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Packaging Automation Desk

August 01, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
In the last edition of this newsletter, we featured a handful of new developments that Packaging World Blogger and Contributing Editor Keith Campbell found at interpack 2014. Here’s three more.

• Will cabinet-free packaging machines be next? Gerhard Schubert GmbH showed a system at interpack that did away with the well known and sometimes scorned electrical/pneumatic control cabinets. With IP65- and perhaps even IP69-rated sensors, motors, drives, cylinders, power supply, logic box, and HMI screens, an entire machine might be wired together with plugs and cables, with all of the components mounted at the point of use with the possible exception of the electrical disconnect and fuses, although there is no theoretical reason that these, too, could not also be self contained. For the machine builder, this allows a very modular design and a smaller footprint.

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July 31, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
Panel discussion at the HSBC Made For Trade tour
Advanced manufacturing, design innovation, and manufacturing workforce development training were all part of the "Made for Trade" discussion on how to revitalize manufacturing in Chicago. The tour will also be making stops in Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Described as a national conversation with leaders in business, government, industry, and academia about the role of global trade in today’s economy, the Made For Trade tour hit Chicago’s Trump Tower on July 31. HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations, is sponsoring the Made For Trade tour, which is also making stops in Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

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June 30, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
A special component of The Automation Conference 2014, produced for the third time by Summit Media Group in May, was a “Demystifying PackML” workshop held one day ahead of the conference

The workshop, which was produced in cooperation with the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC), drew attendees from consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and packaging machinery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

PackML, which stands for Packaging Machine Language, defines a common approach for automated machines designed to encourage a common “look and feel” across a plant floor and enable innovation. PackML was adopted as part of the ISA-88 industry standard in August 2008.

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FILED IN:Packaging
April 03, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
A range of shelf-stable, microwavable, ready meals for babies and toddlers showed promise a few years ago. But packaging operations had to be optimized to make it viable.

In the small German village of Werk Weiding about an hour’s drive from Munich is a perfect example of just what automation and machine vision inspection technology permit a food manufacturer to do.

The food manufacturer in this case is Nestlé, the world’s largest. The product is NaturNes®, a line of shelf stable meals for children. Now on store shelves for about two years, NaturNes represents a relaunch of sorts. A nearly identical product was produced in a plant in France from 1998 to 2009. But it was withdrawn until Nestlé’s packaging engineers came up with a way to better automate the way it was packaged.

What it came down to is building a better mousetrap. And boy did they.

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February 20, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
Generally speaking, when a robot made by a robotic OEM is integrated into a piece of packaging machinery like a case packer or cartoner, the robot comes with its own controller while the packaging machinery components are controlled by a PLC. The two controllers must interface for the total system to function.

In recent years, some robotic OEMs have looked for ways to obviate the need for this interface and simplify the controls package by using one PLC to control not only the packaging machinery components but the robot, too. Driving this trend was the simple fact that so many engineers are steeped in reading, programming, and troubleshooting PLCs. That being the case, why not do away with a proprietary robot controller and all the training time it involves-not to mention the need for the interface to the PLC--and let the oh-so-familiar PLC control the entire system? It was a trend that was especially noticeable at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2011, and it was talked about in the run-up to Pack Expo Las Vegas 2013, too.

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