High-speed solutions for confectionery sector

The increasing speed of production of process lines and in primary packaging machines (typically flow pack) in the confectionery sector, is a constant challenge that our company has to deal with
A task made even more onerous by the nature of the products, which are often fragile and need to be treated with extreme caution to prevent them from reaching damaged the final consumer, thus creating an image damage to the costumers companies.

Ready to respond to the needs of the market, M.H. Material Handling SpA has developed in recent years advanced systems to manage the products output from the primary packaging machines; in order to unify them on a single line, or split them on multiple tracks, depending on the chosen solution for secondary packaging.

Recently, MH has presented two new systems, one sorter and one merger, in order to overcome the already high production rates achieved in the past: the new devices are able to handle production capacities of up to 600 products per minute on single row, 150 mm long, corresponding to a nominal speed of 90 m/min.

Merging groups
The unification groups are an essential accessory when the secondary packaging machine is a Racetrack type with a robotic arm for multiple picking up. The best machines available on the market are currently able to manage over 400 pieces per minute.

The unification of the group presented by MH is designed to be interposed between two or more primary packaging machines and a secondary packaging machine.
Each track input is constituted by 2 or 3 conveyors with medium friction belt driven by brushless motors, the number varies depending on the speed required by the output line; increasing the speed, can be necessary the use of vacuum aspiration systems to avoid the slipping of the products on the belts during the acceleration phase.

The purpose of these transporters is to ensure the proper phasing of incoming products so that they cannot collide with each other on the subsequent unification tape. The unification conveyor is a further conveyor belt where the products are carried in a single row using one or two guides posed like a funnel.
At the speeds provided it is necessary to overcome the concept of the fixed guide, as any slowdown of products in contact with the guide would result in a loss of timing and risk of interlocking. Event that with high production cadence that would have catastrophic effects and would lead to immediately block of the upstream machines.

For this reason, the chosen solution is to replace the fixed guides with motorized vertical belt conveyors that they can adapt the speed to that of the underlying tape.

The system is designed to unify the incoming productions from two lines into single row with products about 150 mm long at a rate of 300 ppm for each row: the result is a final output of 600 ppm on a single row; the actual output speed of the products by the system is between 110 and 140 m/min, depending on the characteristics of the products and the needs of the downstream secondary packaging machine.

The machine is manufactured with the highest construction standards, the phaser conveyors are equipped with easy-change system without tools.

The standard control system is a Siemens PLC with color operator panel, as well as inverters, brushless and related drives are Keb or Elau, gearboxes and asynchronous are SEW. On request, it is possible to install Rockwell Allen-Bradley electronic.

An important feature that distinguishes the MH compared to other systems on the market is the ability to control the output step of the products to obtain a regular cadence. Conversely, many competitors offer a management of the products in trains, in fact forcing a complete rephase of the products before entering the secondary machine, with consequent increase of costs.

MH has recently acquired a major order for a leading manufacturer in the confectionery industry in the Middle East. The supply comprises three merger systems 2 in 1 and a merger system 3 in 1 accompanied by all the connection conveyors with the flowpack machines upstream of the system.
Sorter groups
In the case where the solution chosen for the secondary packaging is the multi robot type with a vision system, the need is to direct the products on multiple lines from the output of the primary packaging machines.
MH offers a wide range of solutions, from a mobile channel systems to those multi paddle, all moved by brushless motors.
The novelty is constituted by a discontinuous movable guide system.

The group consists of a battery of two phasing blet conveyors controlled by brushless motors, which step in a regular manner the products directed to the conveyor on which the sorting occurs.

The division from 1 to 2 lines is performed using a motorized vertical belt conveyor, superimposed on the sorting conveyor, on which are mounted some flights with the required length that, on alternate paces, accompany the products towards the outside track. As the shift occurs gradually and at the same speed of the underlying belt, there are no strong stresses on the product and the system is particularly suitable for fragile products.

Even in this case, as for the mergers, the cadence of the products at the exit of the machine it is guaranteed and does not require another phase before the secondary packaging machines.

The production speed reached are identical to those already mentioned for the mergers

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