How to design an integrated packaging line?

How to design an integrated packaging line?

Consumer demands and technologies are changing rapidly and are directly affecting business numbers in the consumer packaged goods market. With a constantly shifting environment, packaging needs to maintain a balance in functionality and design – within the constraints of technical and economic feasibility.

Since emotions play a larger role in a product’s success in the consumer product industry, success depends on the taste as well as the appearance of the product. Consumers are looking for products that look and taste good, and yet their buying decision is also influenced by how safe, and environmentally friendly the packaging is. Innovative packaging design is becoming one of the most critical challenges faced by food and beverage producers.

With the increasing need to produce a variety of products and formats on the same line, the need is for extremely flexible and fully automated packaging machines and plants. To achieve harmony between these competing factors, packaging plants require fully automated state-of-the-art motion control, robotics, safety, image processing, and IT connectivity. Integrated packaging machines and lines improve accuracy and speed, reduce waste, energy, time, and eliminate bottlenecks.

Single source solution

Motion and robotics play an essential role in primary, secondary, and end-of-line packaging lines. The applications for motion and robotics in primary packaging vary from blister packaging, liquid filling, and horizontal form fill seal, vertical form, fill and seal, closure or capping, and inspection systems. Similarly, secondary packaging systems and end of line packaging are highly dependent on high-speed motion and robotics such as labeling, cartoning, case packers, shrink wraps, and palletizers. With a comprehensive portfolio of industrial motors – from brushless, ultratech stepper refurbished parts and induction motors to direct drives, B&R offers flexible cost-optimized solutions.

In addition to hardware, B&R Automation Studio offers machine builders a single software tool to program, diagnose, and commission systems. The Automation Studio integrated software development environment contains tools for all phases of a project. The controller, drive, communication, and visualization can all be configured in one environment, reducing both integration time and maintenance costs.

Configure more with a few clicks and program less

Moreover, with mapp Technology, B&R is revolutionizing the creation of software for industrial machinery and equipment. Rather than writing lines and lines of code to build a user management system, alarm system, or motion control sequence from the ground up, developers of machine software configure the ready-made mapp blocks with a few clicks. Complex algorithms become easy to manage, and programmers can focus entirely on the machine process. Developers can configure more and program less, reducing development time by as much as 67%.

mapp Motion offers uniform access to all areas of motion control technology. The complete package comprises components for easy creation of single-axis (mapp Axis), CNC (mapp CNC), and robotics (mapp Robotics) applications. mapp Motion components can be combined with any of the other easy to configure mapp components. All B&R servo drives can be used with mapp Motion. Basic functions are already implemented in the components and only need to be configured for the application. The programming interfaces are implemented for integration independent of hardware and technology. Recurring positioning sequences or different machine variants can use the same application program, regardless of the hardware used.

B&R’s motion control technology melds seamlessly into its overall automation system – along with machine control, HMI, and safety technology – to create a complete system solution for machines and equipment. With the real-time Ethernet POWERLINK protocol and B&R’s comprehensive range of motion control solutions, production lines can drastically improve, boosting both quality and productivity.

The Indian market gradually understands the importance of safety in systems. While its current safety practice is only in terms of hardwiring, the rest of the world has moved to integrated safety. Integrated safety supersedes the current safety system with benefits such as reduced wiring, decreased response time, elimination of setup errors, and intelligent safety features. B&R products comply with openSAFETY, which is an open-source and field-bus independent SIL 3 safety protocol.

A versatile industrial transport system

The activities in pharma packaging range from high-speed filling, blistering to the packaging of product while maintaining a hygienic environment, and complying with USFDA regulations. The industrial transport system must allow quick, efficient, and precise product transport, enabling adaptive manufacturing.

These systems are revolutionizing pharma packaging, offering an unprecedented level of robustness. As per the guidelines, most packaging designs must be engineered to meet the rigid requirements of good manufacturing practices (cGMP) standards and certified materials of construction.

Keeping this in mind, industrial transport technologies such as ACOPOStrak are constructed with IP65 dust and water protection and smooth surfaces that are easy to clean. Their industrial-grade design certified for use in clean rooms ensures high quality, availability, and reliable 24/7 operation. The overall reduced footprint of the line improves its processing precision.

For example, in the pharma, food and beverage industries where liquids need to be filled in bottles, all the required individual processes can be perfectly coordinated with one another by using an industrial transport system. In addition, these systems enable production runs with a batch size of one, together with an anti-sloshing algorithm. Various liquids and multiple sizes can be filled on the same line with minimum changeover time.

There are even possibilities for products to be transported flexibly and independently and then grouped at a station to be processed as a batch. Also, the operator can turn off the faulty filling valves freely from the GUI, reducing wastage and rejections in inspections. If required, robots can also be synchronized in real-time with the transport system providing a human interference-free operation. Overall, the production process can be accelerated by up to 50% for a significant boost in productivity.

Quality assurance with an integrated vision system

Conventionally quality inspection, determination of package integrity, batch numbers, expiry dates, and other aspects relied on human inspection or high investments in separate inspection solutions. Manual inspection has limitations, and to improve quality and deliver safe and secure products, the use of image processing systems in pharmaceutical, packaging, and F&B production lines is increasing.

Vision systems ensure high manufacturing quality for meeting compliance norms. Today, machine vision systems are used in nearly every stage of the pharmaceutical, consumer goods, and F&B manufacturing processes. Machine vision systems are automated inspection systems based on image technology, such as sensors, cameras, or scanners. Whether testing the color of pills, the filling level of syrup, the identification of missing components in packaging or blisters, identification of codes on boxes, or labeling, manufacturers are using machine vision to improve line productivity and quality and thus reduce wastage and risk.

Vision and allied systems ensure efficient track and trace where individual blisters can be tracked to the package, carton, and exact batch based on a barcode or serial number. B&R offers an intelligent and flexible vision portfolio consisting of cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and software. Seamless integration in the B&R control system enables synchronous data exchange throughout the entire system. The image processing functions are easy to configure, and applications can be created without much programming effort.

Software and simulation are vital differentiators

The software has become the differentiator for automation solutions. In the highly competitive packaging industry, shorter time to market is of prime importance to machine builders. B&Rs Automation Studio, is a single tool for software development for all hardware, helps machine builders to reduce the time to market. It helps machine builders to deliver an unprecedented array of cutting-edge features to support every stage and aspect of product development, simulation, diagnostics, and maintenance. The software integration tool keeps quality up, and engineering costs down with shorter time to market even in the face of ever-increasing product complexity.

The simulation environment supported by Automation Studio enables machine builders to develop machines even without the availability of hardware. Automation Studio can simulate everything right down to motion components. Its integration with Maple sim and Mathworks enables machine builders also to simulate mechanics. This has helped them to reduce costs and time due to rework and design errors. With POWERLINK, openSAFETY, and OPC UA, B&R offers its customers the perfect tools to meet the high demands of Industry 4.0.

Integrating packaging lines

Thus, machine builders can leverage various technologies and solutions from B&R to build next-generation packaging, pharmaceutical, and F&B machines. Together with controls, HMI, motion, ACOPOStrak, SuperTrak, safety, vision, Machine-Centric Robotics, and IIoT technology under one roof, machine builders gain a technology edge over their competition with the best machine as well as factory automation solutions for packaging machines, lines, and plants.



The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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