Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods is one of the leading providers of whole grains and cereals to retail outlets in North America. The company’s products are sold in all 50 states and every Canadian province.
The non-GMO grains are all milled using traditional grinding stones, which preserve the nutrients of the milled grains. Bob’s Red Mill is employee owned and located in Milwaukie, Oregon, in a 320,000 square foot facility covering some 17 acres and producing thousands of products a day. The company has been in its present facility for less than 10 years.
After the grains are ground using stone grinding wheels, the flour is placed into 2,000 pound super sacks. The sacks are taken via forklift to the packing line where the sacks are lifted above the machines and secured. Cereals and legumes are also transported to the packaging line in super sacks. From the sacks, product is gravity fed into a feeder that meters grains into an auger/filler for the vertical form-fill-seal machines. From the form-fill-seal machine, filled bags go through a check weigher and metal detector. Some bags are made with pre-printed film while other bags require a label to be applied. From there bags are fed into a case packer. Cases receive ink jet coding and then are palletized. There are three packaging rooms.
Form-fill-seal bagging at Bob’s Red Mill
In the early days of the company, Bob’s looked for used form-fill-seal bagging machines for the packaging operations. As time passed and volume grew, it became apparent that the packaging operations needed to standardize on equipment and stay abreast of technology and best practices. Standardization would help speed up new projects, lower inventory costs, and make operations and maintenance easier.
The company began sourcing and then standardized on form-fill-seal machines from Matrix Packaging Machinery (matrixpm.com), a Pro Mach (promachinc.com) division. Using these rugged machines in operations that run round the clock, plant personnel developed practices that optimized throughput and bag weight accuracy. As new capacity was needed, these personnel replicated the packaging lines using the same or very similar machines, control systems, and HMI. As of mid-2013 the company was operating 14 Matrix Mercury and Elete vertical form-fill-seal machines. More machines are on order as new lines are needed. The Matrix machines feature servo control and a number of other design features that optimize the use of film and other roll stock, lower product waste, and maintain optimum throughput with high uptime.