Partnering on an automation solution for the Asian Food Market

HMPS, a leading Australian machine builder which specialises in customised end of line packaging machinery, recently partnered with SMC, a leader in pneumatics and automation on a case packer for the food industry.

According to Linh Bui, Business Development Manager at HMPS, the company proposed a solution to automate the end of line requirements of an Asian food manufacturer which would automate the process with minimal operator involvement, while adhering to the health requirements of the food and beverage industry.

Linh, who specialises in dealing with the Asian market adds that many Asian food companies are looking towards automation to manage the increased volumes of output required in the food manufacturing environment.

The machine which was designed to place boxes of dry food into larger cartons, ready for palletising and shipping, was required to be easy to maintain, easy to clean and easy to operate. The customer required up to 12 product formats, between 180 and 260g to be packed at an output speed of between 10 and 30 cartons per minute.

“This is another similarity with the Australian market, machines are required to do multiple functions and must be easy to set up for various product lines. HMPs specialises in designing for this type of flexibility” comments Bui.

“We suggested the HMPS5000 Wraparound Case Packer to eliminate their end-of-line labour constraints. This recommended solution delivered an expected lifespan of at least 10 years, and the availability of local parts and servicing would minimise running costs over its life. An ROI both in labour and material savings calculated that this machine would be offset within 3-4 years, in Australia ROI would be 1.5 years”

The HMPS Product Flow

Products enter the system on an infeed conveyor system which allows product to either continue travelling narrow face leading into the case packer or with the use of two differential speed belts rotate 90degrees to wide face leading. The inners then travel towards to a servo driven water wheel, standing them upright into a servo driven index system. Once the correct carton quantity is collated they are then driven up to a servo side shift before being transferred into the carton by a Delta Robot.

Simultaneously, as the products are collated, a flat wraparound blank is erected in Station 1 before being transferred and positioned in the loading station where the collation of products is loaded. The minor flaps opposite the loading station may be folded at this stage to ensure correct product alignment. At the next index the final minor flaps are folded fully locating the product. During the next index, hot melt adhesive is applied to the minor flaps and at the next station the carton is held in compression to complete the end sealing. The carton is then side transferred to seal the manufacturers flap.

Firmly bonded cartons are discharged from the machine to await palletising.

A graphical operator panel is used to assist in the machines start up, operation and fault finding. This will display: Machine status – Product selection – All alarms and faults.

HMPS partnered with SMC on this project because of their firm understanding of the food and beverage market and the specialised products and service they offer to this industry. According to Linh one of the deciding factors when building machines for export is the availability of parts. “We want to ensure that our customers have access to critical spares and technical service no matter where they are in the world. That is why we partner with international players such as SMC who have offices in more than 80 countries around the world with a very strong presence In Asia” adds Linh.


The SMC Solution

Jason Sutton, Area Sales Manager for SMC further elaborates that SMC has designed and developed products according to the Japanese company’s philosophy of being Customer Centric. To this end products with the food industry was developed based on customer feedback and requirement. According to Jason, because of the large footprint of SMC they are in contact with food and beverage customers in so many different countries and on so many applications that the company has a very good idea of the best products to suggest for these types of applications.

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In addition to supply the components, SMC also assist customers in the selection and commissioning of the products if required.

SMC is no stranger to customization themselves, the SMC linear belt drive (LEJB63) was modified in Australia to accept HMPS’ choice of motor. This modification was done at the company’s local Sydney facility.

Air preparation incorporate lockable manual isolation for maintenance work as well as category rated safety valves for integration into the safety system of the machine. Actuation is simplified by EtherNet/IP communication with the SMC EX600 Valve Manifold also serving as a field collation of reed switch and proximity wiring point. Daisy chain capability of the node further increases future expansion capability.

The manifold is based on SMC new SY series with improved flow rates and compact size delivery higher response in a smaller footprint. The entire valve bank in IP65 rated, very handy for any food related product be it dry or wet.

Carton erection is driven via a valve on the manifold to a single SMC ZL112-DPL Vacuum ejector with integrated pressure switch offers the customer simplified integration. The inbuilt pressure switch reduces plumbing and simplifies troubleshooting by combing several functions into one easily accessible unit.

To meet the tight space constraints of the top flap of the box a rotatory table actuator was fitted, SMC’s MSQB50A unit. Footprint and size is the trend of the industry at the moment and this unit delivers by not only having a flat output flange but also enabling compact installation.

Other products used on the HMPS Case Packer included the guided cylinders – MGPM and CQM cylinders with integrated slide tables. Guided cylinders simplify the design as they include a guiding mechanism built into the cylinder. This removes the need for additional design work and sourcing various parts from multiple supplier to achieve the same end result.

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