Highly adaptable vacuum solution for processing plants

Vacuum technology remains a key requirement for plants around the globe. Whether a business operates in the packaging, pharmaceutical, food or printing industries, the need for efficient, highly adaptable vacuum solutions is still on the priority list.

SMC’s latest vacuum pads are designed for optimum absorbing performance and efficient handling. The ZP3P series features a blue-coloured, silicone rubber pad to prevent wrinkles and is compliant with FDA requirements.

According to Rodney Ryan, SMC state manager Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, the ZP3P series is good for product handing.

“It is equipped with a thin, soft pad skirt for a strong grip and reduced leakage,” he said. “This makes it ideal for thin workpieces that generally deform during adsorption.”

The product is designed for delicate operations such as the handling of vinyl and film. “Thanks to the flat shape of the vacuum pad (with a central stopper), it prevents wrinkles and damage to the product and provides the customer with better quality packaging,” said Ryan.

The vacuum pad is made from FDA-complaint silicone rubber and is suited to stringent applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. “The blue colour can also be spotted easily during contamination inspections and this is a big selling point for customers operating in these environments,” said Ryan.

As a welcome addition to the family, SMC recently released a new fluoro blue bellow option, the ZP3P-JT series.

“The flat-style vacuum pad is suitable for the handling of soft film, paper or foil packages and sheets, while the new bellow style allows for absorption of a bigger range of bags shapes and pouches filled with food stuff. In both cases, the unique ribs design provides a fast and secure grip,”
said Ryan.

SMC rids the industry of dust issues

No matter what environment you operate in, dust remains an issue. Whether you’re in a harsh environment such as mining, or are looking to pass the ‘white glove’ test in the food and beverage, agricultural or pharmaceutical industries, SMC’s new JSXFA series is designed to help reduce dust in the workplace.

Dust capture is important part of maintaining a clean production environment to ensure 100 per cent operational efficiency in your plant. While many make use elaborate filtration systems to trap dust, SMC recently released a cost-effective and simple solution to this pesky problem; and while in the past SMC has offered a dust collector valve, the introduction of this pulse valve is one of its greatest, new innovations to date.

Vince Marcucci, OEM and key accounts manager from SMC said that the dust removal process can still involve significant energy costs – particularly when a bag house could have six or more valves, with hundreds of valves at any one facility.

“In response to this inefficiency, SMC Corporation has developed a valve technology – the JSXFA – that includes a fast closure and response that can pump large volumes of air at a higher pressure for a short period of time. This is sufficient to create a shock wave that cleans the bag – while reducing costs.”

Exciting to note, Marcucci says that our local market (ANZ) is one of the first to receive this new valve thanks to high demand. “In a market that puts health and safety at the top of its priority list, our region is in dire need of an easy-to-implement solution. Where most valves are rated to stand up to around one million cycles, SMC’s JSXFA valves are rated to at least 10 million cycles,” he continued.

SMC will be showcasing at Foodtech Queensland and Marcucci says that this is the prime opportunity for visitors to exhibition to come and discuss their issues relating to dust in the food and packaging environments. “In factories producing milk powder for instance, dust remains a key concern and can cause unnecessary costs and downtime. We urge any customers experiencing this to contact us.”

Marcucci estimates that with a six-valve system and an operation sequence of every eight seconds, working 16 hours a day, six days a week, 50 weeks a year, this could translate to over 20 years of working life before replacement is required.

Since the valves are typically mounted high on a tower, SMC designed them with reliability in mind from the outset to maintain service life in between intervals. “The traditional diaphragm is a thin rubber sheet material that requires a spring to sit behind it to ensure the diaphragm is closed on initial start-up,” Marcucci said.

The JSXFA valve also comes with two different types of fitting suitable for different installations. One is direct mount with threaded connections and the other a compression fitting also known as a dresser nut.

Overall, SMC has designed the JSXFA valve to be adaptable to a host of different situations.

Key improvements to highlight:

  • 15 per cent increase in peak pressure
  • 35 per cent reduction in air consumption
  • 45 per cent reduction in OFF response time
  • 40 per cent increase in flow rates

“We welcome collaboration and discussions around this prevalent topic and look forward to hosting visitors at the upcoming Foodtech show,” said Marcucci.

