Archive | Control & Automation

A Robot With ‘Matchmaking’ Knife

What chicken processor would not welcome an automatic in-line system allowing him to match hour after hour, consistently accurately and with minimum give-away customer orders for fixed weight breast fillet retail packs to fillet coming off his de-boning line.

By using Innova software to link its RoboBatcher and I-Cut technologies, Marel Poultry can offer just such a system, launched last year as ‘a Robot with a Knife’.

RoboBatcher batches breast fillet onto fixed weight retail trays or into fixed weight bulk packs.  It can handle up to three recipes or customer orders simultaneously. The Marel I-Cut 122 Portion Cutter will cut fillet to a pre-set weight, dimension or both. It can cut fillet at various angles to give a natural looking cut end product.

By linking the two technologies, I-Cut 122, the Knife, receives its instructions on what size to cut each fillet from RoboBatcher, the Robot. As each fillet enters the I-Cut 122, it is scanned and its weight assessed. This information is passed to RoboBatcher which will then decide whether the fillet can pass directly into one of its recipes or whether it needs to be trimmed to fit. This technique makes the very best use of incoming fillet, at the same time keeping give-away to an absolute minimum. Not all fillets will need to be trimmed. The technique is also particularly suited to the challenge, faced by today’s processors, of accommodating breast fillet from ever heavier birds into the lighter fixed weight retail packs demanded by the consumer.

Marel’s “Robot with a Knife” could just as easily be called ‘the Matchmaker’. The system ensures that breast fillets from the de-boning line, whose size and weight will vary, are always matched as accurately as possible to customer orders, allowing processors to fulfil these orders efficiently and with minimal give-away.

Find out more at marel.com/robotwithknife.

Posted in Control & Automation, Innovation, ProcessingComments Off on A Robot With ‘Matchmaking’ Knife

Key Technology Helps Processors Improve Product Quality, Increase Yield and Reduce Costs

Key Technology has a long history as a trusted supplier and partner to food processors worldwide. With the single most complete source of high performance digital sorting, conveying and other automation systems, Key helps processors improve product quality, increase yield and reduce costs.

Key’s high-performance laser/camera sorting systems – VERYX®, Manta®, Optyx®, Python, Spyder, Taurys™ and Tegra® – remove defects and foreign material (FM) based on colour, size, shape and structural properties. Advanced software gives digital sorters the ability to Sort-to-Grade™ (STG) and/or collect, analyze and share useful data across the enterprise via Information Analytics. Hyperspectral imaging systems, including Cayman® BioPrint® digital sorters and ADR® with CIT®, add chemometric analysis to detect invisible defects as well as a high concentration of sugars, solid content and internal diseases.

These sorters are complemented by Key’s shakers, Iso-Flo® vibratory conveyors, Horizon™ horizontal motion conveyors and Impulse® electromagnetic conveyors, which can be designed to convey, feed, align, dewater, deoil, distribute and more. Other processing equipment includes rotary size graders for sizing, grading and separating and systems for blanching, air cooling, air cleaning, washing and feeding.

In addition to world-class systems that satisfy production needs from raw receiving to the packaging line, Key’s deep industry expertise and unparalleled service contributes to its preferred supplier status.

Food processors of all sizes know they can rely on Key for single-point solutions as well as complex, multi-step processing lines. Global support includes application testing, line integration, installation and start-up, training, customizable service packages for maintenance and repairs and more.

For further information contact Key Technology at Email contact@key.net; Tel +3211249191 or visit www.key.net.

Posted in Control & Automation, Processing, Quality AssuranceComments Off on Key Technology Helps Processors Improve Product Quality, Increase Yield and Reduce Costs

New White Paper Reveals How Automation Can Prevent Product Recalls

Product recalls can have a catastrophic impact on a food manufacturer’s brand and business but existing systems often rely on people that are prone to errors. A new white paper from OAL explains the top five errors and how food manufacturers can ‘Protect their brands from product recalls with automation’.

In 2015, 277 product recalls in the UK were related to labelling and packaging errors. People up and down the supply chain make mistakes every day and manufacturers need to be confident that their systems can detect and prevent them. Written by Wayne Johnson, OAL Connected Manager, the white paper provides insights into:

  • The top five reasons label and packaging errors occur in food manufacturing.
  • How automation can prevent label and packaging errors.
  • Ideas on the future development path of automation in food manufacturing.

Wayne has worked in the food industry for over 20 years, on both sides of the retail fence for as Technical Manager for First Milk and a Supermarket Auditor for Somerfield. He now works for OAL helping food manufacturers eliminate errors and explains: “We published this white paper to help manufacturers understand the errors and risks they are exposed to everyday and how they can use automation to overcome them. Every year there is more pressure for compliance and food safety and ultimately paper based systems can’t keep up.”

OAL Connected is installed on over 1,000 lines globally eliminating product recalls. Greencore in Leeds, the largest manufacturer of Yorkshire Puddings in the UK chose the system having experienced a product recall. Caroline Smales, Technical Manager at Greencore, explains: “What the system has given us is peace of mind and allowed us to regain customer confidence.”

Download a complimentary copy of “Protecting Your Brand Reputation With Automation By Eliminating Label And Packaging Errors”.

OAL Connected protects over 1,000 packaging lines globally from label and date code errors. Leading brands including Heinz, Bakkavor and Yeo Valley use OAL Connected to stop errors and increase productivity. With OAL Connected you can ensure paperless food safety, traceability, performance, productivity, recipe management and label and date code verification (Autocoding). For more information, visit http://www.oalgroup.com/connected/

 

Posted in Control & Automation, Packaging, Quality AssuranceComments Off on New White Paper Reveals How Automation Can Prevent Product Recalls

Edrington Awards Key Contract to Elite Control Systems

Elite Control Systems Ltd, a leading provider of systems integration and engineering support services, has been awarded a major contract by Scotland’s leading premium spirits company Edrington for its new distillery and visitor centre for The Macallan whisky, one of the world’s leading luxury Scotch malt whiskies.
 
Nestled in the parklands of The Macallan Estate in Speyside, the contemporary distillery promises to be, according to Edrington, “a site of major architectural significance,” as well as a huge boost to tourism and the local economy.  With architects Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, designers of the Millennium Dome and Pompidou Centre, commissioned to design and build it, the new facility will not only “complement the natural beauty of the area,” but be highly innovative and environmentally sound.
 
Edrington is relying on Elite Control Systems to write the full process software control package, and provide ongoing support services following commissioning. This combination of technology and 24-hour technical support will ensure that the automated control systems that Edrington uses to operate the new plant function properly, so that production remains on track and the visitor centre remains open to welcome thousands of visitors all year-round.
 
edringtonnewdistillery2Whisky Distillery Project From ‘Ground Up’
For Elite Control Systems, the project represents the challenge of providing a fully operational software control system for a distillery from the ‘ground up’.  “It’s very exciting that a brand new distillery of this size, sophistication and calibre is being built in Scotland,” says Ewan McAllister, Technical Director for Elite Control Systems. 
 
“The fact that Elite Control Systems were selected by Edrington to provide a full software control system for the entire facility illustrates that we have earned our reputation as a recognised leader in providing control systems for the whisky industry.  Clearly, Edrington are confident that we will deliver the large, complex system that this high profile facility demands.  It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to contribute to what is certain to become a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of The Macallan brand, and an outstanding experience that will attract visitors from around the world,” adds McAllister.
 
Prior to installing the software control system on-site in Speyside, Elite will make certain that it conforms with Edrington’s specific requirements.  Initially, the control software will be simulated, tested and fully documented at Elite’s facility in Livingston to ensure a smooth commissioning period, with minimal programming required on-site.
 
After the facility is up and running, Elite’s dedicated Support Services division will provide around-the-clock support of the new distillery’s state-of-the-art control system. Should any hardware or network problems arise, Elite Control Systems engineers will be on standby to respond immediately to rectify the situation so that operations will resume as soon as possible.  To make certain that the system functions properly, Elite will also conduct regular preventative maintenance checks, minor system modifications and training of Edrington technical staff.
 
Improving Efficiencies For Edrington
For the past six years, Elite Control Systems has worked alongside Edrington to ensure that its process control systems operate reliably, so that production continues at optimum levels. For example, last year Elite Control Systems helped Edrington improve efficiencies at a large tank farm located at its Great Western Road facility in Glasgow, Scotland.  Elite carried out an upgrade to the control system that was being used andby doing so, eliminated the need for operators to manually route batches for blending and preparation.  These functions are now carried out within the new SCADA & PLC control platform, which also allows for real-time monitoring via an internal web portal. This effectively allows management to view tank levels, transfers, final product and routes, as required.

Posted in Control & Automation, ITComments Off on Edrington Awards Key Contract to Elite Control Systems

Pacepacker Services Leads the Way With Automation Awareness Workshops

Pacepacker Services is teaming up with renowned equipment manufacturer and training provider Festo, to offer Automation Awareness Workshops for its customers, involving all those with a stake in the automation process in smoothing the journey, while maximising the benefits and, ultimately, ROI. The workshops will focus on how customers can integrate systems and extract full benefit from them quickly and efficiently. The half-day events will be free to a given number of attendees from each company.

Increasing numbers of manufacturers in sectors such as food and drink are recognising the benefits of automation, whether in terms of output, yield, reliability, product quality or traceability. However fewer are aware of the less obvious factors influencing how readily that desired result can be fully achieved.

“From upstream machines, which affect the efficiency of the rest of the line, to missed opportunities in enlisting the positive support of the workforce, it is important that we educate our customers and increase overall awareness as part of the process of integrating automation,” explains Pacepacker’s Business Development Manager, Paul Wilkinson.

Each workshop is specifically crafted to be extremely useful and relevant to the specifics of each company’s operations, with full engagement from key company stakeholders, from operators and line supervisors, to engineering team members and directors.

Other opportunities the workshops will highlight include practical preparations for installation and how to manage training or recruitment to ensure customers have the correct in-house expertise to meet the needs of automation.

“This is about smoothing the process of automation inside the factory, it’s about you and your team being ready, and it is about external factors which may affect how the overall system performs,” says Paul. “The end result may be all to do with speed, product quality, reduced wastage and rejects or a combination of all of these and more. Ultimately, this is about maximising return on investment (ROI), in the shortest possible time.”

pacepacker2october2016In practical terms, this new approach to automation awareness could well reduce the period when the line is either not running at all, or running below its optimal performance.

Paul adds: “From Pacepacker’s point of view, we want satisfied customers. This is yet another way we can demonstrate the high levels of support we consistently provide our customers with.”

Festo, though known principally as a manufacturer of automation systems and components, has a strong track record in training and consultancy rooted in its real-world experience. In fact, the company runs 2,900 courses worldwide every year, training no fewer than 42,000 individuals.

