Pneumatics & Hydraulics


The individualist among packagers

February 2017 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

“Our design-to-order concept sets us apart from the majority of packaging machine manufacturers,” says Michael Ruf, deputy general manager of Transnova Ruf. In addition to cutting-edge robotic and control technology, the company relies on pneumatic automation technology from Festo, and especially proportional technology on valve terminals.

Whereas many packaging machine manufacturers rely on standard machines with sliding, stacking and sorting chains, Transnova Ruf uses tailored, robot-based packaging, palletising and handling solutions. This creates space saving, energy efficient compact solutions with high power density and fast format changeovers. The innovators can now deliver well over 100 turnkey packaging lines per year for picking, packing and palletising. These solutions are precisely tailored to their customers’ requirements and cover the entire process chain for final packaging. As a result, the company is now recording double-digit annual growth.

Micro-modular systems

“We’ve given up our rigid machine program approach and are now living in the world of micro-modularity. Just like with a Lego set, previously unimagined solutions can be produced, thanks to this concept, which is unprecedented in packaging machine engineering,” says Ruf. “Micro modules are functional elements that we use to configure the system specifically to the customer’s requirements. For each module, a CAD template is stored with the corresponding hardware and software. The modules are combined according to individual customer specifications. The result is a tailored packaging solution, a design-to-order solution in the truest sense of the word.”

Pneumatic proportional technology

The market requires cost-effective production systems that can easily handle frequent product and format changeovers. And that is where pneumatic automation technology has a role to play. The gripping module of a packaging and palletising cell is equipped with a variety of vacuum technology, pneumatic drives, grippers and valve terminals. The key piece of technology here is the proportional valve VPPM which is integrated into the valve terminal CPX/MPA at the operating site. “It’s positioned exactly where the pressure is needed,” explains Festo product manager Ulrich Sixt.

The proportional valves VPPM regulate the contact pressure of the parallel gripper. The packaging must be gripped securely without deforming or damaging it. Gripping pressure is governed by various factors such as fullness, packing density or weight. Control precision and repetition accuracy are also very important. Thanks to the proportional technology, adjustments can be made at any time. This is necessary because systems sometimes have to handle over 100 different formats. These formats are managed as recipe parameters in the SIMPLO software application developed by Transnova Ruf. The software allows machine operators with no programming skills to create new palletising patterns and import them into the robot control system during live production.

Diagnostics and remote maintenance

The proportional valves VPPM are embedded in the valve terminal CPX/MPA. Its electrical component has analogue and digital inputs and outputs that can be used to control and monitor individual sections of the process. The CPX can be accessed and diagnostic data can be retrieved via the Internet. This means that, whenever servicing is required, remote diagnostics can be used to quickly determine whether the problem is easy to rectify or, in extremely rare cases, whether the entire valve or valve terminal must be replaced. “As a medium-sized company, we can now provide our global network of customers with the best possible service,” concludes Ruf with a smile.

For more information contact Kershia Beharie, Festo, 086 003 3786, kershia.beharie@festo.com, www.festo.co.za



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