This trade fair visit was worth the effort for the special machine builder. In the past the company had designed and built its own movable control panel. Then a special e-chain® solution was discovered, which proved to be functionally reliable since then in highly complex packaging machines for ice cream. Thereby at least a week's design time is saved, so that the company could concentrate on its actual task, the designing of machines.
"We make no off-the-shelf products. Very specific customer requirements are implemented in each of the packaging machines," explains Rupert Greiter, Managing Director of Wilhelm Fischer Spezialmaschinenfabrik GmbH in Durach, the corporate philosophy. "The product to be packed and the required range of performance always open out into a customized packaging solution, so that the customer can optimize his process, well aligned to his individual requirements."
An e-chain® solution for horizontal applications from the Cologne-based igus® GmbH is used in the prototype of a packaging machine for the premium ice cream "Magnum Temptation" from Langnese. The so-called "Micro flizz®" is a special energy supply system that supplies a moving load with power via rolling and/or glide carriage that run below. It runs in an aluminum guide channel that separates the upper and lower runs of the e-chain® in a weight-saving manner. Friction and wear are at a minimum due to the low force effects. The compact, space-saving system is closed at the top and thus offers protection against dirt and dust.
"Micro flizz®" is a completely new design for the horizontal movement for energy and data supply of consumer loads. "We discovered the system two years ago on a visit to the "Motek" fair - and immediately saw that it completely met our requirements. We could dispense with elaborate tests and the search for alternatives. We decided right on the spot to use it for this packaging machine," Rupert Greiter looks back. It only had to be clarified in discussion whether it can bear a weight of approximately 15 kg, which was the case as expected. "Afterward, we ordered the system from igus® completely assembled with all cables, then installed it and forgot about it. “
The ice cream production runs at full blast now, so that a second packaging line is used in the meantime. Here too the "Micro flizz®" is used.
"In our packaging machines, very many self-made mechanical systems are used," reports Rupert Greiter. "We see ourselves as a pure prototype forge and don't adapt a standard machine for a certain product, but approach each and every task with a completely free mind. Thus our customers get an absolutely customized machine concept for each of their tasks. That is the strength of our company. “
The company has been making packaging machines for over 50 years. Among the customers are renowned companies in the food industry, large breweries, as well as many companies from the non-food sector. Whether it is 1,000 batteries or 120 fish food cans that need to be packed per minute, the range of services cover both intermittently and continuously operating machines. There remains nothing more for the customer to wish for. "We design, construct and produce complete lines for the packaging industry including the electronic controls. On focus are customized complete solutions for the application of carton packagings," says the managing director.
Beside the packaging machines, there is yet another main pillar at Wilhelm Fischer. "Our second business area is the assembly and handling systems mainly for the automotive industry. So we can use synergies in all the directions," says Rupert Greiter. Around 40 employees can simultaneously cover up to eight projects. It is always completely different machines, which can be produced on site at the same time. Around 90% of the orders are executed in-house.
"In this case our special know-how is behind the precise folding of the carton of a premium product," tells the managing director. The packaging is set upright and leaves the machine with open lid, before the following process continues. It is a primary package; it means it should not be glued to avoid adhesive residues from remaining on the package. The material used is two-side polyester-coated printed carton. The polyester serves as moisture barrier on one side and as a sealing medium on the other.
The packaging line runs six days a week, three shifts daily. In this part of the entire plant, the so-called erector, the carton is manufactured by altering it like a sheet metal piece in a molding die. All folding, heating and pressing stations are housed on a total length of 8 m. "It was a long way till the machine concept was complete," the managing director looks back. "A large number of trials preceded the actual determination of the heating and pressing times. “
In addition the product should be packed in the high-performance area. Nevertheless no cut backs on precision can be made. "After completion of all tests, we built the first line in just six months," reports Rupert Greiter. "Our requirements on the components used are generally very high. They must function with absolute reliability, last long and visually match the whole plant, or else they are useless. “
A movable control panel is used that traverses the entire length of the erector. In the process the respective operators can follow all stations of the cutting anytime, stop the system and intervene if necessary. All control and programming elements are integrated in the panel, which can always be moved to the spot where it is immediately needed. It saves much legwork.
"For reasons of practicability, only a movable control panel was sought for from the start," narrates the managing director. "Whereas earlier we had it built ourselves with the aid of a rail guide system in combination with an energy supply chain, now we utilize the advantages of the compact and quiet "Micro flizz®" system. The igus® system is a maintenance-free alternative to the previous solution and also visually completely fits in with the design of the whole plant."
All "chainflex®" control, bus and data cables are completely protected and are not at all exposed to any mechanical forces. Ordering completely assembled product saves time for the special machine builder. "Today we save at least a week's design time. We get the finished CAD data from igus® and only carry out the connection to the machine, which can be managed easily by means of an adaptor plate. “
The panel is mounted on four rollers. It is so stable that the whole control element stays rigidly on the machine and does not wobble. As it is a pure machine operation, high technical requirements are not needed for the solution. It is only used for adjustment and maintenance works. "It sometimes happens that it is not at all moved during a shift," reports Rupert Greiter. "The completely enclosed system is a great advantage, which other industrial sectors can also utilize," concludes the managing director.