Photos courtesy of Graniten Group
Promo Graniten Image 2

Fast, Flexible Digital Printing a Linear Process

July 7, 2021
Graniten and Beckhoff team up to deliver a solution for pharmaceutical customers.

When Sweden’s Graniten Group was developing a digital pad printing machine for its customers in the pharmaceutical and health care industry, it was to achieve three basic goals: maximum flexibility, virtually no changeover times and reduced maintenance and space requirements.

In turning to Beckhoff Automation’s eXtended Transport System (XTS) as the core element, Graniten was able to meet these requirements while also converting a random product infeed into a uniform product outfeed.

Graniten was established in the early 1990s by engineers as a technology-oriented company and now includes three business units: machinery, engineering and service and support. Graniten officials said the global pharmaceutical industry is increasingly relying on fully-automated production and integrated printing and packaging. Beyond just the flexible packaging, the industry also requires high speed, efficiency, hygiene, control, traceability, low maintenance and minimum footprints.

“Over the last few years, we have developed innovative machines for carton and case packaging, palletizing and leakage detection for BFS (blow, fill, seal) systems,” said Fredrik Sollenby, Graniten’s managing director and vice president sales and marketing. “We are now introducing fast, flexible digital printing, closing a gap in the entire process. This will make it easier for the pharmaceutical industry to optimize the entire workflow in an intelligent way.”

Intelligent Transport System Offers Greater Flexibility

Digital printing is already a well-known process in the pharmaceutical industry. The introduction of the XTS intelligent transport system as a core design element for the Digital Pad Printer allows the individual movers for the product transport to be controlled individually and driven at different speeds. This approach allows for simple implementation of a buffer function via software to allow more time for the UV ink-curing process, for example, which takes longer than other work steps. In addition, defective products can efficiently be removed from the process flow.

“What clearly distinguishes the Digital Pad Printer from conventional systems is the XTS transport system, meaning that even with an irregular product infeed and individual handling in each work step, a continuous workflow can be achieved,” Sollenby said. “As a result, the product outfeed can be arranged in an even manner and synchronized with downstream equipment in a continuous product flow, which is ideal for feeding flow wrapping machines, for example. This solution meets the pharmaceutical industry's requirements for a fully automatic process that is at the same time optimized for each individual subprocess.”

There are further advantages for the end user. “The machine users can reduce the conversion time between different jobs to almost zero and reduce the time required for service and maintenance,” Sollenby added, “because XTS replaces conventional mechanical engineering to a great extent with software functions. Beyond that, the machine reduces carbon footprint. Digital printing directly on a plastic container or paper packaging is faster and far more sustainable than conventional pad printing on labels. And last but not least, the machine is considerably smaller than previous systems due to XTS.”

Graniten has been developing machines with XTS for the pharmaceutical industry since 2014. More than 15 machines have been delivered and several new orders are currently in progress. Sollenby said the Beckhoff technology supports Graniten's philosophy. “We develop intelligent turnkey machine solutions exactly according to specific customer requirements,” he said. “We have been working with Beckhoff for six years and value their innovative technical approach to solving complex industrial problems as well as their comprehensive support.”

Mark Ruberg is packaging industry manager for Beckhoff Automation LLC.

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