Height adjustable packaging machine is highly compact
When Steffes Prüf- und Messtechnik looked to develop an innovative new packaging system, a key consideration was restricted space conditions at the Steffes factory. With the aim of developing height-adjustable and particularly compact system, the company turned to MK for components from its aluminium profile kit.
Steffes has some 40 years experience is developing and building complete solutions for checking, picking, packing and transporting hollow bodies of various kinds. Blow moulding machine manufacturers, packaging specialists and car manufacturers around the world are among the company’s customers.
The new S-PACK-PAL-T is a fully automatic machine for packaging various empty containers (including bottles, cans and canisters) in cardboard trays and subsequent palletising of the trays on a pallet. As well as being robust, safe and easy to use, the machine had to have a packing height of 3m. Furthermore, it needed a compact, box-shaped frame so that it could be transported easily on a lorry or a maritime container. In addition it needed to offer flexibility in its construction.
Quite often, simple considerations can prove to be major hurdles, as Christian Becker, product manager at MK knows well: “With new developments, you have to meet the functional requirements, but also how other requirements impact on the structural concept.” For example, the transport and the installation of a machine must be considered, as well as operating costs of the facility or ergonomics or noise emissions. Even apparently quite trivial conditions can greatly affect the implementation of an idea.
In this case, the required 3m packaging height proved to be a major obstacle. The ceiling height of the assembly hall at Steffes facilities did not allow the building of such a tall machine. Out of necessity, the developer came up with the idea of building a telescopic frame. In order to achieve the required height, the frame should be able to be extended by 1.5m.
With the concept clarified, the developer recognised that this innovative design would actually offer a number of benefits. The machine could be transported in one piece on a truck or in a container, simplifying transport and eliminating the need for reassembly on site.
As long time users of MK’s aluminium profile system, Steffes’ designers were confident the product range could meet the machines requirements – not only the telescopic frame of the system, but also components such as frames and casings, doors and windows, all the way through to the gripper for cardboard trays.
The MK construction kit is designed such that all profiles, accessories and handling equipment are fully compatible with each other. “Our products allow you to perform all basic mechanical functions of a modern factory automation system,” says Becker.
Maxim Janzen, technical director at Steffes, says, “For us as machine manufacturers, the MK components and modules offer key advantages through design and the flexibility needed for a new development can be easily realised with the MK products. Components can be quickly and easily changed or adjusted afterwards. The diversity of the profile system enables us to tackle even the most unusual applications.”
To build the system to be as compact as possible, the height-adjustable frame was realised as a scissor mechanism. Telescopic MK pro-files provide the necessary flexibility. Components and assemblies that protrude from the rack in operation mode have been designed to be retracted or collapsed for transportation. After the concept of the packaging system was fully developed, the first prototype was put into service by the client in a semi-automatic version. A little later, two more plants followed, in a fully automatic version, with various options and innovations.
For Steffes, the development of the packaging system has definitely paid off: after the first three plants, two more are in planning now. “Our client is very happy and so are we,” says Janzen.
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