The Festo-designed workshops will bring together attendees from different companies at Pacepacker’s head office in Essex. For larger customers, there will be the opportunity for cross-site events where representatives of different operations will be able to pool their experiences and observations.

“Pacepacker is in alignment with our objective to look beyond the supply of components and solutions and to help our customers not just succeed, but to excel in their markets,” explains Neil Lewin, Senior Consultant for Festo Training & Consultancy. “The course will raise awareness of the complete approach required when engaging in automation projects, and provide customers with a strategic plan for implementation of automation in to their plant. The end result being a solution that meets its promises on ROI and sustainability.”

A white paper and ‘automation checklist’ will perform a similar function for businesses installing smaller systems. For further information contact Pacepacker Services on +44 (0)1371 811544, or visit www.pacepacker.com.

Posted in Automation, Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on Pacepacker Services Leads the Way With Automation Awareness Workshops

Egemin to Build High-bay Warehouse For Belgium Snack Food Producer Poco Loco

Egemin Automation will soon start with the construction of a new automated high-bay warehouse for Belgian snack food producer Poco Loco. The company has been experiencing steady growth and needs more capacity. To achieve this, the company recently bought seven hectares of industrial area across the street from the company’s existing production facility. The new warehouse is part of a Eur50 million project that will allow Poco Loco to centralize its storage in one location, giving it even more control over its logistics process. For Egemin the project represents a confirmation of its competencies in automated warehouses for the food industry. The new warehouse is to go operational by early 2018.

Poco Loco produces tortilla wraps, crisps, dinner kits, Tex Mex spices and sauces. Approximately 96% of everything made in the Roeselare facility is destined for foreign markets. Until now, the products have been stored at different sites and with external suppliers. “By centralizing a major part of our warehouse, we will cut 25,000 truck trips,” says Peter Denolf, Managing Director at Poco Loco. “We will, therefore, not only save money but will also acquire more control over our own logistics. This will help us respond more flexibly to the demand of our customers.”

The new fully automated high-bay warehouse will be able to store 42,000 pallets. A 100-metre-long conveyor bridge over the public road between the production facility and automated warehouse will connect both locations. Conveyors on the bridge will transport finished pallets to the warehouse and supply raw materials from the warehouse to the production site. Finished products for customers will be picked in the warehouse and then automatically transferred to the loading zone.

Egemin Automation will deliver the complete design and delivery of the system, including all warehouse equipment and the automation of all logistics processes within this project. “We have succeeded in separating all the logistics processes and  properly aligning them,” says Joris Van Hoye, System and Concept Engineer at Egemin Automation. “The cooperation with logistics consultant Logflow, who was responsible for mapping the logistics flows of goods and the feasibility study, went very well. The warehouse, at 43 metres high and with a surface area of 8,000 sqm, makes it an impressive project. The warehouse is equipped with 11 stacker cranes and 910 metres of pallet conveyor, which ensure that 304 pallets can be moved in and out per hour. We managed to come up with a fairly simple solution to the myriad of complex logistics processes. That’s one reason why Poco Loco chose Egemin.”

The construction of the project will start soon and run for 18 months. The new warehouse is to go operational by early 2018. For Egemin, this project is an additional confirmation of its growth in warehousing and distribution solutions and its expertise in automated high-bay warehouses for the food industry.

Posted in Capital Projects, Control & Automation, News, StorageComments Off on Egemin to Build High-bay Warehouse For Belgium Snack Food Producer Poco Loco

Less Hard Work on the Sausage Packing Line

With an automated solution from Cabinplant, the future of sausage packing is flexible, gentle and precise. Tales of manufacturers that pay to transport workers to their factory are well known in the food industry. Faced with a shortage of labour and rising labour costs, opportunities for automated packaging are increasingly attractive to many.

“We know that the standard of living is going up in many parts of the world. This makes it less attractive to work on the shop floor in a food factory,” says Morten Dissing, area sales manager at Cabinplant, a leading supplier of food processing and packing solutions. “It was this that inspired us to develop our automated sausage depositor.”

Sausage packing has traditionally been carried out on highly labour-intensive machines, where operators ensure sausages are arranged in orderly layers ready for packaging. The Cabinplant sausage depositor takes over this role, quickly adapting to a wide variety of sausage and pack sizes.

Future-secure Flexibility

In the sausage business, such flexibility is a key word. This is why each Cabinplant solution is sold with a series of depositor tools to cater for present and future packaging needs.

cabinplant2october2016“Our design means it takes less than 15 minutes to change over to a new sausage type or pack size, so there is very little production downtime. One operator can easily manage the task,” Dissing explains.

Reducing Damage and Give-away

For manufacturers, gentle handling is essential to minimise product damage on the line and rework. Another key issue is ‘give-away’ – the extra grams of product that manufacturers allow in each pack to ensure the actual weight is never below the weight stated on the pack label.

The Cabinplant sausage depositor overcomes these challenges through two exclusive features.

One is the vibrating action used to transport and align sausages on the machine. While conventional mechanical conveyors cause up to 5% product damage, this is virtually eliminated by the vibrating mechanism.

Optimising Pack Weight

The other is the multi-head weighing machine that not only ensures the right number of sausages in each packaging, but also accounts for small variations in the weight of each sausage. In this way, sausages are selected from the weighing channels and combined in portions of optimum weight.

cabinplant3october2016“Through the use of an accurate weighing system, the average sausage weight can be reduced without risk of failing to meet the stated pack weight,” says Dissing. He gives a real-life example: “If the average weight is reduced by, say, 1.5g per sausage, then give-away for a pack of six is reduced by 9g. Over a year, the total product saving is close to 30 tonnes.”

In other words, 30 tonnes are no longer given away for free.

Capacity – A Positive Surprise

Cabinplant project manager Allan Hansen Nissen has focused on developing an adaptable, layout-friendly solution that can satisfy most customers’ needs for a tailor-made solution. In his experience, customers are positively surprised by the high efficiency and throughput compared to the number of operators on the line.

“Most sausage manufacturers talk about capacity in terms of kilos per hour. Our system can achieve a similar capacity to traditional labour-intensive lines – in some applications, even higher. And they need only a few operators to run at this high capacity,” he comments.

With less downtime, give-away and waste on the line, manufacturers can look forward to a flexible and future-proof sausage-packing operation with a fast return on investment. That’s an automation opportunity worth exploring.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on Less Hard Work on the Sausage Packing Line

Au2mate Delivers the Fully Integrated Factory Automation System For the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Factory

By Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S

This article gives an overview of the design and implementation process for the highly advanced factory automation system at the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates factory opened in June 2016.

The project has been implemented in close cooperation with AFI as the end user and Process Engineering as the main engineering contractor and with Au2mate as the supplier of the factory control system.

The Hydrolysates plant is complex both in terms of processes and applied automation technology and at the same time the performance requirements are set very high; this includes user friendliness, process optimization, waste, energy consumption, detergents and plant uptime.

The plant automation solution is based upon the latest yet proven technologies and equipment from leading manufacturers, ensuring the investment and future development of the plant.

The engineering standards applied as the basis for the solution are leading international standards ensuring the quality today as well as flexibility with regard to future support and development. The project is fully documented accordingly.

The software solution is designed according to S88/S95 which forms a robust platform supporting superior management of the dairy inclusive of fully integrated manufacturing order execution.

Extended use of well proven software modules in accordance with Arla Foods standards, guidelines and best practices ensures straightforward future development, extensions and maintenance.

AFI Hydrolysates factory situated in Nr. Vium in the Western Part of Jutland, Denmark.

AFI Hydrolysates factory situated in Nr. Vium in the Western Part of Jutland, Denmark.

The solution designed and implemented at the AFI Hydrolysates factory is embedding the joint Au2mate expertise and good automation practice gained from conducting major automation projects over more than 3 decades.

To future proof the plant it is most important to recognise that the plant automation system is designed in a flexible manner in order to facilitate that the process can be optimised concurrently during the life time of the plant aligned with changes in production requirements, process requirements and on-going changing and upgrading of production standards.

From an automation perspective the key to achieve this is to design the hardware as well as the software in a modular, standardised and well documented way. And further that the applied technology for the plant automation system is transferred to the operational organisation of the AFI Hydrolysates factory.

Below in this article there is a more detailed description of the design and functionality of the control system as well as the implementation and project management of the project. Please refer to below photo showing a part of the process area.

Design and Functionality of the AFI Hydrolysates Factory Control System

Part of the process area.

Part of the process area.

The plant is equipped with a comprehensive automation system comprising I/O, PLC, SCADA, MES as well as communication networks.

Operation of the plant takes place from 10 pcs. Wonderware InTouch operator stations located in the central control room as well as in the field for operation and monitoring of the plant.

The control system is based upon 20 pcs Siemens S7-414 PLCs for the process. Interface to the plant items takes place via ET200 modules located in I/O boxes in the plant process area. The interface boxes are connected to the PLCs via Profinet. Interface to the MCC takes place via ET200 modules located in the MCC panel connected to the PLCs via Profibus. Interface to selected process instruments also takes place via Profibus.

The server part of the control system is based on Wonderware System Platform and includes 4 servers running a Historian server and a redundant pair of Application Servers. For more information please refer to the below figure 1 showing the Automation Architecture.

Figure 1: Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Automation Architecture.

Figure 1: Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Automation Architecture.

The software part of the system is designed according to Arla Foods standards for PLC, HMI, Data collection, Recipe management, OEE and reporting. The control system structure follows the basic principles in the ISA S88 Batch Model. The MES application is S95 structured and designed according the latest international standards.

The plant is fully automatic and requires a minimum of operator interaction and the automatic sequences will control the process under full control system monitoring and supervision.

The PLC software is developed for control and monitoring of the individual plant units forming the entire Hydrolysates process. The software comprises modules for automatic control, regulation and monitoring of the plant as well as handling of operator interaction. The software is structured according to S88 and extensively tested and simulated to obtain optimal commissioning of the plant.

The software for automatic control of the process energises actuators, valves and pumps in a predetermined sequence hereby initiating the individual processes. The key components and process parameters are carefully monitored during process operation, including e.g. monitoring of states, pressures and temperatures. Alarm handling and logging includes alarm state, date and time. For quality purposes, process events are logged in a database inclusive of e.g. date, time, material, recipe number and production order.

The application software for the HMI/SCADA system is based on Arla Foods standards. The software is developed as user friendly graphics based operator pictures ensuring an efficient operator dialogue during operation as well as monitoring of the plant. Please refer to photo below showing the central control room.

The central control room.

The central control room.

The MES solution is based upon the platforms from SAP, Microsoft, Wonderware and Arla Foods, providing a fully documented and open standard platform, safeguarding the investment and ensuring straightforward future development of the plant. The SQL database is designed according to S95 forming the backbone for the required MES applications and reports.

