Gigabit Ethernet used in new packaging machine

Case study: Newly designed thermoformer packaging machine with programmable logic controller, servo motors and drives, and I/O modules uses a Gigabit Ethernet bus network.


VC999 Packaging Systems i-Series Thermoformer packaging machine uses CC-Link IE Field Ethernet communications to connect the programmable logic controller and other automation in this seal station enclosure with the form and discharge stations. Courtesy:The i-Series Thermoformer from VC999 Packaging Systems is a new generation in packaging technology using a Gigabit Ethernet industrial network for communications. Modular design objectives had to easily and quickly facilitate changes in length, width, and options; allow for post installation expandability based on customer demands; and reduce assembly, shipping, and installation costs. 

VC999 also specified that the new design would use leading-edge and best-in-class technology where possible, if determined to be beneficial and cost-effective.

In response to VC999’s requirements, Power Motion Inc. helped develop a control solution that met design objectives. The new machine made its debut at Interpak in Düsseldorf, Germany, in May 2011.

VC999 engineers interviewed multiple potential vendors and selected a programmable logic controller (PLC), servo motors, and variable frequency drives (VFDs), and CC-Link IE Field Ethernet bus network.

Machine design, segments

VC999 Packaging Systems i-Series Thermoformer packaging machine uses CC-Link IE Field Ethernet communications, I/O connections, analog modules, temperature control, servo, and other communications in this form station enclosure with the seal and dischargThe i-Series machine is built, shipped, and installed based on these three segments (form, seal, and discharge); each segment has its own control enclosure connected by the Ethernet network.

The seal station electrical enclosure, located in the middle of the machine, is the main control panel and contains the PLC. The form and discharge station electrical enclosures are remote stations, located on either end.

The form station includes a CC-Link IE field head module, I/O connection, analog modules, and temperature control, and a servo controlling the bottom film unwind area.

VC999 Packaging Systems i-Series Thermoformer packaging machine uses CC-Link IE Field Ethernet communications to connect three enclosures. This one, called the discharge station, has a CC-Link IE field head module, I/O module, and analog control, along wiThe seal station includes the PLC, I/O connections, analog modules, temperature control, and the CC-Link I/E Field Master Module, along with a servo controlling the machine’s top film unwind function.

The discharge station includes a second CC-Link IE field head module, I/O module, and analog control, along with VFDs for trim wind-up motor control and servos to control the main index, punch and printer options, and rotary knife.

Servos are being controlled via analog signal or a proprietary motion control bus network, depending on the specific axes, and the VFDs are being controlled via analog signal. Future designs may incorporate all CC-Link IE Field network communications.

The back view of the VC999 i-Series Thermoformer shows the closed form, seal, and discharge enclosures, left to right; CC-Link Gigabit Ethernet connect the three enclosures. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric, CC-Link Partner Association - AmericasVC999 specified that the control system bus network be Ethernet-based and connect the main electrical enclosure (seal station) with the electrical enclosures located at the form and discharge stations to:

  • Simplify wire management
  • Reduce wire cost
  • Reduce wiring labor
  • Simplify machine breakdown for shipment
  • Simplify machine installation at the customer site.

In addition, Ethernet bus networks are the preferred choice for new machine designs. CC-Link IE Field Ethernet based bus network is the fastest and the first 1 Gigabit per sec Ethernet based network for automation control. Other networks operate at 10/100 Mbps. (Gbps is 1000 Mbps, 100 or 10 times faster.)

The i-Series Thermoformer, from VC999 Packaging Systems, is a new generation in packaging technology using a Gigabit Ethernet industrial network for communications. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric, CC-Link Partner Association - Americas

More on the machine, company

The new i-Series is designed for medium- to large-volume packaging operations, and features a new hygienic design and operating system. VC999 is part of a privately held company, The Inauen Group, which has multiple brands and locations, including, Perbetum Smart Automation, and XtraVac. Each location is managed independently and cooperatively, under the group name.

A global provider in the design and manufacturing of vacuum packaging machine systems, VC999’s products include thermoforming machines, chamber machines, tray sealing machines, and shrink packaging machines/dryers.

- Terry Carson is vice president of Sales-Power Motion Inc., a multi-vendor automation distributor and system integrator, Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering,


“Technologies inside: Gigabit Ethernet, PLC, servos, drives for new packaging machine” contains product details. See link at bottom.

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