Some things, like a prestige cuvée Champagne, only get better with age. Conveyor drive systems are not one of those things. The Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CV-CNF) knows this all too well. This Champagne producers’ union consists of 80 cooperatives and represents more than 5,000 wine-growers. Its facility in the Marne region of France is one of the most automated plants of its type. Output reaches 23 mil bottles a year, making it one of the world’s leading Champagne producers. As such, completely halting production to replace old equipment wasn’t an option.
“We needed to replace a series of drive systems in a gradual process. We considered using the original supplier of the equipment as well as other leading firms in this sector. They were all able to supply equipment that would have met our expectations, but we also wanted to establish a partnership with a company able to deliver the level of service we needed,” said Frédéric Lopez, automation manager at CV-CNF. Lopez and his team chose to go with Emerson.
The first step was to replace just one conveyor drive system. It sits at the start of the line to position the empty bottles with extreme accuracy before cleaning and filling. The bottles are loaded onto the conveyor from pallets, and then lifted in rows of 4 to 12 (depending on size) onto a perpendicular conveyor.
“This line runs at a rate of 4,000 to 6,000 bottles an hour and has to offer maximum availability in operation. Emerson designed the most appropriate solution for us and programed the variable-speed drives,” said Lopez.
The existing drive system consisted of an automatic controller, an alignment controller, a variable speed drive and a motor. The solution from Emerson removed the need for the alignment controller, reducing the overall complexity of the system. It consisted of a Control Techniques Unidrive M700 variable speed drive connected to the automatic controller and combined with a Leroy-Somer DYNABLOC Pjn1102 low-backlash servo-gear.
The MCi200 machine control option module had been added to Unidrive M to manage positioning. The Unidrive M700 drive was especially suited to this type of application, with a cycle time of 250 μsec, synchronized communications through real-time Ethernet and an integrated PLC for controlling movement sequences.
The system uses Unidrive M’s embedded Advanced Motion Controller. In the final configuration, 15 different configurations have been defined to suit the various bottle shapes. Each cycle has a coarse pitch with a specific movement profile (position, speed, acceleration and deceleration); a fine pitch with a second movement profile (position, speed, acceleration and deceleration); and the number of short pitches to be carried out.
The required configuration is selected using logic inputs, which automatically start the chosen cycle. The coarse pitch is performed, then the fine pitches are chained together while the path is free. Signals for “end of long movement” and “cycle completed” are sent by the drive’s logic outputs to the client system.