In our previous blog post,we wrote about the main principles and advantages of modular design in the packaging industry. In this post, we will go through the most common modular add-ons that can make your packaging process much faster, efficient and cost-effective. So, without further ado, we present to you our top 9 modular enhancements for your packaging line.
Automatic Bottle Loader
An Auto Bottle Loading system is an add-on used for loading bottles from a conveyor into the cartons. Bottles are received on a conveyor, the presence of a bottle is detected and will call for a carton to be erected (no bottle no wasted cartons) the bottles are then positively loaded into the carton. This kind of add-on saves money and time. Automatic bottle loading requires less manpower and it makes the packaging process more efficient. The conveying component is made of stainless steel in order to assure normal running of the device under different conditions.
Automatic Leaflet feeder
Many products come with an important leaflet that describes the product and its proper use. These leaflets can be manually placed in the cartons before sealing, but there is a faster, more efficient, automated alternative. Using simple push-button operation the automatic leaflet feeder can automatically collate and insert literature at very high speeds. The automatic feeder allows you to free up staff from manual leaflet insertion tasks and let them focus on other things.
Ink Jet or Laser printer
An InkJet Coder is a modular add-on for a packaging machine used to mark the package with very important, trackable information. The package, as it passes, activates a sensor at a fixed point in the packaging line, which activates a jet that shoots ink in a pre-determined pattern. The sensor and the position of printing head ensure the code is placed on the correct part of the package. Laser Coding is an enhancement for a packaging machine which marks packages with a help of a laser beam programmed to produce a code or date onto the package. It is used where ink coding is unsuitable, but also for the products that are being packed in high volumes, because laser coding is more cost-effective than the purchase of large quantities of ink. There are no liquids involved in the process so laser systems are also considered environmentally friendly.
Glue or tuck closing
Tuck closing add-on is a closing system which closes a package, usually a carton, using pre-cut tabs and slots.
Glue sealing add-on is a sealing system which uses adhesive to seal cartons or corrugated cases and provides tamper-evident security for these packages.
Automatic product feeding system
Production lines that work with a continuous high volume of products require feeding systems that can accept products from the manufacturing process and deliver them to the packaging machines without manual labor for more efficient and economic packaging process.
Robotic product loading
Constantly evolving markets require frequent format changes, shapes, and dimensions of products. With changes in the product, a packaging format also needs to adapt to the consumer needs and preferences. It is necessary to have not only packaging machines with high flexibility on format changes but also product feeding systems for different types of packaging machines: cartoners, case packers, tray packers, palletizers, etc… Robotic feeding systems are highly efficient and flexible, enabling quick adaptations and changes with the minimum possible cost, supporting the initial investment.
Net weigh scale interface
A net weigh scale is crucial for accurate and reliable dosing, yet it is often overlooked in a packaging facility. If packaging accuracy is low, it means packages are going to be overfilled, which will result in an excessive product give-away. Technology evolved from early electro-mechanical scale designs to a new generation of net weigh scales. Significant innovations in physical design, simple HMI software, and repeatable accuracy allow you to maximize packaging performance and profitability.
Volumetric cup fillers measure out a product, usually free-flowing solids or powder, in a cup of specific, predetermined volume. This add-on is ideal for products like rice, candies or frozen peas, which do not generate dust. This type of filler is suitable for precise filling of products at both low and high speeds.
An Auger Filler is a filling mechanism for powder or free-flowing solids, which measures out a product with a help of an auger which is rotated for a predefined number of revolutions in a conical hopper to discharge the required volume of product. The main advantage of this system is the ability to control dust during the filling operation, so it is used extensively for powders and dusty free-flowing solids. Auger fillers are frequently used in conjunction with a weighing instrument in order to compensate for changes in the bulk density of the product. The fillers of this type are suitable for filling products at both low and medium speeds.
Now that you grasped the full potential and wide range of possibilities that come with a modular approach to packaging equipment, it is up to you to find the most reliable packaging machine manufacturer to develop a solution for you. Every packaging line, machine or system can be enhanced with these modular add-ons in order to meet your specific requirements. Don’t leave our website before you checked out Tishma Technologies’ cartoners, case and tray packers, and palletizers – each of them available with their unique set of modular add-ons.
Modular is the new black, at least it seems to be the case when it comes to the manufacturing of packaging equipment. The idea behind the modular approach is that packaging equipment components should have a configuration like Lego so that various components and add-ons can be arranged to fit the application. From an engineering point of view, this is easier said than done, but the benefits are worth the effort. If you consider implementing new packaging equipment, our advice is: Think modular and find the manufacturer that can develop a solution that will put to use all of the following advantages of modular design.
