Custom engineering is a bang for Pepsi

June 17, 2004
Cylinders made to order for packaging equipment

The Series 9000 palletizer from Production Automation Inc. assembles up to 200 twelve-packs per minute on a pallet.

P1Ls are repairable roundbody air cylinders with rugged bearing systems.

The Parker Hannifin 2MA cylinder can be built in customized stroke lengths and provides three or four hard stops throughout the stroke of the cylinder.

Pepsi bottlers want to make certain customers get fresh beverages. That's the motivation for each bottling plant to quickly and efficiently manage thousands of cases of Pepsi products daily. Enter palletizer manufacturer Product Automation Inc., Montgomery, Ala., with its Series 9000 palletizer that assembles up to 200 twelve-packs of 12-oz beverages/min on a pallet. Problem: According to Terry Davis, Production Automation chief engineer-of design and development, several times per second a case would come down the line and crash into a case-turning cylinder on the palletizer. “The case-turning cylinders were really taking a beating from the number of cycles on the palletizer,” says Tim Jones, a Parker Hannifin engineer. “They were throwing away cylinders, so we tried a few new approaches,” he adds.

Series 9000 palletizers now feature many new components, including customized P1L pneumatic cylinders from Parker Hannifin's Cylinder Div., Cleveland. The new cylinders are repairable round-body air cylinders with tough bearing systems that function as the divider cylinders on the palletizer. In this application, the aluminum cylinders help direct 12-packs to their proper positions on the right and left sides of the pallets.

The P1Ls are designed for applications where traditional NFPA cylinders may be too long and lowprofile cylinders provide inadequate bearing support. They are much different than the bulky steel tie-rod-style cylinders previously used. The new cylinders have either inch or metric port/mounting threads. “The threaded configuration adds a lot of strength and stability to the case turner,” says Davis. The threaded endcap construction uses precision-machined aluminum alloy. The ends are removable as well. “The removable end caps give us easy access to internal components for maintenance and repairs,” adds Davis.

Parker Hannifin engineers designed adjustable cushions on the front of the cylinders that absorb repeated impacts. “The adjustable cushions are because the application speeds up to 35 ips during cycle,” says Jones. “The control the deceleration at the ends of strokes to keep cylinders from banging against the heads and caps.”

The cushions feature brass needle valves with a captive design. valves are recessed heads and caps of the cylinders. “These machines see very sticky syrup at some plants, so their components must survive in severe conditions,” says Davis. The P1Ls' rounded-lip rod wiper seals keep contamination from entering the cylinders. The rounded-tip profile eliminates external lubrication.

Parker also made custom-engineered 2MA Series aluminum cylinders for Production Automation. “Part of what makes the 2MA different is the seal geometry,” says Mark Ruesch, Parker Hannifin Actuator Div. engineering supervisor. The sealing edges are rounded on both the pistons and rod seals, so they leave behind layers of lubrication on which to ride. Other edges that are trimmed or sharp scrape off the grease. Ruesch also notes that the sealing system uses a proprietary Nitroxile material engineered within Parker Hannifin's seal group. Manufacturing involves a carbon-impregnating process, which makes the seals slippery.

The 2MA is built as a three-position cylinder, so it provides three distinct hard stops throughout its stroke. It is suitable for any multiple stroke-length application requiring absolute hard stops for positioning. The three-position cylinder design is derived from an NFPA standard cylinder. It has bumper seals integrated into the pistons to reduce overall noise.

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