The plant is running recipe controlled production based upon the use of Arla Foods recipe system RMS as well as integration with SAP production orders.

The collection of production data and associated reporting is based on the Arla Foods modules for data collection and reporting via MII.

The OEE functionality is based on the Arla Foods standard. The plant status is registered continuously e.g. machine error, line error, etc. and OEE reports are implemented via MII.

Implementation and Project Management of the AFI Hydrolysates Project

Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S.

Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S.

The project was generally executed according to Au2mate QA manual complying with leading international standards and methodologies inclusive of development of test sheets for quality assurance.

The planning and coordination of the project was performed by an appointed project manager in close cooperation with the AFI organisation and the process contractors. The project manager also coordinated and organised the work in the dedicated Au2mate project group.

The software programming of the AFI Hydrolysates plant control and MES system was carried out on the basis of Functional Design Specifications (FDS) prepared by Au2mate and approved by the process contractors. The FDSs describe all sequences and Unit operations in detail.

The detailed software Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was carried out on the Au2mate premises prior to on-site tests. The FAT is introduced in order to ensure that as regards control, the plant operates according to the program description (FDS). The test was conducted in corporation with AFI, their representatives and the process contractors.

Training of the AFI staff was done in parallel with the project execution, in order to develop the skills required to operate, run and execute maintenance of the plant independently of external support.

Au2mateLogoJuly2016A simulation concept of the plant was created as part of the project. The concept was applied as a helping tool for the FAT as well as a training tool for training of plant operators and maintenance staff.

Key Project Learning Points

It has been a pleasure for Au2mate to act as a proactive automation supplier in the delivery of the control system for the AFI Hydrolysates factory. The project was successfully delivered on target for time, budget as well as quality.

From our perspective the goals were achieved due to clear project targets and project management by AFI, sufficient knowledgeable resources allocated to the project and excellent teamwork during the whole duration of the project between AFI and the vendors involved in the project.

 

 

 

Posted in Control & Automation, Ingredients, ProcessingComments Off on Au2mate Delivers the Fully Integrated Factory Automation System For the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Factory

Hörmann UK – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

In the market for construction components, more and more gates, doors, frames and operators carry the Hörmann name, making Hörmann Europe’s leading provider of such products. This leadership of the family company has been attained through decades of continuous growth as a result of innovation, ensured quality and proximity to the customer.

Today, the Hörmann Group is run by the third and fourth generation, i.e. the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of company founder August Hörmann. Thomas J. Hörmann, Martin J. Hörmann, and Christoph Hörmann are the personally liable general partners. Hörmann (UK) Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hörmann KG.

First established in 1979 from a small industrial unit in Leicester. Hörmann UK’s continual growth meant that in 1993 we moved to new premises at Whetstone in Leicester. In 2000, due to increased growth, we moved into purpose built offices at our current location in Coalville, Leicestershire, giving us a footprint of 8000 square metres. In 2006 we built on remaining land, adding a further 3800 square metres of assembly/warehouse space and 200 square metres of office space. Providing a total building footprint of 12,000 square metres.

IMHX is the largest meeting place for the UK’s logistics industry. Next month over 20,000 logistics and supply chain professionals will gather to evaluate cutting edge technologies, explore the latest industry solutions and discuss how to increase efficiencies within supply chain operations.

IMHX 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 13th-16th September. Demand for stand space has been exceptional and IMHX 2016 will be the biggest and most comprehensive in the show’s history with over 400 exhibitors!

Posted in Control & Automation, End of Line, Industry, Logistics, Supply chainComments Off on Hörmann UK – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Conveyor Systems Ltd – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Conveyor Systems Ltd offer an array of engineering expertise and a wealth of experience in materials handling solutions however complex, tailored to suit customer’s individual requirements in a wide range of industries.

At CSL we have a comprehensive range of conveyor equipment to provide complete automated turnkey materials handling systems, including design, installation and commissioning conveyors with integrated controls and software. We also incorporate full project management to co-ordinate our mechanical and electrical conveyor installation teams in-line with the customers overall project program.

CSL offer simple, high quality modular conveyors to integrate and interface with other OEM machinery such as packaging and label application machines, wrappers, palletisers and other associated equipment. This is often coupled with state of the art PLC/Computer based systems to integrate the operation whilst providing management data for traceability/logistics etc.

IMHX is the largest meeting place for the UK’s logistics industry. Next month over 20,000 logistics and supply chain professionals will gather to evaluate cutting edge technologies, explore the latest industry solutions and discuss how to increase efficiencies within supply chain operations.

IMHX 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 13th-16th September. Demand for stand space has been exceptional and IMHX 2016 will be the biggest and most comprehensive in the show’s history with over 400 exhibitors!

Posted in Automation, Control & Automation, End of Line, Industry, Logistics, Materials Handling, Processing, Processing Equipment, Supply chainComments Off on Conveyor Systems Ltd – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Road Map to the Smart Meat Factory

The key steps meat companies need to take to achieve a smart factory in line with Industry 4.0 will be the major focus of a series of Meat Business Days being held by food IT software specialist CSB-System in Karlsruhe, Germany from 12th – 16th September.

As well a series of presentations from industry experts from Fraunhofer IAO, Multivac and CSB-System, the event will also include tours of state-of-the art meat producers in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, each of whom has already taken great strides in becoming a smart meat factory.

The Meat Business Days event is dedicated to innovative technologies and solutions for meat production of the future.  The focus will be on software, automation and image processing solutions to make the digital transformation a successful one.

With business models, value-added chains, processes and consumer behaviour all becoming increasingly digitally connected, more efficient and more transparent, the event will examine which investments in digitalisation and automation are necessary to fully exploit the potential of the intelligent factory and the benefits these will bring to the meat industry.

For the factory tours, participants can choose to visit Wolf Wurstspezialitäten GmbH, EDEKA Südwest Fleisch GmbH or Fleischhof Rasting GmbH in Germany, ProMessa BV in the Netherlands; or Veviba S.A. in Belgium.

Detailed information on the Meat Business Days can be found at www.csb.com/meatbusinessdays.

Posted in Control & Automation, IT, ProcessingComments Off on Road Map to the Smart Meat Factory

PA Helps Arthur Mallon Foods Increase Production Speeds

Arthur Mallon Foods is one of the leading Irish sausage producers, who have been creating award winning sausages since 1942 from County Monaghan.

The company needed to upgrade their top seal tray sealer and were looking for a machine that would offer an increase in output in line with their production target. Since the introduction of a PA tray sealer, Mallon Foods have been able to increase their production speeds by approximately 40%.

Apart from the increased production speeds, the PA tray sealer is a user friendly machine with much quicker tool changeovers.

Mallon Foods purchased a fully electric eclipse SL4 tray sealer which has been designed to address the environmental impact of packaging operations by reducing the user’s power consumption by up to 90%. The in-line, fully electric SL4 is a small footprint machine capable of sealing 75 packs per minute.

Featuring PA’s Powerdrive™ technology, the SL4 is a fully electric machine and operates without using any compressed air, therefore offering savings of up to 98% of the running costs of conventional pneumatically operated tray sealers. This enables food producers to demonstrate a real commitment to environmental issues, whilst delivering a competitive operating cost.

John Fyfe, Production Manager at Arthur Mallon Foods, comments: “The team at PA have been very easy to deal with, their response times and communication was excellent. PA actually installed the machine ahead of schedule. Since it`s installation, we have found the machine very easy to operate, very reliable with tool changeovers being achieved quickly.”

PA can offer customers a tray sealer or pot filler for a wide range of applications in the food industry including fresh produce packing such as salad, tomato, strawberry and soft fruit packing, fish, seafood, meat and chicken packing (including vacuum packing and skin packing), ready meal sealing and packing, and pot or tub denesting, filling and sealing for puddings and sauces.

Full packing lines can be specified and installed to include tray denesting, conveyoring, tray filling, film sealing including modified atmosphere packing (MAP) facilities. Foil tray sealing as well as plastic tray sealing can be accommodated on all machines as standard.

For further information Packaging Automation Ltd on Tel +44 (0)1565 755000 or visit www.pal.co.uk.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on PA Helps Arthur Mallon Foods Increase Production Speeds

Video Interview with Phil Waters, Gebo Cermex, who talks about the benefits of “simultaneous engineering”

Gebo Cermex, part of the Sidel group, is a worldwide operation specialising in the manufacture of automated end of line machinery, packaging equipment and complete line engineering solutions. The company supplies packaging, shrink-wrapping, conveying, palletizing and robotic assembly equipment, as well as pasteurizing, crate and bottle washing systems for a range of market segments, including beverages, food, and home and personal care products. The company is strong in engineering, asset optimisation and complete line integration.

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Bosch Launches New Robotic Packaging Portfolio

Bosch Packaging Technology, a leading supplier of robotic technology for primary and secondary packaging solutions, has fully redesigned its Delta robotic packaging portfolio to give food producers more versatility and performance. Based on an open frame platform featuring the latest GD series Delta robot, the new portfolio offers modular and standardized robotic solutions with application-specific options. Bosch’s enhanced D3 robotic platform handles higher payloads up to three kilograms and ensures faster speeds to increase pick rates. Designed for quick changeovers, simplified use and maintenance, it allows manufacturers to achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a shorter return on investment (ROI) period.

“With the launch of the D3 robotic platform we offer a highly versatile portfolio of primary and secondary packaging solutions. The new modular and scalable design enables multiple robot solutions by combining standard machine modules. Through increased modularity Bosch demonstrates its commitment to engineering customer-focused technologies that enhance productivity, reduce TCO and enable a faster time to market,” says Marc de Vries, sales director, Bosch Packaging Technology. “Combined with added flexibility, the platform helps our customers leverage robotic automation to generate competitive advantage.”

Broader application range enhances versatility

The D3 platform includes several features that improve packaging efficiency and enable manufacturers to meet the growing demand for diverse products, such as biscuits, cereal bars, chocolate, confectionery treats, baked goods and vertically packaged products. “Many customers look for robotic packaging equipment that can handle a great variety of products on the same machine,” says Marc de Vries. “By increasing performance, payload capability and working volume height as well as offering optional fourth and fifth axes for improved product rotation, we have significantly extended the application range.”

With the industry-leading Gemini 4.0 Delta robot controller and software new product formats can be simulated offline without the need for physical products, reducing set-up and installation times. The simplified platform design also promotes faster changeovers and ease of use.

Easier cleaning leads to greater food safety

Another advantage of the D3 platform is the hygienic and open frame design with fewer parts and better visibility of moving elements which helps manufacturers comply with increasingly stringent food safety regulations. The control cabinets are positioned on top of the machines, enabling operator access from both the front and rear, which reduces cleaning and maintenance times.

