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At PACK EXPO, modular packaging machinery becomes reality

Modularity has emerged as the ‘next wave' in packaging machine design. PACK EXPO 2006 ushered in the technologies and the resulting functionalities -- with fanfare.

ELAU utilized video of customers' applications to emphasize the benefits of real modularity in machines launched at PACK EXPO.
ELAU utilized video of customers' applications to emphasize the benefits of real modularity in machines launched at PACK EXPO.
It was hard to miss the video wall in McCormick Place's North Hall during PACK EXPO. And the message was clear: real modularity has arrived!

Amid images of modular packaging machinery, modular automation software, a new breed of intelligent servo modules and dozens of world-class builders of modular machines, there appeared on ELAU's video wall the perspectives of three of the industry visionaries whose companies launched new machines at PACK EXPO.

Douglas Machine's Invex™ brings high functionality to low volume caste/tray packing

Joe Faust, Electrical Engineering Manager for Douglas Machine, explained the modular nature of their new low cost, high functionality Invex™ case/tray packer: “The modularity on this machine gives us an advantage in the marketplace.

“The Douglas vision of modularity is two-fold,” Faust said. “First it's a mechanical module—an infeed, a main and a lane divider that make up the machine. And the next level, it's software.

“Compared to other automation suppliers, ELAU offers us a more modular solution. Douglas chose ELAU because we could bring all of the features that are available on our Axiom® machines....The increased diagnostics, the reduced changeover time, the smooth electronic motions -- into the Invex™.

“Working with ELAU on the Invex™ machine has just been a breeze. They were involved from early on in the concepting stage, through the design engineering stage, all the way through to testing and debugging here at Douglas for two weeks; and, for a new machine to come up— ground zero, new program, new concept— and start and run in two weeks is a real feat.”

Pneumatic Scale's SC Servo Capper uses modularity to solve needs of regulated industries

Mike Mihalik, Vice President of Engineering for Pneumatic Scale Corporation, A Barry Wehmiller Company, leveraged the PacDrive™ automation system's software modularity to help their SC Servo Capper meet pharmaceutical industry requirements.

“Both the software from ELAU and the software from PSC are easily configurable,” according to Mihalik. “We like to use modular software, so that once software is validated and proven, it can be reused again and again simply by changing the machine configuration.”

PacDrive SCL servo modules allow Mihalik and his engineering team to fulfill a longtime vision. “We always wanted to give customers the ability to have much more control over the capping process. With the servo capper we give them incredible flexibility and control via recipe from the touchscreen, and in conjunction with that collect real time data from every bottle that's capped.

“Now we can control the speed, control the number of turns, and optimize the conditions for a given cap and container combination. You can be 100% sure that what goes down the good lane of the conveyor is 100% good product for that customer, 100% inspected. That's never been done before in capping.”

And, Mihalik has good things to say about ELAU as a solution partner. “Superior support is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of ELAU as a supplier. They have really, really impressed myself and everyone in my organization. They really have the best combination of technology, software and without a doubt support in the industry.”

His conclusion? “I would expect in the next several years for servo capping technology to be the mainstay of our capping business.”

Associated Packaging Equipment's roll-fed servo Polystar® labeler ‘a giant step forward'

Martin Malthouse, founder and President of Associated Packaging Equipment Corporation, described the servo version of its Polystar® roll-fed labeling system his firm developed with ELAU's PacDrive™ automation system. It is an in-line system that uses servo-driven star wheels to achieve exceptional flexibility and speed.

“The star wheel system enables us to get more containers through per minute, per revolution of the head of the machine. We are the only company that has a machine labeling cylinder from 15 inches in diameter up to a meter. Now this gives us an ability to offer you six various kinds of machinery using the same principals.”

Malthouse continued, “Driving these star wheels by servo control enables us to home them to exactly the label size and the particular container that you are going to run. That's a giant step forward. It also enables…our large labeling system…(to) run 600 cans a minute, controlled by ELAU controls.

“The advantage that ELAU offers us in applying servo control to the web register is that we use a stationary knife. The ELAU program enables us to draw the web back from the knife cutting station and, and also push it forward to make up for that difference when you start up from a new run of production.

It enables us to put more labels on the cylinder head because it's a closer pitch. We've got better control over the container whether the containers have a variance in diameter. It also gives us a vertical stability for unstable containers.

“If you are a beverage company and you want to change from one size to another, and they do that often, then a half hour, one hour -- it's time lost and you can never get it back. Homing the stars gives you an ability to do it simply. Push the button, the stars go where they are supposed to be and you are ready to start production. ELAU enables us to home the stars for every star we need. Each one is driven individually by a servo drive.

“Many companies that we spoke to relative to this next step for our company, really said, yes, we can do it, but they walked away from the final issue,” said Malthouse. “ELAU decided to work with us jointly to develop this machine and they have done an excellent job.” And as for modular software, “Their (function) block system seemed to be the right approach for tackling these problems and their software engineers were very diligent and worked with us extensively to solve the problem and they have solved it successfully.“

For more information on Associated Packaging, visit

For more information on Pneumatic Scale, visit

For more information on Douglas Machine, visit

For more information on ELAU, visit

Videos from Douglas Machine Inc.
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The largest PACK EXPO East in history is March 18-20 in Philadelphia! In one convenient location, you’ll discover new technology from top suppliers, get quality problem-solving time with experts and learn the latest trends in free educational sessions.
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