Advanced controls improve a high-speed milk bottling and capping machine
A builder of filling and packaging equipment turns to Siemens for help with a project at a processor of beverages and dairy products.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This case study was written and submitted on behalf of Siemens, and edited by Dairy Foods. The names of the machine builder and the dairy operation were withheld at their request.
A major OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of liquid level and net-weight filling and capping machines faced a challenge brought by a dairy and beverage processing customer of 40 years. The dairy required a high-speed bottling and capping machine capable of processing up to 850 bottles per minute or one bottle every 70 milliseconds. That left a very small margin for errors in production.
The machine needed to be integrated with several other pieces of equipment on the production floor. It needed to have simplified control architecture to facilitate easier operation, service and maintenance in the field. That other equipment had Siemens controls – motors, drives, HMI (human machine interface) – onboard. The customer mandated the Siemens brand be used for this new machine.
The engineering team at the equipment builder reviewed the available technologies to operate and control this machine, which represented several unique challenges.
As one engineer explained, “We were using a drive technology that had a simplified motion control but couldn’t handle the speeds on this project. I had some experience with the requested brand of controls and so we turned to the Siemens Solution Partner in our area, DMC (Chicago), for consultation.”
The engineer also noted the end user was partial to having a brand of onboard controls that would be familiar to the operators and could offer local support.
The controls chosen included a combination of Sinamics G120 drives with power modules for each of the three axes of motion required, plus a 12-inch HMI comfort panel. At the heart of the system is the S7-1500 PLC with high-speed actuator timing and process image partitions, a feature that allows enhanced monitoring of the objects in process.
In operation, this system, configured on the Siemens TIA Portal with PLC open command structure integration, allows the virtual synchronization of the three axes controlled by the drives, using a combination of positioning axis and synchronous axis technology objects. The high-speed actuators onboard handle the speed requirement (850 bottles a minute).
Process, clean, fill, cap 850 bottles a minute
Brian McKittrick, the OEM account manager on the project for Siemens, explained: “This machine was designed to process, clean, fill and cap 180-milliliter single-serve milk bottles at very high speed. We worked closely with the builder’s team and Nick Shea at DMC as well as Professional Control Corp., the local Siemens distributor, to design and implement the right answers for this project, including the selection of the PLC, HMI, motors and drives. The additional requirements for the power conditions in the end user’s foreign country were also considerations.”
The machine provided is based on the OEM’s gear-on-carousel design framework, which allows integration with the upstream cleaner and downstream packaging handling equipment in the end user’s highly automated facility. Further featured on the machine is Siemens’ Driv-Cliq technology, which allows instant recognition of the absolute encoder positioning for faster and more accurate field commissioning on new motors. The TIA portal interface allows the configuration and on-the-fly adjustment of the HMI, PLC and all motion control functionality between the carousel, filler and rinsing stations of the machine.
Easier cabling, set-up and changeover
The project required nearly a year in development and is the first of several similar machines being provided to the end user under an ongoing contract agreement. The machine is also the first ever built by the OEM with all Siemens motion control hardware and software onboard.
As one engineer noted, “This new system simplifies cabling, set-up and changeover times substantially, for both our customer and us.”
The company typically produces FDA-approved machines with 3-A SSI sanitary certification, HEPA Class 100 enclosures, plus automated CIP and SIP systems, sterile air and water, antimicrobial capping, integrated bottle rinsers and demoilers.
Find out more about Siemens' capabilities at www.usa.siemens.com/drives