Our customers are increasingly demanding for ergonomics, both in relation to operators’ musculoskeletal disorders and productivity and maintenance. This trend towards ergonomics grows stronger every year and encourages us to adapt our machinery. We are therefore working on improving format changeover, on better integrating robotics and new technologies, quite simply because ergonomics is one of our major concerns.
In order to constantly enhance the ergonomics of our packaging solutions, we are mainly working on five development focuses. First reducing the weight of tooling which must be modified when changing format in order to allow a better and quicker manipulation and a less restrictive storage in terms of required areas. For example, as regards our packing equipment, we offer ProSelex®, a product-collating solution for various formats and various primary packaging formats. With ProSelex®, we have significantly reduced:
– format changeover time as it is easy to remove the ‘comb’ and ‘counter-comb’ designed to pre-collate the products and form the batch;
– the weight of the interchangeable parts (very compact simple combs versus screws that are bulkier and heavier);
– Required tooling storage space.
We have also reduced by more than half the weight of certain parts in our top loading gripping, including on multi-articulated robots. This reduction results in a decrease in energy consumption necessary to operate the modules and functions concerned.
Second development focus: facilitating parameter setting and adjustments during format changeovers by integrating indicators and guiding systems. Generalizing settings is a trend that allows operators to avoid tooling interchangeability at every new format.
Third development focus: having universal operating principles, i.e. fully automated and motorized format changeovers, and also more flexible solutions. Ergonomics during machine operation is enhanced. It is sufficient to select the new format on a HMI for it to change automatically. For example, on our shrink-wrappers, our SFR (Regulated Flow Selection) system allows automatic adjustment to the product format. We have also developed an automatic changeover device for consumables. Also on this range of equipment, film reel changeover is automatic through a patented device called DIS, without stopping the machine.
The operator no longer needs to change a reel while the machine is still running with the previous film, which is ideal for very high speed lines.
Robotics ‘for the benefit of operators’
Fourth development focus: integrating robotics in our machinery. This trend has been generalized for a number of years for palletizing and more recently for case packing. Robotics offer high flexibility thanks to the possible automatic part changeover function and also a possible adjustment of paramaters.
Cermex also stood out last year as the only one on the market to integrate operator interaction in its robotic packaging machines. We offer a compact robotic palletizing solution (new generation PR) with collaborative functionality. The combination of robotics with new technologies – including laser scanners – increases interactivity between the operator and the robot, line productivity, and machinery ergonomics. When an operator gets close to the palletizing cell, it starts reducing its speed. It stops only if the operator enters the unit. This collaborative aspect combined with robotics thus results in reducing production downtimes while increasing safety.
The other advantages are the extremely simplified use of machines and a machine footprint reduced by 10% as a result of optimized required safety distances.
Enhancing the human machine interface
Last development focus: operator interface or machine intelligence. We are developing screens that are as ergonomic as possible, intuitive user-friendly menus, and warning messages.
We are constantly seeking to further integrate in the packaging machines new technologies visible in consumer products.
Increased access to the main functions
The height of the work surface must also be optimal for operators. The reason is to avoid handling that is too sudden or results in unnecessary muscle tension. For example, on our VersaFilm® shrink wrappers, we have set platforms for a facilitated access to the work surface. And our film feeding tables are mounted on guide rails and can be removed by the operator, a major advantage also appreciated for maintenance. Lastly, on our case packing machines, we have also lowered the feeding height of cardboard consumable modules.
Moreover, maintenance is made easier with ground-level access for all machines manufactured by Cermex. We can also choose components that no longer need to be lubricated, or self-lubricating ones. Ergonomics, productivity and maintenance costs are thus improved for the operator with less downtime and human interventions.
Considering the Total Cost of Ownership and maximizing services
For those customers who are far ahead in terms of ergonomics, the Total Cost of Ownership is critical. In other words: the total cost of ownership of a material over its whole life cycle. It is not the immediate price of the machine that they are interested in, but its price over its whole lifetime.
Lastly we must keep on developing our services: always enhancing customer proximity, delivering readily-available spare parts, providing after-sale technicians 24 hours a day, offering breakdown assistance via remote maintenance (Internet or telephone) and many other services.
For Cermex, it is essential to provide a comprehensive package over the whole life cycle of our products: equipment and related services. This is our company’s philosophy.
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