Manufacturing set-ups need to gear up to adhere to the stringent laws and at the same time meet the ever-rising consumer demands. Keeping pace with technology is another important aspect, which needs to be addressed by manufacturers. In this endeavour, machine builders play a vital role in helping manufacturing set-ups with the necessary technology, likewise meeting the standards demanded by various laws. However machine builders, in addition are continuously improving their machine designs in order to achieve higher efficiency, productivity, availability, lower maintenance costs, faster after-sales service, remote connectivity, energy efficiency, better quality and RoI.
Conventional designing ecosystem
Pharmaceutical and pharma-packaging machine builders are already evaluating and adopting the trending technologies to build smart machines. Shorter time-to-market is a key factor of competitiveness. However, conventional method of machine designing acts as a hurdle in achieving these goals. Conventional machine design is primarily a sequence of activities moving in a chronological order starting with mechanical design, electrical design and finally automation software design or programming. As the machine delivery time largely remains unchanged, any delays experienced in mechanical and electrical phases leads to considerable reduction in time available for software design. With the growing complexities in machines, software has already assumed a larger role in machine building. Even after utilising the benefits provided by software components such as mapp Technology, in such cases, machine builders find it hard to make maximum use of the time for software development. In addition, they are not able to control the excessive costs incurred during mechanical design rework.
Another aspect of pharmaceutical shopfloors is the way of transporting products, which is predominantly via conveyors. However, conveyors usually work at their speed and mostly product deliveries and transfer systems are designed to match speeds of preceding or succeeding machines. Thus, the line speed would largely depend on the speed of the slowest machine. This was the usual way of optimisation and synchronisations. Definitely, these systems do the job of transportations, however the machine builder and factory operators miss out on efficiency, easier & delicate product handling, smaller batch sizes, quick changeover and higher efforts and costs for line synchronisation.
Machine design made efficient
Today, with latest next-generation technologies, B&R enables machine builders to reduce costs, while designing machines as well as reducing time-to-market and at the same time make them profitable. The company understood the difficulties faced by software developers during machine design & development. In this context, B&R’s Automation Studio provides an in-built simulation environment enabling software programmer to test the software functionality even without the physical hardware. Simulation covers all aspects of the company portfolio, such as controls, I/Os, motion components including drives and motors. This virtualisation no doubt supports the software developer with the necessary tools for testing his code and being ready for deploying in machines. This definitely helps in maximum utilisation of available time during commissioning.
The company moves one-step higher with effective integration of Automation Studio with simulation tools such as MapleSim and Matlab/Simulink. MapleSim and Simulink provide the simulation environment of the entire machine. Thus, a machine builder is able to simulate his machine under actual environmental conditions and thus test his mechanics. The machine builder is then with the help of a single click able to transform the design into a source code, which can be imported in the simulation software and then downloaded in the controller.
With the software, the machine builder gets an overview of the mechanics along with its working with B&R components such as drives and motors. Thus, the complete machine together with electronics and mechanics can be simulated without the need of actual machined product or component procurement. Thus any correction, rework in mechanics or electronic selection can be modified or updated without incurring extra costs. It features interfaces for external tools such as industrial Physics, in order to simulate complex system processes, such as material flow or entire production plants.
Next-generation industrial transport technology
Instead of building machines around conveyors for transport, it would be a dream comes true if transport systems could be integrated in the machine design directly for handling products. Today, to make this a reality for machine builders, there is the next-generation industrial transport technology. The versatile industrial transport systems let the machine builders move products through production line more efficiently, while simultaneously improving quality. Based on long-stator linear motors, the next-generation industrial transport solutions make production lines more flexible, more reliable and faster. In place of belts and chains, products are transported along the track on independently-controlled shuttles. With control resolution down to 10 μm, the nearly-frictionless shuttle movement enables implementation of highly precise production processes. By eliminating the need for buffer zones, the industrial transport systems allow for a substantial reduction in track length compared to conventional belt conveyors. The versatile transport systems can be fully integrated. This not only reduces the overall footprint of the line, but also improves processing precision. Individual processes can be perfectly coordinated with one another. External devices like robots can be synchronised in hard real-time.
ACOPOStrak is a revolution in adaptive manufacturing, extending the economy of mass production down to batches of one. Parts and products are transported quickly and flexibly from processing station to processing station on independently controlled shuttles. It is a generational leap in intelligent, flexible transport systems. It’s a unique design that delivers decisive technological advantages for adaptive, connected manufacturing. Smart-factory motion control enables key advantages—maximum availability, high-speed transport and positioning, rapid changeover and fault-tolerant high quality. It boosts overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), multiplies return on investment (ROI) and accelerates time to market (TTM).
Leveraging the future, today!
These technologies are available and already-in-use globally for designing machines, wherein, innovations will surely enable pharma and pharma-packaging machinery to meet the market demands. Machine builders across the pharma industries will support increased capacity, efficiency, uptime, and utilisation. Through our innovations, B&R’s solutions enables machine builders in the process of machine designing, efficient software development, hardware & software simulation and diagnostics down to variable level. It also helps to enhance profitability and build an edge for the future through engineering innovation.
The article is authored by Ninad Deshpande, Head - Marketing, B&R India