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DIGITALISATION Enabling profitable and customised packaging

Mar 7, 2019

Packaging offers a pivotal communication bridge between consumers and brand owners. The article explores how the packaging industry is on the path of a digital transformation and how B&R mapp technology is revolutionising the development of application software in automation.

The packaging industry has seen a revolutionary transformation that was unimaginable a decade ago. Increasing competition and awareness of consumers are factors probing the industry with matchless challenges, and pushing them to adopt innovations in packaging. Packaging plays a significant role in improving aesthetics in an industrial ecosystem as well as in our daily life. The packaging industry is less likely to be undermined. Automation and robotics, over the years, have been instrumental in providing cutting-edge technology to packaging solutions. Today, with the latest industrial revolution, the packaging industry, too, is expected to receive a fillip building a networked value. With personalised products gaining prominence, machine builders are concentrating on ideologies and methods to satisfy these consumer demands.

Industry focusing on mass customisation

Today, with the ever-changing consumer demands, there is a clear need of sustainability and cost effectiveness while optimising packaging machines meeting these demands. Machine builders, with a view to providing personalised products, focus to reinforce structural strategy and adopt custom packaging techniques. The major challenge for machine builders during the course of custom manufacturing is to ensure optimal limits of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and reduce unplanned downtime at the same time, manufacturing batch sizes of one economically.

The industry driven under multi-vendor environment looks for collaborative partnership, ensuring interoperability, ansparency and decentralised intelligence for operational consistency. Mass production and extensive product customisation in batch size of one is turning to be the central goal of Industry 4.0, without compromising on productivity, availability and OEE. Mass customisation needs fast production changeovers performed by non-specialist operators, eventually demanding a modular machine design.

Personalised packaging

A conventional packaging line comprising of conveyors and robots were unsettling over the matter of synchronisation and connectivity. Maintenance of such systems on the shop floor is always challenging. Different solutions have been tried out to enable mass customisation. However, most have not been economically viable. B&R – ACOPOStrak has been a sheer game changer in this segment, enabling the adaptive machine concept.

A conventional packaging line comprising of conveyors and robots were unsettling over the matter of synchronisation and connectivity. Maintenance of such systems on the shop floor is always challenging. Different solutions have been tried out to enable mass customisation. However, most have not been economically viable. B&R – ACOPOStrak has been a sheer game changer in this segment, enabling the adaptive machine concept.efficiently and benefiting from higher margins of personalised products. In addition, ACOPOStrak, diverters enables merging product flows or diverting product flows at full production speeds. It helps manufacturers produce multiple product variants on the same line and packaged in custom sets with zero downtime for changeover. The techonology boosts overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), multiplies return on investment (ROI) and accelerates time-to-market (TTM). Another software tool known as Automation Studio guarantees this approach. Automation studio is a single platform for entire software development, supporting complete range of hardware from B&R. This coupled with open standards, such as, POWERLINK, openSAFETY, OPC UA and PackML, enables machine builders with seamless communication and perfectly orchestrated performance across multi-vendor lines.

Development made easy

Vendor-independent approach in packaging lines are more of reality using PackML, which gives all the machines that make up a packaging line a common look and feel and ensures operational consistency. The modularity and consistency of PackML enables self-optimisation and selfconfiguration of production lines and facilities. B&R has eased the implementation of PackML in machines with its modular application development method known as mapp technology. These modular software blocks simplify the development of new programmes and reduce the development time for new machines and systems by an average of 67%.

mapp PackML represents the logic of a machine controller as per the OMAC PackML standard. The recurring programming tasks presented in the style of pre-configured blocks by mapp technology that are extensively tested ensures that the machine software development is done with mere less effort. With mapp blocks seamlessly integrated into the Automation Studio environment, it becomes extremely easy to configure and relieve the developer of having to program every single detail. The other interesting components – mapp View helps to manage and visualise these integrated programmable states easily across different display units and mapp OEE permit automatic collection of production data and provide OEE functionality without any programming.

Open standards of PackML combining with connectivity of OPC UA enables seamless flow of data from field level to supervisory level. OPC UA is a completely independent and flexible communication protocol used to transfer all production process data within machine, machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud, thus, eliminating the need for traditional factory level fieldbus systems. OPC UA is implemented using standard PLC open function blocks. The machines share data on cloud using widely applied queuing protocols–OPC UA, MQTT or AMQP. It ensures the cloud receives data even when the network connection has low bandwidth or is intermittently unavailable.

Machine tweeting its status

With packaging machines, moving into a digital ecosystem, remote diagnostics and maintenance have taken a great leap. Alarms, emergency states and other key health factors of machines are now available to a supervisor, irrespective of his presence next to the machine. The hierarchy of escalating critical scenarios to a different level in a factory and demanding for corrective action is now easier using mapp Services. mapp Services is able to handle basic diagnostic functions of machinery and equipment. The components of mapp Services not only helps to develop programme faster but also reduces commissioning time. It is possible to implement functions, such as, automated text messaging and handling various machine options. The machines connected to web services are able to request maintenance actions autonomously. Operator interfaces take advantage of technologies based on web standards, eliminating the need of dedicated software. An operator or supervisor is able to see machine status and diagnostics information on any device using a standard web browser.

Packaging 4.0

The packaging industry is on the path of digital transformation, making it possible to aggregate data such as, production scheduling, asset management, operational data, energy data and more. In addition, with edge architectures, it is also key to collaborate with factories for making not only new but also existing installations smart. These architectures, together with energy and condition monitoring and process data acquisition, are perfect solutions for packaging machine builders and factories to cost-effectively become efficient and smarter.

Image Gallery

  • OPC UA and PackML provide seamless communication and a uniform look and feel across multi-vendor packaging lines

  • The next-generation of industrial transport system enabling production of batch size one

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