June 9, 2010
by Canadian Packaging Staff
Machine builders and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are being challenged to incorporate additional automation and/or motion into their machinery to address the flexibility demands of the packaging industry. These flexibility demands can create complex safety issues into the packaging machinery, but rest assured, there are solutions that unite flexibility and ensure the safety of machine operators.
Shorter innovation cycles and increased pressure from the competition is driving the need for more flexible packaging machines. This demand has resulted in the decrease of batch build and multi pack runs and now requires the machinery to produce multiple packaging variations from the same machine. This flexibility must include the ability to perform quick product changeovers while maintaining a high level of throughput efficiency.
With flexibility in mind, the question is: “What is the impact to my machine and operator safety?” This reality has driven the industry to look into alternative solutions not only produce their product in a flexible manner, but at a faster rate as well. Automation coupled with motion control has provided the packaging industry with this flexibility.
However, an increase in motion requires a robust safety system to monitor and control the additional moving components. For example, these safety systems must meet industry standards, will require multiple axis controllers and other motion control products to allow safety processes to run quickly and precisely. When these products are deployed properly, a company will achieve the required flexibility and observe an increase in the throughput of products.
It is vitally important to ensure safety when adding motion into packaging machines. When looking for motion control products look for: synchronization of a wide range of decentralized drives, motion control to manage the movement of highly dynamic drives, camshafts for a wide range of additional functions, manufacturing at consistent quality and low cost, quick to set up and maximum flexibility, automatic adjustment to product variances and handling and robotics as an integral part of a complete automation solution.
Motion control products should include: PLC (programmable logic controller) to control the machine, motion control for optimum movement management on decentralized drives, individual safety solution tailored to your needs and universal, integrated software and tools.
Packaging specific applications, motion control components should include: open for individual requirements; unite safety and standards; have safety integrated within the drive; ensure every law of motion is available; and use real or virtual master axes and tools adapted to suit the task of the packaging machine.
Control solution should also be platform-independent: Integrated soft PLC in accordance with IEC 61131-2; fast scan time from < 50us for 1000 instructions; no adjustments required to change platform; all of the automation in one project; support for modular structures; large selection of field buses; extensive libraries; motion control; interpolation and; OPC (OLE for Process Control) Server.
Comprehensive motion control functionality should include: virtual main shaft; cam synchronization; integral “flexible cam”; register control; web tension control; linear and circular interpolation; electronic camshaft and; safe motion within the drive.
With the “what to look for” criteria checklist in mind, the next question to be asked is who is a competent and experienced supplier of motion control products?
Pilz Automation Safety L.P. offers the PMCprimo drive which provides machine flexibility by enabling the operator to optimize the synchronization of the individual axes at any time and allows the use of multiple servo motors that are automated via this drive-integrated control system.
Adding motion to your machine may be as simple as adding light curtains and relays, but it is important to recognize that there are proven motion solutions available that address the industry demands of flexible and ensure the safety of packaging machinery.