Eight Things to Consider Before Designing Your Next Packaging Machine

The design of a packaging machine doesn’t need to feel like an insurmountable project.

Joaquin Ocampo

February 7, 2017

6 Min Read
Eight Things to Consider Before Designing Your Next Packaging Machine

We know the process of designing a new packaging machine or system can be overwhelming, but we’ve broken down the biggest questions and considerations to make the process easier. This guidance should help put you well on your way to designing an efficient machine that suits your needs.

1. How can I reduce the cost of the overall packaging machine design?

Machine builders are constantly trying to reduce the overall cost of the machine and it’s no easy task. Buying less expensive products risks a loss of performance and finding inexpensive labor can compromise your machine’s quality, which will cost you more in the end.

By designing a machine with motor integrated technology, you’ll save on the cabinet cost, the amount of wiring and the actual wire itself. Because you no longer need two cables per axis or motor, you also only have one power cable going to the machine and therefore further reduces cost. Removing the cabinet also means you no longer need an air conditioning unit to cool it, which is another cost saving. Cabinet-free power supplies are now available in new sizes and with cabinet-free power supply options.

Additionally, some trends indicate people are building machines based on specific container size or the back of a semi-truck. If shipping costs include size and weight, a smaller machine that weighs less will save you money on delivery.

Bosch Rexroth’s IndraDrive Mi is a cabinet-free drive technology that contributes to cost reductions in components, cabinets, wiring and cooling.

2. How can I optimize production per square foot in my packaging operations?

If real estate is a concern, there are options to make a machine smaller and optimize the available area to a maximum. Using motor integrated technology, the machine cabinet can be completely eliminated. This reduces the machine’s footprint and allows for more machines per square foot. More machines mean an increase in plant productivity and might even eliminate the need for another building.

Motor integrated technology may also increase your output which eliminates the need for another machine to fulfill your production schedule. Making the machine more accurate, intelligent and smaller may give you greater benefits than just occupying less space.

3. How can I minimize machine operating and maintenance costs? How can I save energy?

By removing components of a typical machine like the cabinet, air conditioning units, and electrical components such as fuses and contactors, operating costs, energy consumption and maintenance are reduced.

Reduce energy consumption by using products that share DC bus energy instead of burning it through bleeder resistors. Take advantage of IP65 protection and smooth surfaces to better handle the units. Fewer parts mean less maintenance which helps provide either a fixed-price or low cost installation.  

4. If I wanted to add another section to the machine, how can I do this easily?

You may first want to design the complete machine in a modular form – in other words, design for the maximum project. For example, consider infeed, collector, pick and place, carton maker, outfeed and palletizing as one project. Then you can provide each module individually or you can mix and match and activate the modules within your project without much modification.

On the contrary, a different advantage of using a motor integrated system is that the cabinet size doesn’t need to change if an extra module is added. You would just need to add the program for the new module into the control. This system removes the worry of changing the cabinet size and having to wire back to the cabinet because the machine’s drive and motor are connected through one single hybrid cable. 

Motor-integrated technology can also increase output by eliminating the need for another machine to fulfill your production schedule.

5.  Do I need to include safety considerations before beginning the design of the machine?

Safety is an integral part of machines and should always be part of the initial design. This will help reduce safety hazards and identify functional conditions. A trend in packaging machines is having Safe Zones. When one part of the machine is in a safe state, the rest of the machine is in standby mode or continues normal operation. Safe zones will increase your uptime and reduce scrap or waste.

We do not recommend building a machine and adding safety components after the fact. This will cause problems with the overall design and increase the overall time it takes for you to build your machine.

6.  What’s Multi-Ethernet and why do I need to worry about it?

Multi-Ethernet is a product’s ability to communicate in different protocols. Products without this feature force the user to use only one type of control and, in some cases, the machines are not flexible with other systems.

Multi-Ethernet supports the Sercos, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, ProfiNet and PowerLink communications protocols. Being able to communicate across several platforms reduces future costs because your bill of material (BOM) stays the same for the majority of the machine.

7. What are the benefits of having integrated hardware and software on your machine?

Having hardware and software that are Industry 4.0 ready or helpful for IoT is ideal for the smoothest system functionality and includes access to the information of the production, maintenance and axes. Software can be used for parametrization, commissioning, diagnostics and PLC, safety and HMI programs and for different hardware platforms. Since everything comes fully integrated, this eliminates user worry – you have one program with one project for each specific machine.

8. Do these tips apply to machines in other industries?

Yes, this is a general industry trend. These suggestions work for many types of machines, not just packaging. Motor integrated technology can be used in thermoforming, woodworking and conveyer application machines as well as in civil engineering and the aircraft industry.  

Designing a new packaging machine or system doesn’t have to feel like a staggering feat. Hopefully, these considerations have gotten your creative juices flowing and helped shine a light on the variety of options available to you. Cabinet-free technology is truly a revolutionary approach to machine design and once you quantify the advantages, the savings are significant.

Joaquin Ocampo is product manager for electric drives and control at Bosch Rexroth Corporation.


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