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Independent Linear Servo Movers Lend Flexibility to Flowpacker

An intelligent transport system delivers a cost-effective, compact, and highly flexible feeder component in cookie packaging equipment by a well-known OEM.

Cavanna’s first XTS application is a 90-deg transfer system for packaging slugs of cookies. (© Cavanna
Cavanna’s first XTS application is a 90-deg transfer system for packaging slugs of cookies. (© Cavanna

Italy’s Cavanna Packaging Group specializes in the flowpack segment for both food and non-food products, especially for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. The company was founded in 1960 in Italy’s Piedmont region as one of the first makers of electro-mechanical flow-pack machines. Over time, the family-owned company focused on fully electronic machines and complete packaging lines: primary flowpacks for individual products and product groups, secondary flowpacks or box packaging, and tertiary packaging in display cartons. Today, Cavanna has supplied roughly 6,000 machines for more than 900 customers worldwide.

Recently, the OEM made the strategic decision to equip its flowpack machines with the intelligent eXtended Transport System (XTS) and EtherCAT communication technology from Beckhoff, starting with its cookie packaging segment.

The broad spectrum of food applications ranges from uniform and mixed cookie packages, chocolate, breakfast products, and sweet and salty snacks to bread replacement products, as well as cheese, coffee pods, and frozen products. Whatever the application, Cavanna focuses on protecting the product and maintaining the product quality through appropriate packaging, remembering that the consumer must also be able to open the package easily. The company’s engineering team considers all these requirements in the design of the flowpack machines in combination with high packaging quality, machine availability, and the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TOC).

The main objective of adopting XTS, according to Cavanna, was to improve its machines’ flexibility for product changeovers while reducing their footprint, time to market, and cost. The company also had to meet the rising requirements regarding gentle and efficient product handling. In the end, PC-based control from Beckhoff delivered the ideal control and drive solution. Cavanna also says it appreciated that Beckhoff prescribes to the same philosophy as the Italian company with its passion for quality, technological excellence, and reliability.

The technological innovation and continuous development of PC-based control were especially important for Cavanna because they enable the company to advance in accordance with changing customer requirements. An obvious example of this is the intelligent XTS transport system, which—in combination with the EtherCAT network—provides exceptional product transport flexibility in a very small space, the company says.

Cookie feeding in slug packaging

As its first XTS application, Cavanna developed a new packaging system that can package 4,200 cookies after they have been compiled into what are called slugs. Once again, flexibility was a huge benefit because the cookies can be round, rectangular, or square in shape. In addition, the machine can package the cookies in various flowpack formats at speeds of up to 130 packs/min with as many as 32 cookies/package.

The XTS functions as a feeder unit in this system. Two XTS movers receive the cookie slugs from a chain track after they have been rotated 90 deg. The movers then transport the slugs to the tubular bag for the final flowpacking. According to Cavanna, the XTS system’s main advantage is that all the settings needed to changeover to a new product format are stored in the control software and can be executed automatically. In this way, the XTS can adapt to the product on the fly, which is a vast improvement over conventional solutions based on servomotors that require extensive mechanical conversions, the company says.

Cavanna uses the XTS is a system for transferring product stacks from one chain track to another with varying distances between the separators on each chain. The OEM says it also uses the XTS as a distribution system to split an incoming product stream into two streams at low cost and with exceptional flexibility.

From Cavanna’s perspective, XTS harbors potential for innovation due to its wide range of software functionalities with mostly automatic configuration and its modular, application-specific variations and track geometries, all of which make it easy to implement a wide range of applications for individual product transportation in combination with a continuous material flow. With its high energy efficiency and significantly reduced footprint, XTS delivers the best possible solution in terms of cost, compactness, and innovation for Cavanna’s packaging machines, according to the comapny. A system this compact and reliable with individually controllable movers opens the door to a new world of packaging applications that allow manufacturers like Cavanna to adapt its machines even more effectively to its customers’ needs.

According to Cavanna, high speed and precise synchronization are at the heart of all its XTS-based advancements. The company plans to extend the system into additional application areas with Beckhoff’s help.

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