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The 5 automation trends in the packaging industry

Guest contributor: Hans Michael Krause, Bosch Rexroth

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i4.0 in practice: the 5 automation trends in the packaging industry

Next-generation packaging machines are being designed without control cabinets and are increasingly vertically and horizontally connected. Big data analyses, smart maintenance and model-based engineering have unleashed tremendous potential. But even conventional automation tasks can be handled more easily with open interfaces and integrated functions. What are the five major automation trends in detail?

What the packaging lines of tomorrow will be able to do

When I look at the highly dynamic packaging industry, I see four major challenges faced by machine builders: more individuality when it comes to packaging, more flexibility in terms of formats, higher availability and less space required for machines and lines. These challenges lead to five major trends in automation:

(1) Connected – the connectivity trend

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As a user, I need transparency, whether I want to improve system availability through smart maintenance, make my line more flexible, or optimize complex packaging processes. Without knowledge of subprocesses and plant conditions, I can’t analyze anything – neither on premise nor via the cloud. Modern automation technology and sensor systems now provide all the necessary data. I have to retrofit existing systems, but preferably without the need for programming or intervention in the automation. The IoT gateway fulfills this requirement extremely elegantly and can be set up in just five minutes. Machine builders can also opt for Starter Kit, which includes the Software Production Performance Manager (PPM), for a complete analysis platform from a single source.

The sweet side of Industry 4.0

There is also enormous potential in cross-vendor and system-wide networking via IIoT protocols such as MQTT or the open i4.0 standard OPC UA. At interpack, four machine builders and Bosch Rexroth will showcase the “ChoConnect” project as an exciting example of authentic M2M communication: Four locally distributed exhibition machines from LÖSCH Verpackungstechnik, SOLLICH, THEEGARTEN-PACTEC and WINKLER and DÜNNEBIER Süsswaren exchange information as a virtual production line for chocolate products using OPC UA in accordance with the Weihenstephan standard and create an end-to-end transparent value chain at the shopfloor level – without the need for an MES or control system. The individual steps of mass processing, molding, primary and secondary packaging automatically adjust performance according to individual capacities. The production process becomes more flexible; system efficiency increases.

Merging of automation, IT and IIoT

The fact that inflexible line PLCs will soon be obsolete is also a consequence of a merging of automation, IT and IIoT. With open interfaces such as Open Core Interface, ERP systems can be directly linked to machine automation, simplifying inventory management for machine components. Obviously, there must be also be a security strategy for regulating access to the control system.

(2) Simple – Make it simple!

The current trend towards fewer personnel per line has increased the need for intuitive control units such as HMI with multi-touch. Transparent and seamless visualization solutions are required – on the production line itself and at other locations in the company – in order to continuously improve processes and respond quickly when necessary. The ActiveCockpit interactive communication platform shows that such solutions are already available today.

Companies often need the ability to easily integrate new machines or lines into existing systems – this can already be done mechanically using standardized chain conveyor systems such as VarioFlow plus in combination with the MTpro planning tool. In the future, open M2M interfaces will allow for easy electrical integration.

With the growing need to simplify diagnostics and maintenance, we will see even more web-based service tools and innovative LED concepts at machines in the future. Augmented and virtual reality are sure to play a part here, too. It has been repeatedly demonstrated at trade shows how the digital twin integrates itself into the real picture using open interfaces so that complex technical relationships can be visualized and understood more quickly. A product orientation module for beverage packages by WestRock will be showcased at interpack.

(3) Efficient – end-to-end digital engineering

Ever more complex design needs and shorter time-to-market requirements are fueling the demand for model-based engineering with simulations and virtual commissioning. As a technology partner with industry expertise, Open Core Engineering not only ensures seamless integration of the machine control with simulation platforms such as MATLAB/Simulink or 3DEXPERIENCE by Dassault Systèmes. For immediate creation of a digital twin that can be simultaneously used by mechanics, electricians and software programmers, Bosch Rexroth delivers digital behavior models of its automation products as standard.

Bosch Rexroth also provides a comprehensive library of prepared technology functions along with the machine control. By emphasizing parameterizing instead of programming, flow wrappers, secondary packaging systems, fillers or sealing machines can be commissioned more quickly. Integrated standard kinematics and functions for delta, parallel and palletizing robots are also available. Object-oriented PLC programming and high-level languages, such as Java and C++, facilitate creation of the machine control software. The controllers feature a web server for easy integration of Internet technologies such as visualization using HTML5. Of course, standardized programming templates support the creation of machine programs following OMAC/PackML standards as well as the Weihenstephan standard and PLCopen.

(4) Adaptive – the adaptivity trend

What if the packaging line automatically adjusted the product stream in the event of a fault, instead of jamming and displaying a lot of error messages? Prefabricated software functions such as intelligent infeeds or product grouping are already available, even for these trend-setting M2M scenarios. For the use of robots and flexible transport system a separate controller is not needed anymore. These are managed by the standard machine controller, and the number of interfaces and the effort required to use transport systems or robotics are reduced.

In view of increasingly complex packaging processes, there is also a need for machines to automatically adjust to their environment. Machines require Smart Sensor Nodes with MEM technology like XDK in order to “learn” from their current state. Virtual sensors like servo motors and drives, including the intelligent MS2N servo motor, provide useful information.

Last but not least, next-generation packaging machines automatically adjust to the current format and regulate process speed as well as product handling. Adaptive software functions have also been developed for this scenario of the future. The spectrum ranges from flexible electronic cams in the machine control (FlexProfile), drive functions such as auto-tuning and anti-vibration to frequency response measurements and innovative filter functions for minimizing resonance frequencies in mechanical parts.

