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World leading head filling machines

UMDIS PARTNERS

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In the Netherlands most of the growing room in 50-60s where filled by a side filler. In those days a lot of farm where filled with pasteurized compost and before even Phase 1 compost.

That machine is a small filling cassette similar to filling cassette used in compost tunnels, but with a cross conveyor at the end. The shelving was filled from the side with that cassette, and at the opposite side of the shelving a big wooden plate was placed again the shelving to prevent compost from being blown over. As you can image, it resulted in a lot of spillage.

Later rooms were filled with compost in blocks. Some growers put the blocks in the shelving manually or with a block filling platform and fill the casing with buckets and spread it by hand.

Using blocks decreased looses from spillage but process was far from ideal both in terms of compost distribution over shelf quality and economical reasons.

Given the shortcomings of existing technology, Christians has developed several head end filling machines aimed at eliminating them. Company started delivering head end filling machine in the mid 1980’s and delivered head end filling machine no. 1000 in 2021.

Hereafter some screenshot of a brochure of Christiaens machines around 1995-2000.

Initially head filling machines filled pasteurized inoculated compost to shelves and the same or another casing head filling machine was used for casing soil application after incubation period.

When incubated compost (Phase 3) appeared on the market, casing distribution module was added to head filling machine. This let to fill compost and casing simultaneously.

The function of the head-end filling machine is to get as easy and fast as possible the mushroom substrate and casing soil perfectly into the shelves. It levels the substrate and the casing so the mushrooms will come more evenly and the energy in the compost is not spilled by “leaks” between blocks and side boards.

The most common filling speed is 6,3m/min@50Hz (Europe) or 7,5m/m@60Hz (USA and Canada)  for grower head end filling machines. It can be optionally increased or lowered by a frequency inverter (range approx. 3.6 till 8.8m/min). Christiaens high end head end filling machines for contractors fill even to speeds to 20m/min.

Needless to say that this speed is much higher compared to manual filling.

Be aware the surrounding machinery is also very important for a good filling like:

  • Hoppers who delivery the substrate and casing in an evenly matter.
  • Pulling winch with the correct settings and preferable speed regulated to compensate for slip and load increase over the shelve length.

Types of filling machines

There are several versions of head end filling machines currently produced by Christiaens. In the pictures of an old brochure in the previous pages you can see what company produced in the past.

Nowadays 2 versions are standard.

J.06.1 is a hydraulic powered head end filling machine bestseller.

This is a mostly hydraulic powered head end filling machine for filling compost and casing in 1 operation. We have given a description of this machine above. This machine (J.06.1) can be configured with a lot of options.

J.06.2 is an electric head end filling machine for filling compost or casing separately

Christiaens electric head end filling machine for filling compost and casing in separate operations. With a head end filling machine and Christiaens compost hopper with block breaking the filling is much evenly and the mushroom production will be higher and more evenly.

Blocks filling platform

On special request Christiaens can deliver a block filling platform be we don’t advise it because bulk filling with a head end filling machine gives a better and even fill. This block filling platform can also be used for casing.

Head end filling machine J.06.1

The machine is made out of solid, heavy duty materials developed for the job.

Because of the washing and cleaning a few times a week most components are driven hydraulic in the head-end filling machine.

The compost conveyor, casing conveyor and the pressure rollers are driven by one electric motor and several combined chain drives.

Positioning

At one side it has 2 driven wheels that also can turn 180 degrees. This allows longitudinal and transversal driving. On the other side there are 2 non driven wheels which can be hinged up and pushed down. These wheels allow the longitudinal driving.

There are 2 more wheels, they are for the transversal driving, one of these wheels is driven. All driven wheels are hydraulically powered.

Substrate preparing

The mushroom substrate comes from a side mounted elevating conveyor at the rear of the head-end filling machine onto a swivel conveyor. The swivel conveyor spreads the mushroom substrate over the width of the machine. The mushroom substrate falls onto the main flat conveyor which transports the material to the front of the machine. A chain leveler levels the mushroom substrate to a certain height. This chain leveler is adjustable in height. After passing the chain leveler for mushroom substrate, a mixing axle loosens the mushroom substrate and also reduces the lumps. After passing the mixing axle, the mushroom substrate is pressed with pressure rollers.  The pressure rollers are adjustable in height. When the machine stops the pressure rollers lift automatically, to prevent dents in the mushroom substrate.

Photo Chain leveler for the compost
Photo Chain leveler for the compost

Casing preparing

The casing soil comes from a side mounted elevating conveyor at the middle of the head-end filling machine onto a swivel disc. The swivel disc spreads the casing soil over the casing soil conveyor. A chain leveler levels the casing soil to a certain height. This chain leveler is adjustable in height. The casing soil falls onto the mushroom substrate, which is transported underneath the casing soil conveyor by the main flat conveyor to the front of the machine.

Ruffling and leveling

After the casing has fallen on top of the substrate it passes the ruffling and leveling axles. There is 1 ruffler axle and 1 leveler axle for preparing the casing soil. The ruffling axles can also be set for cacing. Both axles are manually in height adjustable. After this the substrate and casing layer is ready to be pulled into the shelf. Switch panel All electrical switch components are placed in a stainless-steel panel which is mounted inside a cabinet at the side of the middle frame. The switch panel is executed with a PLC.

Main settings

The head-end-filling machine is designed for filling mushroom shelving with compost and casing.

The machine produces an even layer of compost. The compost can be covered with an even layer of casing soil. This machine will fill a growing net that is coiled and is slightly unrolled over the growing bed by a pulling winch. For filling a shelving the pulling winch has to work together with the head-end filling machine. The pulling winch is described in a separate manual.

Compost and casing soil is supplied to the head-end filling machine by two filling belts. The belts work together with the head-end filling machine so that the head-end filling machine nor the belts are overfilled. The belts are described in a separate manual.