Fully modular to increase manufacturing flexibility

Being a part of Bosch’s Module++ single-source provider concept for simple and modular line automation, D3 robotic solutions can be easily integrated with both Bosch and third-party primary or secondary packaging machines. The D3 platform has been designed to increase flexibility for small- and medium-sized as well as multinational companies. The new portfolio offers flexible and scalable robotic solutions that allow customers to adjust quickly to current production needs and to reach future manufacturing goals.

Bosch Packaging Technology, a leading supplier of robotic technology for primary and secondary packaging solutions, has fully redesigned its Delta robotic packaging portfolio to give food producers more versatility and performance. Based on an open frame platform featuring the latest GD series Delta robot, the new portfolio offers modular and standardized robotic solutions with application-specific options. Bosch’s enhanced D3 robotic platform handles higher payloads up to three kilograms and ensures faster speeds to increase pick rates. Designed for quick changeovers, simplified use and maintenance, it allows manufacturers to achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a shorter return on investment (ROI) period.

“With the launch of the D3 robotic platform we offer a highly versatile portfolio of primary and secondary packaging solutions. The new modular and scalable design enables multiple robot solutions by combining standard machine modules. Through increased modularity Bosch demonstrates its commitment to engineering customer-focused technologies that enhance productivity, reduce TCO and enable a faster time to market,” says Marc de Vries, sales director, Bosch Packaging Technology. “Combined with added flexibility, the platform helps our customers leverage robotic automation to generate competitive advantage.”

Broader application range enhances versatility

The D3 platform includes several features that improve packaging efficiency and enable manufacturers to meet the growing demand for diverse products, such as biscuits, cereal bars, chocolate, confectionery treats, baked goods and vertically packaged products. “Many customers look for robotic packaging equipment that can handle a great variety of products on the same machine,” says Marc de Vries. “By increasing performance, payload capability and working volume height as well as offering optional fourth and fifth axes for improved product rotation, we have significantly extended the application range.”

With the industry-leading Gemini 4.0 Delta robot controller and software new product formats can be simulated offline without the need for physical products, reducing set-up and installation times. The simplified platform design also promotes faster changeovers and ease of use.

Easier cleaning leads to greater food safety

Another advantage of the D3 platform is the hygienic and open frame design with fewer parts and better visibility of moving elements which helps manufacturers comply with increasingly stringent food safety regulations. The control cabinets are positioned on top of the machines, enabling operator access from both the front and rear, which reduces cleaning and maintenance times.

Fully modular to increase manufacturing flexibility

Being a part of Bosch’s Module++ single-source provider concept for simple and modular line automation, D3 robotic solutions can be easily integrated with both Bosch and third-party primary or secondary packaging machines. The D3 platform has been designed to increase flexibility for small- and medium-sized as well as multinational companies. The new portfolio offers flexible and scalable robotic solutions that allow customers to adjust quickly to current production needs and to reach future manufacturing goals.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on Bosch Launches New Robotic Packaging Portfolio

Load This in One Shot in 7 Minutes!

Joloda International have recently installed a new fully automatic loading system for food giant PepsiCo to move 42 pallets of potato crisps, into a 25.25m road train in 1 load and also loads 26 pallets into a 13.6m vehicle. Where this loading process was completed by forklift truck, the automatic loading process now creates a time saving of 30 minutes per vehicle, down to 7 minutes for the road train and 6 minutes for the 13.6m vehicle.

In the world of fast-moving consumer goods, speed is the most important factor. This drives the continued pursuit of ever-increasing business process automation. In the area of logistics, Joloda helps customers, including those in the food and drink industry, achieve the full potential of the just-in-time philosophy. Sales director Wouter Satijn, explains: “We develop complete loading and unloading systems for our customers. We not only have the knowledge to bring together and install the technology, we also have our own production facilities in Liverpool and North Wales.”

Prestigious Project

One of the most prestigious projects Joloda have delivered is the fully automated loading and unloading system at PepsiCo in Broek op Langedijk (NL).

The 25m road train consists of an 8.2 metre long trailer in front and a 13.3 metre long trailer at the rear. The bi-folding doors at the back of the front trailer are swung open, as are the doors at the front and back ends of the long trailer. The front trailer is then backed up tight against the rear trailer. This results in a cargo tunnel 21.5 metres long, capable of holding 42 pallets. “Now all the driver has to do is attach a cable to his truck to establish a connection with the control system,” explains Wouter Satijn. “Then he can take a coffee break, because our automatic loading system does the rest.”

Joloda1June2015Wouter Satijn explains how it works: “On the roller conveyor we group the pallets in three sections of 16, 10 and then another 16 pallets. As soon as the overhead door on the dock opens, a platform with two laser scanners is lowered from above. We use these scanners to make sure the truck is not positioned at too much of an angle and to measure the depth of the trailer. This distance measurement is necessary because the dock is not only used for road trains but also for ordinary 13.6 metre trailers. The reason for this is that Kuehne + Nagel want to be able to decide up to the last moment whether, by chance, they have an empty trailer in the neighbourhood that can pick up a load from Broek op Langedijk.”

Wouter Satijn continues: “If the laser scanners measure a distance of 13.3 metres, then 16 plus 10 pallets can be slid into the trailer. At 21.5 metres, all 42 pallets can be placed in the cargo tunnel of the road train, both loaded from the same dock!”

Wouter Satijn says that the logistic case at PepsiCo is exceptional in terms of more than just technology: “Just looking at the ROI you can see that the investment pays for itself in less than 18 months! And keep in mind: the system will still be operational in twenty years.” Another benefit Wouter Satijn points out is the achieved space savings: “There is no way around it: forklifts simply require a lot of space. Our system is significantly more compact. The customer can use the remaining space for other purposes. And don’t forget the safety aspect: our fully automatic system significantly improves occupational health and safety. After all, there are no longer any hands or forklifts involved in the logistic process.”

Green Aspect

The green aspect of the system also played a role in the choice for the Joloda system, stresses Wouter Satijn: “Many automatic loading and unloading systems make use of chains. That makes the trailers even heavier. Our solution, utilizing a pneumatic riser-plate system, keeps the trailers light. An additional advantage of the trailers is that they are also easily accessible for forklifts. All you have to do is ensure the riser-plates are raised, and the forklifts can drive in and out of the trailer as if it had a flat floor. This means the trailers are suitable for multi-purpose use, which is important to the carrier.”

This system has to be seen to be believed! – watch on YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj9XHKDsqD8.

Posted in Control & Automation, LogisticsComments Off on Load This in One Shot in 7 Minutes!

Rocla’s Automation Solution For Valio

Valio, Finland’s biggest milk processor and the national market leader in dairy products, has chosen Rocla’s automated guided vehicles for its cheese factories in Finland. In these locations, more than 250 million litres of milk are processed annually. The AGVs handle the routine pallet transfers from production to preparation for shipping.

The Rocla AGVs feature Valio’s product brands as design covers. These AGVs have been in full action for more than a year now. Valio logistics manager Tiina Kujala is very pleased with the new way of working.

Work Safety

“Before, same pallet transfers were handled by human-operated trucks. The premises are often very confined, and distances are not that great. The work itself caused stress to employees and a challenge in work safety,” recalls Tiina Kujala.

Rocla1May2015Pallets are loaded with products at intervals of only a few minutes. In order to keep the production line running smoothly, the full pallets need to be transported right away for shipment. In the past, the drivers had to be ready all the time to move the full pallets to shipment preparation. “We were wondering why a good employee should have to handle this kind of boring work phase. We wanted to find a new solution for this,” explains factory manager Heikki Makela.

The Challenge

Heikki Makela contacted Rocla, who took up this challenge. Rocla’s professionals examined the situation and the customer needs, coming up with an optimal automation solution to replace the old way of working. The vehicles are equipped with tilting forks. This makes it possible to load and unload from gravity conveyors.

In addition, the vehicles are equipped with barcode scanners that can later be updated to operate as RFID readers. The delivery also includes the Rocla MetRo warehouse management system (WMS), which controls the warehouse and gets deliveries to the right place at the right time. The inventories are always up to date.

Rocla2May2015Fulfilled Expectations

The Rocla AGVs have fulfilled expectations. Personnel have been very positive about the automation. It has increased work safety at the factory: thanks to the safety equipment and sensors, there are no collisions or damaged products anymore. Using the AGVs is also easy.

“All of the production personnel participated in the basic training, and a few people were trained as main users. In the beginning, Rocla’s 24/7 help desk was in use, but for quite some time the automation system has been running on its own very nicely,” compliments Tiina Kujala.

The factory manager is proud of the added image value with the Rocla AGVs. “For example, our American colleagues and other visitors have noticed the new AGVs right away – many of them are still using old technology for these transfers,” Heikki Makela says.

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End-of-line Productivity With Some Extra Flavour

Manna Foods is a producer of savoury sauces and employs 70 people. It is a family owned business, and although relatively small, they are extremely successful in what they do with a no-nonsense approach to business. Manna Foods choose carefully which products in the market most suit their production methods to ensure what they produce, is produced in the most efficient way. However this business philosophy requires flexibility, particularly at the end of the packing line.

Manna Foods chose CSi’s i-Pal for their end of line palletising and achieved a 9 month payback! This helped them to stay ahead of their competitors, and due to the good experience they had with their first palletiser, they decided to buy a second one for one of their other lines.

CSI1November2014The i-Pal, although a sophisticated robot palletising system, is a low cost solution with the following significant benefits:

  1. A flexible multi-use unit which fits into many environments. Almost 150 i-Pals have been installed already in a wide variety of businesses. Having achieved significant sales volume of the i-Pal CSi are constantly lowering their prices.
  2. The i-Pal is easy to install and commission allowing the benefits of automatic palletising to be achieved within a very short time period.
  3. The i-Pal is assembled and tested in Romania, and is installed and commissioned by Romanian CSi specialists making it possible to keep the i-Pal as low cost as possible whilst maintaining CSi’s extremely high quality standards.

CSIForkliftNovember2014One of the challenges CSi faced on this project is that Manna Foods have a large range of pallets. The i-Pal is flexible enough to overcome these challenges. Empty and full pallets are transported to and from the i-Pal with a forklift truck. Manna Foods has up to 12 different pallet patterns which was no problem for the i-Pal as some additional software programming solved this. Manna Foods are also able to adjust pallet patterns themselves.

Due to the short payback period predicted, Manna Foods decided to purchase the i-Pal.  However the i-Pal is also available for lease, or even on short-term rent. This spreads the investment load and enables the financial benefit of automatic palletising to be realised almost immediately. Manna Foods have a skilled and pragmatic maintenance department who after a short period of training were operating and supporting the i-Pal without any interruptions or stoppages. Manna Foods decided not to purchase any spare parts as they were so confident in the technology they had purchased.

