Innovations in Packaging Automation Machinery

Oct. 6, 2017
What's trending in the packaging industry? Here's a look at automation technologies spanning intuitive controls to robotics, conveyors, and other motion solutions.

Scroll through the list to see some of the products featured at the PACK Expo, or browse through the slideshow above. 

New Servo Drive Features Highlight Convenience 

The AKD2G servo drive is highlighted for its plug-and-play compatibility with the company’s motors. Its simple physical connections and Workbench interface make it easy to set up. It features a hybrid connector with an optimal design for single-cable motors. Meanwhile, the drive’s I/O cage-clamp terminal offers one-step connections, and is optically isolated to reduce noise. A multicore Compute Engine–also called a Servo on a Chip–quickly accommodates changing loads with a rapid current-loop update rate of 1.28 µs, and a velocity- and position-loop update of 62.5 and 250 µs. Drives are available for EtherCAT and FSoE, and CANopen. An optional Safe Motion Monitor (SMM) can be included to improve safety measures.

Kollmorgen, (540) 633-3545

Conveyor Display Demonstrates Controls, IO-Link 

A large, high-speed SR3600 case-and-tray packer was on display leveraging Festo IO-Link at its Ethernet valve terminals to control pneumatic operations. System sensors connected to a power supply use Balluff IO-Link to provide continuous measurements of diagnostic and statistical information. A barcode reader from SICK is used to determine whether cases meet user-set requirements as they are discharged from the packer.


Robotic Palletizer Handles Various Configurations

Robotic palletizing and depalletizing solutions with IntelliGen palletizing software enable a unitizing approach that builds loads directly onto slip sheets and conveyors. Systems can support high-throughput operations while reducing labor requirements, and accommodate various types of packaging, stacking patterns, and layout constraints. A unitized loads travels to the robotic depalletizer on a Palmat conveyor—a full-width, heavy-duty modular plastic belt designed for column-stacked loads or unitized loads that are unstable or difficult to handle. The robotic depalletizer unloads items and places them on MDR conveyor for transportation back to the palletizer. Meanwhile, a Rockwell Automation-based HMI can provide a clear visualization of equipment status and diagnostics throughout the operation. 

Intelligrated, (877) 315-3400 

New Conveyor Features Promote Better Cleanliness

Used mostly in food-processing and packaging lines, upgraded Iso-Flo, Impulse, Horizon, and Marathon conveyors include new grounding arms, label stand-offs, sanitary drives, and Vector-Lock Gen 2 clamps. The stainless-steel grounding arms’ smooth, open design makes them easier to sanitize than braided wire rope, which have crevasses that collect bacteria. The arm comes standard on new conveyors and can be retrofitted to systems already in the field. Laser-etched or stamped stainless-steel plates listing conveyor identification, specs, and stroke indicators are attached to the conveyor with stand-offs, rather than laminations to withstand repeated washdowns. They also take up less space than riveted plaques, and do not trap bacteria. The Vector-Lock Gen 2 clamp offers a larger hook, bigger radius, and added over-center latching for more positive engagement. They enable quick release and closing—as well as maximizing load carrying—to secure screens and covers on conveyor systems.

Key Technology

Software Simplifies Operations Programming Via PLC 

With the MLX300 robotic software, operators no longer have to learn specific robot programming languages. Rather, they can directly input operations onto a standard programmable-logic-controller (PLC). The software can operate up to four robots and positioners including the DX200 material-handling robot and YRC1000 GP-series robot. Meanwhile the robot’s controller uses kinematic algorithms to manage motion control. The software supports PLCs such as CompactLogix, ControlLogix, and GuardLogix. The single-controller, single-programming environment also eliminates redundant electrical interfaces and consolidates hardware, thus optimizing floor space and simplifying safety design. Also included are add-on instructions (AOIs), i.e. easy-to-use programming tools, and human-machine interface (HMI) screens specific to robot configuration and motion control.

Yaskawa, 800-YASKAWA

HMI Promotes Easy Line Setup

Equipped with a human-machine interface (HMI) and PLC, the Unison Automated Guide-Rail System streamlines line efficiency and cuts down on changeover time. Thanks to the touchscreen HMI, operators can instantly pull up information about their packaging line during changeover and run time, avoiding tweaking or line adjustment during setup and production. They can also use it to perform functions such as automated changeovers, manual jogging, recipe management and teaching, maintenance, and diagnostics. The guide-rail system uses standard components, and can be custom-designed to meet line-configuration and container-control needs. The system includes safety-rate emergency stop circuitry, and is built to CSA, UL, and CE standard. It can be integrated into the current line controls of existing Unison systems, or act as a standalone system.

Septimatech, (888) 777-6775

Linear Transport Tech Features Flexible Design

SuperTrak linear industrial transport technology features open robotics and an anti-slosh control feature for liquid transport. It can be used to achieve batch-of-one manufacturing and packaging, rapid changeover, and a greatly reduced footprint.

B&R Industrial Automation Corp.

Modular Belt Drives Enable a Variety of Conveyor Settings

New belt drives targeting conveyors in manufacturing, food and beverage, distribution centers, and airports feature a modular design with a strong shaft and ball bearings that offer a long service life. Robust planetary gears efficiently transfer high torques to belts with little operating noise, and an expanded number of gear stages acheives a wide speed range. Available for both synchronous and asynchronous setups, current drive offerings are limited to drum motors measuring 80 mm in diameter, but additional sizes are slated to be released soon. They are IP69K rated for cleaning.

Interroll Group, (910) 212-6112

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