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Wexxar Packaging Inc, a division of Pro Mach: The shift to servos continues

Whenever I get a chance to ask packaging machinery builders what they're seeing and hearing from the CPG companies they sell to, I'm always fascinated by what I learn. Here are a few highlights from a recent conversation I had with William Chu, general manager at Wexxar Packaging Inc., a division of ProMach.
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• We see more and more interest in the use of servo and other automation advances. Making feedback readily available to the operator—to simplify setup and to make the machine easier to run—is becoming more important than ever. We are looking for a number of our machines that aren't servo-based to be changed in the near future. We also are looking at HMI technology so that the average working guy can easily run our machines. We think there's a perception out there that servo technology makes machines more difficult. But we want the servo to be the operator's and the maintenance department's best friend.

• If I had any advice to give to technology suppliers, I'd ask them to provide any help they can on networking issues. It can be a challenge. The servo motor or drive talks to the PLC, and the PLC talks to the HMI. The PLC may also talk to other devices up and down the production line. So setting up this network of communications connections is crucial. Technology suppliers can be very helpful in this task.

•We like to display as much diagnostic information as possible on the HMI. That way, the maintenance people don't need a laptop to talk to the servo drive whenever there's a problem. Servo conditions, servo error messages—these are the things we want communicated on the HMI as much as possible.

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