Few industries are affected by consumer trends as much as the food and beverage industry. That influence travels from those consumer goods companies all the way up to the packaging machinery builders who design the equipment that fills the containers and then packages them for shipment.
Some of the key trends affecting food and beverage include production personalization, overall efficiency, increasing consumer expectations, value-chain restructuring, green strategies and food safety.
Companies expect their packaging equipment to help them to address those trends. Gebo Cermex, a French manufacturer of packaging and palletizing solutions, has developed its CareSelect system with Rockwell Automation technology to do just that for bottling.
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“The value of the system is when the customer needs flexibility and has high changeover frequency,” explained Didier Saussereau, product manager, Gebo Cermex, who spoke during the Machine & Equipment Builders (OEMs) Industry Forum at the Automation Fair event this week in Houston. “High-speed, frequent changeovers and a large diversity of products make the machine valuable.”
Gebo Cermex is part of the Tetra Laval Group, which has 33,860 employees and more than 37,000 pieces of equipment installed in 190 countries. Gebo Cermex and its sister business unit, Sidel, work together to understand customers’ needs as part of the group vision. “The production plant is our playground,” said Saussereau. “We build equipment from the processing phase through the primary packaging down to the tertiary packaging and material handling. Forty percent of our machines are robotic case packers.”
Digitalization is key to accelerating mass customization of goods. To make food and beverage manufacturing plants more agile, Gebo Cermex developed its Agility 4.0 program, a move that pushes plants toward Industrie 4.0 objectives and helps to make the smart manufacturing plant of tomorrow a reality.
Customization and increased responsiveness reflect consumer behaviors that influence their purchasing decisions. This in turn improves line operations in terms of speed, efficiency, flexibility and versatility.
Agility 4.0 is a clear-direction strategy that will continue to grow in importance, explained Saussereau. It contains five pillars:
1. Virtual factory solution—includes visual design through logistics
2. Smart factory—enables customers by including machine systems and data intelligence for robotics and communication hardware (CareSelect is part of this initiative)
3. Connected factory—includes digital connectivity
4. Sustainable factory—within a philosophy of sustainable production
5. Extended factory—total master of the factory beyond the four walls
The Gebo Cermex CareSelect module addresses one of the major issues that producers are facing—mass customization demands. It is compatible with any bottle shape and dimension and includes a collating module. The system takes product protection and integrity to a higher level, and is based on Rockwell Automation iTRAK technology.
The iTRAK configuration includes a power supply, an Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5500 servo drive communicating over EtherNet/IP, CompactLogix 5380 controller, Stratix 5700 industrial managed Ethernet switch, gateway and PanelView Plus 7 graphic terminal.
“Why did we choose iTRAK?” asked Saussereau. “The model chosen allows it to respond to efforts from 37 to 88 N of peak force.” The dynamic forces of acceleration, the robustness of the system, and limited contact with the bottles were also important considerations.
“Contact with the bottle was for 0.3 seconds,” explained Saussereau. “We eliminated contact between bottles. Friction was reduced by 20 times. CareSelect easily guarantees perfect bottle integrity. All shapes of bottles can be accommodated.”
Most importantly, CareSelect can fully automatically adjust the system to a new format in less than a minute. “The speed is up to 400 bottles/minute, and no part storage is needed,” said Saussereau.
The CareSelect machine was awarded the Modular Machine award at the Interpack 2017 expo. Sponsored by Rockwell Automation, the winner was determined by a judging panel comprising many packaging equipment users, including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Kimblery-Clark and Nestlé.