IDE Online Magazine Mayo 2017 - Page 120

Packing machines: Modularity and digitalisation are the key to more flexibility

They have to be highly-flexible, the packing machines of today – and that even for small batch sizes. After all, the food manufacturer wants to be able to align his machine for new products or formats simply and at the touch of a button. Anuga FoodTec in Cologne from 20-23.03.2018 will demonstrate how this works. All varieties of packing are represented at the Cologne fair grounds, from the simple carton erector, through to the tray sealer line of modular construction. It becomes apparent here: The capability of the mechanical engineers to integrate all types of robot kinematics is decisive for the performance of the machines.

Today’s diversity of food at the point of sale faces the packing mechanical engineers with big challenges. The trend is moving in the direction of smaller batch sizes, which are available on the retail market within the shortest period of time. The engineers are reacting to this with highly-flexible machines that are equipped with a wide range of different filling or sealing systems and which can be simply adapted to suit other products or packing material. Following the principle of combining reduced mechanics and intelligent software.

A modular system for flexibility

Whether it is a carton erector, top loader, side loader sealer, lidder or case packer: A modular construction is indispensable for modern packing machines. The individual machines comprise of a mechatronic modular construction kit with autonomous and compatible components. Put together to form a flexible whole unit, they cover the complete process of secondary packing from the product feed, through to securing the pallet.

However this does not suffice alone, because the decentralisation requires more “intelligence” in the individual components. The entire spectrum of glasses, jars or cups can be grouped and fed into and onto the same line using optimised control algorithms. The dispensing of almost all of the mechanical components goes hand in hand with the modular construction. The advantages of this principle are obvious: Since every component can have a malfunction, the susceptibility of the entire system decreases the fewer components it contains.