02 December 2015 //
by Toni Nigrelli-LaFleur
Just like the human body is comprised of various cells that become building blocks for life, a shrink bundling machine is comprised of many different parts, each designed to perform a specific function that contributes to its overall performance. Like an elite athlete who trains and sculpts their body for speed, strength, and flexibility, an equipment manufacturer must design, sculpt, and fine-tune each of their machines in order to achieve optimal performance.
So where do you start when looking for a shrink bundling machine that will meet your needs and provide optimal performance? By knowing and understanding these six vital building blocks of a shrink bundling machine’s anatomy:
1. Shrink Packaging System’s Frame and Design
Understanding how a system is constructed is always an important consideration for new shrink bundling machines. Similar to the human skeletal system, make sure the structure is well supported and is able to withstand the repetitive tasks it’s designed to do, as well as hold up to the environment it is in. Two common machine designs include a welded steel frame that creates the foundation for the rest of the machine, as well as a sheet metal skin that is bent and bolted together around the machine. Before selecting a machine design, assess each design’s rigidity and strength to ensure it has the ability to meet your packaging goals.
Other considerations to take into account when selecting a frame and design are the frame’s design and materials. Depending on your environment and sanitary specifications, however, this may or may not be an issue. Wash down environments will require stainless steel, whereas coated steel is a more viable option in some environments. Also, even though a machine may not need to be washed down, it may still require sanitary design. In this case, make sure you avoid designs that are susceptible to catching debris and other matter.
2. Material Handling System
The material handling system is responsible for moving product through the machine, and is comprised of many parts, including the conveyor and collation mechanism. An important consideration for any shrink bundling machine is making sure you select a system where the material handling system is designed and engineered specifically for your product. This includes the surface and support rails on a conveyor as well as the specific design of the collation mechanism.
It’s also important that your conveying system is securely fastened to the frame and can stand up to the workload. For example, a conveyor system that is welded to the frame of the bundling machine will be much stronger than one that is bolted.
3. Electrical and Control Systems
The pneumatic, wiring, HMI and PLC parts of a machine are similar to the parts of the human nervous system that detect and process sensory information, as well as activate bodily responses. The HMI (human machine interface) facilitates the input of variables, such as recipes for a given product, and communicates machine status to the Operator. The PLC (programmable logic controller) controls the movements of Servo, Pneumatic and Electrical Actuators based on programmed logic and input from various sensors. At the end of the day, both of these systems play a direct role in the efficiency and consistency of your system.
4. Guarding and Safety
Maintain a safe environment with a bundling machine that not only has all the required physical security guards in place, but also other safety features that are designed to improve the operator experience. These include sensors and fail-safe shutdown components placed throughout the machine in case the machine becomes compromised.
5. Film Delivery System
The film delivery system (film cradle, accumulator on certain models, and film feed) can be perceived as the heart of a shrink bundling machine. The system should deliver the film in a controlled and consistent manner to the product, and be designed to minimize film waste. The accumulator and film feed should have a low-film alarm and allow for film to be fed as needed. When evaluating a machine, make sure you consider how the film is stored. Is it in a safe, ergonomic location, or will changing film require significant downtime and labor?
6. Sealing System
There are many different types of sealing systems, and it’s important to understand how yours will perform based on the type of film you are using. Constant hot and uniform seals will perform best, whereas a wire that is activated might not have the same results when utilizing LDPE film.
From the simplest semi-automatic to a fully integrated automated line, every shrink bundling machine will encompass these six “anatomical” components. Understanding and being able to recognize good designs from great ones will help ensure that you’re not only getting the most for your dollar, but also what fits your needs best.
Have any questions about what you need in a shrink bundler for your application? Contact us today.