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Big automation news at PACK EXPO

Significant product launches are slated for PACK EXPO Las Vegas. One breaking story is the introduction of next generation packaging automation.
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FILED IN:  Controls  > Strategy
     

At PACK EXPO Las Vegas Booth S-5540 ELAU Inc. will introduce the broadest price/performance range of Gen3 packaging automation systems available. The company credited by ARC analysts with enabling the Gen3 revolution in packaging machinery design will now launch backward-compatible PacDrive™ systems ranging from a Gigahertz powerhouse to a solution economical enough to equip the most price sensitive equipment.

With this major new line extension the benefits of Gen3 capabilities become truly pervasive because the control family is now scalable capable of integrating the simplest stand-alone machines and synchronizing whole processing and packaging lines.

All controllers in the new generation support ELAU’s ever-expanding application-specific off-the-shelf software modules. For example any of the controllers can run new liquid filling capping and labeling function blocks. In combination with the company’s new purpose-built liquid packaging servo motor/drive these software functionalities speed the development of efficient reliable mechatronic designs. (For more on the new motor/drive please read this story on Packworld.com.)

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Gen3 refers to the design of packaging machinery that is mechanically streamlined more flexible with lower cost of ownership and higher performance than previous generations. According to ELAU Gen3 architecture also sets the stage for OEMs to tackle the next generation of packaging machinery – one defined by increased software and networking content.

Entry level

With the PacDrive™ C200 solution Gen3 performance and flexibility becomes affordable for even the simplest machines those up to 4 servo axes. C200 targets machine categories that could not afford servo automation in the past or which currently use low-end proprietary motion controllers and PLCs.

PacDrive C200 provides the same powerful software tools open architectures high performance-per-axis and form factor as the rest of the family. It allows the same look and feel code portability and interoperability across the packaging line.

A new standard

The C400 is the PacDrive solution intended for mainstream servo packaging machinery where axis counts are steadily rising. The C400 integrates what were once options at a very attractive price.

These include integrated motion logic robotic PLS and temperature control functions. They also include new built-in fieldbus and Ethernet interfaces and standard external encoder interfaces. The platform is optimized for MES data collection and remote diagnostics two of the major trends on the plant floor.

Packaging’s most powerful

The new PacDrive C600 automation system is designed to power the most ambitious packaging systems. That includes up to 99 servo axes 99 more virtual axes and hundreds of I/O. C600 couples VxWorks® with a 1 gigahertz Pentium® M – technospeak for the ultimate in reliability and performance.

This is the platform for synchronizing entire packaging and converting lines for very high speed machines and for machinery consisting of many modules or process units.

Integrating control with HMI

Increasingly machine builders and packagers agree that it can be more practical to integrate control along with HMI and other Windows™ applications on the same platform. PacDrive P600 embeds PC functionality on the Pentium for fast operation and seamless visualization. Real-time automation functions run separate from Windows™ of course.

This approach is also ideal for price sensitive machine categories because now there is no need for a separate PC. Using OPC and the onboard Web server P600 supports any Windows-based HMI MES or OEE applications.

Trimming the high cost of software

The next generation has been identified by various industry leaders as leveraging the potential of software to increase ease of use operational efficiency and supply chain flexibility.

“Let’s face it” ELAU president Patrik Hug explains “Corporate users are tired of spending hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on proprietary middleware from PLC vendors just to access the data from the PLC registers. Smaller users can’t afford this. But no business can afford to ignore the need to manage their assets more effectively.

“To date Gen3 performance has been the domain of the more sophisticated machinery categories. Isolated machines could afford the inefficiencies of PLC data structures. But now Gen3 must become totally scalable because you need the data from every machine” explains Hug. “The next generation of packaging machinery is going to handle more and more business intelligence software. To be affordable data acquisition needs to be built on the right architecture. The right architecture is an open robust scalable Gen3 platform.”

Time to plan your PACK EXPO trip?

To schedule a PACK EXPO Las Vegas briefing with ELAU email: [email protected] Tel: 773/342-8400 Fax: 773/342-8404.

Contact ELAU Inc. on the Web at www.elau.com.

For an ARC Advisory Group Brief on Generation 3 packaging automation trends visit www.elau.com/gen3.

[This advertorial originally appeared in Packworld.com's supplier-sponsored content area.]

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