The Case is Never Closed on Automation Innovation

High performance PC-based controls and ultra fast industrial Ethernet unite to boost case packer machine functionality.

Renee R. Bassett, Deputy Editor, Automation World
Renee R. Bassett, Deputy Editor, Automation World

OEMs that serve the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries have a lot of decisions to make regarding the automation they put into their machines. They need to innovate to succeed, but they also must consider what best serves their customers in terms of cost, speed and ease of use. Bosch Packaging Technology, based in New Richmond, Wis., has long leveraged the latest automation technologies to boost the performance and package quality of its machines, which are designed for the food, confectionary and pharmaceutical industries.

The machine builder presented several new machines at Pack Expo 2013. “To stay competitive, we must continue to innovate and offer customers machines that are easier to use, can increase their packaging flexibility, and increase their overall operational efficiency (OEE),” explained Phil Koehler, engineering manager. “This is accomplished by speeding changeovers, delivering machines that are easier to clean, and by offering user-friendly and reliable operation for end users.”

Specific automation technology is helping Bosch Packaging machines boost case packer machine functionality and stay competitive—namely, high-performance PC-based controls and ultra fast industrial Ethernet networking technology using the EtherCAT protocol, Koehler said.

The CCM 3100 case packer for vertical and horizontal bag applications is designed to increase flexibility in secondary packaging, meeting manufacturers’ needs for shorter production runs and more frequent changes in product packaging styles. As a result, the CCM 3100 enables manufacturers to meet retailer demands for differentiating their products’ shelf presentation at the point of sale.

Capable of picking and placing up to 180 products per minute, the machine’s single frame is attached to an infeed system that accepts products from vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) and horizontal form, fill and seal (HFFS) primary packaging machines. Storage for over 1,000 recipes facilitates machine operation, and setup can be changed quickly to accommodate vertical or horizontal bag orientation.

“For most applications, Bosch Packaging has a standard offering of PC-based controls and industrial Ethernet networking solutions that we use on many of our machine lines in the form of the CX5020 Embedded PC and EtherCAT I/O,” Koehler said. “On the networking side, Bosch Packaging Technology has standardized on EtherCAT because of the protocol’s incredibly fast speed and acceptance in our market, as well as wiring flexibility and ease of implementation.”

Beckhoff Automation’s CX5020 industrial computer with 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor acts as the centralized automation and motion control platform for the CCM 3100. The Intel Atom processor ensures the machine has low heat dissipation and can withstand a wide operating temperature range, and a sturdy magnesium housing ensures the CX5020 can withstand harsh plantfloor environments. The PC-based system is connected to 11 Indradrive CS servo drives from Beckhoff, each with an EtherCAT industrial Ethernet interface.

The Bosch CCM 3100 HMI is used for recipe management, troubleshooting and machine operation. On the software side, Beckhoff’s TwinCAT automation software is used for machine control and robot programming, while the TwinCAT Virtual Serial COM Driver software is used to communicate to legacy devices in the field. The CX5020 computer includes the MIcrosoft Windows CE operating system.

In addition to raw communication performance and motion system capabilities, EtherCAT can create efficiencies in terms of I/O system hardware and wiring, says Koehler. Sixteen-channel High Density (HD) EtherCAT I/O terminals can reduce the space required for I/O equipment up to 75 percent, depending on the application.

“The HD terminals are very important because they ensure a smaller machine footprint, plus exceptional performance and a competitive price per point,” Koehler said. “By utilizing a PC-based motion control system with EtherCAT, Bosch Packaging Technology has been able to push faster scan times and higher axis counts in our motion systems.

“All this was accomplished while actually lowering our controls costs when compared to our previous PLC vendor,” he added.

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