Packing small packages like on an assembly line

Article of 15 December 2017 


Many people only buy Christmas presents for their loved ones just before it is time to exchange gifts. Things then get hectic when it comes to wrapping, as doing so by hand takes a lot of time. A machine that wraps presents quickly and perfectly would be practical – like the system made by the manufacturer ECONO-PAK, which is equipped with Festo components.

A tube of shoe polish may not be the ideal Christmas present, but it is essential for all those whose shoes are expected to shine at the family party. The machine produced by ECONO-PAK, in which a Multi-carrier-System designed by Festo is an important part, carefully packs 120 tubes of shoe polish per minute into cardboard boxes. In doing so, it only presses on the tube in terms of speed. The extremely scratch-sensitive surface remains unblemished. A conveyor belt transports the tubes precisely and on two parallel tracks towards the workpiece carrier part of the Multi-Carrier-System.

At the same time, cardboard boxes move in a cartoner system. The carriers stand still whilst they are loaded with tubes, so that these do not get damaged during the transfer process. The workpiece carriers then speed up so that they are moving at exactly the same speed as the transport systems for the cartoner and the cylinders that push the tubes into the boxes. The Multi-Carrier-System moves the tubes very close up to the cardboard boxes.

During the next step, cylinders push the tubes of shoe polish into the packaging. This step is particularly tricky. What is critical is that the carriers along this stretch run completely synchronously with the thrust cylinders so that the tube does not collide with the respective box. This is where the Multi-Carrier-System shows off its strengths. It can change the speeds of the separate carriers flexibly and individually, thus ensuring that all the processes are exactly coordinated with each other. In addition, the workpiece carriers move along the entire transportation route without vibrating and jerking.

As soon as the tubes are packed and the workpiece carrier is empty, this resumes its individual speed and is guided back by a servo-controlled toothed belt drive in order to transport new tubes. In this way, 7,200 tubes are packed every hour without any problems. In this respect at least, everyone who has to painstakingly wrap their Christmas presents in paper by hand can console themselves: it may take longer, but there are also far fewer presents!

  • Multi-Carrier

    A conveyor belt transports the tubes precisely and without vibration

  • Multi-Carrier

    The tubes are transferred to the carriers

  • Multi-Carrier

    The cylinders, which push the tubes into the packaging, move synchronously to the tube and box

  • Multi-Carrier

    The tubes are pushed into the boxes