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At its facility in Merseyside, Filter Design Company (FDC) designs and manufactures filter production machinery and equipment. However, when a high profile customer secured a long-running order to produce filters, the company had to act quickly to source and install automated palletiser solutions for its production lines. By chance, FDC was already

holding a meeting on-site with R. A. Rodriguez, the UK agent for IEF Werner, to discuss a different project. During the meeting the company was introduced to the varioSTACK component palletiser and told about the potential benefits it could offer to the filter production lines. These include flexibility, compact dimensions and ease of integration. Not only do varioSTACK systems offer a footprint of less , but they have the ability to load from the front or

than 1m2

side. Although most applications require bespoke tray designs and gripper technology, varioSTACK palletisers are also available with a wide range of standard accessories to optimise the handling process – including gripper rotation, multiple grippers, reversing units and alignment systems. According to the company, the open architecture and

modularity of varioSTACK are key to its flexible application, and it was therefore possible to supply the optimum configuration for the application at FDC. Now, each FDC-manufactured production line features two varioSTACKs. Filter cases arrive in the form of moulded halves stored in plastic tote boxes measuring 400mm wide x 600mm long x 400mm deep. Each tote contains 12 filter case halves per layer, separated by 12 blue layer cards, resulting in 144 parts per tote. The first varioSTACK is used to remove each filter case half and place

it on the production line ready for assembly – the pleated paper filter element needs to be inserted between two moulded case halves before they are welded together using ultrasonic technology. To start the process, a tote box is placed on a conveyor feed that

allows it to enter the varioSTACK before being lifted to the pick and place station immediately above. Filter case halves are then removed one by one using an automated two-axis handling device with bespoke gripper.

It takes six seconds to unload each component. Once a whole layer of parts has been removed to the production line, varioSTACK moves the tote to an adjacent position where another two-axis automated handling system lifts one of the layer cards to reveal the next layer of parts. The tote is then moved back to the component unloading station to continue with part transfer to the production line. At the other end of the production line, an identical

varioSTACK performs the reverse operation – returning the assembled filters to the tote boxes. The above is all achieved using a concept that is largely standard and modular, with the only bespoke areas being the grippers and the program, which are both customised to suit the customer’s component. End users can also choose between conveyor feed and trolley feed – the application at FDC is the first tote box configuration in the UK. The only other bespoke element of the configuration is the addition of an extra handling system (to raise and lower the dividing layer cards). Most systems only require a component handling system. To meet the end user’s specification, the system had

to deliver at least one hour of unmanned operation. Using the conveyor system, up to six tote boxes can be loaded (along with one in the machine). With a six second component load/unload cycle time, this meets the ‘unattended’ requirement. A visual traffic light system is deployed to tell FDC that the varioSTACK is

approaching the point when it needs attention. Of additional benefit, the palletisers have the ability to

accommodate another size of filter. Using the same size tote boxes, other filter styles are separated by different coloured layer cards. The only elements that require changing on the varioSTACK are the finger tools on the component gripper and the program, ensuring rapid set-up and production flexibility. The gripper also features colour recognition technology to ensure the process is error-proofed. With the configuration fully proven at IEF Werner’s facility in

Furtwangen, Germany, all four varioSTACK component palletisers have now been commissioned at FDC.

R.A. Rodriguez


Based in Bangladesh, the Mostafa Paper Complex (MPCL) paper mill uses wastepaper, board and pulp to manufacture writing-grade, printing-grade, newsprint and kraft paper to meet the demands of local markets. For its latest machine, the company selected the new Unidrive M variable speed drive plus encoders and systems solutions from Control Techniques. The Unidrive M drive solution controls various suction rolls, paper guide rolls and dryers within the paper machine. Control Techniques has tailored each

Unidrive M model to specific application needs identified within the field of manufacturing automation. As an example, the M700 series drives now in use at MPCL offer benefits specific to sectors such as paper and print. The M700 AC drive delivers maximum machine throughput through greater control with single and multi-axis network synchronisation, the company explains. Thanks to its on-board


real-time Ethernet (IEEE 1588 V2), advanced motion control and high speed I/O for position capture, it is even easier for machine builders to create more sophisticated and flexible machines. As a result of the module/software

configuration supplied by Control Techniques, the complete machine logic and sequence for MPCL could be implemented inside the drive, avoiding the need for an external PLC, panel and related accessories. Of additional benefit, the system’s design and interfaces ensure ease-of-use for the operator along with extensive diagnostics capability. For this application, Control Techniques was

able to specify a complete, fully digital drives package, including design and commissioning, as well as incomer panel and drives panel.

Control Techniques Enter 201


T: 01462 670044 Enter 200

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