Packaging machine manufacturer Coesia and its sister companies rely on system integration for efficient, precise and fast operations.
With a focus on streamlined systems that reduce pouch or carton handoffs and offer the ability to move non-standard sized materials, Coesia companies R.A. Jones and MGS turn to modern motion control systems married with precision pneumatics for intelligent designs.
Efficient and smaller, localized designs
New to R.A. Jones’ lineup at Pack Expo was an intelligent Flexible Transfer System (iFTS) that incorporates personalized robotics and customized tooling, increasing production line efficiency and speed capabilities. The machine is a smart automated and customizable transfer system that provides consumer packaged goods companies with a reliable and flexible solution to solve simple or complex automation challenges.
The iFTS on display at the show demonstrated the receiving of product from upstream systems, such as a Volpak SI-180 pouch machine, which are then placed upon magnetic levitating shuttles which transport, group, and orient the pouches for side-loading of cartons from 3-count to 8-count variations.
The system integrates a four-axis robotic pick-and-place design, offering enhanced pouch size change flexibility, and depending on sizing, product can span across two magnetic shuttles. By rotating and collating products so more can fit in the carton, iFTS can help brands cut down on overall carton volume by 10 to 20% and create a more sustainable packaging option.
Another advanced feature of the transfer system is the shuttles’ ability to detect the presence of a product; if no product is placed on the shuttle, the machine automatically responds to substitute another shuttle in its place in some scenarios. By combining appropriate digital technology, robotics, and tooling, the iFTS can provide greater production efficiency, reliability, and flexibility within packaging operations.
“What we’re trying to do is make an integrated line that is user friendly and efficient for our end customer,” said Jeff Wintring, Chief Technology Officer for R.A Jones.
Traditionally, there would be multiple handoffs after the pouch was made. It would be placed for check weighing, collation, or placed into traditional methods of conveying and then collated into the carton. Instead, R.A. Jones simplified those steps and made the floor plan smaller by eliminating handoff points and reducing the amount of people on the line. This allows them to easily correct any problems that might occur.
Using a planar system, each of the carts or carriers has a magnet base, which is individually servo controlled. They are programmed to queue and move in a coordinated motion.
“When the pouches are created, they’re fat on one end and not the other. So the circular motion of the magnetic carts allows us to create a more balanced stack,” Wintring said.
A Delta robot picks and places the pouches into the bucket conveyor. Here is where the localized pneumatics come into play, Wintring noted.
The gripper is designed to be quick and changeable, so users could easily swap out additional grippers. Electrical and pneumatic requirements are passed through the gripper. Here, instead of using plant compressed air to do the vacuum picking, R.A. Jones uses a localized vacuum pump. This is to avoid the leakage and maintenance requirements of compressed air systems in large plants. Instead of drawing large amounts of air, the system uses small air lines to power the grippers.
“We’re using compressed air going into a high-efficiency vacuum transducer that’s generating the backend. Then we have individual valve control. We can turn the vacuum on and off during the picking process, but it’s very efficient to run from the standpoint of the speed and efficiency of the design,” Wintring. “Compressed air being supplied there is easier to execute than trying to necessarily run multiple large lines out to the end effector.”
Pneumatic cylinders work their magic
A simple pneumatic cylinder is also used on the iFTS to bypass loads, to reduce stoppages and save on material waste. Here, a device can individually control whether or not a load is pushed. If there is no load, it can’t pull a cart or if there is a load but the carton is not picked up, then the machine will bypass the load. “The way that you control that is through a cylinder underneath, that if we don’t want to engage the pusher, we activate that and we can turn off the pusher or allow only one pusher head,” Wintring said.
For MGS, the big focus was on its Eclipse CT Intermittent Motion Cartoner. Once again featuring a small footprint, this machine offers rates up to 80 cartons per minute and a robust design allowing for 24/7 operation. A variety of custom infeeds ensure the machine’s fit for the application, while quick-change tooling reduces changeover time and ensures the quality of the first product out. Optional vision verification, barcode verification, and pharmaceutical validation assistance documents mean the Eclipse CT is well-suited for highly regulated industries, including pharmaceutical.
The tray transfer system on this machine runs predominantly on pneumatics. This elevator system raises the tray primarily with motions provided by Festo pneumatic cylinders and valves, and features pick sequences that keep the trays balanced.
The machine featured a Fanuc robot arm with pneumatic gripper providing fast product transfer, while pneumatics are used for gripping, punching, pressing and other linear functions. The MGS Eclipse operates at 10 cfm of air at 80 psi.
R.A. Jones | rajones.com
MGS | mgsmachine.com
Filed Under: Components Oil Coolers, Compressed Air Technologies, Cylinders & Actuators, Pneumatic Tips