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Article | August 4, 2008
PAC brings glue application under central control
Tray packing machines are no different than all the other equipment in the packaging machinery universe. To be suitable for today’s marketplace, they must be flexible enough to offer fast and easy format changes.
Mecasysteme (www.meca-pac.com) of France understands this fundamental fact of the machine-building scene, and its BTM 12 tray former illustrates how the firm’s designs take ease of changeover into account.
Used primarily in the fresh produce sector, the BTM12 erects corrugated trays from flat blanks and glues them with hot melt emitted by as many as eight nozzles. Until recently, the gluing process was controlled by a module that was entirely independent from the machine’s automation system. Technical manager Philippe Ternois wanted to integrate the gluing control module into the automation system. Knowing about the integrated automation platform offered by B&R (www.br-automation.com), he decided to work with the B&R France team to find out how to integrate the gluing module and, at the same time, ensure fast, accurate, and reliable glue application.
The controls components Ternois selected for his particular application were the B&R PC-based Power Panel 220 as the central control unit together with the X2X bus and X20 IO modules. The Power Panel automation platform is a good example of what has come to be known as a “Programmable Automation Controller,” or PAC. It combines the touchscreen display of HMI, the logic of a PLC, and the motion control of a PC all in one multidisciplined controller.
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The other important capability inherent in the automation platform is that it obviates the need for a separate controller to govern the gluing control module. This module is a special function block that handles temperature control and flow, thereby ensuring that the glue always maintains proper adhesive properties, regardless of how many nozzles are deployed on the machine. It was developed by the B&R France team and then thoroughly tested by Mecasysteme.
“The positive test results convinced us to implement the glue-control module in our automation system,” says Ternois. “This was a major technical innovation in our machine.”
The integration of the gluing control module brought an additional benefit, says Ternois. As an all-in-one control and operator unit, the Power Panel 220 with a single powerful bus allows Mecasysteme to reduce cabling and to save space. As for format changes, they’re done easily via recipes stored on a USB flash drive.
“B&R provided us with an automation platform that is flexible enough to greatly simplify the entire architecture of our machines,” says Ternois. “This allows us to save costs, time, and development efforts.”
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