Automation providers bring innovations to Pack Expo

Packaging applications need sensors, logic devices, motion devices (motors and pneumatics, in machines with conveyors and robotics), networking, software, and human machine interfaces (HMIs). Pack Expo, Sept. 23-25, Las Vegas, offers three halls equipment and the latest automation advances, often applied in the latest packaging machines.


Pack Expo, ProSoft, B&R, ABB Jokab Safety, Beckhoff, Universal RobotsAdvances shown or announced at Pack Expo, Sept. 23-25, Las Vegas, include the following.

Universal light curtain, light grid

ABB Jokab Safety Focus II Light Curtains and Light Grids offer complete range of features in one low cost package. One curtain or grid model works for all applications, eliminating the need to stock multiple versions for varying machine safety requirements. Light curtains and grids protect personnel from potentially hazardous machinery, robots or automated systems by creating a protection field with infrared beams, which, if interrupted, trigger a safety mechanism that immediately stops the machinery. Light curtains are typically used for inner area protection closer to machinery, with multiple beams placed between 14 mm and 30 mm apart. Light grids are for protecting areas further away from machinery, consisting of two to four beams placed between 200 mm and 500 mm apart.

Packaging automation, scalable, modular

B&R Industrial Automation will exhibit its innovative packaging solutions. B&R said it specializes in standards-based, scalable, and modular control systems integrating logic, motion, robotics, human-machine interface (HMI), safety, I/O and data acquisition in a unified software development environment. A B&R industrial PC uses the latest third generation Intel Core i technology. B&R Automation PC 910 has, a multi-touch panel that has the form factor of an oversized Apple iPad, and the latest integrated motor drive featuring flexible mounting and cabling options, onboard I/O and advanced safe motion functions, the AcoposMotor. B&R Automation Studio 4 is the newest generation of B&R's development environment that keeps development costs low and time to market short, despite the ever-increasing complexity of automation products. Powerlink is a deterministic real-time protocol for standard Ethernet.

Advanced, integrated motion control

Platform integrates integrates PLC, motion control, and robotics capabilities: Beckhoff Automation highlights “The Power of One for the Packaging Industry,” showing the value in integrating high performance PLC, motion control, and robotics capabilities with the Beckhoff PC- and EtherCAT-based control platform, TwinCAT. Using one platform, users can manage all automated tasks via Beckhoff TwinCAT software. Beckhoff will also show its eXtended Transport System (XTS). For packaging machine builders, this advanced, EtherCAT-based linear transport system can help drive engineering cost savings, process optimizations, and a significantly smaller machine footprint. Beckhoff AM8500 Servo Motors have extended performance range suited for more applications. Higher rotor moment of inertia is ideal for applications with large loads and high synchronism requirements.

PLCs and IT combined

Bosch Rexroth will be highlighting its new award-winning software platform, Open Core Engineering, which combines programmable logic controllers (PLC) and information technology (IT ) in one software. Other displays in the booth include a pneumatics overview, Rexroth’s Mechatronics @ Work exhibit, a range of drive, motion and controls products, and in-depth presentations on the company’s controls authoring tools and software platforms.

Fast industrial Ethernet

The EtherCAT Technology Group celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It says it is largest Industrial Ethernet organization with 2495 member companies, including OEMs, end users, and technology providers who support and promote further technology development. EtherCAT Roadshow 2013 in North America, Oct. 15-24, 2013, educational, no-charge, full-day seminars on EtherCAT technology for all interested end users and system integrators across the U.S. and Canada. Cities include Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston.

Robotic palletizing

Fanuc America Corp. new products for the packaging industry include two high-performance palletizing robots, advanced motion and application software for high-speed picking, and two new additions to the LR Mate series of “tabletop” articulated arms for picking and packing. A variety of handling and packaging operations are demonstrated in 10-robot exhibit.

System integration for packaging

Jedson Engineering, in the Pack Expo Processing Zone pavilion, will be discussing how a full-service engineering, design, procurement, and construction management company provides services specific to the packaging industry. Engineers there specialize in the development, design and integration of high-speed, automatic packaging equipment.  

Stainless steel servos

Kollmorgen introduces the new stainless steel AKMH Servomotors at Pack Expo 2013. The robust hygienic design can maximize machine productivity and ensure food-safety compliance. The new line of robust stainless steel AKMH servomotors based on the AKM series motors. Designed specifically to address the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), these IP69K rated synchronous servomotors feature a hygienic housing designed to meet EHEDG, NSF, BISSC, and 3A machinery guidelines. The AKMH Servomotor is constructed with materials to provide long-life and trouble-free operation, even with daily exposure to chemicals and high pressure washdowns. The AKMH requires no additional protection and can be sanitized without covering it or removing it from the machine.

