- Contract Packaging
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Article | June 30, 2005
Filler/capper cleans easily, changes quickly
Balcony construction makes system easy to clean, while controls package simplifies frequent size change.
Especially suitable for packagers of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics the MB120 Monoblock filler/capper from ESS Technologies offers a unique combination of easy-to-clean balcony design and advanced controls that permit quick size change and automatic on-the-fly fill-volume adjustments.
The seven-axis system uses four servo motors from B&R USA and three AC inverter motors to meter in containers fill them and screw on caps. Diving nozzles filling pumps timing screw and cap indexing wheel are all servo-driven. Conveyors and cap-torquing are driven by the AC inverter motors.
The system has no PLC. Motion logic and HMI are all governed by a single B&R controller. A CANbus network and software called B&R Automation Studio integrate all these automation tasks. The control system was developed by B&R USA’s Mid-Atlantic representative and distributor Integrated Motion Inc. according to the requirements of ESS.
“The software was a key factor in picking a B&R controls package” says ESS president Kevin Browne. With other controls suppliers he adds it might have been necessary to use separate software programs for HMI logic and motion. “Having just one software program is much easier for the user.”
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The balcony design puts all drives and controls components in a cabinet in back of the machine. “If anything falls through it doesn’t fall into any drive component” says Browne. “It falls through to a catch pan greatly simplifying cleaning and maintenance. In the pharma industry this is crucial.”
Glass or plastic bottles can be filled on the new machine whose 6’ wide by 5’ long footprint saves precious floor space. Container sizes may range from 2 mL to 16 oz and speeds can be as high as 120/min. Tightly integrated through its one controller the system’s multiple axes of motion are nicely synchronized says Browne.
“When you bring the machine up in speed” he says “everything comes up in proportion—conveyors volumetric filling pumps capping heads everything. Another nice thing about this controls package is that the same B&R drive we use for the servo motors is also used for the AC inverter motors. It’s nice not having to inventory separate drives.”
The responsiveness and flexibility available in a servo-driven fill head and servo-driven filling pumps also make it possible to perform “profile filling.” Browne explains. “If the bottle has a larger bottom than the top which is very common in cosmetics containers we can bring the diving nozzles up slowly at first and dispense liquid fast. Then as nozzles near the narrower top of the container we can accelerate the upward movement of the nozzles and slow down the filling pumps.”
An added controls feature that Browne values is automatic fill-volume adjustment. A networked downstream checkweigher for example can average every 50 bottles and send that data to the B&R controller which then automatically computes whatever adjustment is required in the fill-volume set point.
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