Saving floor space
We all heard that “time is money,” but in today’s industrial facilities, “space is money” and a modular design of packaging equipment can make the most of the space that’s available. Packaging equipment usually comes at the end of the manufacturing process. After acquiring all the equipment necessary for production, the remaining floor space is used for packaging equipment. Modular packaging solutions can fit in tight or unusual spaces because modules can be arranged in a way that is more economical in terms of floor space. Solutions that once would have been an in-line machine could now be redesigned in various shaped layouts to fit the specific requirements.
The second benefit of a modular design is the easier merging of operations. Two separated equipment operations can now be integrated as one, and not only that: modular packaging equipment allows you to include or exclude machine operations, depending on a current application. For example, you can integrate a robotic palletizer under the same controls as other operations (case erecting/loading), and use it when you need it. The modularity of the design makes accommodating to specific needs much easier.
3. Development time
Everyone’s favorite question in the business world is “When will this be done?” Well, with modular design, the development time is often lower because once the design is split up into modules, design teams can work in parallel on the different modules.
If you need a packaging machine that will be built from scratch, then you pay development costs as well as production costs. With a modular design, most of the modules have already been developed and they only need some minor adjustments, so the client covers only those production expenses.
One of the less obvious advantages of modular design is tailored standardization. Tailored solutions are not to be mistaken with custom solutions. Custom equipment usually means building the piece of equipment from scratch. Tailored standardization enables manufacturers to “build” the right solution with standardized parts of various sizes. This way, tailored standardization offers the benefits of economies of scale while offering a right-sized solution built according to specific requirements. Of course, this is an advantage as long as the modules are being efficiently manufactured and offered at a competitive price.
To make full use of all of these advantages, do your research and find the most reliable packaging machine manufacturer. You can start here, by checking out Tishma Technologies’ horizontal and vertical cartoners available with various modular add-ons (volumetric cup fillers, auger fillers, count weigh scale interface, robotic infeeds, leaflet feeders, laser or inkjet printers, labelers, tamper evidence, embossers, powered carton magazines, rotary carton erectors, and many others).
Sometimes it looks like managers and engineers speak a completely different language. Industrial machines are a complex subject and it is completely normal to feel lost if this topic is new to you. The communication between engineers and their clients is crucial, which is why we always try to inform and educate our clients so that they can make the right choice. This is especially important if you are interested in investing in some kind of robotic equipment, whether it is a robotic palletizer or some other modular robotic add-on for your packaging line. In order to help you make the right decision, we decided to post this short guide about defining parameters of industrial robots, so that you can have a better understanding of technical descriptions and specifications of each robotic arm. There is a quite a number of parameters used to describe the features and possibilities of a robot and here are the most important ones.
Number of axes or Degrees of freedom: Two axes are required for a robotic arm to reach any point in a plane. To reach any point in space – three axes are required. To fully control the orientation of the end of the arm, and to enable the wrist rotation, three more axes called yaw, pitch, and roll are required. Some designs such is the SCARA robot with 4 axes exchange limitations in motion possibilities for accuracy, speed and cost.
The working envelope is a term used to define the region of space a robot can reach.
Kinematics are determined by the way rigid members and joints in the robot are arranged, which limits the robot’s possible motions. Classes of robot kinematics include articulated Cartesian, parallel and SCARA robots.
Carrying capacity or payload defines how much weight can be lifted by a robot.
Speed is the parameter connected to how fast the robot can position the end of its arm. This may be determined in terms of the linear or angular speed of each axis or as the speed of the end of the arm when all axes are moving.
Acceleration is a measure telling us how quickly an axis can accelerate. Distance and movement pattern can limit acceleration: a robot may not be able to reach its specified maximum speed for movements over a short distance or over a complex path that requires frequent changes of direction.
Accuracy is defined as a measure that shows how closely a robot can reach a commanded position. When the actual position of the robot is measured and compared to the commanded position, the error between these two is a measure of accuracy. External sensors such as a vision system or Infra-Red can improve accuracy. Accuracy can depend on speed and position within the working envelope and on the payload.
Repeatability is a dimension that tells us how well the robot will return to a programmed position. This is not to be confused with accuracy. When the robot is told to go to a certain X-Y-Z position, and the robot reaches a position that is one 1 mm away from the required position – that would be its accuracy which can be improved by calibration. But if that position is stored in controller memory and each time robot is sent there it returns to within 0.1mm of the required position then the repeatability will be within 0.1mm.
