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Liquid filling machines increase productivity with motion control solution

01 December 2021

A liquid filling machine builder has increased machine speed by eight percent and boosted machine efficiency to 91 percent after upgrading from a PLC system to a motion control solution.

Liquid filling sachet and tube packaging solutions provider, Unette, has integrated Trio Motion Technology’s complete machine control package, including the controller, servo drives and motors, to improve its overall productivity. The upgrade has also increased reliability and reduced downtime, as well enabling a faster machine set-up.

The challenge

Unette builds and operates bespoke machinery for a form, fill and seal process that is unique within the packaging industry. Historically using cam-operated machines, the company began to combine motion control with servo and stepper motors, to improve speed and accuracy. With its two-axis filling and printing machine, tubes are formed individually before being cyclically filled with product. They are then die-cut shaped, multi-coded and any appendages are attached. 

The cam indexer moves the rotating carousel that holds the tubes until the plate is in the correct position. At that stage, one servo axis controls the motion of the filling heads that dispense the media, the other controls the movement of the film for applying brand and product information on the tubes. These two actions must be synchronised to the main cam and coordinated at precisely the right time to ensure accuracy. This process also has to be implemented at high speed to meet demanding productivity rates. 

Previously, Unette used a PLC with a servo package from multiple vendors to achieve motion control. However, to improve productivity, the accuracy of the fill and print registration needed to be increased, as well as the speed of control. Accumulated errors also decreased reliability and using different vendors for the various components within the system resulted in a lack of compatibility. 

“Allowing the PLC to coordinate the motion created problems in accuracy and reliability. We wanted a stable approach with more productivity,” says Martyn Hudson, Founder and Chief Engineer, Unette. 

Read the full article in DPA's December issue

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