Keep calm under pressure with SMC’s booster regulators

While the company is synonymous with pneumatics, SMC has worked hard to differentiate itself by listening to customers’ needs and developing products based around exactly these.

As the world leaders in automation, SMC offers a complete range of automation solutions so that customers can enjoy the ease of working with just one supplier. It also offers peace-of-mind knowing that you are covered by a trusted global brand.

In addition to its chillers, dryers, ionizers and regulators, SMC also offers a VBA booster regulator series. It is designed to be used across all industries and for applications where high-pressure air is required. By using a booster, customers save on both energy and money.

Customers can now enjoy an increase in factory air of up to 200% without any required power supply, and when connecting the booster regulator to the factory line, it is possible to achieve double the existing pressure.

In addition, the VBA series offers space saving as it connects directly to air tanks and booster regulators

Nord Drivesystems’ products on show at AUSPACK 2019

Among the exhibitors at AUSPACK 2019 is drive technology specialist Nord Drivesystems. Servicing the market for more than half a century, Nord is a supplier to the manufacturing industry and will be promoting some its latest ground-breaking technologies.

The proof is in the pudding and Nord has seen success at prominent manufacturers around the country thanks to its comprehensive, trusted range. According to Martin Broglia, managing director for Nord Drivesystems, Nord prides itself on customising its comprehensive, quality range to match exact customer requirements. “We strive for 100 per cent customer focus and satisfaction. Our product offering is backed by superior expertise and as a global brand, we have access to the latest technologies and trends occurring across the globe.”

What’s on show?

The show-stopping NSD tupH geared motor
Nord will be showcasing its industry heroes at AUSPACK 2019 and will once again use this as a platform to help solve the automation problems for both potential and current customers. “No stranger to the industry is the NSD tupH range of products which has been making a name for itself since its launch,” said Martin.

“The NSD Tuphs anti corrosive poperties prevents flaking and chipping making it the optimum product for caustic washdowns as well as boasting a long service life in such harsh environments. This drive is  available in a smooth non pourous finish.”

Drive technology for Industry 4.0
Flexible and intelligent: The NORDAC Lins series was specially developed for applications in modern, networked intralogistics systems and provides a convenient drive solution for flexible, decentralised installation.

“The efficient field distributors can be configured for the specific application and ensures efficient and safe commissioningThe integrated PLC is capable of executing complete process controls as well as regulating processes autonomously” Martin explains.

The Premium Efficiency IE4 Range to Optimise Costs
Nord will also be showcasing its IE4 range of synchronous motors to help optimise energy costs and increase efficiencies in drive systems. When looking at the “life cycle costs” of drive solutions, it is important to take a holistic stance on this. Here we factor in every aspect startingfrom the point of purchase, commissioning, use and maintenance through to disposal.

To optimise the TCO, Nord supplies efficient drive solutions which considerably reduce operating costs. “Here, the focus is on an integrated approach. This principle revolves around the reduction of product variants with the aid of Nord’s modular design systems, reduction of energy consumption applying efficient IE4 synchronous motors that are robustly designed to provide long service life and low maintenance,” Martin explained.

SK series of two-stage helical bevel gear units
In addition, NORD recently launched a high performance, washdown-optimised aluminium drive for hygienic applications and this will also be on show at AUSPACK. Martin said that this successful series now offers smaller gear units for torques up to 50 Nm as an efficient alternative to worm gear units. “The new SK 9×0072.1 series has a power range from 0.12 to 1.1 kW and covers speed ratios from 3.03 to 47.67 : 1,” he said.

“The two-stage helical bevel gear units are characterised by high efficiencies, compact design, top reliability and long working life. The high-strength aluminium housing guarantees high rigidity and maximum durability with the added bonus of being light weight.”

Profisafe compatible dencentralised inverter
“Flexible to install, easy to service, Nord’s flexible inverters can be tailored to any customer application by means of scalable functions. Installing and servicing the Nordac Flex inverter range can be carried out quickly and reliably because of its extensive plug-in capability and easy parameter transfer via EEPROM memory,” Martin concluded.