Benefits

  • High stacks (2.5 m); not possible by hand
  • Pay-back time was shorter than 9 months
  • Unwrapped pallets in container because of high stacking accuracy and stable stacks.

It is important not to forget the operators who play a vital role in the success of any automated project. Once trained, the operators quickly gained the confidence to put the i-Pal robot cell into full production. The simplicity of the i-Pal machine and its intuitive operator panel makes the job a lot easier.

For more information contact CSi industries BV – Raamsdonksveer, the Netherlands – www.CSiportal.com, E-mail: info@CSiportal.com, Tel +31 (0)162 575 000.

Posted in Control & Automation, End of LineComments Off on End-of-line Productivity With Some Extra Flavour

Chocs Away at Barry Callebaut

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, recognised that a significant increase in operational efficiencies could be achieved through the installation of a robotic palletising system at its Banbury plant in England.

The company had recently initiated a major investment programme, in line with its ‘cost leadership’ strategy pillar, across all areas of its manufacturing process to deliver an increase in capacity and optimise production flow. To further improve efficiencies, a three phase investment over two years was now planned for the palletising area with the implementation of a fully integrated robotic solution to an existing line.

The new system was required to provide greater flexibility and reliability, utilise limited floor area, simplify operational procedures and reduce maintenance costs. In addition, it would have to overcome the challenges of picking up multiple sizes of boxes (between 10kg and 25kg), increased cycle rates and be fully compliant with the company’s stringent health and safety disciplines.

Barry Callebaut commissioned CKF Systems of Gloucester as its project partner to design, build and install an integrated robotic palletising system within its manufacturing plant.

“We were impressed by work CKF had recently undertaken for a major confectionary brand,” explains Barnz Parkin, Project Management Engineer, Barry Callebaut. “We spoke to the project manager, who has a wealth of experience and we regard highly and he provided a sound endorsement; a good partner, talented, flexible and reliable. We looked at nine different organisations, only CKF demonstrated a complete understanding of our situation and submitted a working solution that would improve our capabilities in line with budget and expectations. It was a major undertaking for the business and therefore essential that we made the right decision.”

The initial project is designed around a single robot cell but with the ability to palletise three different SKU’s at the same time. The cell, incorporating an ABB IRB 660 with a bespoke gripper, has been designed by CKF. It utilises 3D Inventor and Robot Studio simulation to ensure the full range of case sizes, weights and configurations can be handled and are able to pick layer sheets. The case feed system comprises a high level interface complete with divert station and bar code detection, to direct the flow of designated cases to the robot cell and separate in to three defined collation stations. Each station incorporates an identical conditioning section to orientate and collate the cases into defined rows and counts for the robot pick to create the pallet pattern. A dedicated pallet load station is positioned at the end of each collation station and the cell also includes two separate layer sheet feed sections to handle both Chep and Euro pallet sized sheets.

The overall system includes two dedicated pallet denesters, i.e. Chep and Euro, loaded pallet discharge station and twin shuttle car. The shuttle car arrangement is designed to receive individual pallets, on demand, from the designated denester and deliver to the relevant pallet load station at start of production. The shuttle is also designed to receive and exchange both loaded and empty pallets, with the loaded pallets delivered to the unload station before the car returns to the denester stations to collect the next pallet. The final configuration of the system includes provision for the introduction of a second robot cell and a fully automatic spiral wrapping machine.

The complete operation is fully contained within a guard enclosure incorporating strategically positioned light beams, roller shutter door and interlocks to meet the very highest safety standards with zoned safety areas to maximise overall system efficiency.

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Fast Response from UK Company to Help Save Lives in Iraq

2 days ago UK based engineering firm Olympus Automation (OAL) were approached by the president of Azersun, the leading food producer in Azerbaijan, for a rapid cooking system to feed refugees in Northern Iraq. The president was so appalled by the plight of the refugees stuck on mount Sinjar he has chosen to fund the equipment himself.
Time is clearly of the essence and managing director, Harry Norman, of OAL has been quick to respond and a system will be shipped in record time next week. Norman, states:
“Normally systems take 24 weeks to manufacture, but this is clearly not a normal situation, lives are at stake and we will be able to deliver a Steam Infusion cooking system in a week. Steam Infusion is 4 times faster than traditional processes making the equipment ideal for feeding lots of people, hence the call from the president.”
OAL will be flying application specialist Stuart Rigby to an undisclosed location in Turkey to provide training on the system before it is deployed in Northern Iraq.
OAL are supplying a simple cooking system based on its revolutionary Steam Infusion technology to make lentil soups, rice and provide a clean source for drinking and washing water. The cooking system uses will use Steam Infusion, OAL’s revolutionary heating and mixing process to make 4,000 portions of hot food an hour.
Follow us on Twitter, @OALgroup

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FANUC to Showcases Widest Range of Food Handling Robots – PPMA Show, Hall 5, Stand C50

Showcasing five different food handling robots, FANUC will present their biggest selection ever at a PPMA show this year. IP67 and IP69K certified robots, will perform palletising and food packing assembly tasks. Delta and articulated arm robots will show high levels of dexterity when handling unpackaged and packaged foods at speeds of up to 180 picks per minute. As well as the robot arms, attendees will see a variety of end-effector tools including vacuum and gripper style which will effectively pick and place the most delicate of products.

Robots in action include a cell combining two robots, an M3 delta style system and a M430 articulated arm robot, which will pick biscuits and place them into blister packs. Following on from this an articulated arm LR Mate 200iD will pack the blister packs into retail trays. To represent packing further down the production line, two palletising robots, a FANUC M710iC/50 and an M410-iC/185, will demonstrate palletising of both trays and bulk bags.

Worker safety is a prime consideration so FANUC will also demonstrate its Dual Check Safety (DCS) Position & Speed Check software – a package of safety options integrated into FANUC’s R30iA and R30iB robot controllers to ensure safe monitoring of robot position and speed.

CAPTION:

FANUC’s M430 articulated arm robot will load biscuits into blister trays with repeatable accuracy at the PPMA Show.

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Getting to Grips With Robot End-effectors – A Beginner’s Guide

For perfectly understandable reasons, when it comes to pick and place installations for consumer goods, the robotic arm tends to attract the most attention. Although there is less of a focus on the end tooling at the tip of the arm, it is these end effectors that, when working in unison with a robotic arm, determine the precise operation that the unit performs.  Pacepacker Services, an automation integrator who can provide a robotic solution to handle any food assembly or packing scenario, explores the different types of end effectors available.

“In the strict definition the end-effector means the ‘last link’, or end, of a robot arm and is the part of a robot which interacts with the work environment”. Explains Paul Wilkinson, Pacepacker’s Business Development Manager.  “In a wider sense, the robotic arm resembles that of a human’s, which controls hand movements as its job is to move an end-effector from place to place.”

The selection of a specific robot model, which there are many to choose from including articulated arm, delta style or Cartesian robots, is of critical importance from both a cost and performance perspective. However, the quality of that performance will stand or fall on the choice of end effector. As Mike Wilson, Chairman of the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) explains: “Most problems which occur in production are caused by badly-designed tooling, and not by faults in the robots.”

To put this more positively: get the design and specification of end effector right first time, and you are avoiding the majority of production problems before they materialise.

What are the Options?

Most of the end tooling for pick and place falls into one of four categories: vacuum systems, magnets, grippers and clamshell style. Each variety has particular benefits and target applications.

Vacuum gripping is the most popular form of pick and place solution. Within this range of options, compressed air is typically the most common way of generating vacuum, given that the amount of suction and configuration of valves can be tailored to the product being picked. Where more vacuum is required, a pump or even a high air-flow pump can be specified. The latter is likely to be required where, for instance, a good seal between valve and product cannot be guaranteed. [*]

When it comes to picking and placing tinplate products (including board-multipacked cans), designers can choose from electro-magnets or earth magnets.

‘Gripper’ systems probably sound more aggressive than they really are. The effect is typically one of cradling product rather than gripping it. As ever with end-effectors, the key is to strike the right balance between secure and gentle handling. If product is dented, bruised or scuffed, consumers will reject it. [**]

Clamshell-type picking tends to be used for more easily-damaged and irregularly-shaped product. A compressed air system controls the opening and closing, with bodies often tailored to the shape of the item and lined with a cushioning material such as foam. Pacepacker has designed and installed clamshell systems for small flexible packs of produce, such as peppers and onions.

The technical capabilities available for end effectors are evolving all the time. Pacepacker is an integrator of Festo Mechatronics who recently introduced a system of ‘adaptive fingers’, with ‘prehensile’ abilities not unlike an elephant’s trunk. This exciting development makes it possible to pick up delicate but irregular-shaped objects such as eggs or avocados.

Finding the Right Robot Hand For the Job 

Experience tells us that there is no substitute for trialling the specific pack and product with different robot and end effector options,” explains Paul “At Pacepacker, we have formalised this philosophy in our ‘Try Before You Buy’ commitment. Such an approach is an essential step in de-risking innovation, not only when designing customised clamshell tooling, for instance, but also when specifying the most appropriate vacuum system. Even where an apparently similar item has been matched with a particular solution in the past, those apparent similarities may prove to be deceptive in practice.”

In terms of how the specific design of an end effector is integrated into robotic pick and place, the key priority for most packers will be speed. In addition, the amount of product that can be picked in a single operation will determine cycle times. Once these are established, the payload can be determined, and the robot requirements deduced.

Pacepacker has worked as a strategic partner of FANUC for 15 years, an international supplier of a wide range of articulated-arm robots. Since June 2013, Pacepacker has also been working closely with Festo on twin-axis Cartesian-style pick and place. Both these partners offer options in the third category of robot – ‘delta’-style picking systems – where Pacepacker, too, has a proprietary system.

If more businesses are recognising the return on investment offered by robotic pick and place, this is in part because the installation cost of the robots themselves has reduced over the years. But it is also thanks to improved processes of design and specification: ensuring you have the right tooling for the product, and the right robot for the output and payload you require. 

On the other hand, it can be easy to get carried away by the ‘newest’ technical developments and over specify either the robot itself or other elements in the system. “Take vision systems.” Paul explains.  “There is a place in today’s market for them particularly where there is a growing number of products’ being presented to robots in erratic formats or variable positions.  However where products are all in a uniform line often a simple sensor is all that’s required. By paying special attention to how the product is presented to the pick and place devise an experienced integrator will often avoid any need for over complicated vision systems.”

