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Packaging World     VP/Editor, Pat Reynolds
SPONSOR: Aerotech, Inc. March 30, 2011 | Edited by Pat Reynolds

Single- and multi-axis motion controllers scalable to your application >>

From the economical single-axis Soloist stand-alone controller, to the 1-10 axis stand-alone Ensemble, to our software-based 1-32 axis Automation 3200, Aerotech has a scalable, easy-to-use controller to fit your packaging needs. All of our high-performance controllers use a common software platform.

Aerotech, Inc.

Linear and rotary servomotors and drives >>

Aerotech U-channel and flat linear motors meet the needs of the most exacting applications, while our brushless rotary servomotors provide precision motion with low torque ripple, smooth velocity, and maximum torque and acceleration. PWM and linear drives are available, and controls, for a complete motion package.

Aerotech, Inc.

Integrated machine control with Aerotech's MotionPAC >>

The Aerotech MotionPAC integrated machine control system offers a 30% to 50% reduction in development time, high-performance motion fully integrated with the standard PLC environment, easy-to-use diagnostics and tools, is based on IEC61131-3, is programmable in .NET, and is PC-based.

Aerotech, Inc.

ACT series high-speed linear motor actuators >>

The ACT is a high performance, cost-effective linear-servomotor-driven actuator that is faster and more accurate than a ball screw or belt-drive without the costly, time-consuming maintenance. As an integrated, assembled mechanical system, ACT also eliminates the design complexity of assembling individual components.

Aerotech, Inc.

Automation control solutions brochure >>

The brochure highlights automation controllers and software, drives, linear and rotary motors, and positioning mechanics.

Aerotech, Inc.

A machine builder's thoughts on programming standards

In a recent conversation with Paul Nowicki, information design engineer at packaging machinery supplier Heat and Control, I asked how meaningful it was that Nestle recently decided to embrace the packaging machine control programming standard known as PackML. Some of Nowicki's comments, on PackML and other issues, are noted here.

• Nestle's decision is certainly meaningful. What I'd like to see is more packaged goods companies making it clear that they want PackML and that they want OEMs to build to that spec. That's what's going to change the game. But we haven't really been hearing that. Maybe because there aren't the same strong centralized engineering capabilities in a lot of those firms as in the past, which diminishes that engineering voice in the marketplace. Who is performing those engineering tasks? At large firms, in-house people are still in place. But that's less true at the mid-tier and smaller firms, where they rely more heavily on OEMs and integrators for engineering expertise. And you can't expect integrators to clamor for PackML, because if it were really and truly adopted widely, the need for the engineering services provided by integrators would be minimized.

• We're seeing a little bit of an uptick now in the business outlook overall, and line performance seems to be on the customers' minds. What information does a machine have from a data standpoint and how easily can we access and use that data to monitor line performance and look for opportunities to make improvements? Those are the kinds of questions we're starting to hear more frequently. The challenge is that there's a lot of stuff out there. It takes a lot of engineering to figure out the unique characteristics of each machine. Our approach to this—and we think it's a little different—is to provide more of a holistic view. PackML would make my life so much easier, but it's not quite accepted yet. So what I'm trying to do in the meantime is produce what would be the vision of PackML today. In other words, I can make all these machines look similar and give you a holistic view of your line by doing all the hard work of pulling them all together. And that applies to machines supplied by other OEMs, too. As much as I'd like to see packaging lines populated by all Heat and Control equipment, the reality is that a variety of machines wind up occupying the plant floor, and then it becomes the poor plant engineer or maintenance engineer who is left with the task of getting them to mesh. Bottom line is they want as much efficiency out of their lines as possible. Just because they have equipment from different OEMs, that doesn't mean those machines shouldn't be integrated.

• Getting back to that question of packaged goods companies wanting to get better and more usable data from their lines, some are more sophisticated than others in their need for such data and their use of it. I talked to a customer just the other day who wants more data out of checkweighers so they can do X-bar / R Chart analysis [a type of control chart used to monitor a variable's data when samples are collected at regular intervals from an industrial process]. So customers are beginning to see that they have to really look at the process in terms of real information. But it's complicated because there are so many machines out there individually running that it's hard to get a good feel for efficiency. The question that remains challenging to answer is this one: Are you really running as efficiently as you think you are? Our aim is to help customers answer that question, whether it's through PackML or not.

As I've mentioned in this space on previous occasions, PackML and Nestle's views of it will be among the topics discussed at the Packaging Automation Forum April 26 in Chicago. Early bird registration ends March 25.

NEW Automation Products

Advanced system diagnostics via the Web

B&R's latest version of their System Diagnostics Manager (SDM) includes a range of powerful new diagnostic functions providing access to information about system hardware and software from anywhere in the world. Ready-made diagnostic applets can be easily integrated directly into applications... Read more

Positioning sensor

SICK's Inspector P30 Positioning Sensor offers a flexible method for part location and provides a precise positioning point of a known target. The Inspector P series also adds functions for giving position information of irregular shaped objects, known as blob detection... Read more

Quick-release mechanism protects cables

Siemens' Speed Connect is a quick-release mechanism that protects against vibration shakeout on its Motion-Connect® line of power and signal cables ... Read more

Vision sensors eliminate print-job errors

Pepperl+Fuchs' BIS510 Vision Sensors are specifically designed to be a reliable, simple and lower-cost alternative to expensive vision systems for print job verification applications. The sensors provide fast and simple monitoring of the correct sheet sequence in collating, folding and binding machines... Read more

Encapsulated transformers line expanded

AutomationDirect's Hammond line of HPS Fortress commercial encapsulated power transformers are available in 100VA up to 25kVA ratings and input voltage ranges of 120VAC to 480VAC. The single phase units are encapsulated with electrical grade silica sand and resin compounds to protect the core and coils... Read more

Bus terminals for extreme climates

Beckhoff Automation's Extended Temperature (ET) Bus Terminals provide I/O solutions for applications in areas with severe heat or cold. The extension of the operating temperature range for selected standard Bus Terminals and Couplers is between -4 and 140 °F (-20 and +60 °C)... Read more


Upcoming events:

NACD 2011 Annual Convention
La Quinta Resort & Club, Palm Springs, CA The National Association of Container Distributors (NACD) annual convention will be held April 6-10, 2011.

Packaging Automation Forum
Westin O'Hare, Rosemont, IL. Packaging Automation Forum, produced by Packaging World and Automation World, features peer-to-peer education about how to increase productivity, flexibility and performance using state-of-the-art packaging controls and information technology, April 26.

IoPP Packaging & Leadership Council
Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Rosemont, IL. New for 2011, the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) is offering packaging professionals the utmost in value by creating a two-day conference that combines IoPP's most dynamic events, held May 10-11.

Healthcare Packaging Conference


Transforming Pharmaceutical Production with Continuous Manufacturing

Learn how to bring pharmaceuticals to market faster ... experience more energy-efficient production, cost savings and enhanced quality control. Hear James Evans of The Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing discuss a process that offers huge benefits for today's manufacturers, at the Healthcare Packaging Conference & Workshops on May 26 in Princeton, NJ.

Learn more>>

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