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Linear Motion Devices

Advance SmartLine conveyor increases efficiency at ZyroFisher

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ZyroFisher is one of the largest privately owned companies in the UK and Ireland for the distribution of bicycle accessories, spare parts and clothing. It distributes more than 50 leading brands worldwide, while at the same time supplying specialist dealers with its own Altura brand. The company is growing – more than 800 parcels go out every day. High demands on material flow had to be met with an innovative handling system: Advance SmartLine conveyors in combination with energy-efficient 24 V technology and the MultiControl from Interroll.

In the 9,000 m2 plant in Darlington, a lot of work was still required for shipping and packaging. Therefore, the required solution should transport the goods more efficiently from the packing area to dispatch. With the overriding goal of improving order processing, streamlining processes and increasing warehouse productivity.

Transport by roller conveyor to the shipping trailer

As a first step, ZyroFisher Advance commissioned Automated Systems Ltd. to evaluate the existing handling methods. The technicians’ modernization offer was a tailor-made SmartLine zone roller conveyor for transporting cartons of different sizes directly to the shipping trailer.

The next step was the installation of the zero-pressure accumulation conveyor system operated with energy-efficient 24 V technology. Perfectly matched with a quiet running RollerDrive EC310 Drum Motor and MultiControl control. As this is a four-zone controller, it was connected to up to four RollerDrive EC310 and four zone sensors and integrated directly at fieldbus level. It communicates in real time via PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT, which can be implemented with a simple setting on each MultiControl.

Simple and fast commissioning on site

Sensor or RollerDrive properties were configured via PLC software, a web interface or the Interroll teach-in process. With quick and easy on-site commissioning – on the one hand because automatic addressing was possible and on the other hand because the solution provides information on the sequence of all connected MultiControl or conveyor zones in the conveyor. Since no manual addressing or configuration is required, the components can now be easily replaced using plug & play technology.

Independent modules in the conveyor system

Each conveyor module of the Advance automation solution can be operated independently. They remain ready for product transport – only when containers have to be transported do they start moving. If necessary, the product can accumulate along the entire length of the conveyor system. In addition, the conveyor system is equipped with single-width lifting passages for pedestrians and escape routes and double-width for pallets. To ensure simple and safe lifting, gas springs are installed in all passages. An extendable roller conveyor is integrated for loading the trailer.

Most energy-efficient and economical method

Advance Automated Systems’ modernization project fits in perfectly with ZyroFisher’s operations using Interroll’s industry-leading 24V technology and controls. This results in an efficient flow of goods and increased throughput. The Advance SmartLine modular and flexible zero-pressure accumulation conveyor is the most energy-efficient and economical method for conveying cartons directly onto the shipping trailer. An innovative solution that, in combination with the Interroll components used, makes a major contribution to the success of ZyroFisher.

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Linear Motion Devices

Collaborative effort amongst industry specialists creates best conveyor designs

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Conveyors are usually fundamental to the efficiency of manufacturing, warehousing and logistics operations and often they are built to a bespoke design. Adrian Wells of WDS Component Parts Ltd, a leading manufacturer and supplier of engineering parts and machine accessories, looks at the most efficient ways to design and build conveyors that exactly meet specific user requirements.

Sometimes the perfect solution for a project is a standard product; this will have known dimensions and guaranteed performance levels and be easily available. Other times a bespoke solution is required, for which size and performance criteria must be established before a suitable design can be developed.

Many conveyor projects require a bespoke or partially-bespoke solution. In this case the first task for the end user is to identify performance requirements and to convert these into a technical specification relating to power, speed, load and other key parameters. That’s the easy part. The second task is to realise the design parameters by sourcing suitable components.

Realising the design often requires the integration of three different specialisms: a drives specialist to select the motor, gears and power transmission elements, plus possibly a variable speed drive and/or an electronic controller; a conveyor specialist who will help identify the best type of conveyor – belt, chain, screw, gravity, etc and the materials from which they are made; and finally a mechanical engineer who will help with the detailed work of defining the frame of the conveyor and selecting and sourcing all the many different components associated with it.

Five years ago, WDS recognised the increasing importance of conveyors as automated production became mainstream and efficiency was increased in materials handling operations. It therefore established an operation to supply the passive mechanical parts used in conveyor build projects, and to back this up with experienced technical advice. While WDS has its own manufacturing capabilities it recognised the expertise involved in making specialist conveyor parts and decided the best route was to form relationships with dedicated manufacturing partners. This partner resource can be drawn upon by specifiers through WDS to tailor a solution beyond the range of components displayed on their website.

