Linkx Systems Ltd. Tray Erector

Highly Capable and Cost Effective Tray Erector

Solutions

Results

  • Components matched to entry level design
  • Smaller panel footprint
  • Same case erecting performance at lower speed and lower price

Machine solutions company saves space and cost without compromising on performance

Background

Linkx Systems Ltd is one of Europe's leading suppliers of end-of line packaging solutions; covering sectors such as food & drink, pharmaceutical and the pet food industries.

Since its formation, it has established an enviable reputation for quality, service and innovation. Its product portfolio includes tray, case and carton erectors, shrink-wrapping machine systems, case and tray sealers, robotic case loaders, palletisers and custom end-of-line packaging solutions. All are designed and manufactured in its new state-of-the-art facilities in Beccles, United Kingdom.

The company has a wealth of experience, allowing it to meet customer requirements from both an economic and a technical perspective. Combine this with an excellent technical support and backup package, and customers will find that they are in very good hands.

In a recent project, Linkx wanted to create an entry level version of one of its popular tray erectors, moving from a servo solution to one that deployed pneumatics. The Allen-Bradley™ CompactLogix™ PAC deployed on the servo version – and the standard architecture for Linkx – was overkill for this application, so Linkx opted instead for a control solution based around an Allen-Bradley Micro-830™ controller.

Challenge

As well as requiring the necessary control features, Linkx also wanted the new solution to match its needs in terms of space constraints. This also meant that it had to replace the existing Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® drive and the Allen-Bradley PanelView™ HMI.

According to Tom Whatling, the service manager at Linkx:“We wanted same machine with same advantages, we were looking at ways of controlling the pneumatic version for a cost-effective price but with none of the control penalties.”

In operation, the machine uses a vacuum head to remove a tray blank from the bottom of a stack. A pneumatic cylinder moves the head up, turns on the vacuum and then moves down again pulling the bottom most stack onto runners, a cylinder then nudges the blank onto rollers at which stage hot melt adhesive is applied during transfer. The runners transfer the board to the plunge area, which sees a plunge cylinder push the blank down through a former where the glue takes and cures, the plunge head then ejects it down on to a discharge conveyor which transports the newly formed tray out of the machine.

Solution

The brains of the new system, the Micro-800 series PLC uses component HMI to allow direct access to PLC variables. This is coupled to a smaller-footprint Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 525 drive, which also offers safe torque off, which means the power can be left on the inverter, but the inverter discharge circuits are isolated allowing operators to enter the machine's envelope without shutting the power off. A dual input safety relay, coupled to E-Stops and guards on the same unit still allow the machine to meet the machinery safety directive.

Results

Linkx is now able to market the tray erector at a very attractive price, allowing more of its customers to be able to consider automatic tray erection due to quicker payback. The solution is powerful enough to run the pneumatic technology, but at a more entry-level price.

“We get the same tray erecting performance as the servo based machine, but at a lower speed and a more attractive entry level price,” Whatling explains, “which was our original goal.

The panel is also much more compact– roughly 25% the size of the servo solution due to the smaller electronic components used. “We have always found that Rockwell Automation equipment meets our needs, has excellent reliability and is always up to date,” Whatling concludes, “it is also well recognized and well received by our customers. In general, when given a choice we will always opt for Rockwell Automation, it is our standard.”

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