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On The Edge with Keith Campbell
Vision and Leadership for Packaging
On The Edge with Keith Campbell

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Packaging line project in the works? >>

New! Download this free, 93-page Primary Packaging Line Equipment Playbook. It's jam-packed with strategies for success, best practices and pitfalls to avoid. Covers unscrambling, filling, container handling, capping/sealing, feeding, and inspection.

Packaging World

End-of-line packaging project in the works? >>

New! Download this free, 97-page End-of-Line Packaging Equipment Playbook. It's jam-packed with strategies for success, best practices and pitfalls to avoid. Covers cartoning, case packing, shrink bundling, stretch wrapping and palletizing.

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Flexible Packaging Playbook >>

Download this free, 84-page Flexible Packaging Playbook jam-packed with strategies for success, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid, download this playbook now

Packaging World

Labeling project in the works? >>

Updated for 2012! Download this free, 70-page Labeling Playbook jam-packed with strategies for success, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid. Whether your job involves machinery engineering, package design, package development, or production, download this playbook now.

Packaging World

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The Automation Conference

What is appropriate technology?

March 27, 2013

New technology often gets a bad name in its early going. People donâ??t adapt well to change, and early applications often look clumsy and expensive. It took a long time for microwave ovens, mobile phones and new servo motors to reach mainstream. A $50,000 microwave oven or a $10,000 mobile phone was at one point appropriate for only a limited class of applications. In time, these products reached a price point that made them appropriate for almost every kitchen, pocket or purse.

Respond to Keith

In reviewing the patents for the new class of linear servo motors that I have written about for the April issue of Packaging World, I became aware of patents in the chemical industry for similar motors, used to stretch biaxial film. A little digging turned up a recent application article (Automotion November, 20011) that puts perspective to price/performance.

B&R provided controls for a 65 meter long machine built by Brueckner in Germany that utilized a linear motor with track sections involving 728 sets of motor windings and over 700 linear motor movers. Using dual axis drives, B&R provided a control system that included 398 ACOPOS drive modules, 14 power supplies, 12 industrial computers, and 36 network cards to control 728 servo axes with a cycle time of 400 microseconds. The cost of this control system, while not reported, must have been in the mid six figures â?? more than most packaging cells.

I think that no one could conceive of a packaging application where this would be appropriate technology, yet it was most appropriate and successful in its intended use. It certainly demonstrated a proof-of-concept that should make packaging applications of these new linear servo motors look like childâ??s play. And now we have seen the first two packaging machine examples using similar linear motors.

The efforts that established this complex world record application and the efforts that will build upon that, likely resulting in an order of magnitude reduction in cost and apparent complexity, are both of great value to the industry. Both represent appropriate use of technology within their own context.

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Keith Campbell
About Keith Campbell
Leaders learn from the past while looking to the future - and bring both to bear on the here and now. This is the philosophy that has steered Keith Campbell's 30+ years in manufacturing. It has worked for him in operations, maintenance, engineering, R&D, education, consulting and professional organizations--and now he's putting it to work for you--taking you to the edge of his thoughts on packaging operations.
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