Rockwell Extreme Machines 2006
Raw meat in, cooked sausages out - with no human operator interaction. That process defines the patented QX family of co-extrusion machines by Stork Townsend. QX is an automated process that simultaneously extrudes a continuous flow of meat batter and a thin outside layer of edible collagen gel, making the casing at the same time as the sausage. With that, the Stork Townsend QX co-extrusion machine has changed the state of sausage making forever.
In addition to running unattended, the QX system features unsurpassed safety, sanitation, and hygenics. The company claims that unattended operation alone has saved customers 7 to 24 cents per pound of sausage produced.
The material flows through two pumps - one carries the meat dough, the other the collagen gel - steadily, continuously, and precisely. Without the stop-and-go processing of conventional extrusion systems, the system maintains exact control of sausage weight and dimension so that the final sausages are completely uniform. This consistency avoids the 'giveaway' or 'underweight' problems that accompany traditional sausage making, and can reduce waste by up to 75%.
With traditional sausage extrusion systems that use prefabricated casings, the first and last casing bits filled with meat require tedious rework. The QX solution eliminates rework, producing a single, continuous rope of sausage with but one beginning and one end every day. Stork Townsend customers have reduced cook/smoke cycle times by 30% to 42%, which reduces energy costs.
The QX co-extrusion machine incorporates ControlLogix and CompactLogix controllers, Kinetix 6000 motion products, and PowerFlex 40 and PowerFlex 70 drives. EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet networks connect the hardware and deliver information via VersaView human-machine interface terminals. Stork Townsend said it chose this combination of components because the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture reduced the cost for system integration.
The machine supports a wide variety of easily changed recipes: sausages of different diameters, casings of different thicknesses, etc. It also supports a variety of packaging options, such as 'Cook-in-Pack' technology that extends product shelf life without the need to add antimicrobials to the meat. Because Integrated Architecture allows easy scaling of the machine itself, Stork Townsend extended its machine line
with smaller versions of the QX that eliminate the dryer, smoker, and cooling systems.
Packaging food involves some unique challenges: With production rates on the order of 1,000 units per hour, delays of even thousandths of a second can have catastrophic consequences. There's a high likelihood of product damage or spoilage when the line stops even briefly, and a small problem affecting a single machine can bring an entire line to a halt.
Attilio Malacarne, electrical and electronic designing manager at Cavanna in Prato Sesia, Italy, has experienced these challenges first-hand and developed the art of flow pack.
For a food-bar production line, Cavanna's engineers have created a four-level buffer system funneling into a packager. The Cavanna 05 machine greatly reduces waste by 'storing' bars temporarily in the event of an outage or slowdown, and then returning bars to production when the equipment is again running at full speed.
Putting conventional conveyor-belt technology to new use, Cavanna's unique approach extends the bars' travel distance when necessary, creating the buffer, and then reverses the direction when line activity returns to normal. The equipment's intelligence adjusts belt speeds to let the extra bars reenter the process smoothly, despite the extremely narrow time margins.
Cavanna's solution adapted Rockwell Automation technology that effectively integrates control of axes, drives, and interfaces to coordinate movements of all mechanical components. ControlLogix and Kinetix 6000 coordinate the speeds of the individual motors, preventing the bars from colliding with one another while keeping the line moving at optimum speed. When the buffered bars re-enter the production cycle, downstream packaging machines speed up automatically to accommodate them while remaining synchronized with the rest of the process.
The Cavanna 05 was installed in the Australian center of a major food industry multinational. The system included 30 brushless motors and allowed no positional deviations. In addition to handling the bars' progress through the process, the equipment also had to control the unwinding, cutting, and hot-welding of the packaging film. The customer also intends to expand the application to about 15 different products, so the system has the ability to have its format quickly changed by even inexperienced operators. Electrical format changes are handled through a touch screen, while mechanical changes between products can easily be completed in 10 or 15 minutes.
In snack-food manufacturing, a conveyor must carry material from one production station to another without compromising throughput or quality. Conventional so-called horizontal-motion conveyors offer little or no control and are difficult to stop and start. They actually move their contents forward by driving it through an arc that includes a vertical component. Wright Machinery's Flowright Horizontal Motion Conveyors (HMCs), however, skillfully avoid vertical deflection completely.
The vertical motion of conventional conveyors presents numerous undesirable side-effects. When packaging mixed nuts, for example, these vibrations cause nuts of similar shape and dimension
to cluster, so nut distribution in packages at the end of the line is not sufficiently uniform. For potato chip makers, vertical vibrations can shake the seasonings loose, creating waste and requiring cleaning.
Flowright machines, however, carry product on a tray, moving it forward at low acceleration, then backward at a higher acceleration. The product tends to stick to the tray when it moves forward, and slip when it moves the other way. Although the forward action may dislodge product seasonings, the reverse motion allows the snack foods to catch the seasonings on the way down, reducing waste and saving money. The effect resembles the old 'tablecloth trick' where a magician yanks a tablecloth away without dislodging any of the table settings that rest on top of it.
