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Douglas 'low speed' case/tray packer is high on performance

New Invex™ case/tray packer, equipped with ELAU's PacDrive™ automation system, delivers Douglas Machine flexibility, repeatability, durability and ease of maintenance in economical, low speed, compact footprint.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Cartoning
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Douglas Machine design attributes in a case/tray packer geared for low volume packagers

Servos were once reserved for top-of-the-line machines, but no more. Douglas Machine has announced its new Invex™ ‘low speed' case/tray packer.

Invex™ provides all the benefits associated with ELAU's PacDrive™ automation system in a machine ideally suited for the lower volume user in industries such as food, automotive, household and industrial products.

Invex™ is intended to give these customers access to Douglas Machine attributes -- flexibility, repeatability, durability, product handling knowhow, reduced parts count, ease of maintenance – but in an economical, lower speed, more compact footprint.

Putting Axiom® functionalities in a 12 cpm packer

Just as important is what electronic motion control takes away – many air cylinders, larger compressors and discrete electrical components. Traditionally, servos have replaced mechanical drivetrains. With this design, Douglas brings functionalities of its 45 cpm Axiom® machine to a 12 cpm case and tray packer. The practical benefits of this approach?

• Replacing air cylinders with more controllable electronic motion equates to smoother and quieter operation, reduced maintenance time and cost, fewer jams

• Motors are more adaptable to run a wider range of products, and changeovers are faster because they are readily programmed

• Changeovers are more repeatable as well, because motors are much more precise

• Machine startups are faster to achieve greater throughputs, because machine functions can be started up simultaneously compared to one air cylinder at a time

• Energy consumption is reduced because there's no need for large air compressors

And yet, Invex™ has a footprint approximately 50% smaller than the high speed Axiom.

Soft and simple

Invex™ uses ELAU's PacDrive servos for indexing chains, setup and loading. In addition, stepper motors take over for air cylinders on flap tuckers, funnels, flap traps, as well as compression and box squaring.

Compared to competitive offerings, Invex™ uses automation to reduce the discrete component count, especially for labor-intensive adjustable components such as valving and sensors that may need to be repositioned during a changeover. ELAU's electronic camming replaces mechanical drivetrains and their soft programmable limit switch (PLS) replaces discrete hardware PLS. The ELAU PLS function controls the simple stepper motions.

Douglas Machine has been the most vocal North American proponent of software modularity, reporting significant benefits for itself and its customers in a Conference at PACK EXPO 2005 paper. Its Contour™ line of tray and shrink packing machines, introduced at the 2004 show, demonstrated clearly modular machine design. The reusability of modular software is evident in Invex™'s control feature set, which is unusually sophisticated for this category of machine.

For example, diagnostics are comparable to Axiom®'s, which is quite impressive for a low speed machine. The operator or technician is able to pinpoint the root cause of problems from the human machine interface (HMI) -- such as where a jam occurred, how it happened and fault history.

Changeovers are recipe-driven, with minimal change parts and simple hand wheel adjustments. Control components are located at the perimeter of the machine for easy maintenance access.

The ELAU system, which inherently follows the OMAC Packaging Guidelines, helps Douglas provide a machine with standards-based connectivity and an IEC conforming software structure that is PackML- and PackTags-ready. ELAU's growing popularity with packagers seeking better control systems was documented in a recent ARC report challenging the status quo in automation specifications.

Douglas can provide interchangeable infeeds for Invex™ to run a wide range of cartons, cans, bottles, pouches or other container types. These include single level can or bottle collating, and up- or down-stacking for carton collating. Invex™ can run wraparound or knockdown cases or trays.

About Douglas Machine

Founded in 1964, Douglas Machine Inc. is recognized as a global leader in automated packaging solutions for paperboard, corrugated, and shrink-film. Today the company specializes in the design and manufacture of cartoners, sleevers, case and tray packers, and shrink-wrap systems. Customers from many different markets including food, beverage, personal care, and pharmaceutical, have come to rely on Douglas' automation expertise and value-added services to maximize their throughput. Based in Alexandria, Minnesota, Douglas Machine also has operations in Deerwood, Minnesota.
For more information, visit www.douglas-machine or email [email protected].

About ELAU

ELAU, a company of Schneider Electric, equips over $1 billion worth of the world's best machines annually, with over 30,000 PacDrive systems already deployed in packaging machinery worldwide. PacDrive is the first truly integrated automation architecture, capable of performing the functions of PLC, motion control, robotics, temperature control, PLS, MES data interface and more in a single, standards-based software environment.

For more information, visit www.elau.com or email [email protected].

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