Coffee, sugar, pharmaceuticals—nowadays, virtually everything is packed in small, low-cost sachets. The new, flexible flat pouch machine Sigpack VPF from Bosch Packaging Technology ensures correct packaging and a precise mixing ratio. The world's first freely scalable sachet machine uses the new flexibility provided by the digital pneumatics of the Festo Motion Terminal.
Grabbing a quick bite to eat is a growing trend. Food producers have responded with “convenience” food items. They require packaging machines that can change packaging format very quickly and flexibly, and are capable of metering out quantities of just a few grams with precision. One example is the Sigpack VPF (Vertical Platform Flatpouch).
With this machine, food producers as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers can easily adapt their production to current market conditions. The machine fills up to 1,800 sachets per minute, offering the best performance per square foot of floor space on the market.
Thanks to its modular concept, the flat pouch machine is freely scalable from three lanes up to twelve lanes. The number of lanes depends on the required output and pouch sizes. With the new decentralized dosing system, each lane has its own dosing chamber and a stock of product.
“The separation of the feeding devices creates flexibility in a number of areas. Now different products, such as salt and pepper, can be packaged at the same time on one machine,” explained Rolf Steinemann, Product Manager at Bosch Packaging Systems.
Long sealing times at low temperatures guarantee hermetically tight packages, thus ensuring high product quality. The hygienic and ergonomic design makes the Sigpack VPF easy to access, as well as easy to oversee and clean. “Short cleaning and changeover times contribute to high overall equipment effectiveness,” said Steinemann. Precise dosing, deep pouch filling and hermetically tight seams reduce product loss and waste. This makes the packaging process more cost-effective for manufacturers. In particular for the pharmaceutical industry, these qualities contribute greatly to patient safety as over- or under-dosing of powdered medication can be avoided.
The filling mechanism is based on an auger dosing system, known for its high degree of accuracy. Intelligent trend control allows readjustment for more precise dosing. “In the first design for the Sigpack VPF we were planning to use the MPA valve manifold from Festo, which would have allowed us to have product feeding per lane with vacuum and compressed air supply while also having two-chamber separation,” explained Maik Lamprecht, Project Manager for the development of the Sigpack VPF.This would have required additional cleaning components and a proportional valve for each lane.
Simultaneous filling of different products: with the multi-lane decentralized dosing system
“The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM made product feeding so much easier,” said Lamprecht, because it allowed every lane to be adjusted individually at the push of a button. “We use only a third as many valve slices and the flat pouch machine has functions that we could have otherwise only achieved with much greater design effort,” added Lamprecht, the Project Manager for the machine.
The Sigpack VPF with the Festo Motion Terminal allows pressure and vacuum measurement for process monitoring, leakage monitoring for checking for contamination of the valve, as well as individual adjustment of the cleaning and drainage pressure per lane. “The Festo Motion Terminal has given us a significant boost in terms of process reliability,” said Lamprecht.
To cover all these functions, only one piece of hardware is needed: the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM. It is the first device to use the revolutionary concept of digitized pneumatics in automation technology. Changes in pneumatic functions and adaptation to new formats are controlled via apps, by changing parameters. The integrated intelligent sensors for control, diagnostics, and self-learning eliminate the need for additional components, reduce complexity, and simplify the ordering process.
The apps of the Festo Motion Terminal can replace up to 50 individual components while machine operators receive status information for individual machines, entire lines, or processes in real time. Costly machine downtime can thus be avoided and machine availability can be increased.
Flexible: With changing pouch sizes and powder consistencies, the Festo Motion Terminal ensures reliable product distribution and a dependable feed process.
Thanks to the fast activation of new functions via apps, machine developers
only have to create one basic machine type. “We can then quickly and easily select apps and equip machines with different specifications in line with customer requirements,” said Product Manager Rolf Steinemann. In the Sigpack VPF, the “Proportional pressure regulation” app controls the product feeding for the multi-lane dosing process. With changing pouch sizes and powder consistencies, the automation platform ensures reliable product distribution and a dependable feed process.
The additional functions include the adjustable cleaning and ejection pulse. The automation platform monitors the filling process and the valve performance using pressure testing. By monitoring pressure and vacuum, wear and contamination can be detected at an early stage. Leakage control ensures reliable processes with reproducible results. The cleaning and air jet pressure can be set individually for each lane.
“The Festo Motion Terminal makes pneumatics fit for Industry 4.0, as process data from the Festo Motion Terminal can be processed on our own condition monitoring platform,” said Product Manager Rolf Steinemann.
Area of business: Development and manufacture of packaging and handling systems for the food, pharmaceutical and other industries.
The head office of the Food division with process and packaging technology is also located in Beringen.