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Seal bar wrapper boasts 100 cpm surge rate

To push wrapping speed beyond aggressive 75 cpm specification, Tekkra applies Schneider Electric/ELAU automation.
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FILED IN:  Machinery  > Cartoning
     

Tekkra Systems started in 2004 to fill a void in the wrapping machinery marketplace by combining shrink wrap and end user packaging engineering experience.

Tekkra has focused on innovation, with patents pending on high speed bundlers and now with what may be the highest speed seal bar technology on the market.

“The design spec on this machine was 75 cpm – very high speed for a seal bar machine,” explains co-founder and electrical engineer Danny Vujovic.  “Not only were we able to reach that comfortably, but we allow for surge speeds up to 100 cpm.

“We created a cam profile in the ELAU automation system that controls the flight, movement of the seal frame and the seal bar into a smooth continuous motion up to 100 cycles per minute.”

The systems uses four of ELAU’s Intelligent Servo Modules one for vertical travel and sealing pressure control of the seal bar, for back-and-forth indexing of the seal frame carriage, and one each on the two conveyors leading into and through the sealing process.

Previously, as a category, seal bar wrapping machines were hard pressed to get beyond 65 cpm.

Delivering what the market needs

Customer feedback has had a major impact on Tekkra design. Vujovic talks to customers in the field when he installs machines and conducts training.  

“Operators want fast, simple machine recovery if an  e-stop is pushed or a door is opened.  Restarting a Tekkra machine is as fast as you can push the button on the HMI.  Even if stopped in mid-motion, it starts back up instantly, compared to 15 seconds.

“Wherever you are in an index or cycle, there is no re-homing, no effort on the part of the operator to get back to where it was, regardless of fault.

“From electronics to componentry, ergonomic access and roll handling, centralized lubrication, standard Category III design, redundancy -- even the most entry level machine is designed for efficient 24/7 operation.  Two bolts and a military disconnect are all that’s required to change out the seal bar, as well as the shrink tunnel heating elements.”

Tekkra machinery looks advanced, too.  The attention to detail is obvious in fit, finish and design with welds filled and smoothly ground, beveled edges, and machine guarding and hardware that have an architectural grade form-follows-function look.

Full circle with Schneider Electric/ELAU packaging automation

“When we first started, even before we opened our doors, we visited ELAU,” explains Vujovic. “We wanted to be different from our competitors.”

It took some time for their first project together, in which they set the bar high in terms of both machine performance and rapid startup.

“The experience was so good,” says co-founder and vp sales Eric Vorm,  “that we’ll be touting Schneider Electric/ELAU Packaging Solutions as a highly viable option, especially on applications where we are doing higher end functions like camming.”

“We were told this project would go ELAU at the last second -- and they stepped up to the plate,” recalls Vujovic. “I am absolutely ecstatic at how quickly the support came up – in about one week.  The parts were all in stock, we got them extremely quickly.  With the help of ELAU applications engineer Marcel Voigt, we had no hiccups at all.

“ELAU is capable of pretty much every single accepted communications protocol, so integrating with different systems and processors on future projects will be almost seamless.”

“The fast track was no problem,” Voigt explains, “because Tekkra clearly defined the application, we were able to follow a sound project management process that communicated and confirmed all expectations back to the customer.

“The application fits the capabilities of our standard software template very well. For example, since all the servos are synchronized to a virtual line shaft, changing the cycle rate of the machine is as easy as changing the speed of the virtual line shaft. Carriage and seal bar motion profiles are determined by the sealing time and speed of the product to be packed.

“Also, to keep the seal consistent the cam profile is updated on the fly, even during accel and decel. The carriage return needs to be completed before the next cycle starts, which doubles the speed of carriage during return.

“Our software environment also played a key role in meeting these requirements quickly.  Unlike systems that make you plot multiple cam points, we require only a beginning and end point for each segment and the software calculates the optimum path.”

The machine design

“We worked with the end user and the supplier of the upstream twin packer machine, and designed the infeed so it is interlocked with their machine, a direct handoff, so we never lose control of the product,” says Vujovic.

“We bring it into the infeed.  It is staged into positive, servo driven grouper fingers that separate the twin packs and are cammed into a servo driven flight assembly on centers.  

“Product is then conveyed into the continuous motion, servo driven seal frame.  At that point, minimal film is delivered around the product. Product flows through the seal assembly.

“Compression feedback to the servo gives us a positive, repeatable seal compared to an air seal.  We can read the amount we seal every time.”

After sealing, the flights deliver wrapped product into a dual zone, bottom-air style heat tunnel for full 360 degree film shrink.

About Tekkra

Tekkra Systems, Inc., offers a full line of automated shrink wrapping systems and creative product handling solutions accommodating a variety of industries. Incorporating the most advanced technologies into their robust designs ensures low maintenance operation and highly efficient equipment to meet the demand of today's production environment. They also provide advanced turnkey solutions by incorporating state of the art equipment from partner companies, which may include cartoning, labeling, case packing, palletizing, and robotics.

Visit www.tekkra.com.

About Schneider Electric’s ELAU Packaging Solutions

Schneider Electric’s ELAU Packaging Solutions is the only automaton supplier in the world exclusively focused on the packaging machinery. They offer the only automation system purpose-built for the packaging industry.

Through ELAU, Schneider Electric equips over $1 billion worth of packaging machines annually, with over 45,000 systems already deployed worldwide.  

The market demands packaging operations that are more flexible and efficient to fulfill marketing, supply chain and global business strategies.  Schneider Electric innovations have enabled a revolution in mechanical, software and hardware modularity to deliver these agile packaging systems.

Visit www.elau.com or www.packagingautomation.net.

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