Emerson Automation in Las Vegas — New technologies for packaging industry

Pack Expo in Las Vegas this year was a huge success with more than 29,500 attendees and dozens of new design solutions of display.

One supplier at the show making quite a number of important announcements was Emerson Automation.

Emerson’s technologies help packaging lines gain flexibility by accommodating numerous package sizes and complexities; reduce losses by improving productivity, product quality and waste reduction; and improve operator and product safety without limiting production.

Here are the specifics on the technologies Emerson showed to help packaging lines meet the design objectives of flexibility, connectivity, contamination and waste mitigation, and safety.

Emerson Automation highlights technologies to support flexibility

Market demand for product variability is forcing packaging lines to generate more SKUs and accommodate more late-stage changes to package design and formulation than ever before. Partnering with Emerson lets operators better respond to market demands with packaging lines that accommodate myriad package sizes and complexities. To demonstrate just how Emerson technology and expertise does that, the following setups were on display:

Emerson’s ASCO G3 Fieldbus Electronics help packagers meet modern market demands by enabling automation capabilities in lines with a next-generation distributable electronic platform that simplifies connections for enhanced control of pneumatic actuators across all bottling and packaging processes. A completely modular system, this platform plugs together via mechanical clips that allow easy assembly and field changes without dismantling the entire manifold, and its modules can be used in centralized or distributed applications.

One demonstration that featured G3 Fieldbus Electronics is Emerson’s ASCO Bread-Packing Machine. This system provides full pneumatic automation control for high-speed repeatable packaging of food products. Its G3 Fieldbus integrates pneumatic control and provides realtime diagnostic data via an integrated webserver. It demonstrates flexible and energy-efficient design through proper sizing of pneumatic systems to fit any food packaging operation.

Emerson’s SolaHD Power Quality setups remove limitations in the power architecture, allowing machine designers and operators to safely put power where they need it. These power supplies can be mounted directly on a machine, freeing packaging lines from design constraints; eliminating the complexity and cost of unnecessary enclosures and excess wiring; and providing the power for current and future automation capabilities.

The Emerson booth also included demos of the full portfolio of SolaHD control power and power quality products — including the SolaHD SDU AC – A Series DIM Rail UPS System. This uninterruptible power supply helps packaging lines maintain maximum output levels by delivering protection from damaging impulses and power interruptions to microprocessor-based devices. In the event of a power disturbance, the technology provides immediate backup AC for up to four minutes … so that processes can safely continue or be intelligently shut-down for faster recovery with minimal losses.

Emerson’s Branson Ultrasonic Automated Cutting System provides precise food portioning with an almost frictionless cutting surface resulting in cleaner cuts, faster processing, minimal waste, longer blade life, higher productivity for greater throughput, and less cleaning …

Emerson’s Branson Ultrasonic Scan Welder offers continuous sealing for clam shell and blister packages. A fast, clean, reliable and energy-efficient alternative to heat and high-frequency sealing, the Ultrasonic Scan Welder features immediate start-up with no preheating, and easily welds various sizes, with tamper-evident seals.

Emerson’s Branson Ultrasonic Pouch Sealer offers consistent high-quality welds to provide hermetic seals even when sealing thru product overflow and contaminants. Its energy-efficient design helps reduce leakage and product spoilage while reducing seal thickness and material usage. The Ultrasonic Pouch Sealer is compact and easily integrates into automation, adapting to virtually all filling-machine styles in line or rotary. The system works for safely sealing tubes filled with low flash point materials, such as products with high alcohol content.

Emerson Automation approaches to connectivity

By leveraging technologies that generate actionable data on machine health and performance, packaging lines can gain increased insight into their operations to effectively reduce process variation and optimize production. For packaging lines, variation in machine performance and machine utilities can increase stops, excess scrappage and quality issues — all of which increase operating costs and threaten a line’s ability to meet market demand. Emerson helps packaging operations reduce process variation and decrease costly losses through technologies that deliver real-time insight into machine and process performance. With the accurate, relevant data in hand, packaging operations can reach better reliability, reduce losses and contamination as well as ensure long-term performance. The Emerson showed both wired and wireless technologies that leverage connectivity:

Emerson’s Micro Motion Smart Meter Verification (SMV) is easy-to-use, automatic diagnostic software that verifies Coriolis meter performance and integrity without having to stop operations. SMV also provides confirmation of meter cleanliness with no interpretation needed so that operators can have confidence in their density measurements as well as fill accuracy to remain on spec. On display was SMV technology leveraging realtime verification of meter performance and tube-cleanliness, while Emerson’s Rosemount Wireless THUM adapter and gateway receiver provided Ethernet/IP access to flow, line temperature, density, and even gas void fraction information.