In Wright's system configuration, the input trough is connected to a mechanical conveyor controlled by an Ultra5000 servo drive from Rockwell Automation. Controllers permit the overall system to maintain considerable flexibility without introducing undue complexity.
Electronically driven models up to 6 meters long and 1 meter wide feature fast stop and start. For applications demanding long distances, Wright offers many mechanically driven, continuously running conveyors up to 75 meters long and 3 meters wide with one tray and one drive. Both versions offer bi-directional product feed and complete control of product velocity - at the touch of a button and without stopping the conveyor. Wright Machinery has been supplying equipment to the global snack market for more than 60 years. Products like the Flowright Horizontal Motion Conveyor incorporate the knowledge and expertise gained from customers, processes, and products over that span.
Modern manufacturing and assembly operations demand the ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions. Standard mechanical and electrical assemblies such as chassis, handling units, process modules, transportation systems and even software modules must be easily combined and exchanged with each other.
Mikron Assembly Technology's G05 linear assembly platform,
G05 Assembly Centers are based on Mikron's proven Polyfeed feeding systems, which include a Cartesian robot. Each center includes its own control system and operating terminal to provide everything a sophisticated assembly cell needs, right down to peripheral control. Because the centers all have an identical control architecture and the same interfaces, they are easily integrated into G05 assembly lines. The benefits to users are well-established: All this standardization, consistency and integration means shorter delivery times for new equipment, easier integration once the equipment arrives, more reliable individual machines and greater uptime for the line as a whole.
While the original European version of the G05 used PC-based controls, the new G05 for the U.S. market applied a Rockwell Automation Integrated Motion solution. Mikron's implementation encompasses ControlLogix controllers, RSView Machine Edition HMI software, and more. This improved the ability and ease with which motion was synchronized across cells in the line. A highly standardized environment got even more consistent and efficient.
A single integrated software environment also simplified programming and configuration, and brought increased functionality. Scaling up the HMI software, for example, allows Mikron to quickly integrate new views into the system. In one instance, a medical device maker wanted to give its remote managers access to FDA compliance information. Mikron engineers created a data logging and security station for 21-CFR-Part 11 compliance information by applying existing HMI coding to RSView Supervisory Edition.
Dimac - Aetna Group USA
Forget deli sandwiches hand-wrapped in waxed paper. Today’s foodstuffs are protected for transportation and storage by plastic films that are as much about communication as contagion-control. The film itself includes graphic art, product descriptions, and other essential messages that must be printed or applied at the packaging stage. Errors cannot exceed a few millimeters at most, speed and reliability are paramount, and configurations need to change in minutes.
The St@r line of wrapping machines from Dimac - Aetna Group USA meets these strict requirements. Dimac’s designers are in Bologna, Italy– often called the packaging machine capital of the world - and they wanted an improved version of a machine that was already a success in Europe. A common architecture and common communication protocols would offer an advantage.
An integrated architecture requires only one programming language, reducing development time and technical support needs. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture, which encompasses its Logix control platform, programming software, HMI panels and more, provided consistency and ease-of-use that reduced training times and permitted a faster ramp up to full production.
A unique feature of the St@r is its ability to precisely measure out the unrolling of film, even at high speeds, on the basis of the trajectory set out by the wrapping bar. The machine can package products large and small, light and heavy, with the same precise control. Perfectly phasing the movements of the brushless motor, which makes the plastic film advance, and the arm that positions the printed film on the package is a delicate coordinated function– especially at speeds of more than 60 packages per minute.
A PanelView 600 Plus touch-screen allows easy set up of any configuration merely by recalling it from an icon-identified database. Software calculates machine settings automatically, needing only the dimensions of the desired format as input. To cut on the fly and automatically center the image, Rockwell Automation electronic CAMs are used. Dimac used functionality innate to the Rockwell Automation system and added its own developments. The result is that real-time recalculation of the shape of the CAM is made each time to automatically correct film positioning on the fly. St@r manages this by making the best use of the speed of the ControlLogix controller and Kinetix 6000 motion controller — marrying Italian design with U.S.-based control.
Taking full advantage of the latest advances in linear servo drive technology, the patented Linear Transfer Vehicle (LTV) from Celerity Automation revolutionizes material movement. No other system of its kind can move such a wide range of payloads so quickly and stop so precisely.
Linear motor technology’s smooth, virtually friction-free electromagnetic operation allows the LTV to move product at speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional belt-drive systems can. Measured in actual service, the current machine has carried a 5,000-lb. load at 1,375 feet per minute, and demonstrated repeatable stopping precision of less than 0.001 inch, exhibiting none of the oscillations or “stop creep” of other systems. Achieving acceleration and deceleration of up to 2 Gs, LTVs allow material handlers to see process improvements of up to 300 percent.
