2012

Optimized Machine Capability Through Mechatronics: Packaging for the Future

The incorporation of the virtual machine enabled the customer to mitigate risk, reduce time to market, and reduce cost and downtime. While proposed modifications to the machine were being designed, the customer maintained current production and simultaneously collected additional data to be used in the analysis. There was no waste in the form of building physical prototypes or trial and error approaches to enhancing machine capability.

A secondary advantage to this approach was increased collaboration among the mechanical engineer, controls engineer, process engineer, and plant engineer on the front end. Each discipline contributed to the inputs for the design update and optimization while maintaining focus on the core objectives of improving productivity, asset flexibility, and reliability.

Scope and Impact

Within the packaging industry as a whole, one can expect better machines that have increased flexibility and performance. Domestic end users are interested in assets that have an increased lifespan and the aforementioned qualities. Conversely, for exporters, they expect a low price point and low complexity. To achieve expectation on either end, a higher degree of mechatronics is necessary.

As in the case for this yogurt producer, the short-term goal was to achieve a modest improvement in the performance of the existing asset and achievement of core KPIs. Placing more yogurt in cups at a faster rate and at a lower cost was paramount, but the underlying achievement was giving life to the existing asset and paving the way for the design of next-generation machinery to push this even further in the future.

The identified impact through the mechatronics analysis was by incorporating enhancements to mechanical stiffness, electrical servo implementation, and use of the Simotion and Sinamics products was a productivity increase of double, a waste decrease of 20%, and increased uptime of nearly 15%. The forecasted savings was more than enough for this producer to move forward with the proposed machine improvements and begin discussions of the next-generation design with their OEMs.

As such, the next step is to incorporate these findings and push upstream to the OEMs supplying machinery. Leveraging the learning from the simulation of the existing assets provided key insight to the OEM design of the nextgeneration machine that was to incorporate 23 axes of servo control and a modular machine platform. The core and fundamental pieces will be maintained in the form of the motion controller and drive system. Additionally, the principles accounted for in the mechanical analysis of the machine proved beneficial in uncovering the opportunity for Siemens to again partner, but directly at the OEM level on the new design. The same advantages in terms of simulation and collaboration were experienced at the OEM and thus saved cost, reduced time to market, and fortified a partnership at all levels.

It should be clearly stated that the introduction of Industrial Ethernet connectivity as an information provider and cornerstone for modular machine design has enabled the select group of OEMs to provide scalable solutions to the target end user in this case, and also global end users of other variants of these machine types. Technology is an enabler for OEMs and end users alike, and the speed and options of Industrial Ethernet options Profinet and Ethernet IP are leading the way.

Simply put, the packaging community knows that the number-one priority is to do more with less. Both OEMs and end users are forced to take what they have and make it better while making it more economical in order to compete. Mechatronics is the best-kept secret in the packaging industry. It levels the playing field and enables domestic producers and machine builders to achieve core KPIs, reduce cost and time to market, and position themselves to compete globally. As the science of mechatronics provides no guarantee that doubling production capability is possible in every scenario, it is one tool that systematically allows all possibilities to be explored.

This article was written by David J. Kirklen, Motion Control, at Siemens Industry Inc. in Alpharetta, GA. For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/40430-321.