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Automation and Controls Vendors Strut Their Stuff at Pack Expo

Here’s a sampling of some of the products on display at this year’s Pack Expo International show, with links to both videos and audio podcast interviews.

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What’s new on the automation and controls side of the packaging industry? Automation World Managing Editor Wes Iversen spent the day on Sunday, Oct. 31, at the Pack Expo International show in Chicago to get a look at some of the latest offerings. Iversen spent time at the booths of a dozen industry suppliers on the show’s opening day, and came away with both videos and audio podcast interviews reflecting a sampling of some of the latest products and trends. We’ll post three videos and three podcasts on Monday, Nov. 1, and three more of each on Tuesday, Nov. 2. You can access those multimedia interviews here:

Below is a brief summary of what you’ll see and hear:

Adept Technology Inc. ( In a video interview posted on Monday, Rush LaSelle, director of worldwide sales and marketing, describes the Adept PAC (for Packaging Automation Cell), a platform developed to help integrators more easily develop robotic applications in the packaging arena. Developed using U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved materials, Adept PAC is pre-engineered to enable quick start-up and maximum productivity. Components include Adept’s Quattro parallel robot, a stainless steel frame, and the company’s new UI Builder user interface for user-friendly operation.

B&R Industrial Automation Corp. ( In a video interview to be posted on Tuesday, Nathan Massey, regional sales manager, demonstrates a Web-based remote diagnostic service being offered by B&R. With the service, B&R can provide remote diagnostic help for customers, or users can remotely access machine information themselves  using Internet Explorer. For those who prefer to use the capability in-house, the same diagnostics are also available on the programmable logic controller (PLC) itself, Massey says.

Beckhoff Automation LLC ( In a podcast interview posted Monday, Joe Martin, sales manager, packaging and converting, discusses the advantages of integrated control of Delta robots with other control functions in Beckhoff’s personal computer (PC)-based control systems, as well as the integration of safety, saving cost and panel space. Martin also describes an unexpected upturn in the company’s business this year, with packaging applications helping to lead the way.

Bimba Manufacturing Co. ( In a video to be posted on Tuesday, Jerry Scherzinger, product manager, demonstrates a new electric actuator product being used to make quick changes in conveyor guidance systems. While Bimba has been known for pneumatic cylinders for almost 50 years, the company introduced its first electric actuators this year to meet customer demands for quicker changeover and energy efficiency, Scherzinger says.

Bosch Rexroth Corp. ( In a video posted on Monday, Dan Throne, industry sector manager for food, packaging and printing, demonstrates a turnkey robotic solution that features a Cartesian motion system using Rexroth linear modules and pneumatic components, preprogrammed PLC functions and human-machine interface screens. Modular and reusable across multiple Rexroth platforms, the package is designed to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to simply add parameters, and get the solution running quickly out-of-the-box.

Eaton Corp. ( In a video interview to be posted on Tuesday, Richard Chung, SmartWire-DT program manager, demonstrates a system developed by Eaton to save time and money in building control panels. The SmartWire-DT approach includes “smart chips” and ribbon cables to simplify connection and eliminate point-to-point wiring. Control panel assembly times are typically improved by up to 40 percent, while engineering design time and commissioning times are also reduced, Chung says.

Festo Corp. ( In a podcast to be posted on Tuesday, John Holmes, segment manager, food and packaging industry, describes a new safety valve designed to provide Category 4 safety by enabling all pneumatic energy to be dumped from a machine when a door is opened or a light curtain is breached, for example. Holmes also describes the recent Festo addition of electric drive technology to complement the pneumatic technology for which the company has long been known.

JLS Automation ( In a podcast to posted on Tuesday, Craig Souser, president, describes how this integrator is seeing growing use of automation in food industries ranging from meat to confectionary to baking. The trend is spreading from the large players only two to five years ago, to include smaller producers today. Drivers include falling technology costs, the low cost of capital and a need by producers to be competitive. Despite the recession, 2009 was a record year for JLS, and Souser expects continued strength going forward.

Lenze Americas ( In a podcast to be posted on Tuesday, Steve Dextraze, product manager, inverters, describes increased power ratings and new features built into the company’s open-loop variable frequency inverters that are designed to save wiring and programming time for machine builders. One new feature, for example, is an optional integrated disconnect switch, eliminating the need for OEMs to develop their own to meet various local codes. Electronic programming module chips built into Lenze drives can also provide an inexpensive way for OEMs to archive and duplicate parameter sets, Dextraze says.

Micro Motion Inc. ( In a podcast interview posted on Monday, John Martin, food & beverage marketing manager; and Chuck Gray, applications & test engineer, describe the advantages of Coriolis metering for use in the packaging industry. Micro Motion, a unit of Emerson Process Management, has long provided Coriolis meters to the process industries, but is now pushing the technology for use in packaging. Coriolis mass measurement is more accurate than traditional volumetric methods, the pair says, and also supports faster changeovers through its clean-in-place capability.

Rockwell Automation Inc. ( In a podcast interview posted on Monday, Leo Petrokonis, business development manager, packaging industry, describes several packaging industry trends along with product capabilities developed by Rockwell to meet user needs. These include integrated robotic control using the company’s PLCs, as well as integrated safety, all over a single EtherNet/IP network. Petrokonis also describes a secure, remote diagnostics service being offered by Rockwell.

Siemens Industry Inc. ( In a video interview posted on Monday, David Kirklen, packaging business development manager, describes an integrated architecture with both motion and safety built in that enables end users and OEMs to reduce overall hardware and implementation costs. Among other features, the architecture includes a mobile panel that enables control of multiple lines, and also includes a emergency-stop button that achieves Category 3 safety via a wireless connection, Kirklen says.

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