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Servos bring speed and more

Single-head capper now operates at 45/min instead of 25. Closed-loop feedback brings added benefits.
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FILED IN:  Controls  > Servos
     

From New England Machinery comes a four-axis, single-head capping machine powered by servo motors from Elau that operates at twice the speed of its non-servo predecessor. Faster changeover, a smaller footprint, and closed-loop feedback that can streamline a pharmaceutical company’s validation protocol are added benefits the new Model NESHC-S brings to customers buying it.

The introduction of this new machine comes on the heels of New England Machinery’s unveiling of a servo-controlled, multi-head rotary capper at Pack Expo Las Vegas last October. That machine handles a variety of caps, including child-resistant, tamper-evident, and dip-tube caps. With an insertion motion based on a mechanical cam, dropping a dip tube into a container can be a drag on throughput. But the servo motors—again supplied by Elau—deliver the tube into position under positive control to optimize the process.

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“The rotary machine that debuted in Las Vegas was very successful,” says director of sales and marketing Margaret Bonura. “With this single-head capper, which will be introduced at Interphex in Philadelphia, we want to expand on that success.”

The single-head machine can be used in a variety of applications, including not only pharmaceuticals but also food and beverage, too. It indexes containers from a conveyor line into the single-head capping station and then sends capped bottles back to the line to discharge from the machine.

“Single-head cappers are historically pretty slow,” says Daniel Duhaime, electrical engineering manager at New England Machinery. “What we aim to do with this machine is offer something that can keep customers from having to buy a rotary machine in order to reach the 45 per minute range. There’s a sizeable jump in price when you go from a single-head in-line to a three-head rotary capper.”

Applications in the pharmaceutical sector are a logical fit for this machine, says Duhaime, for a specific reason.
“Servo controls give us real-time verification of applied torque,” he points out. “Automatic real-time adjustments in torque can also be made.” In a regulated industry like pharmaceuticals, where proper capping torque must be recorded and validated, this ability to automatically verify torque repeatability is a highly desirable machinery characteristic.
Also greatly improved through the use of servo motors are flexibility and ease of changeover.

“It’s recipe controlled,” says Duhaime. “We can set up the machine for a particular bottle size and store that recipe. When you need to run that bottle the next time, you don’t have to go through a setup process again. You just call up the recipe at the touch screen HMI. It’s an automatic changeover with no tools and a minimal number of quick-connect parts.”

The other part of servo-based controls that Duhaime values in the single-head capper relates to the indexing table’s motion.

“With a mechanical linkage, indexing is fixed,” says Duhaime. “So you get sudden starts and stops. With servo control you can ease a container through the indexing table and into the capper. So if you are filling a liquid, you greatly reduce the chance of spillage.” •

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