Business value from trends in packaging automation


First impression is the last impression! Considering this fact, manufacturers create attractive product packaging to attract customers and build their brand in the market. Every day we come across many packed products, right from edibles to electronics. Packaging plays a vital role in terms of protection, storage and hygienic handling of a product. Conventional packaging or manual packaging is time-consuming, costly, unhygienic and prone to human errors. Human errors are frequently cited as a primary cause of quality issues in pharmaceutical and packaging industry, leading to batch recalls. Over the past few years, with automation, packaging has improved not only in terms of product protection but also production accuracy, material consumption, ease of operation, flexibility, etc. Automated packaging machine solutions also helps manufacturers to achieve the highest hygiene standards, prevention of bacterial contamination, and enables to meet ever increasing regulatory requirements in Pharmaceutical and FMCG sector. Growing urbanization in India is fueling the growth of the packaging industry and adopting advanced packaging solutions and technologies is the only way to keep pace with global competition and provide sophisticated products.

Leveraging adaptive manufacturing
Customers’ demand for unique products over standard off-the-shelf products is increasing. Consumers have specific requirements in terms of aesthetics, specifications and functionalities. It is essential, therefore, to cater to customer demands but at the same time, it is important to bear the costs in mind. Mass production for achieving economies of scale and maintaining its stock is not possible for any industry. ‘Batch of one’ manufacturing is the only solution to overcome the situation in the market. Next generation industrial transport technology delivers key advantages for factories looking at embracing advanced manufacturing concepts. B&R’s versatile industrial transport systems is a revolution in adaptive manufacturing that extends the economy of mass production down to batches of one. Based on long-stator linear motors, SuperTrak and ACOPOStrak make production lines more flexible, reliable and faster. Their unique design enables machine builders to provide higher availability, flexibility, and a higher RoI.

BR 2B&R’s X20 module for condition monitoring is a snap to integrate into an overall automation solution – no expertise in vibration mechanics required!

Considering an example of a beverage making plant, transport technology helps in perfect filling and packaging of small beverage batches that can be individualized in either contents, labelling or packaging. This makes manufacturing easy for different variants of beverages or different volumes on the same manufacturing line reducing the capital cost for factories and adding immense flexibility. This technology makes it possible to fill, label and pack any flavored or colored beverages on a single line. The individual shuttles can be configured independently making it possible for activating the filling and capping mechanisms only when a shuttle carrying a bottle is present under it. There is a possibility to use track diverters, allowing operator to group products into custom sets – such as a six-pack of different beverages – in real time and with no changeover. It could also be used for segregating good and bad products. Overall, the production process can be accelerated by up to 50% for a significant boost in productivity.

This new technology from B&R features independent shuttles moved by permanent magnets along a long-stator linear motor track. The shuttles carrying the product can be configured individually for position, speed and acceleration. It is also possible to group batches and ungroup them on the fly. The dramatic increase in processing speed makes the line more productive. It is a generational leap in intelligent, flexible transport systems, with its unique design delivering decisive technological advantages for adaptive and connected manufacturing. It helps machine builders produce small batches efficiently and benefit from higher margins of personalized products. This industrial transport system boosts the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), multiplies the return on investment (RoI) and accelerates time to market (TTM).

Achieve higher quality with low maintenance costs
Unplanned downtimes are a major threat to any manufacturing plant. It includes line stoppages with wastage of time, raw material, products and ultimately hamper products quality. To avoid such unplanned downtimes B&R provides condition monitoring solution, which helps manufacturing units with predictive maintenance. Condition monitoring increases availability of machines and plants and reduces maintenance costs. Thus, parts in machines can be used to the maximum duration and then replaced when actually required. This condition-based information helps maintenance teams schedule their maintenance schedules without hampering production. Similarly, the energy monitoring solution can be used to acquire all relevant energy data and generate comprehensive reports for its evaluation and interpretation enabling reduction in energy consumption. Condition and energy monitoring can be integrated in any machine on the shop floor in any B&R controller or in B&R APROL the factory automation solution.

Today, to fulfill the growing packaging demands, factories are operating 24/7. Factory operators also focus on monitoring the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), as increased OEE results in increased profitability. To have seamless connectivity to the shop floor, the biggest hurdle is the IT department from the factories. The IT teams focus on security, confidentiality and integrity whereas the production teams focus on productivity and availability of machines. For any machine builder to stay connected with their machines, accessibility of machines via the office network is crucial. It is essential to balance these needs of IT and production. With Secure Remote Maintenance (SRM) B&R offers seamless secure connectivity right down to sensors and controller variables. Machine builders can access their machines without interfering with the IT network of the factory. The IT configures and provides access rights and only authorized personnel can access the network. This offers a perfect mix of security and data integrity.

BR 3The X20AP energy measurement module from B&R contributes to better energy efficiency and easier condition monitoring

Integrate safety with ease
With these connected machines and factories, manufacturers can quickly respond to the needs of their customers and partners. However, connected factories requires safe data exchange within a machine and between machines in a line. B&R has expanded the possibilities for openSAFETY to transfer data via various transport media used in industrial automation. openSAFETY, the only open-source TÜV certified SIL 3 safety protocol in the industrial automation market, capable of transferring safe data via any fieldbus system. This technology makes it easier to implement safety solutions in compliance with current 2006/42/EC machine guidelines as well as other applicable standards. With openSAFETY, B&R provides complete transparency of all safe and standard I/O channels in one system and the same network.

B&R pushing packaging to new level
Even with high level of dynamics and new technology introductions, packaging industry is steady and driven by innovation. Digitization is a key to greater productivity, enhancing efficiency, accuracy and quality. These new technologies are game changers and lead to higher profitability. B&R’s dedicated, advanced and impressive packaging solutions cover the full breadth and depth of industry requirements. B&R is blazing a trail of innovation in the pursuit of such advanced solutions that perfectly solve customers’ requirements – setting new standards in productivity, energy efficiency, flexibility and maintenance.

(The author handles Corporate communication for B&R Industrial Automation)


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