Interlinking of a pharmaceutical packaging plant with a plastic chain conveyor workpiece carrier system
For Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH & Co. KG modular automation GmbH developed an innovative and highly flexible conveyor system for the final packaging process of pharmaceutical products.
modular automation was to develop and supply an innovative and highly flexible plastic chain conveyor system (link chain conveyor, slat-band conveyor) for linking the entire final packaging process of pharmaceutical products. The result was a final packaging plant in a clean room in which medical products are depalletized from pallets and fed into the final packaging process. The products are transported on workpiece carriers (pucks) via the conveyor system first to the labelling process, in which labels are labelled on the products with the highest precision. In the next step, the labelled products are transported to the cartoning process, where they are cartoned and packaged. In addition, accumulation conveyors, also known as Alpine conveyors in the form of accumulation conveyors, should be integrated between all packaging processes.
modular automation was faced with the challenge of developing a space-saving and at the same time highly flexible conveyor system that would synchronize the individual plant processes and react automatically in real time to the situations in the production process. The focus was on plant efficiency, energy saving potential and noise reduction.
The solution: a high-performance conveyor system based on the modular automation plastic chain conveyor workpiece carrier system
The conveyor system developed by modular automation (based on the modular automation plastic chain conveyor, link chain conveyor or hinged belt conveyor system) takes over the complete transport of the products on workpiece carriers (pucks) through the plant as well as between the individual plant processes. In addition to pure transport, this also includes functions such as accumulating and storing products in accumulation sections and accumulation conveyors (Alpine Conveyor), but also the control and monitoring of all plant processes.
Do you have questions, would you like personal advice, in person on site, by phone, via MS Teams? We are happy to be at your disposal personally.
Increase of process autonomy, optimum plant output, reduction of plant failures
Between each plant process (depalletizing, labelling and cartoning process) there are accumulation conveyor lines (plastic chain conveyors or hinged belt conveyors), which can be automatically filled with up to 750 products in case of need (e.g. maintenance or breakdown of machines). The plant is equipped with two accumulating conveyors (Alpine Conveyor, also known as spiral conveyors), as well as a further conveying section which can also accumulate or buffer the same number of products. These ensure the optimum balance between the individual processes, resulting in optimum interaction for high plant output and increased autonomy of the individual processes. This is recognized and controlled fully automatically by the conveyor control system, which communicates constantly with the connected machines and fills the accumulating conveyors immediately if necessary.
The space-saving conveyor plant (plastic chain conveyors, hinged belt conveyors)
The entire plastic chain conveyor system stands on a steel frame constructed by modular automation, and the plant is also suspended from the ceiling at the end customer. This results in valuable floor space in the production environment. This enables optimum accessibility to the machines located on the floor (labellers and cartoners).
Energy saving, noise reduction, synchronisation of the conveying system
The conveying system itself recognizes which system areas are not required at the moment and switches them off. This is made possible by synchronizing all plant processes via the central control system. This significantly reduces energy costs and the noise level of the plant. The pucks (workpiece carriers) specially developed for this project, whose weight has been reduced by approx. two thirds compared to standard pucks on the market, result in further savings in the areas of energy and noise as well as in the wear of the conveyor system.
Accumulation and buffering: Accumulation conveyor/Alpine Conveyor and accumulation sections create autonomy and buffer in the production line
The conveyor plant was developed by modular automation in such a way that an accumulation section is integrated between each production process (accumulation conveyors serve as a buffer between the plant processes), which can be temporarily filled with the products contained in the system if required. This allows short-term production fluctuations between the individual process stages, e.g. due to maintenance or failures, to be compensated and bridged. If one machine should fail, the rest of the system can be operated for a certain period of time. The optimum interaction between the individual plant processes results in maximum plant output.
This is recognized and controlled fully automatically by the conveyor control system, which communicates constantly with the connected machines and fills the accumulating conveyors immediately if necessary.
Industry 4.0: Plant control - intelligent, networked, intuitive and user-friendly
The heart of the conveyor plant is the control system developed in-house by modular automation. It intelligently networks all plant processes with each other. The connected plant processes send real-time parameters to the controller, on the basis of which the entire plant is automatically controlled.
Advantages and functions of the machine and system control (PLC) at a glance
- Connected processes report problems
The control system receives a problem message from a plant process, then the connected accumulation sections are automatically filled, so that the upstream and downstream processes can continue to work independently, there is no overall stoppage of the plant, whereby high costs can be avoided.
- Energy savings through intelligent control of the system
The conveyor system control system developed by modular automation uses sensors to detect which system areas are not currently required in operation and switches them off until they are needed again. Conveyor speeds are also adapted to real-time conditions. This significantly reduces energy costs and noise levels.
- Intuitive user interface with diagnostic function and fault location
The user interface of the control system has been designed very intuitively, so that plant operators can operate the plant without a great deal of training. With the help of the diagnostic function with fault location, the operator is shown the cause of the fault (with detailed description) as well as the exact fault location. This means that faults can be rectified in just a few seconds and do not have to be identified and localised first in a laborious and time-consuming manner. The controller can be accessed via all touch panels in the system, which considerably simplifies the handling of the system and saves long distances.
- Adjustment options without programming effort, via parameters adjustments possible via touch panel
The plant can be adjusted and optimised via a large number of parameters via the control surface. Thus, the system can be adjusted and optimized without programming knowledge or effort.
modular automation - expert for integrated, turnkey conveyor system solutions and transport systems
In this project, we were once again able to demonstrate our strength as a full-range supplier of integrated conveyor system solutions. Due to our holistic corporate structure as a conveyor system supplier, with a focus on transfer systems, plastic chain conveyor systems (link chain conveyors, hinged belt conveyors) with in-house control competence, production and project-related product developments, we offer our customers an important added value: tailor-made conveyor system solutions in the field of intralogistics based on the modular automation plastic chain conveyor construction kit.
- Control competence: modular automation developed and programmed the entire system control in-house.
- Engineering tailor-made: Tailor-made developments for this project. Internal new development of pucks, new side guides, stoppers and switches.
- Well thought-out system solution: The entire system was planned and designed from the start of the project in such a way that it could be easily assembled, but also simply dismantled and transported and assembled at the end customer's site. The entire system could thus be put into operation at the end customer in just a few days.
- Own production: Our own production enables us to reduce delivery times and costs for our customers.
- Over 15 years of experience in the conveyor system business and the development of transport systems.
The following links will provide you with further information on the project and the conveyor system solutions from modular automation used in it:
- Previous project with Uhlmann: Pharmaceutical end-of-line packaging line for medical products
- Information about the puck conveyor: Chain conveyor with puck handling for transporting products on a puck
- Information on the accumulation conveyor system: accumulation conveyors (spiral accumulators) create buffer and accumulation zones in the production process.
- Information about our plastic chain conveyors, hinged belt conveyors, plastic conveyor systems made of aluminium