Communication models include: PROFIBUS DP, EtherCAT, POWERLINK, InterBus, DeviceNet, CANopen, PROFINET IO.

Fibre King combats energy wastage to provide savings for customers

Fibre King has helped customers build and upgrade their production facilities by providing off the shelf and bespoke packaging solutions within the meat, dairy, beverage, food, FMCG, personal care, pharmaceutical and fresh produce industries.

Offering a comprehensive turnkey service, Fibre King prides itself in assisting customers with everything from upgrades and services to tailored repairs and off the shelf packaging machinery such as case packers, palletisers, case and tray handling and crate equipment.

Each Fibre King machine is backed by a full-service warranty, operator training and ongoing support.

Fibre King managing director James Windsor said the company had invested in research and development to improve on existing machines.

READ: SMC helps companies save and improve their green footprint

“New innovations can be integrated into our machines and our engineers are continuously looking for ways to drive productivity for our end users,” he said.

One of the latest trends which is becoming increasingly necessary is energy saving, said Windsor.

“In addition, the initial cost of energy saving components is becoming less of an issue when customers start weighing up the real savings that they can achieve.

“While energy saving is great for the environment and does play its part, for our customers the bottom line is – how much will I save now and in the long run. Essentially, it’s about profitability, return on investment and ultimately, long-term gain,” he said.

By managing and monitoring energy usage on a machine, the customer can realise real dollar savings.

“Relooking and refining your strategy when it comes to compressed air use and pneumatics in general can save you up to 80 per cent.

This can be easily done by simply monitoring and controlling the amount of air used and lost due to costly leakages,” said Windsor.

Customers tend to overlook the air wasted in a factory and it therefore needs to be monitored, he said.

Collaborating with SMC, which specialises in pneumatics, Fibre King drew on the company’s expertise and research and development to ensure improved pneumatic energy saving solutions which could be offered to Fibre King’s customers to further drive value.

For Windsor, this means each machine should be fitted with digital flow switches which measure the amount of air expelled.

“PFM flow switches from SMC are used on our machines to monitor air flow and energy changes.

“Changes will be flagged as readings change, and it will also show you the differences in air usage with pressure changes. This saving translates directly into cost savings for our customers,” he said.

Another SMC product which now comes standard in proposals and recommendations to customers is the ALDS (Automatic Leak Detection System).

“The ALDS can detect leaks immediately and anywhere on the system to help you save instantly,” he said.

The ALDS can be easily integrated into the machine software and no external supervision is required.

The partnership between Fibre King and SMC has helped to strengthen the brand’s offering to its customers, said Windsor.

“We want to offer our customers speed, precision, reliability and peace-of-mind with intelligent packaging machinery to ‘future proof’ your business and increase profits. Realising energy savings forms part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, the industry and the environment.”

SMC helps companies save and improve their green footprint

About 70 per cent of the compressed air generated goes into air blow applications and this affects a company’s bottom line, SMC says.

The pneumatics provider explains that companies can save by increasing their energy efficiency and subsequently boosting their business’ competitiveness.

Over the years, SMC has been fully committed to energy saving activities addressed at reducing energy bills whilst improving companies’ green footprint.

SMC has accomplished various levels of energy saving actions in its customers’ factories by conducting energy saving audits and working towards green procurement.

READ: SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

SMC keeps the productive process top-of-mind for our customers, always.

It focuses on efficiency in terms of the amount of materials needed to execute the process, effectiveness in terms of the ratio of projected raw materials versus the actual amount of raw materials used and productivity – the relationship between efficiency and effectiveness.

SMC’s blow gun with energy saving nozzle offers up to 20 per cent reduction in power consumption (when combined with an S coupler and Coil tube).

It can achieve equivalent performance at lower pressures, resulting in less air consumption.

When pairing the blow gun with SMC’s high efficiency nozzle, the KNH series, customers can enjoy maximum efficiency thanks to a more focused blowing impact.

There is a wide range to choose from and the air blow thrust can be improved by 10 per cent. Available nozzles include male thread, high efficiency, low noise with male thread, and extension nozzles.

