When a leading manufacturer of an automated, powder-filling, packaging equipment machine wanted to gain greater control over a critical container-lifting sequence, it decided to use an electric rod-style actuator. The change was aimed at making product changeovers faster and easier for customers who used the packaging machines for filling a variety of container sizes. While the original pneumatic actuator worked well once set up, adjusting its force and speed to accommodate a different size container was complicated.
When a product or container needs to change, the container-lifting actuator must be adjusted to accommodate the new container size or filling rate. To simplify the need for faster and easier product changeovers, an automated machine, which relies on pneumatic actuators to move and manipulate products, was recently outfitted with an actuator from Tolomatic – the SmartActuator – to take over the container-lifting maneuver. During product changeovers, the actuator helped eliminate the time-consuming, trial-and-error method required for changes to the pneumatic actuator it replaced.
All-Fill specializes in packaging equipment for the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The company’s line of automatic filling machines consist of a filling head and a motorized chain conveyor mounted on a frame base. Containers are moved into position under the filling head and lifted by the actuator so that the tube of the filling funnel begins to fill from the bottom. As the material starts to flow into the container, the container is lowered at a controlled rate. When completely filled, the container moves down the line and an empty container is lifted into position. The rigid containers may have different types of dry products, ranging from coffee and protein powders to baking ingredients and granulated bleach.
The ICR Plus actuator had several advantages in this particular application. The device operates on either 24 Vdc or 48 Vdc and accepts signals from PLCs, sensors, network communication or an existing motion controller. The actuator’s extend/retract features are functionaly similar to that of pneumatic cylinders; a flexible indexer-programming environment; optional CANopen and DeviceNet communication to daisy chain up to 127 axes; stand-alone operation; stepper mode; and analog position mode. Thus, programming the distance and speed was made simple.
Filed Under: Actuators, Design World articles, Packaging