Machinedesign 2391 Line Filling Machine1204 0 0

Filling up fast

Dec. 1, 2004
A multi-tasking motion control system speeds changeovers on an in-line fluid filler.

One of the biggest advantages of inline filling machines compared with rotary fillers is their ability to quickly changeover to different products. Fast changeover is beneficial because it allows smaller production runs, which reduce inventory and cost.

But the Universal Flow Positive Displacement Filler, a new in-line filling machine from Fluid Packaging Solutions, Alpharetta, Ga., is redefining the term quick. With detachable pump carts and programmable motion, the machine reduced its changeover time from one day to less than five minutes. The filler owes its efficiency to a precision servomotor system from Baldor Electric Co., Ft. Smith, Ark.

Bottle/container pucks are loaded onto a flighted conveyor using a servo-driven feedscrew that acts as a phasing system, allowing only one bottle per flight to enter. Additional servo axes control the X and Y motion of the filling head. The filling head, working in sync with the containers, inserts and withdraws nozzles that fill from the bottom up, before returning to the starting position, ready for the next group of containers.

Fluid containers are filled four at a time from pump carts that attach to the conveyor. Each of the cart’s four nozzles is controlled by another servo axis for precise fluid dispensing. The pump carts contain all the wetted parts of the system, and a typical machine comes with two carts, so that one can be wheeled away for pressure cleaning and priming for the next application without disrupting the filling process.

In addition to providing all the motion, I/O, and HMI system components, Baldor supported the development of application software using the MintMT motion language. The multi-tasking operating system boosted machine functionality and flexibility, as all major control functions could be divided into small, discrete tasks such as controlling the materials-handling axes, the X-Y indexing and filling motion, and HMIs.

Twelve MintDrive and Flex+Drive intelligent drives, which combine a single-axis drive with built-in positioning capability, control all major axes on the main conveyor and pump carts. The drives are linked by a CAN network running the CANopen protocol. The main conveyor is the master node on the network, and all other drives are slaved to this axis. Because of this master-slave configuration, network traffic is minimal and the CAN network offers the celerity necessary to coordinate system operation in real-time, allowing the master axis to control dispensing speed.

Flexibility is also found on the pump carts. Each cart includes its own HMI panel. When a cart is disconnected from the conveyor and wheeled away for cleaning, one of the intelligent drives switches to a secondary control program, becoming the master of a subsidiary control network that automatically rinses, cleans, and runs specific cleaning agents through the tank and pumps.

For more information: Baldor Electric Co.

(800) 828-4920

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