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On the Edge

Packaging Automation Desk

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 But it was withdrawn until Nestlé’s packaging engineers came up with a way to better automate the way it was packaged.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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February 05, 2014 | By Pat Reynolds
Recently added to the already dynamic mix of content at The Automation Conference is a PackML Workshop on May 19, one day ahead of The Automation Conference.

 

Conference registrants are invited to arrive early to attend this informative training session for professionals who wish to learn more about the benefits of PackML.

The PackML Workshop offers technical and actionable information for both packaging end-users and OEMs. Packagers will learn about the ease of implementing PackML to increase the productivity of packaging lines, and machine builders will learn about the engineering and integration efficiencies and machine performance benefits of PackML.

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November 05, 2013 | By Pat Reynolds
Among the contributing editors we assigned to help us cover Pack Expo Las Vegas was Special Projects Editor Bob Sperber, who reports here on an Innovation Stage presentation on automated changeover.

Among the contributing editors we assigned to help us cover Pack Expo Las Vegas was Special Projects Editor Bob Sperber. At The Innovation Stage he heard a presentation on automated changeover. It was by Chris Canna, Project Manager with Schneider Packaging Equipment. Sperber’s excellent report is below. But first, while we’re on the subject of Schneider Packaging Equipment, a word about something they were showing at their Pack Expo Booth: a robot with end-of-arm tooling that had been 3D printed. It was being used to pick and place empty PET containers.

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October 18, 2013 | By Pat Reynolds
Bush Brothers and Co. is a family-owned company best known for its baked beans. But the Knoxville, TN-based firm also serves up some pretty sophisticated data acquisition and downtime tracking technology since implementing a Parsec software application called TrakSYS.

Bush Brothers and Co. is a family-owned company best known for its baked beans. But the Knoxville, TN-based firm also serves up some pretty sophisticated data acquisition and downtime tracking technology since implementing a Parsec software application called TrakSYS. I talked recently with Operations Area Manager Anthony Peterson about the use of TrakSYS at Bush Brothers, and I’m happy to report that he’ll be on the program at The Automation Conference next May in Chicago. Here’s an edited version of Peterson describing how TrakSYS brings productivity and efficiency improvements at Bush Brothers’ plants.

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Would you like more information about TrakSYS? Visit http://www.parsec-corp.com/Products/Traksys.aspx. and be sure to attend Tony Peterson's Downtime Tracking discussion at The Automation Conference.

 

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