The Model W-18 vertical form/fill/seal pouch machine from Winpak Ltd. is a high-output system for producing pouches of single-serve condiments in sizes ranging from 5 g to 3 oz. The servo-driven machine is capable of production rates to 1,500 packages/min. Until recently, the machine’s controller and touch screen were one integrated unit. Winpak Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Griffin explains why this is no longer the case as new machines come off the production line.
“Some time after Windows XP was phased out and we had to rethink our operating system anyway, we looked for more powerful and distributed controls, something where the computer was not part of the actual touch screen. What we discovered was the Beckhoff C6925 Industrial PC with embedded Windows 7. If edits to either motion control software or HMI developmental software are needed, our guys simply plug in a keyboard and mouse to the USB port on the front panel of the controller. It’s much more efficient than having them editing, debugging, and making changes on their laptop and then transferring those changes to the machine. Also, after the customer completes the FAT, if any additional edits are required we again do these online right at the machine. The other thing we can do is access the machine remotely and troubleshoot from our office no matter where in the world the machine is operating.”
According to Griffin, it isn’t only on new machines that the Beckhoff C6925 is coming in handy.
“We have 40-year-old machines in the field running around the clock six days a week,” says Griffin. “But over time the controls become obsolete as technology advances. By using Beckhoff’s industrial PC and Beckhoff’s TwinCAT programming environment, we can leave existing servo motors and drives where they are and still communicate with them without having to do a complete machine upgrade.”
This flexibility is a real advantage as Winpak goes to market. “With this industrial PC, we can use Rockwell drives and motors for the North American customers who tend to favor them and just as easily use Siemens drives and motors for machines we’ll sell into Europe,” says Griffin.
One last bit of Beckhoff functionality on new W-18 machines reaching the marketplace is the EL-3314 thermocouple input module that controls and monitors the seal bars. An integrated unit, it replaces a standalone temperature controller that, according to Griffin, could get rather “clunky.” Things are much smoother this way, he adds.