport them safely through the sealer. CaribSea maintains consistent 500 in./min. speeds on its six machines. The company recently expanded its product offering to include additional types of sand for reptile cages, so the easy changeovers are a tangible benefit.

In operation, a large front end loader scoops up sand from huge piles of previously processed material, then brings the sand to a hopper which releases it onto an incline conveyor. From there the sand is dumped onto a weigh scale measuring out 5-, 10-, and 20-lb amounts to fill 4-ml laminated bags. From the filling station, the bags move to the band sealers.

Recently, in order to ramp up production, CaribSea purchased its sixth Doboy band sealer. The other five sealers were acquired gradually over the past five years, to meet growing customer demand and an ever expanding product line.

Out in the Elements
According to John Gutierrez, sales representative for Bosch Packaging Technology at Capper McCall, Port St. Lucie, FL, reliability and consistency of performance were CaribSea’s primary demands in choosing its machinery. “This is a large sand plant,” he explains. “All of the packaging and band sealing machines are under a flat steel roof outdoors. Although the equipment is sheltered from the rain, there are no walls, so the machines are exposed to very rough elements.”

General manager James Moore agrees with Gutierrez that reliability was the key factor in choosing a Doboy band sealer from Bosch. “The Bosch machines stand up to whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Plus, there is sand everywhere which is very gritty and corrosive.”

Adds Gutierrez, “This is like working in a giant sand box – or like working at the beach all day.”

Bosch Packaging Technology Inc., New Richmond, WI 715-246-6511

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