PLANT

Quick change for packaging machinery


May 27, 2010
by Noelle Stapinsky, Features Editor

Edson president Robert Hattin (left) and operations manager Bob Krouse with Edson‘s new SR 3600 large arc and tray packer handling paper towel rolls.

Photo: Noelle Stapinsky

In the packaging industry, reconfiguring case packing machines for new products could take 30 minutes or even days if an entire line needs to be changed. Well, not anymore. A new servo automation technology developed by Edson Packaging Machinery Ltd. will handle the job within minutes.

Operators routinely rely on charts to switch the machine’s change parts to accommodate product configuration and packaging requirements that can have 30 to 60 points of adjustment and millions of combinations for different set ups.

Since Canadian packagers need to produce a wide range of skews in short production runs, the Hamilton manufacturer of packaging machinery saw an opportunity to reduce the extended changeover time between runs and increase overall equipment effectiveness.

“One of the biggest concerns expressed by our customers involves machinery set up and centre-lining, and the amount of time it took,” says Robert Hattin, president of Edson. “For us the technology was never there to cost-effectively automate it.”

However, after scouring the world for the perfect automated servo technology that would meet its criteria—a low voltage motor for easy wiring; absolute encoders to eliminate re-homing; a small body that didn’t require much panel space; and the standard fittings required to retrofit to existing machines—Edson turned to Festo Inc., a German automation supplier.

“They didn’t have it exactly, but Festo had something similar and was willing to engineer something exclusive for us—they saw the bigger picture,” says Bob Krouse, Edson’s operations manager.

It retrofits onto any of Edson’s existing technology, but it can also be used on practically any mechanical production set up that requires tricky adjustments.

Festo’s engineers came up with the low-voltage servo technology that could be offered at a palatable price point with a good return on investment (ROI) for the end user.

That servo—branded the Edson E-Just (electronic adjustment)—was the lynchpin that made Edson’s new SR 3600 large case and tray packer a possibility. The machine combines multi-servo automation with a sleek mechanical assembly—a Canadian first in case packing innovation.

The SR 3600 uses E-Just to automate 16 axes, which accomplishes all 16 changeover points in just 90 seconds. This automation also provides 100% positional repeatability within one millimetre.