You only have to walk down a supermarket isle to appreciate the diversity in the packaged goods we purchase. What was once a choice of glass jars or cans for many products now includes re-sealable bags, individual packaged servings, packaging made with recyclable feedstock, etc.
Consumers, with their busy on-the-go lives, are creating this demand for convenience. Manufacturers providing these packaged products are challenged to respond to these market demands and handle more product SKUs. Their production lines are incurring greater losses during production runs and product failures on the shelf are more amplified.
Regulations for machine and product safety are also increasing, which raises the difficulty in meeting these regulations without impacting overall productivity.I caught up with Emerson’s Derek Thomas about these packaging challenges. Derek has experience in the consumer products industry facing these challenges and as a supplier to the industry.
Derek noted that this growth in package diversity has increased the complexity of packaging lines causing stress on production levels, quality and safety. They are seeking ways to accommodate this increasing variety of products while limiting their losses and improving safe operations.
He explained that automation technology plays a role in increasing line flexibility. By taking a scalable, modular approach to equipment design, changes can be more easily made without impacting throughput or quality.
For example, a Micro Motion Filling Mass Transmitter (FMT) can be applied on a packing line to fill a wide range of container sizes in high-speed, precision measurement filling and dosing applications.
Derek shared another example in bottling and packaging applications. ASCO 501 Valve Manifold with G3 Fieldbus Electronics provides enhanced control of pneumatic devices and connection of sensors in modular package for easy configuration, placement and expansion. These devices work well in both centralized and distributed control applications providing flexibility to machine designers.
Distributing power for the automation components can also be a challenge where the packaging equipment is constrained by physical and space limitations. Power is typically routed from enclosures to devices via cabling, which introduces reliability and maintenance issues and limits flexibility to accommodate changes. SolaHD IP67-SCP-X power supplies can be mounted directly on the machine to remove constraints, complexity, enclosures and additional wiring. Flexibility is available to satisfy current and future power requirements to accommodate change.
If you’ll be in Las Vegas next week for the PACK EXPO conference, connect with Derek and the Emerson team in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall, Exhibit #5222. You’re invited to be Emerson’s guest at PACK EXPO 2017 and receive a complimentary exhibit hall registration.