On many pick & place lines, tooling change will not be a major requirement. But where it is, this has to be factored in. In fact, compressed air vacuum systems can often be designed with a single coupling, and substitution times of less than a minute are likely to be dwarfed by upstream changeover requirements.  “As specialists in the design of end effectors we can eliminate the need for change overs by making the end effectors multifunctional.  Where interchangeability is required compressed air vacuum electronics can be quickly disconnected and re-attached using quick release couplings. These changeover times are likely to be quicker than upstream or downstream equipment.” Paul explains.

Further considerations when designing a bespoke system include the possible use of height compensators, sprung loaded features which are mounted onto suction cups to pick up items with height irregularity, such as packs of meat or blocks of cheese.   These, like other options in the long list available to pick and place systems designers, need to be assessed at an early stage to ensure that the end effector combines with the robot itself to create a cost-effective, longlasting, reliable and trouble-free solution.

“Robotic devises are common place today and anyone can buy a robot arm,” concludes Paul, “however it’s the applications knowledge and ability to design the best possible solution for each application which is key and as always our philosophy is to be able to demonstrate the ability of robotics and end effectors at our ‘Try before You Buy’ facility.

Food manufacturers can attend a free educational event in June at Pacepacker’s Essex-based facility on robotics and automation where they will learn the differences between Cartesian, articulated arm and delta-style robots and their application capability.

Food manufacturers can use Pacepacker’s EEF award winning ‘Try Before You Buy’ facility to run product tests and trials. They are also hosting a free educational event in June, in Essex. For details contact Email events@pacepacker.com, Tel (0)1371 811544 or visit www.pacepacker.com.

*In the dairy category, vacuum handling can provide a great solution for product such as pots of yogurt, since it minimises contact and potential damage. But at the same time, the pack provides a secure seal with the gripper.

**One widespread application of clamp systems is in loading bags of root vegetables and other produce into bulk bins or trays. In this case, even high-suction vacuum tooling would not grip the product securely.

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Olympus Automation’s Steam Infusion Awarded £30,000 by Shell Springboard

Olympus Automation has been awarded a £30,000 prize as part of the Springboard competition sponsored by industry giant Shell. The expert panel of judges recognised the potential for Steam Infusion to significantly reduce carbon emissions due to a more efficient industrial heating and mixing process.

 

The Shell Springboard programme is a nationwide search for the next breakthrough in low carbon enterprise, part of a strategy of collaborating externally to fast track solutions to the energy challenge. Since 2005, Shell has awarded £2.58million to 71 companies exploring new ways to cut carbon emissions.

Steam Infusion allows food product to be cooked, mixed and pumped within a single unit, often removing the need for multiple stages of processing. Carbon reductions are generated from the significant reduction in system footprint and 99.7% energy transfer in the steam infusion chamber. To date steam Infusion is being used at more than 30 sites globally, producing sauces, soups and meat products to great effect.

“Steam infusion has allowed us to nearly double our previous throughput rates, furthermore our meat sauce quality and consistency has improved dramatically.”

Mark Carnaghan, Factory Manager, Greencore

Steam Infusion is believed to be the fastest growing food processing solution in the UK with annual sales up 10 fold to £6 million. It has been dubbed low risk by commentators because of the ease with which manufacturers can easily match existing products.  The PDX™ steam infusion unit can be run in steam injector mode cutting production times but with no change to final product.

 “Since purchasing the PDX™ system we have reduced the production time of our soups and sauces by more than 50% as well as reducing energy whilst still maintaining our exceptional product quality.”

Jan Kusters, Manufacturing Director, Larco Foods

Manufacturers can then modify recipes at a later date to enable the powerful taste and texture benefits of steam infusion.

“When running in steam infusion mode we have seen an increase in the flavour profile of our product which will lead us to the possibility of reducing ingredients such as salt, spices and flavour enhancers making our product healthier for our customers.”

Jan Kusters, Manufacturing Director, Larco Foods

Website: www.olympus-automation.co.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1733 394 700

Twitter : https://twitter.com/Olympuspdx

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Robot Uptake Increases by 60% in Food and Drink Sectors

UK robot sales figures for 2013 from the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) reveal a 60% increase in robot uptake within the food sector, compared to 2000 results.

With an install base of 2,685,000 products worldwide, FANUC Robotics’ Managing Director Chris Sumner comments: “Our hope is that robots will improve the competitive edge of firms operating within the UK food industry.

The latest pick and place robots from FANUC – ideal for the toughest production environments.

While speed, accuracy and agility are all key benefits, recent demands from producers relate to food safety and the use of robots to improve hygiene levels during the manufacturing process.”

In direct response, FANUC has recently launched two IP69K certified assembly and handling robots for use in high pressure wash-down environments. Where high speed is the critical factor, the new M-2iA delta style pick and place robot, with four axis capability, can pick wrapped or unwrapped goods from one conveyor and place them into product trays or cartons at up to 220 cycles per minute.

Where dexterity is the main requirement, FANUC’s new six axis LR Mate 200iD/7C articulated arm can tilt, twist and rotate single or multiple products with ease.

Capable of 180 cycles per minute, this compact system can be mounted on the floor, upside down, on a wall or at an angle.

For more information on FANUC’s food-grade robots please contact T: +44(0) 24 7663 9669 E: uksales@fanuc.eu  or visit www.fanuc.co.uk.

Posted in Control & Automation, End of LineComments Off on Robot Uptake Increases by 60% in Food and Drink Sectors

Invensys Updates Advanced Process Control Software

Invensys, a leading supplier of state-of-the-art industrial software, systems and control equipment to the world’s major industries, has unveiled a new version of its SimSci® advanced process control software. To be released this spring, SimSci APC 2014 will enable customers to shorten their plant testing and commissioning schedules, as well as improve plant operations and personnel performance.

This innovative offering has been built from the ground up to emphasize ease of use. It modernizes the graphical user interface while retaining the rigorous and robust calculation engine from the company’s successful Connoisseur APC offering. The new SimSci APC 2014 software is structured around an enhanced, natural workflow that includes full support for model case file development and a connection wizard for faster integration to any distributed control system and programmable logic controller, including the company’s Foxboro® I/A Series® DCS and its new Foxboro Evo™ process automation system. The software will be even more tightly integrated in future releases of the Foxboro Evo system as well, providing enhanced simulation capability. 

“Advanced process control can result in tremendous improvements in plant efficiency and performance, but it is largely underutilized, in part because some potential users find it too much of a challenge,” says Peter Reynolds, senior consultant with the ARC Advisory Group. “Invensys addresses this issue head on, with new graphical interfaces, intuitive workflows and custom calculation engines. Making optimization easier will empower both seasoned APC users and the next generation of engineers and operators to address a wider range of process conditions and business challenges.”

SimSci APC 2014 software greatly extends the capabilities of traditional APC offerings to garner more control over the process. Director, a powerful new feature, allows the control engineer to build custom calculations or add custom supporting controller functions that augment the user’s experience. Natural workflows speed up model building, configuration and deployment, and additional features make the software suitable for a complete APC project implementation. These advancements help the transitioning workforce more easily build and maintain APC applications, and can cut implementation and commissioning time by up to 50 percent.

“We are excited about our new APC offering, which builds on our market-leading Connoisseur APC software to help our customers enhance quality, increase throughput and reduce energy usage,” says Tom Kinney, vice president of Invensys’ optimization business. “The software was developed with the end user in mind, and it includes several well-thought-out features that help achieve better and more sustainable control of the process. A built-in auto-discovery wizard captures the specific syntax of any DCS for even faster buildup of tag connections; its automated testing feature means faster, more flexible configuration; it’s tablet ready; new click-and-drag functionality allows users to select the best models from many scenarios; and customizable user-defined functions improve how users can cope with changing process conditions. The end result is that SimSci APC 2014 provides a better, friendlier and more flexible user experience than traditional APC applications, making operators and engineers far more effective and productive.”

Posted in Control & Automation, ITComments Off on Invensys Updates Advanced Process Control Software

Mark Beaver Appointed MD of Olympus Automation

Olympus Automation has appointed Mark Beaver as managing director taking over from owner Harry Norman who has become CEO. Mark joins from Baker Perkins where he had a very impressive track record as business director for the confectionery division. Mark’s international sales experience coupled with advanced company system knowledge will help Olympus Automation improve its business performance and fully realise the potential of their innovative PDX product range in international markets.

Since acquiring PDX Reactor cooking technology in May 2013, Olympus Automation has experienced strong growth across a number of its offerings, installing its market leading Autocoding system on 84 new lines. Mark is set to continue this growth by utilising core automation skills to provide complete integration of unique PDX Reactor, Batchmate and Powder/Liquid handling technologies, driving efficiency throughout food operations and further increasing customer value.

For further information on Olympus Automation please visit www.olympus-automation.co.uk or call +44 (0)1733 394700.

Posted in Appointments, Control & AutomationComments Off on Mark Beaver Appointed MD of Olympus Automation

MP 35 Mobile Robotic Palletiser – Compact, Versatile and Economical

PHS and Costi have installed several unique MP35 robotic palletising systems in the UK within the food industry, to handle up to 8 production lines with 1 robot. The systems are very compact taking little floor space, fully automatic and simple to operate. The robot can also be used for distributing the empty pallets from multiple floor mounted stacks, or by use of a transfer car system which can also collect full loads to transfer to one of their Tosa wrapping machines.

The system can handle both Euro and GKN Chep pallets at the same time as required. The robot can also collect base and interlayer sheets as required. Packs arrive on a common case conveyor and are bar code scanned and sorted into the respective lanes to be picked by the robot, if required the cases are pre turned.

Any mis-read bar codes or other products are fed to a manual off take position for manual palletising. Full pallets can be collected by the transfer car should pallet conveyors be supplied with the system.

Experts in Palletising & Depalletising Solutions.

The complete system is monitored from the HMI operator terminal, with pallet pattern selection and production monitoring as standard. This very flexible palletising system can handle many different types of product and pallet patterns at the same time.

The robotic cell is fully guarded and uses light curtains to protect the operators, along with interlocked safety gates. Should you have a palletising requirement, then please contact PHS, who have 50 years of experience with many types of palletising solution available, with full UK after sales support service.

For further information contact PHS on Tel +44 (0)845 265 75 70, Fax +44 (0)845 2657571, Email info@phs-uk.com or visit www.phs-uk.com.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on MP 35 Mobile Robotic Palletiser – Compact, Versatile and Economical

PR318 Long standing relationship leads to more tray sealer orders for PA

Flavourfresh Solfresh group is one of the leading salads producers in theUKwhose business focuses entirely on the growing, packaging and distribution of tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries.

Packaging Automation has been a supplier to Flavourfresh for nearly a decade ever since the retailers started to demand that fresh produce which was previously presented in a flow wrapped pack was switched to sealed punnets. In 2004 after speaking to a number of companies in the packaging machinery market they purchased two automatic tray sealers from PA 

A good relationship developed and when Flavourfresh needed to increase both productivity and efficiency in the packing of tomatoes and strawberries they had no hesitation in returning to PA for new machinery. The decision was taken to purchase a high speed eclipse SL6 tray sealer which was soon followed by an order for a second identical machine.

