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Reliable and flexible motion in a hygienic environmentThe output of highly complex nappy production lines at Ontex Mayen has tripled over the past few years without any investment in new machines. This has been made possible by ensuring that the production line runs with virtually no downtime, as well as to continual improvements made on the production process. In addition, set-up times have been reduced significantly.
The necessary flexibility when changing to different formats is guaranteed by various linear bearings from Igus, which fulfil all manufacturing requirements. The drylin bearings are designed to operate in rough and dirty conditions, working 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Ontex Mayen is the European leading manufacturer of hygienic disposable products. At one of its plants, 11 lines exclusively manufacture all sizes and variations of babies' nappies which are sold worldwide. Each nappy production line is approximately 60m long and produces and packs approximately 1,000 nappies per minute.
As the nappy manufacturer serves many customers, line safety and flexibility must be guaranteed. "We have an average of four changes in size per week per line, which adds up to more than 200 changes in size per year," says, Thomas Heege, head of industrial engineering at Ontex Mayen. In addition, we have three product changes, which makes at least 30 a day." In addition, the lines run round the clock seven days a week and are subject to high dynamic loads.
Super-absorber and cellulose are used in the manufacturing process, which result in a relatively high level of dirt and dust. In addition, super-absorber behaves in a similar way to sand and contamination occurs through the effects of friction. "As a result, the lines and the machine components are under extreme strain," Heege continues. "However, they still have to work reliably under all circumstances."
Drylin linear bearings from Igus play a major role here. Lubricant- and maintenance-free, insensitive to dust and dirt, corrosion-free, durable, quiet and lightweight, they are mainly responsible for positive adjustments such as in the adhesive application points. The adhesive application head must be moved reproducibly from A to B to C according to the respective product, a process which works reliably using linear guides.
As babies' nappies must be white, the hygiene guidelines at the company are very stringent and concern the components and machine parts used in production and packaging. "Since we are classified as a food processing company, lubricants must be banned to a major extent," Heege explains. The Igus lubricant-free linear solutions guarantee the complete exclusion of contamination of the nappies during the whole process."
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