As already stated, accuracy and repeatability are two different measures. Repeatability is the most important criterion for a robot. ISO 9283 proposes a method where both accuracy and repeatability can be measured. A robot is sent to a taught position a number of times and the error is measured at each return to the position after visiting 4 other positions. Repeatability is then quantified using the statistical measure called the standard deviation of those samples in all three dimensions/ axis. The repeatability is not the same in different parts of the working envelope and it also changes with speed and payload. ISO 9283 demands that accuracy and repeatability should be measured at maximum speed and at maximum payload, but these results are often pessimistic because the robot could be much more accurate and repeatable at light loads and speeds.
Motion control: defines the level of control required for some tasks. For a simple pick-and-place assembly, typical for robotic palletizing, the robot needs to merely return repeatedly to a limited number of pre-taught positions. For more sophisticated applications, like welding and spray painting, movement must be constantly controlled to follow a path in space, with controlled orientation and velocity.
Power source: Some robots use electric motors, some use hydraulic actuators. Electric robots are faster, hydraulic robots are stronger and better in more complex applications such as spray painting.
Drive: some robots connect electric motors to the joints via gears; others connect the motor to the joint directly (direct drive). Using gears causes measurable ‘backlash’ (loss of motion in a mechanism caused by gaps between the parts). Smaller robotic arms often work at high speed, low torque DC motors. These motors generally require high gearing ratios which have the disadvantage of backlash. In such cases, the harmonic drive is often used.
Compliance is a measure connected to an angle or distance at what robot axis will move when a force is applied to it. Compliance causes that when a robot goes to a position carrying its maximum payload, its final position will be slightly lower than the position when it is carrying no payload. Compliance can also be responsible for overshoot when carrying high payloads in which case acceleration would need to be reduced.
We hope that this guide helped you understand our mechanical friends better. Well-chosen robotic packaging equipment, purchased from right manufacturers and integrated by the right experts can mean a world in terms of efficiency. If you want to learn more about the way we utilize robots, check out Tishma Technologies Tetristack Robotic Palletizers, available in 6 different variations created to respond to anyone’s particular needs.
Typical applications of robots include welding, painting, assembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, packaging and labeling, palletizing, depalletizing, product inspection, and testing; all accomplished with high endurance, speed, and precision. According to the World Robotics 2016 conducted by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) study, there were around 1,631,600 functional industrial robots by the end of 2015. This number is estimated to reach 2,589,000 by the end of 2019. The biggest customer of industrial robots is the automotive industry with a 38 % market share, then electronics industry with 25%, metal and machinery industry with 12%, rubber and plastics industry with 7%.
Robots are taking over, but we are still far from the “Matrix” scenario, especially when you take into consideration the fact that the first robot is “just” 80 years old.
The first known industrial robot, made according to ISO standards was created by “Bill” Griffith P. Taylor in 1937. It was the crane-like machine powered by one, single electric motor. It could move in five axes including grab and grab rotation. Automation was achieved with the help of punched paper tape used to energize solenoids, causing the movement of the crane’s control levers. This robot could stack wooden blocks in pre-programmed patterns. The number of motor revolutions required for each desired action was first plotted on graph paper and this information was then transferred to the paper tape – also driven by the robot’s single motor.
A first robotics patent was granted to George Devol in 1961. The first company to produce an industrial robot was founded by Devol and Joseph F. Engelberger in 1956. It was called Unimation and their robots were also called programmable transfer machines because their main use at first was to transfer objects from one point to another. Robots could move objects between points less than a dozen feet or so apart. They used hydraulic actuators and were programmed in joint coordinates, which means that the angles of the various joints were memorized during a teaching phase and then replayed in operation. Until the late 1970’s Unimation had practically no competition when several big Japanese conglomerates began producing similar industrial robots.
In 1969 Victor Scheinman at Stanford University invented the Stanford arm, an all-electric, 6-axis articulated robot. This robot could follow arbitrary paths in space and its potential use was much wider and it allowed more sophisticated applications such as assembly and welding.
Industrial robotics took off quite quickly in Europe. World’s first commercially available all-electric microprocessor controlled robot was introduced to the market in 1973. It was called IRB 6, and it was produced by ABB Robotics.
By now, only a few non-Japanese companies managed to survive in this market, and along with Japanese industry leaders are providing other companies and industries with robots for various uses.
Most types of robots would fall into the category of robotic arms, or manipulators, according to ISO standard 1738. These robots can have various degrees of autonomy.
