KWS Manufacturing

Custom Engineered Storage, Metering and Conveying System for Steamed Tobacco Stems

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Plant Location

North Eastern U.S.

General Description

A major manufacturing firm for the tobacco industry provides a diverse portfolio of product offerings. Their Eastern U.S. plant manufactures tobacco wrap made from Reconstituted Tobacco Leaf (RTL). RTL is widely used throughout the tobacco industry for tobacco blend. Remnants of virgin tobacco that would otherwise be wasted are reclaimed and used in the tobacco blend along with other tobacco leaf to form a very consistent and high quality cigarette.

As part of the old process, bales and cartons of virgin tobacco were manually lifted and dumped into a shredder. The process was slow and created a safety risk for the operators. The end user needed to upgrade the method of feeding the shredder with an automated process. KWS provided a custom, engineered system for storing virgin tobacco stems, then metering and conveying the product to the shredder with no operator involvement. The storage hopper could be easily closed so the tobacco stems could be steamed, aiding downstream processes.

Design Parameters

  1. Product Type: Tobacco Stems (bridges, interlocks, sluggish)
  2. Material Density: 20 to 24 Lbs. per Cubic Foot
  3. Capacity: 192 Cubic Feet per Hour
  4. Duty: 8 to 12 Hours per Day
Custom Engineered Storage, Metering and Conveying System for Steamed Tobacco Stems - KWS

KWS Advantages

The end user was familiar with screw conveyors and had several in the plant. Engineers from KWS traveled to the plant to understand the process and specific needs face-to-face. KWS became a partner in this new process by interfacing with the end user’s engineering team to design a system that met all of the process requirements while fitting dimensionally within the current building constraints. Together, KWS and the end user created a storage, metering and conveying system that satisfied operations, maintenance and safety personnel.

Special Features

KWS engineers designed a tapered trapezoidal storage bin with two lump-breakers to break up bales and large lumps of tobacco stems. The lump breakers also served to agitate the product and prevent bridging in the bin. Steam lines were added to the bin to aid in softening the tobacco stems. A heavy-duty top door was used on the bin to contain the product and help the steaming process. The top door was hinged and featured a special gas spring design so the door could be opened and closed easily.

A live bottom screw feeder at the bottom of the bin accurately metered product to an inclined screw conveyor. The inclined screw conveyor then fed the shredder. Because of the steep angle of incline, the screw conveyor was designed with a tubular housing to increase conveying efficiency. The inclined conveyor also featured bolted and clamped covers to aid the cleaning and maintenance process. The complete system was constructed from 304 stainless steel since the tobacco stems are a food product. KWS engineers designed the system in 3D Autodesk Inventor, making it simple to show the end user their new process layout.


"I’m very happy with how much detail went into the design process and the equipment looks great."

John, General Manager


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