Motion Control & Drives

Servo drives key to vertical packing revolution

December 2014 Motion Control & Drives

One of Italy’s leading packaging companies is using the speed and accuracy of Control Techniques’ servodrive, Digitax ST at the heart of its vertical form, fill and seal packaging machines.

Sabalpack of Mortara is an innovative young company that has the capability to produce 100% custom machines alongside proven mass production products. Its flagship ‘Leopard’ Stabilo packaging line is a range of fully automatic electronic vertical packaging machines that are fitted with brushless motors to provide the sealing crimper and packaging feed functions.

The stylish and practical stabilo bag has four sealed corners that give it strength and stability, effectively protecting the product inside and guaranteeing its quality. This type of bag forming unit is integrated into each forming tube so that changes in bag size and format can be easily achieved in a few simple steps – the operator needs only enter an instruction using the control panel (number of bags, format, product etc). This information is then sent by Profibus to the SM Applications Plus programmable processor in the Control Techniques Digitax ST servodrive that runs the crimper motor and film feed so that the appropriate amount of film is fed for each batch. The accuracy of this operation is so precise and repeatable, that it can be replicated meticulously over time, ensuring that bag seams are perfect each time, every time.

The stainless steel machines, designed primarily for the food industry, have an output rate in excess of 150 packages per minute. In addition to the stabilo bag, the machines can accommodate traditional bag formats including pillow and square block bottom bags.

More and more, the food industry is looking to the new format ‘Tray & Bag’ style of packaging that shows the product fresh and double packed, preserved by the bag and kept intact by the tray at the same time. This concept combines flexibility and quality of vertical filling with the faster throughput of horizontal packaging. The new solution fills trays vertically, which is an intelligent solution to the problem of product spillage, focusing more on end results and producing high quality packages. In fact, in the Tray & Bag system, products are looked after more carefully thanks to the special combination of the four-side seal, high quality ‘stabilo’ package – again produced using the consistency assured by the repeatability of Digitax ST servodrives – and the tray, which shows the quality of the product to the customer in a traditional and wholesome way.

Furthermore, unlike flow-packs, Tray & Bag has the unique advantage of remaining upright on both supermarket shelving and in household larders.

The recently introduced Digitax ST range encompasses four models, each with industry-leading features and extremely compact in size – Base, Indexer, EZ Motion and Digitax ST Plus. Sabalpack opted for the top of the range Digitax ST Plus that features a full functionality motion controller, optimised for high performance machines requiring synchronised motion. The on-board drive-to-drive networking links multiple axes and enables true distributed control. Configured using CTSoft, the drive’s advanced motion features are configured in a flexible IEC6113-3 software development environment using PLCopen motion function blocks within Control Techniques’ SyPT software.

Digitax ST combines reliability, high-performance to increase operating speed, repeatability and accuracy, whilst at the same time reducing panel sizes and costs.

For more information contact Sanjith Singh, Emerson Industrial Automation Southern Africa, +27 (0)11 462 1740,,


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