Wednesday 15 July 2015

Drives help stretch handling & palletising machines to the limit!

Render Technology, a specialist in the manufacture of end-of-line handling and palletising machines for the packaging market, has switched its drives partner to Emerson.The business has seen productivity of its machines increase by 20% as a result of using Emerson´s Control Techniques Unidrive M variable speed drives.

Before the implementation of Unidrive M, Render´s machines were able to deliver 25 or 26 cycles per minute. Since adopting Unidrive M, the business has seen returns of 30 cycles per minute, thus delivering a significant uplift in performance.

Render Technology, based in Cittadella (Vicenza I) was formed in 2003 to design and manufacture palletising and de-palletising equipment for use by packaging industry customers. Not only does the company design and manufacture equipment, it also offers a palletising service utilising its own machines. In this instance they receive finished products, typically bags or boxes containing anything from compost to wine, and the machine manoeuvres the products on to wooden pallets (palletising). Once each pallet is complete, the customer ships it to the final destination.

The machines designed and manufactured by Render Technology are notable for their small footprint and low levels of power consumption; The Render Machine has been designed to operate with around 18/20kW of power consumption. Competitor machines have a power consumption range of 40/ 45kW per machine.  Therefore Render can deploy one machine instead of two with the same power consumption, thus doubling throughput.

In essence the cycle speed refers to how many pieces per minute the machine can transfer to the pallet; the higher the figure, the more productive the machine is. This increase in productivity means that the palletiser is more valuable to the end customer, meaning Render is able to command a higher price for its products.

The primary objective for Render Technology when designing a new machine is to increase throughput. Render had previously been using equipment from a direct competitor of Emerson to deliver the 26 cycles per minute.  Whilst this was adequate at the time the team sought a drive that could increase this rate significantly. The key here was the precise control that Unidrive M offers; this enabled Render Technology to engineer a machine that now delivers 30 cycles per minute thus offering its customers significant advantages in terms of performance and throughput.

Following consultation with Emerson, the company opted for its Control Techniques Unidrive M701, Unidrive M700 and Unidrive M300 variable speed drives for axis and conveyor motion control. The drives are controlled via Profibus DP using SI-Profibus options.

Specifically, the M701 drives are deployed for axis position control, with the M700 drives used to control the position and orientation of a smart belt. Movement is undertaken using an electronic cam.

The Unidrive M family of drives offers class-leading induction and permanent magnet servo motor performance, with real-time Ethernet. Each drive delivers maximum machine throughput through advanced control algorithms with single and multi-axis network synchronisation. On-board real-time Ethernet (IEEE 1588 V2), advanced motion control and high speed I/O for position capture has made it easier than ever for machine builders to create more sophisticated and flexible machines.

Render Technology said that it was particularly impressed by the fast control loops on the servo axis as well as the compatibility of Unidrive M, which ensures its programming is standardised and applicable to every model of PLC.

Mauro Rebellato, from Render Technology, said: "We opted for Emerson because of the wide range of available solutions along with specific performance advantages relating to motor control, precision, motor stop and motor inversion.

"In the field of handling and palletising it is imperative that throughput is maximised to ensure productivity. Our design team is always looking to push the boundaries in terms of machine performance.  The team thought that they had reached the limits with 26 cycles per minute, however when we engaged with Emerson we soon found that through the utilisation of Unidrive M we could increase this to 30, thus creating the much desired throughput increases.

"Not only does this give greater customer satisfaction, it has allowed us to increase the sales price of our machine and had a direct impact on our bottom line."

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