Picking, packing, and palletizing

Gaining a pneumatic advantage with proportional valves

“Our design-to-order concept sets us apart from the majority of packaging machine manufacturers,” says Michael Ruf, deputy general manager of Transnova Ruf. In addition to cutting-edge robotic and control technology, the company is using pneumatic automation technology from Festo, and especially proportional technology on valve manifolds.

Whereas many packaging machine manufacturers rely on standard machines with sliding, stacking, and sorting chains, Transnova Ruf uses tailored, robot-based packaging, palletizing, and handling solutions. This creates space-saving, energy-efficient compact systems with high power density and fast format changeovers. This innovative company can now deliver well over 100 turnkey packaging lines per year for picking, packing, and palletizing.These solutions are precisely tailored to their customers’ requirements and cover the entire process chain for final packaging.As a result, the company is now recording double-digit annual growth.

Micro-modular systems

“We’ve given up our rigid machine program approach and are now living in the world of micro-modularity. Just like with a Lego set, previously unimagined solutions can be produced thanks to this concept, which is unprecedented in packaging machine engineering,” said Michael Ruf. “Micro modules are functional elements that we use to configure the system specifically to the customer’s requirements. For each module, a CAD template is stored with the corresponding hardware and software. The modules are combined according to individual customer specifications. The result is a tailored packaging solution, a design-to-order solution in the truest sense of the word,” added the industry expert. “And that gives us a competitive edge,” said Ruf confidently. Each year, the company integrates about 200 robots that offer a number of key advantages: greater flexibility especially for special purpose machines, better handling, and faster format changeovers. The focus is on the specific needs of the customer. “And those needs are different every time,” Ruf explained. Transnova Ruf machines are used to package everything from button batteries and salami to IV bags and refrigerators and even control cabinets; from products in the food, cosmetics, non-food, and chemical industries to medical and pharmaceutical products.

Pneumatic proportional technology

The market requires cost-effective production systems that can easily handle frequent product and format changeovers. And that is where pneumatic automation technology has a role to play. The gripping module of a packaging and palletizing cell is equipped with vacuum technology, pneumatic drives, grippers, and valve manifolds. The key piece of technology here is the proportional pressure regulator, which is integrated into the valve manifold CPX/MPA on site. “It’s positioned exactly where the pressure is needed,” explained Festo Product Manager Ulrich Sixt.
The proportional pressure regulators VPPM regulate the contact pressure of the parallel gripper. The packaging must be gripped securely without deforming or damaging it. Gripping pressure is governed by various factors such as fullness, packing density, and weight. Control precision and repetition accuracy are also very important. Thanks to the proportional technology, adjustments can be made at any time.This is necessary because systems sometimes have to handle over 100 different formats. These formats are managed as recipe parameters in the SIMPLO software application developed by Transnova Ruf. The software allows machine operators with no programming skills to create new palletizing patterns and import them into the robot control system during live production.

Diagnostics and remote maintenance

The proportional pressure regulators VPPM are embedded in the valve manifold CPX/MPA. Its electrical component has analog and digital inputs and outputs that can be used to control and monitor individual sections of the process. The CPX can be accessed online via the internet, for retrieval of diagnostic data. This means that, whenever maintenance is required, remote diagnostics can be used to quickly determine whether the problem is easy to rectify or, in extremely rare cases, whether the entire valve or valve manifold need to be replaced. “As a medium-sized company, we can now provide our global network of customers with the best possible service,” said Michael Ruf with a smile.

Transnova Ruf Verpackungs- und Palettiertechnik GmbH

Rudolf-Diesel-Strasse 12
91522 Ansbach


Area of business: Development and assembly of modular robot-based solutions for end line packaging and palletizing processes

September 2016