At interpack 2017, machine manufacturer Windmöller & Hölscher presented the latest model of its successful TOPAS FFS machine aspart of a complete FFS line, which also includes the PLATINUM palletizer and the ARGON stretch hooder.

The company’s presentation will focus on the EASY CONTROL automation and operating concept and its variety of modules designed to make the system more intelligent and increase uniformity across the entire FFS line. 

“Our customers need their machines to be fast and reliable. With over 900 FFS systems sold worldwide, the TOPAS SL is the culmination of our many years of experience. It is the fastest running system currently on the market. In order to further optimize this already sophisticated machine, we are introducing new technologies that give us both uniform controls and the ability to integrate the different process steps. Having greater transparency, simple operation methods and the ability to integrate the entire FFS line increases efficiency and quality in production,” explains Rafael Imberg, Sales Director FFS Bagging Systems at W&H. All of these innovations are part of the company’s central idea Packaging 4.0: intelligent machinery – integrated processes – intuitive operation.

“EASY CONTROL can be divided into three broad areas: EASY OPERATION, EASY MANAGEMENT and EASY COLLABORATION,” explains Rüdiger Große-Heitmeyer, Filling and Palletizing Equipment Team Leader. 

EASY OPERATION are modules that make working directly on the machine in the production environment easier. One example of this is the integration of thirdparty equipment, such as metal detectors, inkjet printers and weighing scales, into the line management systems. “Third-party equipment can be managed and monitored centrally via the PLATINUM controls. The benefits are obvious: the operator only has to learn a single system, they have all of the data in one central location, and when it comes to making optimizations, analyses providebetter insight because they include data from the entire line,” says Große-Heitmeyer. 

Another example is a MOBILE function that makes status alerts available anywhere via smartphone or tablet PC, and also provides information about upcoming events. “The machine can report an upcoming roll change, for example, and the operator can then plan the most efficient route and resources in advance. The status of the machine is visible anytime, anywhere, so operators can react quickly when they need to which ultimately minimizes downtime”, says the engineer.

The next module, EASY MANAGEMENT, involves providing and analyzing data. Staff working in the back-office can use an “Office” function to pull and analyze all of the production data. “We offer a database that covers the entire line and this hasn't been done before. The comprehensive analysis options enable companies to manage production far more effectively,” explains Große-Heitmeyer.

EASY COLLABORATION involves integrating process steps from outside of the system itself. At interpack, W&H demonstrated data transfers from an extrusion application using its SMART ROLL system. “Inline quality assurance and 100% traceability are becoming increasingly important for end customers. The intelligent TOPAS system enables us to connect information about the film from the extrusion system with production data from the packaging machine using QR or barcodes. This not only gives customers the complete traceability they need, but also optimizes extrusion and FFS processes,” explains Große-Heitmeyer.

“The greatest potential for increasing the efficiency of FFS machines lies in creating a comprehensive, uniform system,” says Imberg, who sees the technologies being shown at interpack as a first step. “We are working closely with our customers to identify other functions that could be made possible with the universal EASY CONTROL approach. There are further developments coming in all three areas that will increase both the intelligence and the performance of an already sophisticated machine like the TOPAS SL.”

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