‘Indiscriminate’ Case Packer Optimizes on Flexibility

At Aagard’s PACK EXPO booth there was plenty of talk about and video footage of the remarkably flexible 436 Case Packer, even though the machine itself did not make the trek to Las Vegas.

Flexibility plus a unique walk-through feature are among the key features of this new case packer from Aagard.
Flexibility plus a unique walk-through feature are among the key features of this new case packer from Aagard.

“It’s what we call an ‘indiscriminate’ case packer,” said Aagard  Applications Engineering Manager Jonas Capistrant. “Typically case packers are designed around the idea of all the cases being oriented one way. But this case packer doesn’t care, for example, about the orientation of the manufacturer’s joint on incoming case blanks. That makes it unique. Or picture some of our customers who have cases whose printing is oriented one way and other cases with printing oriented another way. They can’t run such cases on one case packer. With ours, they can.”

This machine, which handles 30 RSC or HSC cases/min, features a bulk magazine feed so that stacks of case blanks can be placed on a floor-level roller conveyor that feeds an elevator taking them to an upper level where they get picked and sent into the case-erecting station. This represents a considerable improvement over the more typical routine of having an operator lift a stack of cases and place them into a magazine feed. Looking to the future, Capistrant asked, “At what point might we remove the operator who is loading stacks of blanks and insert a robot to load them automatically?”

Additional development now underway, said Capistrant, will enable the machine to perform an inspection of each case and validate that the case blank is good so that substandard case blanks can be automatically kicked out. Photocells or other conventional scanning devices could perhaps be used for this inspection, though Capistrant says there have also been discussions with Cognex about deploying some 3D scanners. These would make it possible to not only inspect for proper orientation of the case but also for defects like torn flaps and so forth.

The 436 also has a unique walk-through feature that lets an operator or technician avoid having to walk all the way around the machine should an issue on the other side of the machine need to be addressed. “There’s no need for a walk-over, or a safety gate, or a liftable gate, or anything,” said Capistrant. “And you can walk right through while the machine is running.”

Other features on the new case packer are diagnostic lighting and automated changeover. “With the diagnostic lighting, the operator sees a blue light if the supply of corrugated cases is low,” said Capistrant. “Or if there is a fault, the light turns red. And if everything is running smoothly, the light is white. It saves the operator a lot of time looking at the HMI panel to understand what needs attention.” As for automated changeover, it’s assisted by the more than two dozen Rockwell  servo motors on the machine. “You push a button at the HMI and the machine changes over to the next recipe,” said Capistrant. “Case-loading funnels get wider or narrower, the compression assembly moves appropriately, and so on. Plus there are adjustable change parts, so there are no change parts dedicated to any particular size.”

Go here to see a video of the 436 in action.