Gable top filling machine adopts servo system

Evergreen Packaging used PACK EXPO Connects as an opportunity to launch a new servo-driven EH-84 rooftop packaging machine, which uses PLC control and servo technology from Rockwell Automation. The EH-84 is designed for the dairy, juice and liquid food markets and can handle fill volumes up to 40 ounces 64 oz and 2 liters, with speeds up to 8,400 cases per hour.

Richard Szyperski, Evergreen’s technical product manager and equipment sales specialist, said the company’s EQ-70 rooftop machines for quart and 1 L cartons have been utilizing servo technology for some time. The EH-84 brought servo technology to the popular half-gallon format and represented the culmination of knowledge gleaned from the development of previous machines, he said.

“Our customer base is looking for this mechanical to servo upgrade,” Szyperski said. “When it came to the control platform, Rockwell was an obvious choice, not only because it’s the platform we’ve used in the past, but because it’s the platform our customers are familiar with.”

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The motors and drives Evergreen selected were Kinetix VPL low-inertia servo motors and Kinetix 5700 servo drives. The communication protocol used to connect GuardLogix L83-ES PLC and servo drive is Ethernet IP.

The linear Evergreen filler is a two-channel, single-index machine with seven volumetric fill valves per channel. The servo system performs drives such as filling and movement of the mandrel on which the flat blanks are erected and formed into the roof cartons. Szyperski is particularly pleased with the increased accuracy in filling. “Mechanical pump-controlled filling is not as accurate as servo-controlled filling,” he points out. “By using a servo system on the spindle, we can greatly increase the control over the positioning capabilities. Additionally, we can now rotate the spindle without having to cycle the machine. This brings advantages in terms of cleaning and disinfection.

The first to install the EH-84 was Orrville, Ohio-based SmithFoods, a leading producer of milk and plant-based beverages. Todd DeRoo, vice president of operations, said the business benefits of servo control are significant. “We can adjust to an almost infinite variety of sizes very quickly, and it takes probably 50 percent less time to do so than a comparable machine that’s not servo controlled,” DeRoo said. “Also, everything is more accurate. We did wonder at the beginning how the operators would cope with the new technology, but after running the machine for an hour or two, they were reluctant to be assigned to the old line.

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