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Bulk Bag Unloading Station with SoliValve® and Disperser

This project started at Rheo’s testing center in Peoria to develop a design that would meet client’s process requirements. The Rheo team built a test stand in four weeks to test a number of client’s powders. Based on the testing results, Rheo designed and built an integrated system for transferring a variety of materials from bulk bags into process vessels through a high shear induction mixer. This turn-key system featured an Automated Hoist, a Bulk Bag Docking Station for Dosing, an IKA Disperser, and an Integrated Control System.

The Hoist provides a fast and simple docking process controlled by the system’s HMI and PLC. An integrated tension load cell prevents unintentional lifting of overweight bags. Ultrasonic sensors communicate with the control system to automatically lift and position the bulk bags into the docking station.

The key technology of the Docking Station is the SoliValve® 250; a split cone valve that allows for automated bulk bag discharge, contained transfer, and high accuracy dosing. The SoliValve® allows the transfer system to achieve containment levels of less than 100µg/m³ and dosing accuracy of +/- 500g. The SoliValve® is set on load cells to collect the amount of materials transferred, in conjunction with the LIW hanger, this information is sent to the system PLC.

The materials are then fed to the to the IKA Disperser; an inline high shear mixer that disperses product from the hopper into the liquid stream as it recirculates through the process vessel until the desired solution blend is achieved.

The entire transfer process is managed by the latest controls, instrumentation, and HMI to enable optimized operational sequencing while minimizing operator input. This allows for increased productivity and process control. It also controls the clean-in-place sequence and ensures all product contact area are fully cleaned by several spray devices.

The extensive testing of mechanical and control components was key in establishing all the key stakeholder’s confidence of this system’s performance and successful integration of the hardware and software of the system.


Rheo hosted a webinar on optimizing the bulk solids to liquid mixing process. See additional information and request materials here.

SoliValve® 250

The SoliValve® 250 is an improved version of a Cone Valve system. It allows fully automatic and contained handling of big bags, containers, and drums. The SoliValve® 250 doses the material vertically from the storage container, allowing re-closing of partially empty vessels and changing to another ingredient without the need to empty the dosing hopper. The SoliValve® 250 can achieve containment levels of less than 100µg/m³ and can reach a dosing accuracy of +/- 500g.

SoliValve 250

System Performance: OEE

  • Cleaning Process Time: Set-up: 5 minutes + Rinsing: 20 minutes + Drying: 30 minutes = 55 minutes
  • Liquid and solids are simultaneously introduced and immediately mixed in IKA head before transferred to Tank
  • Batch Production Time (Bag Dump through mixing): 15 minutes
  • Client Bulk Powder Transfer Rate : 350kg/min
  • IKA Disperser achieves mixing concentration 5-20X faster than traditional agitator
  • Weighing and Dosing accuracy: +/-500g
  • Integrated PAT and sensor for controlling material input rates based on measured mixture concentration

System Development

Bulk Bag Unloading Station - Design


Collaborated to determine conceptual design with client.

Bulk Bag Unloading Station - Testing


Built test stand in our testing lab in Peoria, IL with wet testing.

Bulk Bag Unloading Station - Challenges


Worked through rheological challenges.

Bulk Bag Unloading Station - Controls and Automation


Achieved successful mixing concentration with integrated PAT.