Energy saving tips from SMC:

• Generate just what is needed – Analyse energy bills with a critical view

• Recover what is generated – Make use of different technologies to reuse the energy

• Monitor consumption

• Use only the essentials

• Think efficiently – The concept that closes the loop is the most important one to ensure energy efficiency

SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

Japanese-based SMC Pneumatics knew that in order to future-proof its business it needed to get on-board with Industry 4.0 especially with the push towards automation.

“Five years ago, the managing director of SMC brought me in to reposition the business post the mining industry moving from greenfield to brownfield,” said SMC Pneumatics’ Australian and New Zealand director of sales and marketing James McKew.

“We needed to move from a capital investment phase to a maintenance repair and overhaul phase. We saw the mining boom come off quite considerably until about late last year. What I don’t think SMC contemplated was the car industry going away so quickly in Australia,” he said.

Luckily for McKew and SMC Australia and New Zealand, the route a Japanese-based company takes differs from that of a traditional western industrial enterprise. It is this support and direction that McKew sees as the starting point for the growth the company has seen.

READ: SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

“In hindsight, it was quite exciting because the leadership in Japan, fundamentally our founder, said ‘go back to Australia, get your team together and tell me what you need to reposition the company so it stays on a growth trajectory’, as opposed to the alternative,” said McKew. “The western philosophy would have been, ‘well your major market is going down, make sure you resize your business and make it profitable’. The Japanese philosophy was, ‘you tell us the investments you require to target and access new markets and based on your representations we’ll look at making those investments’. So we did.”

And has there been a pay off? Absolutely, said McKew. While the mining industry was off the boil, SMC aggressively targeted those businesses from the OEM and end user side with the multi-site operators. Its market share over the past three years has gone from the low 40s, percentage-wise, to 51 per cent. And it is in growth in every single market in Australian and NZ. The last two-year financial results for SMC have been the best in a decade, according to McKew. The company is now on a trajectory to be the biggest it has ever been in the industry.

Which brings us back to Industry 4.0, smart factories and making sure that a company is future-proofed when building new plant, machinery and the automation aspects.

“I think educating people is what makes automation an easy sell,” said McKew. “I think everybody in manufacturing – ourselves included – is tasked with asking themselves ‘how will our future look and what technology do we need to drive it?’. You are future proofing. We also need to talk about the benefit of big data and being able to intimately understand our businesses at a granular level. So the question is asked – how can we chart our future based on those two things with massive improvements in efficiencies and substantial improvements in understanding things at a granular level? We look at the different pieces in our business and how they align with the best possible operation result.”

This brings us to the next aspect of Industry 4.0 that has been mentioned and really gets McKew animated. Big data.

“When going down the big data path it is being able to understand intimately – from a data capture perspective –  what your employees in the field are doing,” he said. “How does that correlate to a fantastic result? By capturing the data and analysing its correlation to results, you can get extraordinary performances from your people in field service or field selling.

“I think big data support in manufacturing is going to lead to a rejuvenation of the sector. When you look at the investments being made in the advanced manufacturing sector, I think there is finally a light that has gone on in government that says manufacturing creates more value through supply chain than just about any other industry including financial services.

“The growth in manufacturing is economically sound. If you look at the investment that the federal government has put behind the advanced manufacturing growth sector initiative, and the fact they are rolling their sleeves up and actively wanting to promote manufacturing, it is showing everyone where it creates value.”

McKew is also optimistic about the traditional manufacturing and primary industries within Australia, some of which have struggled over the past few years. He believes that Australia has to play to its natural resources. The sector has to acknowledge that food is just as much a part of this as minerals are.

“I even think that the current conversation around the ban of live exports is a positive for Australia,” he said. “The ban is good for Australian manufacturers in that, in my opinion, it will result in jobs for Australians in Australia.”

Speaking of jobs, doesn’t all this talk of Industry 4.0, robotics, automation and a slew of modern manufacturing processes mean less jobs for the traditional Australian working man and woman?

“A protein processing plant can’t run with lights out,” said McKew. “You still need people, so everything is not fully automated. It’s around how you employ people and those people – particularly in automated plants – are being paid better rates because they are in a more sophisticated role.    What I’m talking about is initially opening and expanding plant.”

