Technology adoption rate “not insignificant”
Many packagers and packaging machine builders came to Las Vegas looking to break away from the status quo and achieve quantum rather than incremental gains in machinery capabilities and cost effectiveness. Recognizing the impact of a newer modular control architecture that overcomes the limitations of PLC-based servo machines showgoers checked out the latest designs from trendsetters such as Angelus/Arol Douglas MG America IMA IWKA P.E. Pester Pneumatic Scale/Mateer Burt Sacmi Uhlmann and Waechter.
PLCs running ladder logic still fulfill a niche by controlling simple stand-alone machines where data collection and line integration are not required. More advanced machines may still rely on ladder logic for tasks such as timers and interlocking but their architectures now support a much richer mix of object-oriented modular programming methods.
Why the market is receptive to change
The corporate drive to increase operational efficiency across the world and the emergence of international standards have combined to mitigate the perceived risk of breaking away from legacy control platforms. At PACK EXPO the openness to new solutions was heard loud and clear by Christopher Zei president of ELAU’s North American operations.
“We’re finding customers very receptive to fresh thinking that can reduce their Total Cost to Develop a machine and in turn deliver higher value for their customers. In the Fortune 100 business owners are interested in being first to market or leveraging packaging as a supply chain strategy.
“That’s why the major CPG food beverage and pharma players are already buying from our OEM customers” Zei stated “which include not only the top European builders but a growing number of North American market leaders such as Douglas Machine and Pneumatic Scale. Other US leaders are acquiring European ELAU users – such as Angelus Sanitary Can adding servo capper manufacturer Arol to their portfolio.
“In Las Vegas we saw an acceleration in the technology adoption curve. Customers are telling us that ELAU has moved from an interesting alternative to their automation standard. That’s not an insignificant level of commitment and it’s happening because we are delivering what the market needs.”
More market trends manifest themselves at PELV
The market is also embracing robotics. ELAU applications manager Dietmar Hamberger noted the high level of interest in the automation supplier’s robot demo and the new software object library that gives designers unprecedented access to robotic functionality.
This trend was also addressed in a new ARC Advisory Group study on the integration of robotics into packaging machinery published this week. The report cited a number of machines using the robot library that were introduced at this April’s interpack show.
ELAU was a co-presenter at the Conference at PACK EXPO along with representatives of Procter & Ganble and Douglas Machine on the topic of Make2Pack. There Douglas Machine documented an 80% reduction in their engineering time in the shift from legacy to modular software programming.
Likewise ELAU’s award-winning integral servo motor/drive for rotary servo filling capping and labeling machines continues to expand its installed base with machines shipping to major soft drink plants and a 40+ axis machine order announced at the show.
“These solutions simply aren’t available from legacy suppliers” explained Hamberger “As people see more and more successful implementations they become quite comfortable with the technologies.”
ELAU equips over $1 billion worth of the world’s best machines annually with over 20 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.