Festo pneumatics expertise helps Cerulean

achieve 90% energy efficiency improvements on new tube packing machine

Soaring energy prices and the need to continuously drive down costs are key considerations for manufacturers. So, when packaging machinery specialist Cerulean decided to redesign its highly successful FPS-1 tube packer, high energy efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) became key design requirements.

Working with long-term automation partners Festo, Cerulean identified where CAPEX and OPEX savings were achievable during the tube packing process. Together, they were able to optimise the design and performance of the new FPS120s to achieve energy efficiency improvements in excess of 90 percent, saving 4.5 million litres of compressed air per year.

Nathan Colbert, Key Account Manager at Festo, explains: “The opportunity to work together on a completely new machine, from concept to proof of design, was an ideal opportunity to apply our powerful online sizing tools and energy audit services. Our consultative approach enabled us to understand what Cerulean wanted to achieve, and what they wanted their new packing machine to be capable of. We then used our pneumatics expertise to help Cerulean produce the optimal tube packer design.”

Design optimisation

Cerulean had previously worked with Festo in 2019 to improve the original FPS-1 model. This collaboration saw the introduction of better pneumatics to improve performance, simplify maintenance and make the machine Industry 4.0-ready. It was a logical step to work with Festo again in the evolution of the FPS120s.

Shaun Toms, Portfolio Manager at Cerulean, says: “The development of the new FPS120s gave us a prime opportunity to collaborate again with Festo in considering new ways to add value for our customers. The priority was to make the FPS120s an attractive capital investment that would also be cheaper to run. Festo’s diagnostic tools and analytical skills were key to achieving the most energy efficient design.”

The new Cerulean FPS120s tube packing machine is designed for hygienic packing at speeds of up to 120 tubes per minute and incorporates the latest control and display technology. A user-friendly colour touch screen enables the user to control set up, packing options and store all settings in a library for quick change over and later use. The touch screen supports multiple languages and can be configured for local operator preferences. Changing tube or carton size typically takes less than 15 minutes, allowing the FPS120s to meet the flexible requirements of a modern tube making facility.

The imperative to deliver significant improvements in TCO led Festo and Cerulean to conduct a comprehensive review of every element of the machine: from component selection to running costs at designated outputs. Festo online tools were invaluable in this regard.

The Pneumatic Simulation Tool allows users to input the desired application parameters, such as number of cycles/minute requirement, tube diameter/length, positioning time, etc. The online tool then identifies the optimum pneumatic cylinders, flow controls, valves and settings based on energy consumption to deliver the most efficient options.

Festo’s Pneumatic Sizing Tool can then be applied to refine the system design. This online tool addresses aspects such as positioning time and CO2 emissions. It gave Cerulean confidence that all of the pneumatic cylinders and valves specified for the new FPS120s were correct for the application.

“Over-specification is a common mistake in pneumatic systems,” says Nathan Colbert. “Festo’s online assessment tools make it quicker and easier for customers to identify the best components for their application and refine their design, delivering both CAPEX and OPEX savings.”

These initial design assessments showed that Cerulean could achieve immediate savings using standard products from Festo’s core range, including VUVG-LK valves, DSNU cylinders and the MS Air Prep. Further efficiency savings were achievable by reducing tube lengths and diameters, which decreases dead volumes and cycle times.

Improving energy efficiency

To further inform the development process, Cerulean invited Festo to undertake an energy efficiency survey on an original FPS-1 tube packer and compare the results with an equivalent survey of the prototype FPS120s.

Festo energy efficiency services are based on key lessons learned within its own production facilities and follow an ISO approved and proven approach. The survey of the existing FPS-1 machine was undertaken at a customer site using Festo’s mobile measuring device, which enables quick and easy measurement of the actual flow and pressure values. It further enables users to compare the values against historical data or to look at actual figures when implementing changes, such as inlet pressure. The flow measurement data can be used to measure and identify deviations from the ideal state, including unexpected flowrate, pressure fluctuations and pressure losses.

For the Cerulean tests, Festo installed the measuring equipment on the main air supply from the factory to the machine and took readings to compare the maximum compressed air consumption and average consumption of the machine. These conditions were repeated for the prototype FPS120s energy survey. Each test result was recorded over the same duration and a consideration was made with regard to machine cycles. Both machines were pressure regulated to around 4-5 bar after the measuring device.

The results proved that the FPS120s tube packer would offer significant TCO improvements over the old FPS-1 model: it delivers a 48% improvement on maximum air consumption, and an impressive 92% improvement on average air consumption. Cerulean have calculated a saving of 4.5 million litres of compressed air per year based on the machine running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (but not allowing for any downtime).

Says Shaun Toms: “In today’s economic climate, manufacturers like us have a growing responsibility to become more efficient in order to compete in today’s highly competitive marketplace. This entails a programme of continuous improvement and innovation. We wanted our next generation tube packer to address our customers’ pain points around energy consumption and total cost of ownership. Festo’s automation expertise was invaluable in helping us attain this goal.”

The FPS120s tube packer is available now for immediate order.