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Motion Control Resources

Automation solution for modular packaging machines

by Jürgen Rapp, Director of Technical Marketing at AMK
AMK Automation

Because processes in packaging manufacturing are often modular, it is logical that today's packaging manufacturing plants also have a modular design. As a result, planning times are reduced, the machines can be built faster, and the modification of existing plants is simplified.

Lohmann&Rauscher has been a major player in medical and first-aid products for more than 150 years. Their success is based on constant tracking of changes and trends in the health care market and conversion of these into corresponding products. These new products go hand in hand with new production plants. Because the standards set by Lohmann&Rauscher on production and thus on production plants are very high, the company has elected to build the necessary machines itself in some cases.

Even though the end products are different, the production sequences are still similar. "The production sequences involve placing web-shaped materials one on top of the other and then punching, cutting, sealing, and packaging them", described Frank Kaufmann, Director of Electrical Engineering at Lohmann&Rauscher. For this reason, the individual production steps are used over and over again in identical or modified form. This lends itself to the creation of separate plant modules with function, drive, and related modular software, thus allowing new plants to be easily assembled from these modules.

The primary advantage of modular design is that it significantly reduces the planning and configuration effort and allows the plant to be ready for production again relatively quickly. "We imagined an approach where we only had to plug in the individual modules and the production software would know immediately where the module is located and what it is supposed to do," Frank Kaufmann said when describing the objectives. Thus, the individual process steps should exist as separate complete modules with drive, function, and programming in a kind of library, to enable easy assembly into new machines. This means that each new machine is configured according to the number of overall processes required and their explicit sequence. Of course, this approach also allows existing plants to be easily and quickly modified or expanded.

With AMK’s iDT5 motor integrated drive series, power and feedback cables can be daisy chained from drive to drive.

In order to design the individual machine modules as fully independent modules, the use of decentralized drive technology was chosen. A search was made for a partner with the appropriate product range and experience. "With AMK we have found a partner that could provide us with a universal portfolio of decentralized drive technology products," explained Frank Kaufmann. "In addition to the technological aspects, the size of the company and the constant availability of its contact persons suited us well. We felt it was the right fit!"

And that is why Lohmann&Rauscher now equips its individual modules with decentralized drives from the AMKASMART series. The iDT5 servo inverter-integrated motor allows the drives to be installed directly on the machine without a control cabinet or distributor box. As a result, the space requirement and the higher-level control cabinet can also be downsized. Another advantage is the reduction in cabling since only fieldbus and power cables have to be fed to the drive. Additional iDTs are simply looped through. Lohmann&Rauscher has replaced CANbus with EtherCat for plant communication. Its advantages lie in its real-time capability and short cycle times. It also enables other fieldbus components to be easily looped in at any time and anywhere in the machine. This is, of course, a strong accompaniment to the modular design, including for plant modification and expansion. The simple method of cabling enables engineers to individually test the independent machine modules, which makes commissioning easier and faster.

AMKASMART Decentralized drive technology, iX, iC, iDT5

If additional fieldbus components are needed, they can be easily looped in anywhere in the plant. Because the individual drives are supplied power via the DC link, only infeed and regenerative feedback modules are still needed. Here, Lohmann&Rauscher decided on the compact supply modules of the AMKASYN KE series. These provide a high power density and a choice of square-wave or sine-wave regenerative feedback and monitor for overtemperature, power failure, line current, short circuit, brake resistance, DC link overvoltage, and main contactor control, in order to ensure reliable production.

The art of modular machine design lies in the fact that a machine that consists of individual modules is nevertheless “from one mold”. For this reason, it was important to Lohmann&Rauscher that all automation components are obtained from a single system manufacturer. Accordingly, the AMK AMKAMAC A5 was chosen, which includes motion control, PLC, and visualization. The centerpiece of this controller is the powerful ATOM processor with 1.1 GHz The controller adapts itself flexibly to different plant concepts. For optimum integration of the A5, there are multifunctional I/Os via which digital actuators and sensors can be connected directly to the machine.

AMKASMART iDT5 decentralized drive technologyAMKAMAC A5 Motion Controller with smartPanel
The AIPEX PRO engineering tool of AMK provides for the programming, visualization, and diagnostics needed throughout the service life of the plant. The CODESYS programming platform is integrated there for IEC 61131-3-compliant programming. Parameter assignment of the drives and configuration of the fieldbus and all other drives are derived from the PLC functions and executed automatically. These include AMK's extensive PLC motion library and industry-specific technology blocks, which accelerates the implementation.

The CODESYS web visualization enables straightforward representation of the plant on the operator terminal. In the future, Lohmann&Rauscher will use Qt for visualization. The C++ class library provides a graphical user interface for programming the controller. In order to create the visualization, a large selection of modern graphically- appealing elements are available: touch operation, color gradients in buttons, 3-D elements, optically adjustable operator panel, handwheels, and pushbuttons. In terms of speed, this user interface also leaves nothing to be desired. Thanks to Qt, there is access to an integrated SQlite database, which can be used, for example, to record production data or manage recipes.

The in-house system at Lohmann&Rauscher is already permitting plants to be monitored from an office, error analyses to be created, and the corresponding machine to be logged into. What's new is the interaction of PLC programming interface CODESYS with Qt and the ability to exchange data in real-time.

Through AIPEX PRO, which is easy and fast to learn, Lohmann&Rauscher needed only a short training period with expert support from AMK engineers. Thus, it was possible to build up the appropriate programming expertise in house very quickly, and now all programming work is carried out in-house.

Thanks to the decentralized drive technology only very little cabinet space is needed.

All in all, the AMK automation solution with decentralized drives, PLC controllers, and engineering tool has provided Lohmann&Rauscher with an extremely flexible, efficient, and easy-to-maintain technology basis for handling future tasks. "We use a standard frame in which the modules can be easily inserted. Together with the flexible components of AMK and the process modules, we have a new machine and are thus back in production in relatively little time," praised Frank Kaufmann.

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5631 South Laburnum Avenue - Richmond, VA 23231

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