McKew is also optimistic about the next few years for the Australian manufacturing sector. He believes Australian industry needs to be more aggressive, and not towards the low-cost labour markets in South-East Asia, but against more traditional industry rivals.

“I am very positive for the next two to three-year outlook. You’ve got to formulate your strategies properly,” he said. “They’re not Disneyland, but they’re not Luna Park either.  You have to be realistic about how far out you can look. We are expecting positive momentum in the manufacturing sector, especially the food, robotics, mineral processing, building products and aggregate. What we are also seeing a lot of is automation in large warehouses. I think for Australia there is an opportunity there because at the moment, a lot of that technology is coming straight in from Germany. There is no reason that Australian automation companies cannot deliver those solutions. Designed, built and delivered in Australia and New Zealand. Germany is a high-cost country.

He believes that Industry 4.0 is about keeping high-cost labour countries in play and believes that what people forget about Australia being high cost is that the country also produces high-quality goods.

“It’s all well and good to malign the manufacturing sector – the costs are what they are – but we are high quality,” said McKew. “There is nothing that comes in from Germany or Japan that Australia can’t do as well. I think in the presence of an automated warehouse, that knowhow and expertise is a combination of Australian and New Zealand engineering and manufacturing, and componentry from Japan and Germany. World-class solutions can be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.  We’re having bigger conversations in Australia about manufacturing and quality. The reason we are having these conversations is because manufacturing is important to so many Australian families who can rely on it for employment. We are committed to the sector and are committed to manufacturing across the five locations we manufacture in Australia and New Zealand.”

SMC supports a practical approach to Industry 4.0

With advances in technology, industrial manufacturing is moving ahead at breakneck speed.  Machines are becoming more efficient due to cutting edge developments in automation that bring both improved performance and versatility. This combined with the development of intelligent robots means that smart machines are no longer a distant vision in the future.

According to Jozef Ceh, Electronic Platform Manager for SMC Australia | New Zealand the Industry 4.0 buzz is often confusing for customers. “We all know we have to get on the Industry 4.0 trend but how to do it practically is often the question. After some seminars and workshops I have encountered customers who are just more frustrated with all the jargon and talk when a practical approach is required” comments Jozef.

“That is where SMC comes in. We are simplifying it and helping our customers in practical ways to navigate through this sea of Industry 4.0 information – we offer products that are Industry 4.0 ready” adds Jozef.

Using advanced sensors and cloud computing, the internet of things can connect every phase of the production process to keep equipment operating at capacity, tracking any issues through the product life cycle including just-in-time maintenance and logistics. Today, these advances have been grouped together and are commonly referred to as Industry 4.0 – the next industrial revolution.

Along with the name, Industry 4.0 has generated a host of new terminology which Jozef says their experts are happy explain in more detail – these include:

  • Digital Production
  • Smart Service World
  • Automation
  • Real-time feedback
  • Big data
  • Individualization of products
  • Shopfloor Management
  • Batch size 1
  • Internet of things
  • Man/machine interface

To accelerated innovation through tailored services, SMC offers integrated product and system solutions. We help our customers create innovative solutions that add value to their business.

SMC can assist customers with the following:

  • support during the initial concept/planning stage
  • provide individual product and system concepts incorporating the latest technology
  • help optimise and modernise your plants

The outcome for the customer will be:

  • reduced lifecycle costs
  • lower operating costs
  • competitive advantages

Evolution through innovation

SMC is firmly committed to meeting the needs of our customers and we regard Industry 4.0 as the continuous and innovative development of both new and, in some cases, already existing SMC solutions and technologies.

With just a few small steps, it is already possible to successfully produce positive changes and take your first steps towards Industry 4.0.

Despite continuous developments in the manufacturing sector, manually operated valves still have their place in production. While many plants look to significant upgrades and welcome more flexible solutions, manually operated valves still provide significant benefits and are still relevant for certain applications. These hard working, robust valves offer control, durability and cost savings. “This is part of the practical advice customers can expect from SMC. We understand that it is an integration of what you currently have with where you want to be, and we can assist customers with selecting the best path for this implementation” concludes Ceh.