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Sandbag Filling Machine
August 26, 2010   
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In a flood emergency, it takes four men and an agonizing 12 hours of work to fill enough sandbags to build a 100 meter long and half meter high dike. A machine built by Sopot-based inventor Lech Michalczewski can do the same in one hour.

This sandbag filling machine is among the most efficient designs of its kind in the world today, according to the inventor, who designed and patented the machine three years ago. In 2007, Michalczewski’s machine won a gold medal at the World Invention Fair in Brussels. In 2008, the invention was named a Polish Ecology Leader and grabbed a gold medal at the 15th Polish Invention Fair in Warsaw. Most recently the machine was among designs nominated for the European Business Awards for the Environment, a Europe-wide contest held by the European Commission to reward the most ecologically innovative companies.

Michalczewski’s invention is a rotating three-armed machine in which each arm has a spoon-like end. One person, using a shovel, loads these spoons up with sand as they rotate by and a second person attaches specially profiled bags, which are then filled automatically. All that is left to do is to lift the bags off the ground, carry them to the intended spot and build the dike, Michalczewski says. The electrically powered machine can fill up to 900 bags an hour, according to the inventor.

The machine can be easily and quickly assembled and dismantled. Its relatively modest weight of 120 kg and its small dimensions allow it to be easily transported in a pickup truck or even carried over short distances, according to Michalczewski. It takes only a few minutes to assemble the machine and three people are needed to operate it.

The machine is fitted with a power generator and floodlights, enabling it to be used at night.

The invention has caught the attention of both Polish and foreign institutions, including the Hungarian ministry of defense, according to Michalczewski.

The inventor says he is interested in various aspects of flood prevention and in minimizing damage done by floods. Apart from his passion for flood protection machinery, Michalczewski has amassed a wealth of information on flood control methods, which he discusses at seminars and workshops in areas vulnerable to flooding.

His sandbag filling machine has proven its value in flood defense operations, including those mounted after the latest spate of floods that hit Poland in May.
Ewa Dereń
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