The SL6 is a high throughput machine capable of sealing up to 100 packs per minute and has provided Flavourfresh with cost and environmental benefits combined with greater efficiency, minimum downtime and a consistent seal on all packs.  For flexibility and long term value the eclipse SL6 can be easily converted to a twin lane machine to give speeds of up to 200 packs per minute.  To save on critical downtime, tool changeovers on the eclipse tray sealers can be done manually in two minutes as a result of an inbuilt tool loading system. The ingenious top tool comprises single impression removable cartridges to enable continued operation during repairs and routine maintenance. Quick release cutting blades on these allow for replacement in seconds and spare cartridges are supplied to enable full capacity operation at all times.

Brendan Gillow Flavourfresh’s Operations Manager said, “We have used PA for a number of years and have always been happy with their performance, efficiency and aftersalescare. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a high speed quality top seal with an aftersalesservicesecond to none.”

Background

Packaging Automation Ltd was established in 1963 and is a leadingUKmanufacturer of tray sealing and pot filling and sealing machinery.

PA can offer customers a tray sealer or pot filler for a wide range of applications in the food industry including fresh produce packing such as salad, tomato, strawberry and soft fruitpacking, fish, seafood, meat and chicken packing (including vacuum packing and skin packing), ready meal sealing and packing, and pot or tub denesting, filling and sealing for puddings and sauces.

Full packing lines can be specified and installed to include tray denesting, conveyoring, tray filling, film sealing including modified atmosphere packing (MAP) facilities. Foil tray sealing as well as plastic tray sealing can be accommodated on all machines as standard.

PA also has experience in the medical and consumer goods sectors offering machinery for blister packing a wide range of products.

 

For further information please contact:

Packaging Automation Ltd:

Claire Carless

Marketing Assistant

Claire.c@pal.co.uk

or

Samantha Ashton

Commercial Director

sam.a@pal.co.uk

 

Packaging Automation Ltd

ParkgateIndustrial Park

Knutsford

Cheshire

WA16 8XW

01565 755000

www.pal.co.uk

 

Posted in Automation, Control & AutomationComments Off on PR318 Long standing relationship leads to more tray sealer orders for PA

Olympus Automation Targets £8 Billion Savings For UK Food Industry With PDX Innovation

Independent analysis shows that the potential exists for at least 10% savings in the £80 billion UK food and beverage industry. Olympus Automation has launched a range of PDXTM products that deliver exceptional efficiencies and unlock this opportunity.

PDXTM Reactor 

Dramatically reduce cooking/processing time whilst at the same time improving quality. The PDXTM reactor homogenises, mixes, heats and pumps simultaneously with unequalled performance. The results are quite staggering:

  • Larco Foods are already benefiting from a 78% reduction in production time for 700kg of béchamel sauce to 6 minutes.
  • Energy consumption is reduced by up to 40%
  • Health benefits are generated from the improved mixing process that allows certain ingredients such as salt to be reduced.

With the UK government pushing to reduce salt intake to 6g a day by 2015 and 3g by 2025, the PDX reactor is the technology to facilitate this.

PDX™ 3D Scan

Your whole factory, accurate to 2mm, measurable at your desk. The PDX 3D Scan provides revolutionary 3D factory walk-throughs, reduces the time to create 3D factory layouts by a factor of twelve, and removes manual measurements giving pin-point accuracy. With the PDX™ 3D Scan share best practices across sites and remodel whole areas faster.

Can You Afford to Lose £50,000?

Virtually all of the food industry is facing increasing pressure from retailers to guarantee that packaging and date codes are correct to prevent product recalls. If mistakes happen involving the wrong packaging or worse, the wrong date code, the food processor can expect a fine of over £50,000 and product returns. Get it wrong more than once and the processor risks losing the business.

How Can Olympus Automation Eliminate That Risk?

The PDX™ End of Line system removes the risk of product recalls, takes away much of the paperwork and provides an accurate, real-time, measurement of production performance in a single solution. Deployment starts with the installation of a touch screen on each line to give feedback to the operator and provide direct links to key equipment and drive other devices like bar codes scanners.

Once the hardware is in place the date code process is made ‘mistake proof’ by removing the need for the operator to enter date codes. Direct control of the printer from authorised product standards means changeovers and special offers are all covered automatically.

The system uses unique 2D barcodes, accepted by all the major retailers, printed onto all film and packaging. To maintain total security these include: packs, film, pots, lids; everything that makes up the finished product. All that’s left is for the operator to make sure they select the right product; if they get that wrong the 2D bar code scans will pick up the error and stop the line.

To further increase security paperless QA checks can be established to ensure the operator performs key checks at set times. These include product images via the colour bar code scanner to confirm products run and improve product traceability.

“From a technical point of view, Olympus Automation understood not only our needs but our customers’ need as well. The system is easy to use and gives you peace of mind and reassurance that the correct dates and packaging are on the product.” – Eleanor Agnew, Technical Manager, Blue Earth Foods.

Combine Security With Performance

PDXTM Performance is an innovative software that ‘bolts onto’ End of Line capturing and reporting downtime in real-time, on the same hardware. The single system operates across smartphones, tablets, touch screens, desktops and large shop-floor displays and is designed to filter distractions and provide the operations team with the information they need.

Mobile Reporting and Intelligent Targeting

Individuals have different reporting needs; whilst operators are usually close to a line, team leaders have a roving brief so real-time information has to be mobile with targeted information tailored to their needs.

PDX™ Performance delivers accurate, real-time information where your team needs it, on the shop-floor pushing hard for improvements, not tied to an office desktop generating yesterday’s reports.

For further information on the innovative PDX™ product range please visit www.olympus-automation.co.uk or call 01733 394700.

“We chose the Olympus Automation packaging and date control solution as reference visits proved their system to be reliable. Their variety of add-on modules meant we were able to include Performance reporting and live checkweigher links to meet the growing demands of our business.” – Jarnail Sani, Director of Operations,Adams Foods.

Posted in Control & AutomationComments Off on Olympus Automation Targets £8 Billion Savings For UK Food Industry With PDX Innovation

Pacepacker’s Blu-Robot: An economical palletising solution for dairy manufacturers

Robot systems integrator, Pacepacker, has introduced an economical robotic palletising system for dairy manufacturers which is half the cost of a new system – the Blu-Robot.

A pre-owned Blu-Robot palletiser is ideal for companies with low production rates, seasonal manufacturers who cannot justify the cost of a new system, or producers wanting to automate their manual processes for the first time. Typically incorporating a high quality ABB robotic arm, the Blu-Robot is approximately 35% of the way through its expected 100,000 operational hour lifespan and offers greater throughput, waste reduction and product quality improvements.

To withstand harsh wash down environments, the robot is safeguarded with improved sealing, motor and connector protection.  With numerous successful installs across the food manufacturing sector, the Blu-Robot can be fitted with numerous end-effectors, including a clamp style gripper for picking up netted products such as cheese, a bale arm gripper for picking up retail trays and supermarket crates,  and a vacuum gripper to pick up single or multiple boxes.

“Many UK dairy manufacturers understand the benefits a palletising robot can provide in terms of fast and accurate stacking but for some, new systems have often been cost prohibitive” says Pacepacker MD Dennis Allison.  To address this, the Blu-Robot palletising solution has been developed which is half the cost of a new system.  It comes fully checked, tested & repainted, with a 12 month parts warranty together with readily available service & spares back up” adds Dennis.

Posted in Control & Automation, Process engineeringComments Off on Pacepacker’s Blu-Robot: An economical palletising solution for dairy manufacturers

Produce World Leads With New Machine Installation

Produce World, one of the largest expert growers and suppliers of high quality fresh vegetables in Europe, continues to lead the industry with the installation a new carrot grading machine that will improve quality control. Working in conjunction with Newtec, the company which provided the grader, Produce World Yaxley will use the machine to replace on-the-line manual grading.

Raw material, labour, and energy costs are all rising and Produce World has invested in the new carrot grading machine to help offset these rises through process improvements.

The machine uses cameras to detect defects and takes up to 40 photos of each carrot.  The machine takes the images and flattens them out to look for the defect then decides whether the carrot is within the tolerances set.  If it is good it passes through the machine, if it is out of specification the machine rejects the carrot.  The whole process for each carrot takes around one second.

The machine grades approximately 80,000 carrots every hour, taking into account length, shape and colour, and it can detect 10 different quality defects. Jamie Tointon, Factory Manager for Produce World Yaxley, says: “We have a continuous improvement culture and have up to 20 projects on the go at any one time, all of which bring benefits to the business.  The machine installation shows our customers that we are committed to improving the business by putting processes in place that will ensure quality continues to be of the highest standard.”

Posted in Control & Automation, Quality AssuranceComments Off on Produce World Leads With New Machine Installation

IDHAMMAR SYSTEMS LAUNCH BLOG TO PROVIDE KEY UPDATES AND INSIGHTS INTO LEAN MANUFACTURING AND MAINTENANCE

Idhammar Systems, leading provider of lean manufacturing and maintenance software including CMMS and OEE systems announced the launch of their lean manufacturing and maintenance blog today [5h November 2012, UK] which aims to  provide relevant and engaging content that explores the benefits of adopting lean practices and software to uncover areas of waste and inefficiency.

Drawn from their vast industry experience and expertise in manufacturing effectiveness software, the blog will use real–life examples of how their software has helped manufacturers to harness complete control and visibility of their operations as well as highlighting the many uses and benefits of lean tools that drive continuous improvement.

The blog will also serve as a useful communication tool to continually update and inform existing and potential customers of the benefits of lean manufacturing and maintenance operations, and as a means to address and discuss developments and news within the industry as they occur.

Idhammars’ Managing Director of Operations, John Roberts comments:

 “We want the blog to be a place where those in the manufacturing and lean environment can share their opinions, ideas and experience as well as a complete resource for those looking to buy manufacturing efficiency software. We welcome and encourage outside bloggers to contribute to the conversation”

 

If you would like to write a guest blog post for us please email us at: info@idhammarsystems.com

Be sure to include the following information: Your first and last name, a link to your work or attach some samples, a link to your website or blog (if you have one) and your contact information. After reviewing your work you will be notified as to whether or not we will be using you as a guest blogger.

 

Idhammar stands at the forefront of efficiency systems, enhancing productivity with fewer resources and less waste through its OEE and CMMS software, delivering operational excellence in all manufacturing processes.

