AIA: Screw-drive Upgrade Provides Precision
Omega Design Corp. (Exton, PA) manufactures container handling and packaging equipment systems, including shrink bundlers, stretchbanders and wraparound case packers. Its products are used by the pharmaceutical, healthcare and chemical industries, among others.
The company's Classic series of shrink bundlers is made up of PLC-controlled, pneumatic machines that eliminate the need for cardboard boxes and create a more efficient, secure package, which lends itself to additional automation further down the line.
As part of a recent product upgrade effort, Omega decided to improve the bundlers' "product pusher" feature, a pneumatic-driven actuator that literally pushes product into the film or packaging material in which it is being bundled. Inherent in the pneumatic drive was excess play and uneven motion control, which resulted in increased setup time and maintenance. Omega also wanted the machine to accommodate alternative package designs, sizes, materials and configurations in a way that was beyond its existing drive system.
"Frequent changeovers on a packaging line often require you to stop production for retooling, sometimes taking up to several hours," says Omega product development specialist Devendra Shendge. "We needed an intelligent yet cost-effective solution that could handle a variety of packages."
Finally, the company wanted to reduce the amount of air being used by the machine. "The more air we can take out of this or any our machines, the better," says Shendge. "Air can be expensive, and the existing actuator system used quite a bit of it."
As a replacement, Omega Design Corp. installed the RGS (rapid guide screw) 10000, a screw-driven slide manufactured by Kerk Motion Products Inc. (Hollis, NH). Coupled with a servomotor, the system provided a "simple swap-out," as Shendge puts it, easily meeting the machine's space constraints.
The RGS, which is available in a wide range of leads with speeds over 60 ips, includes an aluminum guide and carriage, and is driven by a precision-rolled stainless steel leadscrew. An integral mounting base allows support over the unit's entire length if necessary.
Using the RGS 10000, Omega Design Corp. has reduced the number of components in the system, which has resulted in significant cost savings, because less labor is needed to assemble the machine. Furthermore, Omega and its customers no longer need to stock the various sensors and pneumatic parts that were integral to the previous system.
"Before it was just a continuous motion, 0 to 50 inches per second," Shendge says of the control provided by the new drive. "Now we can accelerate or decelerate the machine. This is critical...When [you're] dealing with some of the unusual shapes and heavier mass of some products, you can't just thrust them through the machine at top speed. You can damage the machine as well as the product."
Shendge notes that changeover times have also decreased, because the machine can be programmed to adjust to various products through settings that are specific for each product's handling needs.
For more information on motion control, call 603-465-7227, visit www.kerkmotion.com or eInquiry 3.