“The trend in the packaging industry is moving towards technologically sophisticated machines that are highly automated. This is one way of meeting the individual requirements set by manufacturers, who are keen to package their goods in as flexible and customised a manner as possible, affirms Ferro Koornberg, an engineer at Hellebrekers. “Being a long-standing partner of Stand-By Longpack, we support its solution development process from a software standpoint.”
Using fanfold corrugated board, Stand-By Longpack’s sophisticated machine system makes packaging that products of varying sizes can fit into perfectly. One typical example is venetian blinds, which not only come in standard sizes, but are also made to measure in any desired width and length too. Each and every cardboard box has to be separately adjusted for this purpose. Then, an adjustable punching mechanism shapes the front of the respective packaging such that it can be sealed with or without adhesive. Lastly, an automated folding table packs the product in the custom-made box. This means it is no longer necessary to stock a wide variety of blanks and sizes.
It was time for a complete redesign
The original control platform was gradually extended as the requirements increased. At some point it became clear that it was time for a complete redesign. While all of the existing properties and functions were to be retained, the goal was to have a more compact, more efficient and more user-friendly set-up which even enables non-technicians to reliably operate the machine. Hellebrekers successfully faced up to this challenge – with some support from Weidmüller.
“To control the contactors, valves, motors and serial devices such as the label printer in a fully automatic way, three u-remote stations handle the transfer of 154 different signals to the S7 CPU 1515 control,” explains Marcel Tuit, who managed the project on the Weidmüller side. “A rotary encoder’s analogue output signals specify the corrugated board’s exact length blank. The particularly precise and exactly timed signal input and output via u-remote means that a reliably high level of quality is achieved.”
Everything under control
To ensure a compact and flexible set-up, Hellebrekers opted to use u-remote modules with HD plugs. Measuring 8 mm wide, they accommodate up to 32 connections on a module width of 11.5 mm. In addition, the plug-and-play technology makes for fast and – at the same time – error-free set-up and conversion work. This is a decisive benefit for Stand-By Longpack, since the packaging machines are first of all assembled, tested and then dismantled again prior to delivery. This process is also supported by the integrated u-remote web server, which enables parameterisation even before a connection has been established with the control.
To meet all the requirements globally, one key aspect for the Dutch machinery manufacturer was also increasing the level of safety for both people and the system. With this in mind, Hellebrekers positioned safe power-feed modules from the u-remote system directly upstream of the standard output modules in question. This meant that it was very easy to set up a safety solution that enables the exchange of status messages and safe actuator switch-off in emergency situations – without the need to use any safety PLCs or additional safety relays.
Packaged and ready for dispatch – the fully automatic way
During the next stage of development, the process of weighing the fully packaged products prior to their release into the logistics cycle is also to be automated. The weighing modules’ data is transferred via a serial interface for this purpose. The u-remote system supports this extension by means of communication modules that integrate serially communicating devices into the existing automation architecture with extreme ease. The barcode scanner and the printer can also be incorporated in this way, so labels with weight and size information for dispatch can be produced automatically too.
“Our decision to use u-remote was an easy one,” reports Mr Koornberg. “The remote I/O solution from Weidmüller offers all the positive properties currently available on the market combined in a single system. The benefits were clear to see right off the bat and have proven invaluable to us.”