Also in the booth was Emerson’s Branson DCX-F Power Supply — a compact ultrasonic welding power supply for consistent weld quality for various sealing and joining needs through continuous system monitoring and closed-loop process control. The highly configurable DCX-F features five weld modes and can be controlled and parametrized by a PLC over a Fieldbus network for enhanced automation control. The DCX-F’s real-time feedback of weld-quality indicators and accurate output amplitude spur greater weld consistency and fewer rejects regardless of package complexity.

Addressing contamination and waste with Emerson Automation setups

Packaging lines without the ability to effectively seal and detect leakage in their expanding variety of products and containers experience more product rejects and recalls that can lead to higher operating expenses and reputation damage. To minimize waste and contamination, Emerson’s setups ensure safe, quality products from the line to the shelf, while reducing costly product losses and material scrappage. Emerson had several demonstrations showing how packaging lines can significantly reduce contamination and waste:

Emerson’s Cascade Leak Detection and Analysis Systems for aerosol, pharmaceutical and food products can test a variety of container sizes to ensure container integrity, protecting against spoilage and costly recalls. In addition, the systems’ sensors can be easily upgraded to test products against different sensitivities so that a line’s quality control measures stay in compliance with a region’s current regulations. By eliminating the need for manual batch inspection, Cascade systems execute quality control measures faster and more effectively, testing every container on the line in real time and without disruption when a failure is detected. Here’s a quick video we took of the demo: 

To demonstrate this technology, Emerson showed a Cascade CT4215 Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) Leak Detection System — the first in-line system that tests 100% of modified atmosphere packages going through the production line for seal integrity. Its modular, easy-to-install design can test a variety of container sizes providing quick, flexible product changeovers while ensuring container integrity for food products. The Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology offers high speed detection of up to 200 packs per minute and rejects packages instantaneously without disrupting the production line to ensure products leave the facility at the highest quality standards while reducing waste and recalls.

A Vertical, Form, Fill and Sealing (VFFS) System featuring Emerson’s Branson ultrasonic technology lets packagers seal through contaminants minimizing waste, leakage and material consumption with up to a 75% reduction in carbon footprint over thermal systems. The technology uses continuous-motion ultrasonics to seal flexible packaging materials vertically and horizontally in a fast, energy-efficient manner. The VFFS can process many package sizes (without needing tool-size changeovers) and produces a continuous seal on packages up to 12 inches wide … while maintaining superior amplitude distribution for a true drop-in setup.

With Emerson’s Micro Motion Filling Mass Transmitter (FMT) packaging lines can accurately fill a wide range of container sizes with a single-size meter, eliminating the cumulative error associated with multiple-device measurement setups. The Micro Motion FMT accurately measures entrained gases or fluids with high viscosities, making it suitable for high-speed, precision measurement in filling and dosing applications. Its Coriolis mass-based measurement is immune to variations in process fluid, temperature or pressure, and Automatic Overshoot Compensation (AOC) improves yields and reduces spillage, meaning fewer under and overfills. In addition, the Micro Motion FMT enables operators to track live, online quality control data with digital temperature and density reporting to prevent packaging off-spec product.

Emerson’s Rosemount Magnetic Flow Meters provide packaging and filling lines with highly accurate volumetric flow measurement for precise fills and minimized scrappage. In addition, these obstructionless meters can measure fluids bidirectionally, are effective for both very low and high-volume flow rates, and are immune to changes in process variables. Emerson showed its Rosemount Magnetic Flow Diagnostics Loop in a flowing demonstration of how the technology lets operators see and even measure changes to process noise from gas void fraction (bubble content) in conductive fluids.

Safety in packaging — a must

Unsafe machine designs can lead to incidents that spur loss of personnel and property. But improving safety can increase build complexity that makes it difficult for operators on a packaging line to do their job effectively. Emerson’s technologies and approaches help reduce risk to operators and protect a packaging line’s assets to maintain production without compromising safety.

To demonstrate how operators can protect personnel and reduce risk without impacting productivity, Emerson showed Emerson ASCO Numatics 503 Series Zoned Safety Manifold (with G3 fieldbus electronics). It simplifies the design of a redundant pneumatic safety circuit with a manifold system that can be configured to shut down air and power only to the group of valves that controls the machine’s motion in the operator’s vicinity while the rest of the machine remains in operation.

Multiple independent safety circuits can easily and cost-effectively be designed into a single pneumatic valve manifold, reducing the number of safety system components by up to 35 percent, needing less plumbing, and shrinking the size of a safety system so that valuable real estate within the machine and manifold can be used for other purposes while still providing enhanced operator safety.

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