Can Seaming and Filling Adjusts for Changing Packages
Stefanie Scott - Beverage Industry Magazine - January 2010
Whether it is a flavor or packaging size, equipment manufacturers must keep on top of trends to stay competitive. Can sizes have gone from the traditional 12-ounce size to multi-sizes and also slim cans. As diameters change on can sizes, can seaming and filling equipment must be flexible to handle constant changeover.
Alex Grossjohann, vice president and managing director at CMC-KUHNKE, Albany, N.Y., says he has seen some changes in semi-automatic can seaming equipment. With this in mind, the company has been focusing on its VSM 5, which uses an automatic measurement of the seam. The VSM 5 is a significant upgrade for many facilities using manual inspection, he says. Although the VSM 5 requires an operator for a part of the operation, the machine also is a budget sensitive unit, and it provides faster, more accurate measurement with automatic measurement of the double seam.
VSM 5 uses the company's SEAMview software to measure the double seam. SEAMview automatically resizes live or captured images to fit any screen without affecting calibration or measurement accuracy. The software is installed on a mini-laptop connected on top of the machine. The laptop features an 8.5-inch monitor, high-resolution USB or Firewire cameras, and runs Windows XP.
"The mini PC is mounted right on top of the fixed focus microscope, and we can turn what used to be a manual measurement device, into a fully automatic measurement device by taking advantage of the small PC," Grossjohann says.
Another big advantage of the small PC is that it can be purchased with a solid state hard drive. This means any issues with contamination, dust and vibration will not affect the system so the hard drive won't fail, he says.
"It's a low-cost product, and it's really designed for the customer who needs to upgrade, who doesn't have a large budget," he says. "If your beverage facility has one 12- head seamer, and you've been limping along with this manual measuring system, then you can replace it with an automatic measurement system. You get the automatic measurement, which requires less operator intervention, and you get higher accuracy."
All VSM 5 components are compatible with larger systems, so customers can add equipment a la carte to the main machine as they go, he adds. VSM 5 also can be customized to include can tables for not only beverage cans, but also food and aerosol cans.
Another way CMC-Kuhnke is helping its customers save is with its MARS-SEAM equipment and Visionary QC Software.
MARS-SEAM is a fully automatic double-seam measurement system, and it is the flagship product from the MARS line. The equipment saves companies money by eliminating the need for operator intervention, Grossjohann says.
The equipment uses the company's Triple SEAM Gauge with the Automatic SEAM Saw and Video SEAM Imager, and a can emptying station in between. Cans are carried between three stations by a gripper powered by pneumatic cylinders. MARS-SEAM does not use robotic technology for can handling, so the gripper will never lose calibration, the company says.
The machine's three stations are Contact Double Seam Measurement, where seam thickness, countersink depth and seam height each typically are measured in three to four places. MARS-SEAM is able to measure up to 99 external measurements, for a total of 297 measurements in three places. The second station is Product Purge and Cleaning, where MARS-SEAM system uses a punch to pierce the bottom of a can without leaving sharp edges. The can then is cleaned with a jet of water and dried with compressed air. Station three is Cross-section and Seam Image Measurement, which makes the double seam cross section, then cleans and measures it.
Digital images then are transferred to a PC via Firewire connection where the auto SEAMview software measures and analyzes high-resolution double seam images.
"We have doubled our production this year in MARS-SEAM, and we have a lot commitment for next year," Grossjohann says. "It seems like this is a good avenue for us."
Grossjohann also mentioned the Visionary QC Software as a way for companies to save money. Visionary QC Software provides a user-friendly data collection and report system designed to lead operators through their quality inspections and provides reports for process control.
Some customers will only fix a can seaming line when there is a problem at a specific moment, Grossjohann says. By using the company's statistical data analysis software, customers can notice trends and address problems at more convenient times.
"As far as cost reduction and down time savings, you really will get a bang for your buck," he continues. "Look at your production and decide when you maintain the machine, as opposed to running blind and when it breaks fix it, because it never breaks when it's convenient."
Visionary QC Software is compatible with older hardware and features a universal gauge interface, reduced inspection time with fully customizable test-types, real-time SPC graphs, in-depth SPC analysis and reports, and a robust server/client network design.