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Intelligent Handling Shown at PACK EXPO

New use of linear servo motors, a small-footprint top-load case packer, and smart data capture turned heads at PACK EXPO.

   Read the full transcript below.
Pat Reynolds: Hello, Pat Reynolds here with Packaging World Magazine, With a look at day three highlights on display at PACK EXPO International in Chicago. Packaging Machinery builders continue to leverage the benefits offered by linear servo motors. And at PACK EXPO international booth S-3514, The Syntegon IDH handling system for cookies and crackers was a great example. IDH stands for intelligent direct handling. It's based on a newly developed picker technology using Bekoff XTS linear servo motors. The flexible pick and place machine not only ensures particularly gentle product handling, but also offers a compact design along with high output and the option of loading different products both flat and on edge, making it a highly efficient and flexible addition to Syntegon pick and place portfolio. The linear motor bar forms the heart of the new machine. With a nominal speed of 30 cycles a minute, the bar has up to 40 pickers that pick the products from the process built and placed them into a flow wrapper in feed or into trays. Thanks to the slow and smooth movements of the linear servo motor movers, the cookies and crackers are handled with minimal mechanical stress and vacuum application, preventing breakage or damage to the product surface and ensuring optimal production efficiency. The IDH picks the cookies directly from the process built to keep the transport distances between the oven and the packaged products as short as possible, thereby reducing abrasion. Not only does this result in less product waste, it also means that cleaning efforts are minimized because less product residue accumulates in the system. An integrated camera based vision system detects the position and shape of the cookies and crackers on the infeed belt and transmits this information to the picker control system. It identifies different product patterns or random arrangements and processes them reliably. Each picker can be aligned individually to ensure all products are placed into trays or the infeed chain correctly. Moreover, an integrated mini buffer automatically fills incomplete product rules, thus increasing system efficiency. Besides gentle handling, the IDH also impresses with its product and pack style flexibility. The number of vacuum pickers can be adjusted depending on the product being packaged and production volume. For example, manufacturers can increase the number of vacuum pickers to as many as 40 as process output increases. When integrated into horizontal packaging lines. The Syntegon IDH also provides high pack style flexibility. With its sophisticated overall concept, the Syntegon IDH makes the packaging process less complex. Its space saving design not only minimizes conveying distances, but also allows for new system layouts traditionally used in bar production. Despite its compact dimensions, the IDH achieves a maximum output rate of up to 800 products a minute, combined with as low reject rate and short downtimes. This ensures high overall equipment effectiveness. 

How about a top load case packer with a small footprint and a gantry style robot loading arm that can handle a 40 pound payload at nominal speeds to 15 cases a minute and top speeds to 20 a minute in some applications. Plus, this packer can handle a wide range of RSC cases from a smallest four by five by six inches all the way up to 16 by 16 by 12 inches. That is the packer that was on display at Booth South-2501. Where MGS Coesia company was showing the Matrix TL Case Packer. According to MGS product portfolio manager AJ Lee, MGS does a lot of work with pharma companies. So keeping this machine compact in size was important in terms of allowing it to fit inside the typical packaging suite of a pharmaceutical manufacturer. As for the robotic loading arm, that comes from Festo. The machine running at the booth was equipped with a 3M case taper. But adhesive case sealing is also an option. 

Technology driven by artificial intelligence continues to establish itself as a fixture in our world of increasingly smart factories, and Contact 4.0 from Fortress Technology is a great example. On display at PACK EXPO booth South-1752, this smart data capture solution is aimed at food manufacturers operating multiple metal detectors and weighing machines across multiple facilities. Using web based architecture, Contact 4.0 captures valuable product data across an entire suite of networked Fortress inspection machines. It can remotely monitor the performance of equipment, track events, and document all potential product safety risks. In other words, it turns massive data streams into tightly monitored and thus highly useful operational insight. What's more, for the first time, it lets food processors connect multiple front end inspection machines to back end reporting software in real time. It's live, it's streamlined and it's centralized. So rather than reacting to various production scenarios, customers can export dashboards and reports in the format that is most closely aligned with their common reporting standards. This enhances traceability and gives operational staff the information needed to address time critical events. And for those of you out there already operating Fortress Machines, you'll be happy to know that Contact 4.0 can be installed on all Fortress Digital Stealth Interceptor and Interceptor DF Metal Detectors, as well as on the Raptor Checkweigher, Raptor XL CaseWare, and the Raptor Combination Unit. Thanks for listening. I'll be back tomorrow with more highlights from PACK EXPO International.

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