In September of 2012, AmeriGlobe set out to build flood barriers through an automated method. It appeared to be a reasonable thing to do as every joint was the same as the previous joint, so it seemed simple.
However, after just a few months, it became obvious that even if we were successful, the market was not big enough to justify the investment in the automated equipment.
So, in March of 2013, we decided to see if FIBC production could be automated. The chosen fabrics for FIBC production are all woven Polypropylene. Not only that, it is all highly oriented woven polypropylene, making it a perfect choice of materials to carry a variety of dry chemicals. Polypropylene is so inert that no dry chemicals ever react with it to weaken it.
This strength was also the reason why, after 35 years of production, the sewing machine was still the only way to produce FIBCs. We tried every way we could think of to join two pieces of woven Polypropylene together. We tried heating them. We tried ultrasound. We even tried Super glue!! Nothing worked. Nothing even showed promise.
So we went to the best chemical supplier we knew, Dow Chemical, and asked for their help. Dow created a special formula that would be bond to the woven fabric and then would bond with the necessary strength to itself. This produced the first successful strength test in August of 2013. Once this test was successful, we knew that there was an achievable goal of building bags without sewing that would have the needed tremendous strength to withstand the requirement of five times 2,200 or 11,000 pounds without failure.
The next three years involved creating the equipment to create these bonds. There wasn’t any equipment on the shelf that would do what we needed it to do. Therefore, every step in the process had to be invented, designed, and produced in house. There were many, many challenges along the way, but we never gave up.
By January of 2016, AmeriGlobe believed it was ready. We had the equipment, the design, and a willing customer. Unfortunately, we had never considered that there were aspects of the fabric specifications that were critical to us but had not required tight tolerances for standard bulk bags. Our suppliers had not built controls sophisticated enough to give us consistent enough materials to allow for the necessary reliable results. The strength fo the bags were varying by over 100% from the low side to the high side.
With five failures in the field over 19 months, our Beta customer backed away. The project was in trouble. We had spent a small fortune, and we did not have a marketable product. We needed to develop a non-destructive method of pretesting 100% of the bags produced. This pretest gives AmeriGlobe a technique to provide infallible Fusion bags to the market.
This too, had to be invented from scratch. We spoke to many companies in the testing business, and none of them had a clue on how we could test the strength of the lifting bonds without destroying the bag itself. If we had to use existing technology, then we would have to destroy every bag to be sure that it would not fail in the field. But our R&D team came through with a small miracle. They did develop a non-destructive test that would predict the bag’s lifting safety. Now we can test every bag and ship it without fear of failure.
Today, AmeriGlobe is reaching out to the entire FIBC market of producers from around the world and offering licensing to share this new technology with worthy manufacturers.