Records from the Office for National Statistics show a three year high in manufacturing output which has produced optimism within industry, but also a requirement for economically faster and more technically advanced equipment.
According to Omron, the best way a machine builder can meet these demands is by developing a strong relationship with application astute suppliers of advanced industrial automation products.
Converging Solutions, a UK designer and manufacturer of robust pack handling solutions traditionally used in the food sector, has been subject to recent influencing industry and customer trends.
“Our business has changed considerably over the last few years,” comments James Cruickshank, part of Converging Solutions’ management team. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in overseas interest and are working with a wider range of customers operating in sectors outside of the food industry, plus customers are more demanding in what they are trying to achieve which has meant that our machines need to run faster and be more technically advanced,” adds James.
To further enhance the performance and reliability of their flagship product, the Pack Stacker, Converging Solutions turned to Omron, a manufacturer of advanced industrial automation products.
“When working with Converging Solutions we proposed a compact, simple to use and cost effective solution to improve machine performance and functionality whilst maintaining, or lowering, the overall cost of the equipment. Ultimately, we are looking to enhance an OEM’s competitive edge,” explains Omron’s Field Application Engineer Wayne Corp.
Working with a new customer on a new application, Converging Solutions upgraded its Pack Stacker to achieve the customer’s high speed and unusual pack presentation objectives. Significantly it was required to generate elevated speeds to accept packs from multiple converging lines.
“The machine incorporates Omron’s CP1H PLC, NQ HMI, MX2 Inverter and SmartStep 2 servo drives,” said Mr Corp.
“We’ve purposely made the control simple in design – the compact MX2 frequency inverter which harmonises motor and machine control, is connected using Modbus communications resulting in reduced wiring for ourselves and a robust network providing the basis for an intuitive and easy to use operator screen controlling the whole machine.”
Utilising Omron’s NQ HMI, the Pack Stacker can be quickly set and allow operators to log alarms which, for the customer, speeds up fault finding.
The incorporation of simple networking allows the operator to gain more information from the machine which improves diagnostics and the value to the customer, plus the integration of complex motion has advanced the machine technically.
“We chose Omron’s Feature Rich range of products – which were competitively priced, came with a great support package and free training for all our software engineers,” said Converging Solutions Technical Manager Scott Stanley.
“Our strong relationship with Omron’s application engineers, who continually push us forward, has meant that we get the most out of our kit.”
Forging a strong relationship has been key to the success of the project for both parties: “A close working relationship, using the machine builder’s expertise and Omron’s engineering input, is vital when looking to get the most out of any given system,” Corp added.
“Omron’s excellent support package, design, construction and installation training make implementing new Omron technology very easy. Today customers want more for less and to remain competitive, in light of competition, we build strong relationships with a key core base of reliable and trustworthy components suppliers,” adds James.
Omron’s upgrades to the Pack Stacker have increased speed and efficiency and the system is running at speeds of 30 stacks of 4 packs per minute. As James Cruickshank points out: “Line efficiency is essential to our customers and we have achieved this.”