A healthcare company approached EPIC Systems with a need to upgrade an existing pail and drum filling line for its pharmaceutical grade products.
CLIENT: A Fortune 500 company
KEY ENGINEERING FEATURES:
- Complete controls upgrade to an Allen Bradley PLC system
- Integrated ABB robotic palletizer with packaging line
- Laser displacement sensor for drum orientation
- Job storage and intuitive project recall to develop programs for “touch-a-button” quick changeover of line settings for each container size
- Weigh-cell technology used for filling
AN EPIC SOLUTION
EPIC first completed its front-end engineering approach to assure the most efficient line solution and accurate cost quotation. After reviewing the state of the current packaging line with the client, EPIC’s engineers completed a line analysis and created an implementation plan that included the following elements:
EPIC Systems recommended an efficient option for advanced line automation and machine vision inspection for QA checks.
EPIC’s Proven Solution
EPIC completed several packaging line modifications, removed the custom control system and upgraded to an Allen Bradley PLC. A special interface was developed to allow the ABB robotic palletizer to communicate with the packaging line. This also allowed for easier troubleshooting of the robot by line operators.
The line operator selects a program from the operator interface with pre-installed correct line settings for each container size. Manual part switch over was reduced for quick changeover during container sizes change.
A robotic palletizer/de-palletizer lifts empty containers from pallets and places them on the line for filling. Containers are oriented for filling by a rotary alignment tool and a laser displacement sensor. The laser displacement sensor locates the opening in each container by bouncing a laser beam off the surface of the container. When the laser passes over the hole, the sensor does not receive a bounce back and signals the location of the opening to the alignment tool.
Oriented containers move through the line to the filler. The operator selects a pre-set program from the interface, to change the filler settings, dependant on the type of product being filled. EPIC’s programmers automation of the packaging line allow settings for filling parameters, based on product properties such as density, composition and tendency towards foaming. In the previous process, multiple products could not be run on one filler.
To fill the containers a lance is lowered to the bottom of each container. The filler releases fluid into the container, keeping the lance below the liquid level to prevent foaming. A weigh cell rises to weigh the drum and determine when full. A cap is manually tightened and the container travels back to the same robotic palletizer, staking the containers on a pallet for shipping.
After EPIC completed the controls upgrade, the line was validated and checked for compliance.
- Product has increased consistency in fill weight
- Reduce costs through packaging line controls upgrade, increasing line efficiency and reliability and utilizing pre-existing equipment
- Significantly reduced downtime
- Created more efficient interface between robotic palletizer and packaging line, allowing for easier troubleshooting
THE EPIC DIFFERENCE
The EPIC Difference includes several key features that assure a projects success:
- Front-End Engineering to ensure that the proper steps are taken during project scope development
- Plant engineering experience that assists clients to identify needs, pinpoint objectives and provide the most appropriate manufacturing equipment for the application
- Open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering
- Accountability to responsibly manage our clients’ projects from start-to-finish and beyond
- A transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the systems and equipment we provide
- Single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project
- State-of-the-art shop which decreases down-time and increases the speed of project completion