Some of them are programmed to carry out specific actions over and over again (repetitive actions) without variation, but with a high degree of accuracy. These tasks are determined by programmed routines that specify the direction, acceleration, velocity, deceleration, and distance of a series of coordinated movements.
Other robots are much more flexible when it comes to the orientation of the object on which they are operating. Sometimes the task that has to be performed on the object has to be identified by the robot itself. For example, for precise guidance, robots often contain machine vision sub-systems acting as their visual sensors, linked to powerful computers or controllers.
Robots are a valuable piece of packaging equipment and the best thing about robotic arms is that they can be integrated into any industrial line. Here, at Tishma Technologies, robots are mostly used for palletizing (check out Tishma Technologies Tetristack Robotic Palletizer), but they also have a wide spectrum of applications in different stages of the packaging process. In our next blog post we will explore what are the defining parameters for robotic arms, so that, if you consider investing in one, you can choose wisely.
The portioned coffee segment is very dynamic and fastest developing segment of the worldwide coffee market. According to Nielsen data from June 2013, the portioned coffee category continues to grow both in terms of volume and value (5.6 percent volume, 16.5 percent value across 26 markets.). The famous K-cup changed the way we consume coffee as well as our perception of packaging. K-cup is at the same time a single serving container and a cartridge, built to sustain high temperatures and to provide an appropriate air and moisture protection. The question is, what type of effect will these single-servings have on the food industry in the future? As single-serving pod technology continues to post remarkable sales, it seems that this new food craze is here to stay. Green Mountain/Keurig has done a great job of introducing coffee consumers with the convenience of the single-cup brewing concept. Keurig convinced office consumers of the benefits, convenience, and variety of the Keurig brewing system at work and now these same consumers have begun to demand the same benefits at home.
Green Mountain has even tried to use an “anticompetitive lockout technology” with their Keurig 2.0 brewer. Reason? Rise in demand for coffee pods and an increasing number of cheaper, unlicensed K-cups from various manufacturers. This attempt backfired, only causing the rage of consumers who eventually found a way to “hack” the lockout system. In the end, even Keurig admitted that it was wrong trying to force the consumers to buy only licensed K-cups.
Attention in the single-serve market has tended to focus on the industry leaders such as Keurig and Nestlé Nespresso, but a host of companies in the supply chain for single serve coffee are also doing very well out of it. According to packaging companies, demand for K-cup packaging keeps rising.
Consumers’ tastes also evolve. More and more consumers are looking for high-quality coffee experiences and they want to find out more about the coffee they drink. Consumers come from being coffee drinkers to coffee connoisseurs.
For these coffee enthusiasts, quality is the biggest concern. Second is the cost of a cup of coffee, although consumers haven’t hesitated about paying US$0. 65 per cup, which equates to over US$30 per pound for a single cup. Some of them probably justify it by comparing the cup price to ordering coffee at Starbucks and other coffee houses. The third issue is throwing plastic in the landfill.
The actual challenge for the single-serve market is to find capsule materials that can be recycled, ensuring high efficiency during the brewing process and consistently high-quality coffee and a sustainable approach. Recently, some interesting packaging industry initiatives have been launched, aimed at the development of compostable single serve cup cartridges. Balancing environmental concerns with a need to package coffee and other beverages into hermetically sealed protective containers is a big challenge, but we can expect that in the future single-serve cartridges will be fully sustainable.
After all, the consumers will have the last say. If they become more concerned about the environment and are willing to put more effort into being green, then the capsules might end up in trouble.
Promoters of single-serving pod technology and machinery do have some arguments on their side. Pod machine users can save electricity by making single-serving hot drinks instead of using constant electricity to keep a pot warm for extended periods of time. Also, using single-serving pods means coffee grounds are being used more efficiently to extract more coffee from each bean. Promoters state that this is crucial because coffee beans need a lot of water to be harvested, and every time a cup of coffee does not extract as much coffee from the bean as possible, the water needed for that harvest has been wasted.
Single-serving pods have had a massive impact on the food and beverage industries already and have attracted many big-name companies that aim to capitalize on this surging movement. The next question for these companies, particularly single-serving pod creators, will be how they can cut costs to consumers and the environment in the future to keep the single-serving trend alive.
One of the ways to keep the trend alive is to invest in the best industrial lines required for primary and secondary packaging of K-cups. Unfortunately, we cannot make K-cups eco-friendly overnight, but by utilizing right packaging machines we can make the secondary packaging process more economic in terms of time and power saving, which will result in lesser environmental impact. If you are a K-cup manufacturer or a coffee brewer, read more about our TT – 50 K-cup packaging system.