“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 industry 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 control valve, 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 control valve 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.