Energy management

Mitsubishi Electric’s energy solutions included EnergyPAQ for plant-wide energy monitoring and AX Energy for energy management. Mitsubishi Electric’s energy monitoring and measuring solutions allow manufacturers to reduce energy consumption and costs by allowing them to understand how much energy is used within facilities. EnergyPAQ installs directly on the factory floor and provides the physical monitoring, while AX Energy is software that provides visibility into a plant’s energy consumption.  Monitoring by individual departments or individual machines allows a dollar value to be assigned to each part produced. Armed with this information, companies can then manage the production efficiency of each product and piece of equipment. Mitsubishi also built a slot machine using its products.

Connectivity for harsh environments

Brad Solutions from Molex Inc. offer compact, rugged designs, said to be ideal for packaging environments, including harsh duty food and beverage. Designed to meet the needs of packaging machine builders, robot manufacturers, and system integrators worldwide, the products offer a means to implement intelligent, on-machine control systems and enable easy implementation of industrial network protocols, including Industrial Ethernet, the company said. The products also include features that make them ideally suited for harsh duty environments, such as those found in the food and beverage industry, including IP67 ratings and stainless steel construction.

Industrial wireless access

Industrial wireless access uses IEEE 802.11abgn protocols: The ProSoft Technology 802.11abgn Industrial Wireless Access Point/Bridge/Repeater uses fast roaming technology. This advanced, high-speed wireless Ethernet product designed for plant-floor automation, SCADA systems, mobile worker Wi-Fi infrastructure, and process control systems. It offers a broad range of industrial wireless capabilities including features such as Fast Roaming and is said to have excellent packet-per-second performance and robust communications in demanding industrial environments. The new 802.11abgn Fast Industrial Hotspot (RLX2) advances client/bridge fast roaming between access points, Ethernet packet optimization, and enhanced diagnostics. New capabilities provide seamless high-speed Ethernet connections for moving machines and vehicles traveling long distances in assembly plants, crane systems and mining.

Robotic research

Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot is said to be the first adaptive humanoid robot designed to work safely alongside humans and is revolutionizing the U.S. manufacturing industry. Rethink’s new Research Robot, a version of Baxter designed for researchers, will also be on-site and available for demos. The company said that robots that work safely alongside humans could potentially go viral the way software did for PCs and mobile apps did for smart phones.

60% decrease in power use

SEW-Eurodrive showed how its Movigear and DRC electronic motor saves 60% in a conveyor application compared to a more conventional motor-drive combination, while creating significantly less heat, decreasing load on ambient air conditioning requirements. The product combines a high-efficiency gear, motor, and drive electronics in one unit, saving space as well.

Productivity-increasing packaging products, service

Siemens shows new productivity-increasing packaging solutions and services, including Sinamics S120 drives for motion control applications, new Sinamics Startdrive commissioning software for automation integration, Simotion motion controllers, and Simotics motors for multi-axis packaging machines. Integrated machine safety for packaging applications and industrial Ethernet connectivity each speed start-ups for new implementations.

Mobile solutions

Intermec is showcasing the latest mobile solutions (mobile computers, label printers, scanners, and RFID technologies).

Network security

Among sessions offered at the show is “The network security journey: considerations for designing and deploying a more robust and secure network.” The session, presented by Rockwell Automation and Cisco, aims to provide security recommendations and help to design and deploy a plant-wide EtherNet/IP network infrastructure. Defense-in-depth holistic security approach, industrial network security framework, and robust solutions can improve network availability, integrity, and confidentiality.

Packaging robots plug and play

Universal Robots expects to debut flexible, lightweight robot arms at Pack Expo. The Universal Robots handle packaging and palletizing in any company searching for user-friendly, affordable automation solutions. At Pack Expo, the Danish robot manufacturer will showcase how the robot arms use advanced force control to handle even the most fragile and delicate items. Universal Robots’ force control feature allows the robot to grip and handle objects of different dimensions and flexibility without crushing, using variable force.

Full packaged goods line, one supplier

With Yaskawa, it is possible to control an entire packaged goods line with one automation supplier. Yaskawa Motoman robotics featured products:

• MLX200 Next Generation Platform – A new way to program and control Motoman robots with Rockwell Automation’s CompactLogix.

• MLX100 Robot Gateway – Unified controls architecture for controlling multiple robots through a PLC ladder.

• DX100 with Functional Safety Unit – Full-featured controller capable of multi-robot and process controls. Features a Functional Safety Unit (FSU) for safe collaborative robotic operations.

• FS100 Controller with MotoPick – Integrated vision, line tracking and pick-place scheduling for high-speed picking, sorting and kitting applications.

• MotoSim EG VRC (Virtual Robot Control) – Concept validation, cycle-time analysis and offline programming all in one easy-to-use system. Try the simulation software and discuss your experience with our experts.

Watch this space for additional coverage and links to more information as the show progresses. (File updated Sept. 27 with additional information.)

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, mhoske(at) 

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