 Filling compost

  1. The compost hopper (B) is filled by means of an incline conveyor. The swivel conveyor (A) spreads the compost in the compost hopper.
  2. The compost hopper (B) releases an even layer of compost on the conveyor belt of the machine.
  3. After that, the compost is treated in the mixing-levelling unit (C). The mixing-levelling unit mixes the compost. You can also add supplement to the compost. After that, the levelling axle makes an even layer of compost.
  4. The next step in the process is to press the compost. This is done by the four pressing rollers (D).
  5. The casing soil hopper (E) is filled by means of an incline conveyor. The turning plate spreads the casing soil in the hopper.
  6. The casing soil hopper (E) release an even layer of casing soil on the pressed compost in the machine.
  7. Then the compost (with the casing soil) is transported. On the platform, the compost passes the ruffling machine (F). The casing soil and compost are mixed a little (cac-ing) and after that, the casing soil is levelled (G).
  8. Now the compost is put on the growing net that is pulled in the growing bed by a pulling winch.

The head-end-filling machine stands on a chassis (H) with four lifting columns. With this chassis, you can drive the head-end-filling machine. With the lifting system, you can reach every growing bed of the shelve. Additionally the chassis can be supplied with pneumatic tires so you can displace the filling machine by means of a tractor. However, do not drive the machine on public roads.

Maintenance short overview

Cleaning

The machine has to be cleaned very thoroughly after each use:

  • To keep the hygienic in your compost/mushroom farm,
  • Because malfunctioning due to dirt or left materials can be avoided,
  • Because corrosion can be avoided, due to moisture or aggressive acids.

Lubricating

Lubricate chains and parts with grease nipples after each use. This prevents the forming of rust by remaining spray water. Parts have to be greased directly or by grease nipple placed on the part itself.

Maintenance drum motors

Change the oil in the drum motors of the belts (discharge conveyor) each year.

Replacing oil of the gearbox

The chain for the belts and pressing rollers are driven by an electric motor with gearbox. The oil in the gearbox must be replaced once a year.

Replacing oil and oil filter

The hydraulic oil and filter has to be replaced yearly. In addition, the oil must be replaced when the colour of the oil is no longer bright.

Filling up the hydraulic oil

Fill the hydraulic oil up if the oil level is below the gauge glass and the oil does not have to be replaced.

General check up

Perform monthly general maintenance checks on the machine like: gearboxes and motors, hydraulic oil level and condition, chains, belts, cables etc.

Changeable options

Options on growers combined hydraulic head end filling machine:

  • The tip-up platform: is designed ease the movement at tight places.
  • Watering (tubes or watering systems)
  • Height increasement for (for 7th bed)
  • Total weighing system: used for weighing of total amount of compost
  • Dosing compost and casing based on weighing instead of level detection
  • Casing cover set: if you fill compost and casing separately
  • Extra leveler
  • Teleservice of online service
  • Oil heating: for cold climates without filling hall
  • Frequency inverter: to change the filling speed
  • Belt for low and high temperature
  • Adjustable bed width: for farm with several bed widths

… and more. We also build custom build machinery on request. The possibilities are endless

Head end filling machine J.06.2

Christiaens electric head end filling machine for filling compost and casing in separate operations.

With a head end filling machine and Christiaens compost hopper with block breaking the filling is much evenly and the mushroom production will be higher and more evenly.

Positioning:

For transporting the machine over the yard, the machine has 2 air tires and can be moved around by a tractor. When the machine is used during filling, the 2 air tires have to be removed. 

In order to position the machine in front of the shelves, the machine has 4 wheels for driving sideways and 4 wheels on jacks for driving to the shelves.

Substrate preparing:

The mushroom substrate comes from a side mounted elevating conveyor at the rear of the head-end filling machine onto a swivel conveyor. The swivel conveyor spreads the mushroom substrate over the width of the machine. The mushroom substrate falls onto the main flat conveyor which transports the material to the front of the machine. A chain leveler levels the mushroom substrate to a certain height. This chain leveler is adjustable in height. After passing the chain leveler for mushroom substrate, a mixing axle loosens the mushroom substrate and also reduces the lumps.

After passing the mixing axle, the mushroom substrate is pressed with pressure rollers.  

The pressure rollers are adjustable in height. The mushroom substrate is transported onto the growing net and is pulled into the shelf.

Casing preparing:

At the front of the machine the high sideboards have to be removed.

A casing wagon is placed on the small side boards at the front of the machine. The small side boards are placed at the same height then the side boards of the shelf. The casing wagon is hooked with 2 steel cables to the pulling winch. One side of the casing net is fixed underneath the front of the machine, and the other side of the casing net is placed underneath the front of the machine onto a roll. The casing soil comes from a side mounted elevating conveyor at the rear of the head-end filling machine onto the swivel conveyor. This is the same place where the mushroom substrate enters the head-end filling machine.

The swivel conveyor spreads the casing soil over the width of the machine.

A chain leveler levels the casing soil to a certain height. This chain leveler is adjustable in height.

The casing soil is transported onto the casing net which is pulled into the shelves.

When the casing soil reaches the casing wagon, the casing soil drops onto the mushroom substrate.

When the casing wagon is in the middle of the growing room, the supply of casing soil is stops, but the pulling winch pulls the casing wagon to the end of the shelves.

After reaching the end of the shelves, the casing wagon is disconnected from the pulling winch.

The roll underneath the front of the head-end filling machine is driven by an electric motor. This motor rolls the casing net onto the roll, and the casing wagon is pulled back toward the head-end filling machine.

Contractors head filler in truck with towable casing conveyor
Contractors head end filling machine in operation
Contractors head end filling machine in operation

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