Machine building: Flexibility is silver bullet for packaging machine design

Predictive maintenance, online parts ordering, energy monitoring are information metrics moving to the operator level or machine level. Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for packaging machinery focus on low cost and high flexibility. See photos, links for additional advice.

05/04/2009



More automation articles, research, advice

Click here or scroll down for links to four other automation articles and to related research.

As machine builders look to their packaging customers for keys to future designs, the need to switch products without investing in new equipment and better machine diagnostics are becoming important design trends. Most packaging machinery OEMs, it seems, are focused on two key issues: low cost and high flexibility. Much depends on what the budget will allow, and how creative OEMs can be.

 

Geoff Clippinger, industry manager for the Food and Beverage Center of Competence for Siemens Energy & Automation Inc., says, “Packaging requirements are changing everyday, because companies are constantly releasing new products. They don’t always need equipment that can handle a rapid change-over, but they do need flexible machines that can accommodate new products.”

 

Ben Green, packaging industry consultant for the Motion Control Solutions group at Siemens, contends that OEMs today are striving to develop a “silver bullet:” a machine that lets users “switch from one product to another and not have to make a new capital investment every time packaging formats change.”

 

To achieve such capability, machine designers are addressing a number of considerations, including machine life cycle. Mike Wagner, Rockwell Automation’s global business manager for packaging OEM solutions, says, “Today, we have vertical form, fill, and seal machines that put potato chips in a bag of any size. Linear motors are used to drive the equipment; and the machine can be changed on-the-fly to run another bag size. You don’t need another machine or even an upgrade every time you launch another product.”

 

Wagner says that by designing this kind of flexibility into machines, OEMs are achieving an internal cost savings. “If they can build a machine that’s more flexible, they don’t have to redesign it so frequently—and that is related to sustainability” and lower cost, he says.

 

OEMs also are looking at designing equipment with new ways to maintain it and to keep it running at full efficiency, says Wagner. Beyond taking the obvious steps to control losses such as air leaks, he says, “they are making sure that when a bearing goes bad, it can be easily identified and replaced. They are building vibration analysis tools on board to measure component performance.”

 

Many systems already have these features and capabilities, adds

 

Predictive maintenance is moving to the machine level.


Predictive maintenance, online parts ordering, energy monitoring systems—these information metrics used to reside only at the plant level. But they are moving to the operator level or machine level.

Doug Burns, practice lead for sustainable production, Rockwell Automation. Packaging machines already include controllers that can, for example, help optimize temperature loops and set points to minimize the energy needed for shrink wrapping. It is one of a number of things in existing controller platforms that many machine builders and end users can — but typically have not yet — tapped into to drive efficiency.

 

Bring the package and the machine together

 

The big trend, adds Wagner, is to bring the package and the machine together. “Predictive maintenance, online parts ordering, energy monitoring systems—these information metrics used to reside only at the plant level. But they are moving to the operator level or machine level. As a result, we are likely to see some revolutionary things happening.”

 

Some of these things could include better machine diagnostics, which provide improved information about what is happening and what might go wrong, and other ways to maintain productivity.

 

For example, “a lot of electronic equipment contains memory cards now,” explains Siemens’ Clippinger. “If a part fails, you just pull the memory card out of the bad part, put it into the new part, put it back in place, and the machine is up and running again in 5 minutes. That reduces downtime and maintains productivity.”

 

SEW Eurodrive, a supplier of motion control products to packaging OEMs

The fact is, downtime costs money. And some contend that anything that reduces downtime costs is the real silver bullet for packaging machine makers and their customers, especially given the current world economy.

 

“I’m not yet seeing these economic times drive [an increased interest in] efficiency,” says Rich Mintz, product manager for SEW Eurodrive, a supplier of motion control products to packaging OEMs. “Price is still the driver. OEMs are still faced with getting the cost of their machines down as low as possible.”

 

Mintz suggests machine buyers do a cost audit before specifying the next purchase. “Packagers should sit down with the OEM, review each component, and re-evaluate the most costly ones,” he says.

 


More trends , advice: For more on packaging automation trends, visit www.controleng.com/automationresearch . There you’ll find the results from the 2009 Automation in Packaging research study, conducted by Control Engineering and Packaging Digest .

 

More packaging, automation articles


For more on automation in packaging, read:
- Investment decisions are not automatic in tough market ;
- Automation drives efficiency, lowers cost .

 





For additional advice, see:

-

 

Redesign mechatronics, cut 30% of machine automation costs

and

-

 

RFID, machine sensors, I/O network help error proofing

.

 


Control Engineering News Desk
Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free.

 



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me