Most applications for linear motors to-date have involved low torque, such as maglev trains and roller-coasters, or high-torque short strokes, such as those executed by positioning tables or machine-tool guideways. Celerity Automation engineers have developed a modular and scalable technology that permits adapting high-torque-producing linear drive technology to a wide range of manufacturing and material-handling situations.
Behind the scenes of this extreme machine is Rockwell Automation Logix, PanelView Plus, and Ultra3000 technology, as well as Anorad linear motion technology. Linear servo motors produce linear thrust without pneumatic or hydraulic components and without mechanical linkages such as ball screws, gears, pulleys, belts, and rack-and-pinion systems. Fewer moving parts mean simpler systems, so the LTV can provide higher reliability, greater efficiency, and low maintenance. Direct drive technology also offers quiet operation, smooth motion, and fast settling times. The on-board wireless control system continuously manages position and speed throughout travel.
Capable of covering virtually unlimited travel distances at over 6 meters/second and moving several tons of material at one time, Celerity’s LTV technology can increase productivity in many manufacturing processes, including automated assembly and machine-tool transfer lines. Created as a transfer car, the LTV can move raw materials between manufacturing processes or move full pallet loads in automated warehousing and sorting applications.
ATS Automation Tooling Systems
Reliable, repeatable high-speed performance is the promise of the FlexsysPak packaging system from ATS Automation Tooling Systems. At the heart of the modular and reconfigurable system are programmable pallets, each inductively driven by linear servo technology embedded in the track.
FlexsysPAK, which uses ControlLogix and incorporates ATS’ Supertrak pallet conveyor, can handle dispensing, labeling, capping, to-box cartoning, packaging, custom kitting and assembly.
Unlike conventional chain or belt-driven systems, Supertrak lets users program the direction, acceleration, speed, and position of each pallet around the system individually, or slave it to third-party equipment. Each pallet automatically synchronizesto the speed and cycle time of the process or station it enters, independent of other pallets on the same line. Integrated collision-avoidance capability eliminates pallet-to-pallet contact and provides auto-queuing at process stations. As a result, users experience less product accumulation and less work in process.
Built-in pallet identification eliminates the need for mechanical or radio frequency tags, which reduces cost and improves efficiency. Best of all, independent continuous and indexed operations can run simultaneously on a single platform, ultimately attaining much higher performance efficiencies than a more conventional configurations.
A FlexsysPAK system also improves productivity by reducing downtime and lowering maintenance costs compared to traditional material-handling systems. An absence of sensors, actuators, or stops in the system greatly increases equipment reliability. Polymer rollers on steel tracks reduce pallet wear and keep the system clean. The self-contained system includes very few components that require external mounting, which reduces panel space requirements.
The system can achieve a maximum velocity of 2.0 meters/second with an acceleration of up to 8.3 meters/second2. It handles payloads weighing up to 6 kg and base pallets from 150 to 450 mm. Stop repeatability is less than +/-0.051 mm. Its ability to work with continuous or indexed motion allows seamless tie-in to other equipment, further reducing integration time and costs.
FlexsysPAK meets the needs of the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods industries, as well as other high-mix manufacturing and assembly operations. Analysis software permits single-fault identification, as well as automatic defective-package tracking and rejection.
Robots are amazing productivity enhancers. In a packaging line, their human-like movements can move, carry and manipulate objects for optimum positioning without ever getting tired or losing their places. But anyone who’s worked with them knows the drawbacks of robotics as well. The robot systems require special programming and, to protect human operators, elaborate safety procedures and extensive physical barriers. That means they can eat up a lot of space, as well as a lot of time, in a packaging operation.
Schneider Packaging created an integrated workcell for a premium coffee roaster that bashed the large-space myth and used a single robot to perform multiple functions. In less than 300 sq. ft., Schneider’s multi-component machine does conveying, cartoning, labeling, case racking, case packing and palletizing of K-cups, the sealed plastic cups of ready-to-brew coffee designed for individual-serving coffee machines. This very small, very user-friendly machine uses the full potential of each component, including a robot, to process 280 K-cups per minute.
Product travels through a servo-controlled ball screw and individual packages are counted, allowing for very precise control. The robot is tied in with Rockwell Automation Logix controllers, and all recipes are selected from a VersaView computer running Machine Edition HMI software. Non-contact safety switches protect the doors, and light curtains protect pallet exits.
Integration is robust and complete, allowing operators to be machine attendants, not robot programmers. Schneider designs its robotic systems so the end user only interfaces with the robot through the machine control screen, not a separate robot screen. The teaching pendant for the robot is locked into the safety zone as well. Labelers, however, are outside the safety zone, so blank-label roll stock can be changed quickly.
The use of a single integrated robot also provides surprising flexibility when it comes to labeling. In one instance, the coffee roaster decided it wanted its labels on the bottoms of the cases as well as the sides. Usually, if labels were needed on multiple sides of a case, the solution would be multiple labelers along the conveyer. There is no conveyor, so the robot presents the case to the labeler instead. By reprogramming the robot, changes in label placement are made quickly and easily. Old robots can learn new tricks.