Servo Controlled System Upgrade Optimizes Inline Bottle Capping

Servo-based systems can deliver crucial efficiency and flexibility in industrial manufacturing. Here’s how Matrix Technologies helped a prominent manufacturer of food and beverage products and consumer packaged goods test and integrate a new servo controlled inline bottle capping system.

The Goal: Faster Capping and Reconfiguration

A leading manufacturer of consumer and professional products was using an inline capping machine in its Nevada plant. An inline capping machine installs and torques caps onto bottles. As a bottle enters the machine, a cap is dispensed from the feed system onto the top of the bottle. As a bottle moves through the machine, torque discs seat the cap onto the bottle and apply torque.

The manufacturer wanted to upgrade its inline capping machine controls to achieve greater efficiency, flexibility, and consistency. The company wanted a control system that would enable the machine to be changed over faster, handle a wider array of cap sizes more easily, and allow varying amounts of torque to be applied. Consistency of operation was also key, to reduce the risk of modifications being made at individual plants.

The company’s engineers had developed a “top plate” prototype that offered more control over the bottle-capping system, but they needed to test it and deploy it. The manufacturer turned to Matrix Technologies, Inc., a long-time industrial automation services partner, to provide the testing, final engineering design, and implementation of a new combination PLC and servo control system.

Creating a Custom Solution to Control Torque and Enhance Operation

Matrix is the leading process integrator for the food and beverage manufacturing and consumer packaged goods industries, with in-depth experience in optimizing and designing modern servo and motion control systems. Matrix engineers were able to understand what the manufacturer was envisioning, make recommendations for how it could be accomplished, and deliver the updated controls.

The manufacturer’s primary objectives were to achieve more precise control of the cap torque and more advanced operator interface with the system. No off-the-shelf inline capping system offered the desired level of flexibility and control, and the manufacturer of the existing system was no longer making the equipment.

The manufacturer had developed its own equations for calculating optimal control over the caps based on cap spinning speeds, inertia, and torque variables, and had created a prototype in their lab. Matrix was asked to design, test, and implement the control system.

6 Steps to Success

Matrix engineers took the following steps to develop a customized servo controlled system upgrade solution:

  1. On-Site Visit and Evaluation: Matrix conducted an on-site visit to survey the plant’s existing equipment and understand how and where the new control system would need to be integrated into the rest of the line.
  2. Functional Specifications: Engineers generated functional engineering specifications for the customer’s review by outlining the major hardware and control system parts, how the system would work, how it would be tested, and the best software options. Since the plant was already using Rockwell Automation systems, Matrix (a Rockwell Automation Solution Partner) replaced the existing machine control system with a ControlLogix based PLC with a PanelView Plus 6 operator interface terminal. Matrix also replaced the Variable Frequency Drive and pneumatic control of the existing system with a new Allen Bradley Kinetix Servo System.
  3. Control System Design and Software Development: Matrix engineers provided the electrical design and created electrical schematics for the control panels. The electrical design package was used to assemble the control system at a fabrication facility. Matrix used the approved Functional Specification as a basis to generate the PLC and HMI software for the new control system. Matrix upgraded the machine safety circuit to meet the customer’s requirements and enable integration into the packaging line.
  4. Equipment Integration and Testing: A test capping machine was delivered to the fabrication facility and integrated with the new control system. The Matrix and manufacturer teams conducted tests using sample products. Hardware and software were modified to meet the manufacturer’s needs and tolerances for performance variation. The project also included the electrical demolition of the existing control panel and installation of the new control panel and field instrumentation.
  5. Installation: Matrix provided supervision of the electrical installation and wiring of the new system to the inline capping machine at the plant.
  6. The Results: Versatility, Accuracy, and Faster Changeover

The new system performs much more effectively than the previous one, providing greater accuracy on torque requirements. The manufacturer has been able to reduce changeover time required to switch to different bottle sizes. The system is now being used at another facility.

Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our servo and motion control systems expertise, contact Tom Chase, Industrial Systems Division Department Manager.

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