In the food packaging arena, it has traditionally been the practice to keep end-of-line packaging equipment separate from production and primary packaging areas so that the end-of-line equipment wouldn’t have to undergo the kinds of rigorous wash down procedures that primary packaging equipment does. But as space utilization and cost reduction become increasingly important determining factors in ROI calculations, there is a trend toward moving end-of-line packaging equipment closer to production areas. This means such equipment must be designed so as to withstand wash-down conditions.
Take Bluewater Automation, for example, and its F-16 automatic case former. It was carefully designed from scratch with sanitary environments in mind and includes a fully stainless steel open form frame design. Its small footprint (approximately 4 ft x 6 ft) and throughput rate of up to 16 cases/min makes it suitable for food plants where space is at a premium and washdown procedures are a requirement.
Also notable is this machine’s use of the MPA-C pneumatic valve terminal from Festo, which meets the highest hygienic standards and is flexible in its configuration. The terminal is easy to clean and is highly resistant to corrosion and cleaning agents. It meets the requirements for protection class IP69K, incorporating FDA-compliant materials including NSF-H1 grease and is available with fully functional manual overrides.
“Festo’s progressive, clean-design solution, coupled with their commitment to quality and support, won us over,” says BlueWater’s Kevin Keller.
The MPA-C pneumatic valve terminal can be expanded to accommodate up to 32 valves. It also has the ability to communicate to many different protocols, thus making it suitable for multiple controls architectures. In this case, the PC-based control package from Beckhoff has been selected. The stainless steel panel PCs from Beckhoff are ideal for bringing high-performance PC-based control to food and beverage packaging applications that have strict cleaning requirements, says Keller. “We evaluated so many control platforms for the F-16, but in the end Beckhoff’s architecture, platform options, and global presence were exactly what we were looking for,” adds Keller.