(5) Cabinet-free – much more than just space saving

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This trend in packaging is not just about saving space in the automation technology, machine footprint and control cabinet space. Instead, it’s about a modular machine configuration that allows machine operators and customers to respond flexibly to different requirements. The individual modules are connected to one another only by a single hybrid cable and can be easily integrated into the machine or retrofitted later. This reduces the installation area and increases servo density in favor of greater flexibility. Installation space, cabling and maintenance costs are also reduced. Such modular approaches are especially useful for secondary packaging and rotary machines such as filling and capping machines as well as retrofit projects.

Solutions for these packaging trends are already available. Use them now!

Manufacturers and users of packaging machines already have numerous options for boosting their competitiveness through intelligent and connected automation solutions. But to achieve this, they need an industry-oriented, expert partner with a broad ecosystem of solutions. At interpack 2017, Bosch Rexroth will give visitors the opportunity to experience the trade show theme of “Connected Automation i4.0 now live in all of its facets – including modern networking, simple design, model-based engineering and groundbreaking service. The future of automation has already begun and is ready for “installation” in the latest generation of packaging machines. Now!

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Solving Analog Integration Conundrum

Guest contributor: Shishir Rege, Balluff

These days, there are several options to solve the integration problems with analog sensors such as measurement or temperature sensors. This blog explains the several options for analog integration and the “expected” benefits.

Before we describe the options, let’s get a few things cleared up.  First, most controllers out there today do not understand analog at all: whenever a controller needs to record an analog value, an analog-to-digital converter is required.  On the other end of the equation is the actual sensor measuring the physical property, such as distance, temperature, pressure, inclination, etc.  This sensor, a transducer, converts the physical property into an analog signal.  These days with the advanced technologies and with the cost of microprocessors going down, it is hard to find a pure analog device.  This is because the piezo-electronics inside the sensor measures the true analog signal, but it is converted to a digital signal so that the microprocessor can synthesize it and convert it back to an analog signal.  You can read more about this in a previous blog of mine “How Do I Make My Analog Sensor Less Complex?

Now let’s review the options available:

  1. The classical approach: an analog to digital converter card is installed inside the control cabinet next to the controller or a PLC. This card offers 2, 4, or even 8 channels of conversion from analog to digital so that the controller can process this information. The analog data can be a current measurement such as 0-20mA or 4-20mA, voltage measurement such as 0-10V, +5- -5V etc., or a temperature measurement such as PT100, PT1000, Type J, Type K and so on.  Prior to networks or IO-Link, this was the only option available, so people did not realize the down-side of this implementation.  The three major downsides are as follows:
  • Long sensor cable runs are required from the sensor all the way to the cabinet, and this required careful termination to ensure proper grounding and shielding.
  • There are no diagnostics available with this approach: it is always a brute-force method to determine whether the cable or the actual transducer/sensor has the issue. This causes longer down-times to troubleshoot problems and leads to a higher cost to maintain the architecture.
  • Every time a sensor needs to be replaced, the right tools have to be found (programming tools or a teaching sequence manual) to calibrate the new sensor before replacement. Again, this just added to the cost of downtime.
  1. The network approach — As networks or fieldbuses gained popularity, the network-based analog modules emerged. The long cable runs became short double-ended pre-wired connectors, significantly reducing the wiring cost. But this solution added the cost of network node and an additional power drop.  This approach did not solve the diagnostic problems (b) or the replacement problem above (c ). The cost of the network analog module was comparable to the analog card, so there was effectively no savings for end users in that area.  As the number of power drops increase, in most cases, the power supply becomes bigger or more power supplies are required for the application.
  2. The IO-Link sensor approach is a great approach to completely eliminate the analog hassle altogether. As I mentioned earlier, since the sensor already has a microprocessor that converts the signal to digital form for synthesis and signal stabilization, why not use that same digital data over a smarter communication to completely get rid of analog? In a nutshell, the data coming out of the sensor is no longer an analog value; instead it is a digital value of the actual result. So, now the controller can directly get the data in engineering units such as psi, bar, Celsius, Fahrenheit, meters, millimeters, and so on. NO MORE SCALING of data in the controller is necessary, there are no more worries of resolution, and best of all enhanced diagnostics are available with the sensor now. So, the sensor can alert the controller through IO-Link event data if it requires maintenance or if it is going out of commission soon.  With this approach, the analog conversion card is replaced by the IO-Link gateway module which comes in 4-channels or 8 channels.

Just to recap about the IO-Link sensor:

  1. IO-Link eliminated the analog cable hassle
  2. IO-Link eliminated the resolution and scaling issue
  3. IO-Link added enhanced diagnostics so that the end users can perform predictive maintenance instead of preventative maintenance.
  4. The IO-Link gateway modules offers configuration and parameter server functionality that allows storing the sensor configuration data either at the IO-Link master port or in the controller so that when it is a time to replace the sensor, all that is required is finding the sensor with the same part number and plugging it in the same port — and the job is done! No more calibration required. Of course, don’t forget to turn on this functionality on the IO-Link master port.

Well, this raises two questions:

  1. Where do I find IO-Link capable sensors? The answer is simple: the IO-Link consortium (www.IO-Link.com) has over 120 member companies that develop IO-Link devices. It is very likely that you will find the sensor in the IO-Link version. Want to use your existing sensor?  Balluff offers some innovative solutions that will allow you bring your analog sensor over to IO-Link.
  2. What is a cost adder for this approach? Well, IO-Link does a lot more than just eliminate your analog hassle. To find out more please visit my earlier blog “Is IO-Link only for Simplifying Sensor Integration?

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps1.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.