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Motion Control Resources

Packaging and Cartoning Performance Improved with Servo Actuators

by WITTENSTEIN with SIG Combibloc

SIG Combibloc is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of aseptic carton packaging as well as filling machines for beverages and food. The company supplies complete systems including both the preprinted packaging materials and the corresponding machines for filling beverages and liquid foods into aseptic packs.

The very first time a WITTENSTEIN gearbox was used in a SIG Combibloc filling machine, its job wasn’t to transmit a motion but to reduce it. Although this was a rather unusual task for a gearbox, it helped cut the costs for the machine significantly.

Joint achievement: servo actuators in packaging technology

Servo gearboxes later made their debut in follow-up projects, and the line speed was increased from 2500 to 3000 packs per hour. The gradual technology shift from pneumatic to servo meant SIG Combibloc was regularly able to announce major performance improvements. Its engineers and developers increasingly focused on servo capability with each new generation of machines. And WITTENSTEIN has continued to provide active support as a development partner to this day.

 »As an “enabling technology”, WITTENSTEIN’s servo systems are at least partly responsible for the top performance delivered by our machines. «


SIG Combibloc currently installs various high-end right-angle gearboxes such as HG+, TK+ and V-Drive+ as well as high-end TP+ and SP+ planetary gearboxes depending on the specified function, the performance demanded and the space available – all built by WITTENSTEIN alpha and almost all in a corrosion resistant design. WITTENSTEIN alpha products perform extremely well; they make the machines more flexible, increase their throughput and guarantee optimal processing quality in continuous, dynamic operation.   

SIG Combibloc sees WITTENSTEIN’s servo technology as an “enabling technology” that is at least partly responsible for the top performance delivered by its machines.

This was only possible because the cooperation progressed from a simple supplier-customer relationship to an innovation and expert partnership. Corrosion resistant servo gearboxes and actuators, and more recently also hygienic design, are just two instances of projects the two companies have undertaken together. WITTENSTEIN has been able to take advantage of SIG Combibloc’s know-how here regarding the requirements in food processing plants with sterile and wet areas. In the opposite direction, SIG Combibloc profits from WITTENSTEIN’s ability to deliver components that conform to rigorous standards and significantly enhance the availability, efficiency and value of the machines.

All beverage cartons are manufactured and filled in the same way

The basic design of a SIG Combibloc machine always consists of four modules: so-called sleeves are folded in the mandrel wheel section, then pushed onto mandrels and heated. As part of the same process, the base of the packaging is first folded and then sealed by the bottom press. In the downstream chain section, compressed air blows dust particles out of the packaging, which is still open at the top; the pre-punched creases and folds in the carton material are broken and pre-folded in preparation for sealing. In the aseptic zone, the packaging is sterilized with hydrogen peroxide, dried, filled with product and ultrasonically sealed.

Next, a handling module transfers the filled and sealed primary packaging to a conveyor, which takes it away. The folding, filling and sealing processes are completed amazingly fast. A six-lane Combibloc CFA 124 achieves an output of 24,000 packs an hour, equivalent to sixteen million machine cycles a year for every lane. The machines have to be capable of keeping up this performance for at least ten years – an incredible 160 million cycles all told. There are two fundamental reasons why this kind of efficiency and availability are a reality today: one is the consistent use of servo technology and the other the powerful gearboxes and actuators which do a reliable job every single time.

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