 

Visit the Idhammar blog:

http://blog.idhammarsystems.com/

 

Posted in Automation, Control & AutomationComments Off on IDHAMMAR SYSTEMS LAUNCH BLOG TO PROVIDE KEY UPDATES AND INSIGHTS INTO LEAN MANUFACTURING AND MAINTENANCE

REVO TC single-loop thyristor temperature controller reduces wiring and cabinet size

The REVO TC combines a temperature controller, solid state relay (SSR) thyristor, quick blow fuse protection and current monitoring – all in a compact single-loop package.

 

CD Automation’s REVO TC thyristor power controller provides an integrated control zone and boasts a space reduction of 50%, labour reduction of two hours per control zone, single-loop integrity and high reliability. The wiring and labour savings are the result of not connecting 11 wires per zone with each wire typically taking 11 minutes. Multiple loops can be provided as an option for use in larger, multi-loop systems.

There is also less risk associated with schematic reading and understanding, distance and path measuring, and wire cutting, strapping, labelling on two terminations, crimping, terminals block wiring and panel drilling.

If one zone fails, a non-technical user can repair it within minutes. The 40A solid state relay and current transformer is designed without compromise, with heatsink and thyristor junctions generously sized to guarantee long thyristor life.

“The temperature control features in the product mean that it works at low junction thyristor temperature with 20% margin on maximum temperature,” claims Jez Watson of CD Automation. “REVO TC is a combined SSR and temperature controller with four outputs and with proportional integral derivative (PID) closed loop control affording single-loop Integrity.”

Because its REVO range is designed for field-bus systems, CD Automation also offers a range of Monitouch touch panels from 5” to 15″ that can be used as a gateway between different bus systems. For example, Modbus, Profibus DP, CanOPEN, Modbus and TCP/Ethernet can all be used.

Certain models also support memory cards and feature a USB port for external memory or a printer.

The REVO TC up to 40A is normally used for plastics machinery, while the REVO TC over 60A in one, two and three phase versions is normally used in furnaces. Featuring a PID temperature controller with pre-tune, self-tune and manual tune, it provides RS485 communication from 19200-57600 baud on the Modbus RTU protocol. The operator has a dual display to read PV (Process Value), set point and load current.

REVO TC is endowed with a universal input for thermocouple, resistance temperature detector (RTD) and linear signal, and has four configurable outputs: relay, SSR, 4:20mA and 0:10V. Cooling output allows for selection between water, oil or ventilation.

Posted in Control & AutomationComments Off on REVO TC single-loop thyristor temperature controller reduces wiring and cabinet size

Martyn Williams UK managing director for COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA has appointed Martyn Williams as UK managing director with immediate effect. A qualified electronic engineer, Williams has over 10 years’ experience in sales, marketing and business management in the automation industry. He joins from Zenith Technologies where he was business development manager. Prior to that, he was sales manager at COPA-DATA. Previous MD Duncan Fletcher left the business in June and is pursuing other interests.

Posted in Control & AutomationComments Off on Martyn Williams UK managing director for COPA-DATA

New safety device has vision to help protect

The latest addition to the Rockwell Automation safety opto-electronic product family, the SC300 Hand Detection safety sensor is a compact Type 3, SIL 2, IEC 62061, PLd EN ISO 13849-1 Vision-Based Protective Device (VBPD), which uses image-processing technology to detect the intrusion of objects through its detection window

The safety-sensing function is performed by a single image sensing device, which views a single two-dimensional image against a passive pattern as the background. The detection principle is based on an object of a certain resolution blocking the image-sensing device’s view of the pattern.

Targeted at light and medium industrial machine guarding applications, the GuardMaster SC300 can be used for frame openings ranging from 400 x 400mm up to 1,500 x 1500mm.

The SC300 is incredibly versatile and is easy to install and set up, providing a cost effective, 20ms response, hand-detection solution that can replace 24–30mm safety light curtains. Its small size and detection offset allows it to be mounted on the inside or outside corner of a frame opening, maintaining the opening while helping protect the SC300.

The unit is used in conjunction with special reflective tape, which defines the boundaries of the sensing field. The reflective tape is offered in two resolutions 24mm for openings of 400mm to 1m and 30mm for openings of 600mm to 1.5m. No software is required to program or teach the device the style of the opening to be guarded; it automatically detects the reflective tape when the external teach stylus or integrated key switch is used to perform the teach function. The robust reflective tape is designed for industrial applications however, if it is damaged, the damaged section of tape can be removed and replaced and another teach operation is performed.

For larger openings, two SC300 sensors can be mounted back to back and synchronized so that the maximum opening size can be doubled from 1.5 to 3m. It is also possible to synchronise two SC300s at right angles to each other in order to provide detection on two sides of an opening; allowing an operator to freely work between opposite sides of a machine.

Set up is a simple four-stage process. 1. The unit is mounted in the corner of the opening to be monitored. 2. Tape is applied to the ‘opposing’ inside surfaces of the opening. 3. The teach button (or an external key switch) activates the teach function, which the unit uses to detect the entire length of the tape. 4. The functionality is verified using a test rod that comes as part of the tape pack. Options include: two tape varieties; 2, 5 and 10m power cords; and stainless steel mounting brackets.

Posted in Control & AutomationComments Off on New safety device has vision to help protect

Decentralised Periphery PDP20 meets PLe for series connected switches

Pilz Automation Technology has launched Decentralised Periphery PDP20 – meeting PLe for series connected switches

The new interface module PDP20 F 4 mag is ideal for series connection of safety switches, such as tongue interlocks or magnetic safety switches, up to PL e. As such, it provides a standard-compliant solution in accordance with EN ISO 13849-1. The interface module can be connected to dual-channel evaluation devices (such as the popular PNOZ safety relays, PNOZmulti configurable safety relays, PSS safety PLCs).

Up to 4 switches can be connected to each PDP20 module. PDP20 interface modules also offer a high level of decentralisation due to the ability to cascade modules.

Each module features 4 dual-channel inputs and 2 solid-state safe outputs (OSSDs), 1 diagnostic solid state output and 2 test pulsed outputs. To cascade multiple PDP20 modules, the OSSDs of one are fed into one of one of the dual-channel inputs of the next PDP20 module.

Costing less than a standard safety relay, PDP20 interface modules makes a compact and economical solution for series connections, which ultimately find their way back to a final safety relay or other safety controller.

 

 

Posted in Control & AutomationComments Off on Decentralised Periphery PDP20 meets PLe for series connected switches

New compact pneumatic valve terminal from Festo

Festo has launched a new pneumatic valve terminal that delivers high performance in a compact and robust unit

The cost-effective VTUG multipin terminal is a simple-to-apply universal valve device that has many electrical connection options, giving machine builders and end users greater flexibility for ease of control and installation.

The VTUG gives excellent performance with a high flow rate and high pressure for its compact size and is ideal for food, beverage, packing, electronics, semiconductor and light assembly industries where assured performance is essential.

The VTUG valve terminal is connected and controlled via D sub or ribbon cable connectors for easy connection and simple system integration. This multipin connector can be easily swapped out for an iport connector allowing connection to the industry standard IO-Link network as well as to many Fieldbus and Industrial Ethernet protocols.

The valve terminal is also available with various pneumatic working port connection options including semi-inline, sub-base as well as a sub-base solution with working ports underneath, making it ideal for control cabinet installation as the manifold itself forms part of the cabinet. This enables the fast build of cabinets and saves on the cost of separate gland plates to get the tubing in and out of the cabinet.

The VTUG is a robust and reliable terminal and is available with up to 24 valve positions on a single valve terminal and with two 3/2 valves in one position you can achieve up to 48 functions on one manifold. Alternative products do not have as many valves on one manifold, and as a result, it saves cost and space as well as making machines easier to build.

The valves are suitable for low and high pressure operation, from -0.9 to 10 bar, and can support positive pressure and vacuum on one manifold thanks to being able to create multiple pressure zones on one terminal. This means that machine builders no longer need two separate manifolds, therefore saving cost and space.

Users can easily switch between external and internal pilot air without having to specify prior to building, making the terminal ideal for use with vacuum or low pressure applications. This flexibility means OEMs can change their mind during the build without ordering additional parts.

VTUG is robust and tough, with an IP40 or IP67 rating providing reliable operation in a wide range of environments and in ambient temperatures of up to 60°C, meaning that one standard product is suitable for all applications.                                                                                              

Festo’s VTUG pneumatic valve terminals operate with air filtered to 40 microns, so only one air filter is required in the air preparation system. With alternative products, air needs to be filtered three times, to five microns in particulate size. However, each time air is filtered, energy is lost, so as a result of using the VTUG, end users can increase energy efficiencies throughout their process.
VTUG is exceptionally easy to order using Festo’s online configurator. Users simply enter their specifications and the configurator produces one part number and a 2D or 3D CAD drawing. It is then delivered fully assembled in just one week.

“The VTUG is one of the most economic, reliable and simplest to use universal valve terminals with a long service life,” says Jacqui Hanbury, product manager at Festo. “It is pre-built and tested before being delivered, so it arrives ready to plug in, which means it is exceptionally easy to install, therefore saving time and reducing errors and risk of air leakage associated with having to build a terminal from separate parts.”

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Process sectors move to embedded-PLC terminals

Wellingborough, UK – Cost and factory space requirements, particularly in the food & beverage and packaging sectors, are being a significant rise in global demand for operator terminals with embedded PLCs, IMS Research has found.

Sales of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware will rise from $99 million in 2011, to approximately $148million in 2016; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 9% over the period, predicts IMS.

The largest vertical sectors for these products in 2011 were estimated to be food, beverage and tobacco machinery; machine tools and packaging machinery.

These sectors together accounted for about 35% of sales revenue. The largest unit shipment growth is also forecast to come from the food & beverage machine builder sector, with annual shipments increasing by more than 5,000 between 2011 and 2016.

“There are two principle advantages for OEMs using operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware: price and footprint,” said Mark Watson, IMS senior research analyst. “Every component has an associated cost and space requirement. By combining two systems into one, both factors are reduced.

This enables further savings as the combined unit doesn’t require extra wiring to communicate between sub-systems and maintenance departments only need to support one product type.”

That said, the advantage is most significant for small machines where price and space are at a premium, contiued Watson. Manufacturers of larger machines, he said, typically have the space and the budget to adopt a traditional solution of separate operator terminal and PLC units.

“This solution also provides flexibility in terms of the component supplier of each unit and enables OEMs to cherry pick the most suitable two components for specific applications,” he commented.

This operator terminal type is forecast strong revenue growth to 2016. However, average selling prices are projected to decrease by approximately 3% per annum to 2016, notes IMS.

Suppliers of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware, such as Pro-Face, Unitronics and Horner APG, will therefore have to work hard to maintain revenue growth as price pressure drives down selling prices over the next few years, the report concluded.

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