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Omron engineering halves label company’s machine build times

07 March 2017

When leaflet-label converting equipment producer Fix-a-Form International wanted to combine its lamination, folding and fixing module with die-cutting, the solution from Omron Electronics not only efficiently coupled the machines with multiple servo drives, inverters, human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and its all-important safety system, but it also cut machine build times by 50 percent or more.

Multi page leaflet labels produced on the Fast Fix Machine

Fix-a-Form is a specialist UK-based machine builder, exporting its leaflet-label machines to customers in over 50 countries. The labels combine a folded leaflet with a printed self-adhesive label, providing an excellent vehicle for consumer-goods manufacturers wanting to communicate increasing amounts of on-pack information for regulatory or marketing reasons. The labels provide up to 100 pages of information, while occupying the space of a standard pressure-sensitive label. 

Efficiency and safety challenges

For safety reasons, Fix-a-Form had kept the final die-cutting stage of its converting operation separate from the initial five modules: unwinding, rewinding, lamination, folding and fixing. This limited productivity and increased installation times. 

The company wanted to combine all six modules in the same area, without compromising safety

The solution places couplers between modules five and six, guarded by an Omron safety curtain and emergency ‘stop’ and ‘reset’ buttons. Since the motion on the Fast Fix Machine is provided principally by 19 Omron G5 servo drives and two MX inverters, the safety system also benefits from the ‘Safe-Torque-Off’ feature offered with this hardware. 

Faster programming and processing

Bruce Calder, Lead Development Engineer at Fix-a-Form, noted the main benefit of using the Sysmac platform is the integration of software across vision, safety, motion and machine control. The integration allows for faster build times, reduced wiring, as well as improved performance. He estimates the time saved using Sysmac Studio is at least 50 percent in programming and setup, and of course much more in processing time. 

Omron cut build time by 50 percent on the Fast Fix Machine

Previously, Fix-a-Form used a combination of Devicenet and Mechatrolink, but says that Sysmac gives the business far more flexibility. 

Diagnostic design

Calder goes on to say that most of its control is motion-led, and Sysmac allows Fix-a-Form to control an abundance of drives. The excellent diagnostic functions within Sysmac Studio across all areas of the program are a key feature allowing massively reduced commissioning times.

When it comes to diagnostics and the restart procedure, all emergency stops, light-guards, interlocks and drives constantly feed back information for display on the NS HMI screen. The machine incorporates five HMIs. 

Pneumatics are controlled via a Festo system, linked into the Omron infrastructure through the EtherCAT network. 

Derek Brown, Engineering Manager at Fix-a-Form, adds the company have worked with Omron for 15 years, and Sysmac is an advancement to take the company and its machines into the future, helping to gain a competitive edge that can make the difference.

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