Robots, easy-clean machine designs and self-contained automation devices were on packaging engineers wish lists this year—as evidenced by their interest in news about packaging equipment delivering production benefits, thanks to these features.
Based on page views, here are the top three packaging-machinery-related articles we posted over the last year, starting from the third article and moving up to No.1:
OnRobot's Gecko Gripper.
After visiting exhibitors at WestPack 2019 and its co-located sister show Automation Technology Expo (ATX) West, we noticed this trio of trends changing the design and performance of your packaging lines:
1. Self-contained devices are easy to install and use, like these three we saw at the show:
• The Bosch Rexroth XDK sensor—called the Swiss Army Knife of sensors—is eight sensors in one box.
• OnRobot’s VG10 vacuum gripper has a built-in pump so there are no hoses to work around.
• The concept of decentralized “power” extends to full packaging machines, too. For example, PDC Intl. is developing a steam tunnel for full-body shrink sleeve labels that has integrated boilers.
2. Cobot peripherals lead the way. One example is OnRobot’s Gecko Gripper (see photo above), which uses pressure and motion (adhesion by force) to pick up packages—without an air system.
3. Artificial intelligence (A-I) excels as an engineering aid…or does it?
In his presentation “The Power of Perseverance,” rocket scientist and inventive engineer Lonnie Johnson, CEO of Johnson Battery Technologies, hailed artificial intelligence for its myriad benefits. But when questioned about his own work preferences, he admitted that he doesn’t want to use AI because that would take all the fun out of solving an engineering problem. Do you agree?
NEXT: 8 impressive developments in packaging automation
Packaging machinery, robots and engineering expert John R. Henry reports on the cool stuff he saw at recent automation and materials handling events he attended:
1. In the photo above, Olympus Controls demonstrated a Universal Robots collaborative arm mounted on an Autonomous Mobile Robot or AMR (also called automated guidance vehicle or AGV in the past). The addition of the robot arm allows the AMR to be completely autonomous, including loading and unloading.
2. A spring-loaded exoskeleton that mounts to a worker’s torso and arms aids different types of manual tasks, such as lifting boxes and loading pallets.
3. A head-mounted Android tablet with eyepiece/camera and microphone gives mechanics instant access to the information they need to do their jobs quickly, safely and properly.
4. Ecommerce sales are creating high mix/low volume (HMLV) packing operations dependent on a large inventory of different case sizes. Or you could use a “right-sizing” custom case packing system that measures the load and automatically cuts, scores, folds and seals corrugated board tightly around it.
5. A power-assist “smart” cart can help efficiently replenish materials to and finished products from packaging lines.
6. Using a collaborative robot (cobot), this palletizer takes up next to no floor space yet will handle 50% or more of typical palletizing applications for consumer packaged goods (CPG).
7. Cobot-based case erector sets up multiple case sizes at random and reduces the required floor space—while maintaining most of the capabilities of a traditional robot case erecting system.
8. The Sawyer cobot from Rethink Robotics will continue to be made, sold and serviced by its new owner, Hahn Group.
NEXT: 10 new machines answer food packaging demands
In advance of the 2019 Pack Expo Las Vegas show, we culled through press announcements and found these 10 packaging machines scheduled for display at the event. Not only were all these systems new, but they all targeted food applications. It just seemed natural to preview them to potential show attendees, as well as to the industry-at-large, in this informative yet fast-reading article. You must have thought so, too, because this became the top-read packaging machinery content of 2019.
1. JDD Rotary Pouch Machine from Triangle Package Machinery fills and seals Doyen bags, three-sided seal, flat and standup pouches, and zippered bags at speeds of up to 50 pouches per minute.
2. Peregrine robotic cartoning system from JLS is designed to cut down on changeover time and meet the production needs for small batches.
3. Revolution flow wrapper with Robotic Loading System from Campbell Wrapper features a servo-driven, stainless-steel infeed conveyor that eliminates harborage areas for easy, effective sanitation and allergen cleanup.
4. Halopack trays produced on the SKR machine (see image above) from Proseal incorporate high-barrier properties designed to preserve food quality and extend shelf life. This first fully hermetic paperboard modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP) tray is made with board that comprises more than 90% recycled material.
5. lightline Flowpacker from Schubert is an integrated system with advanced sealing technology to gently pack heat-sensitive products into flowpacks.
6. New Contura S600 leak detection technology from Inficon uses a proprietary differential pressure method to detect both gross and fine leaks, with faster, easier and more quantifiable performance than other methodologies.
7. P300 portion pack form-fill-seal machine from IMA/Hassia features a new frame and guarding package to improve accessibility of the hygienic low-acid aseptic system.
8. 4Sight automatic print inspection solution from AutoCoding / SICK enables users to handle varying levels of inspection ranging from print presence to full optical character recognition (OCR). Operators have the freedom to set acceptable print quality tolerances to define good, bad or no read on a per-product basis.
9. New SmartPacker TwinTube vertical packaging machine from GEA offers a reinforced modular design and combined production output of up to 500 bags per minute. Two parallel forming tubes run from a single drive, a design that achieves up to four times the speed of conventional baggers.
10. Eagle Pack 240 HC compact X-ray machine from Eagle Product Inspection is designed for easy use and cleaning in meat, poultry, dairy and other food packaging applications where daily sanitation is required.