At that time the product range WDS offered included support bases, mounting brackets, connecting joints, rods and tubing for constructing conveyor frames, plus guide rails, conveyor ball transfer units and rollers, skate wheel, omniwheels and other specialist components used in conveyors. These were complemented by WDS’s wide range of general engineering parts such as anti-vibration mounts and casters; joints and connectors; nuts, bolts, screws and pins; knobs, levers and handles. This wide product portfolio coupled with its deep expertise in engineering and design allowed WDS to address all popular requirements for building conveyor frames or bases.

Five years on WDS recognises that nearly all conveyor systems contain at least some bespoke elements of design, so as of 2018 it has expanded its range of conveyor related equipment even further so that it can offer end users and OEMs a much more adaptable range of building elements and accessories for gravity materials handling equipment, with partner expertise available to develop driven systems to meet customer needs.

A typical conveyor design has to fit into the available space, carry loads within an identifiable range and run at a speed dictated by other elements of the process. Further, there may be environmental considerations such as a chemical atmosphere, the possibility of extra heavy loads, the presence of damaging materials, exposure to outdoor weather conditions, safety of personnel, etc.

Through the recent range enlargement WDS is able to meet the needs of both general industrial conveyors and those applications that are more demanding due to harsh working conditions. The new accessory products are ideal for applications such as food conveyors, roller conveyors and belt conveyor systems and include a host of new products that enable conveyor builders to easily construct bespoke conveyor lines that exactly meet the needs of the user.

Material options include aluminium, polypropylene and stainless steel all manufactured to the most rigorous quality controls. The conveyor accessories complement the broader range of WDS machine parts, including levelling feet, ball transfer units, index levers, digital position indicators, gas struts and shock absorbers.

Like all WDS components, the full range of conveyor components can be viewed on the company’s website, www.wdsltd.co.uk, where there are also 2D drawings and 3D CAD models for download and easy access to on-line ordering for rapid delivery.

WDS Component Parts Ltd. is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of engineering component parts. It runs its manufacturing, stock holding and supply operations as one integrated organisation, allowing it to optimise all parts of its business and thus maximise service levels to customers.

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Linear Motion Devices

ECO series linear stages for the lowest cost of ownership in linear motion

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High performance in a cost-effective, economic package Rugged mechanical design Direct-drive linear motor, rotary servomotor, or stepping motor to meet your needs 44 models with travels from 50 mm to 800 mm Vacuum and cleanroom versions available.

The ECO linear stage series builds upon Aerotech’s long tradition of producing low total cost of ownership motion designs. Excellent positioning specifications, high stiffness, and a variety of options and features combined with economic pricing make ECO stages an ideal choice for applications where robust motion performance is needed.

Quality mechanical construction

Long-life precision recirculating linear bearings, along with Aerotech’s machining and assembly craftsmanship, enable the best geometric performance per unit price on the market today. Unlike other low-cost competitive motion stages, ECO stages can be integrated into complex machines with the assurance they will perform at a high level and outlast other machine components.

ECO-LM direct-drive linear motor stages

The ECO-LM series direct-drive linear motor stages are optimized with high precision, noncontact linear encoders. The precision noncontact encoders enable minimum incremental motion to 10 nm with micrometer-level repeatability. The optional HALAR factory calibration improves positioning accuracy to ±1.5 µm. The ironless forcer coil provides high force with zero cogging for smooth velocity and position control, ideal for applications requiring outstanding contour accuracy and smooth velocity profiling. The linear motor has zero backlash, no windup, zero friction, and excellent dynamic responsiveness. ECO-LM stages are available in 17 different models with travels ranging from 100 mm to 800 mm and speeds up to 2 m/s. Configurable cable management solutions are available for single and multi-axis systems as standard options.

ECO-SL ball-screw stages with stepper motor or brushless servomotor

For even more cost-sensitive applications, the ECO-SL series includes several NEMA 23 stepper motor and brushless servomotor options. The ECO-SL series is designed with many standard features and options that make the design adaptable to specific applications. Several encoder options provide electrical resolutions ranging from 0.5 µm down to sub-nm. A holding brake can be added for vertical applications. A motor fold-back kit is available for space-constrained applications to reduce the overall stage length. ECO-SL stages are available in 27 different models with travels ranging from 50 mm to 800 mm and speeds up to 300 mm/s.

ECO series stages offer many options to fit the exact requirements of numerous applications. The flexible, cost-effective design easily makes them the best value linear stage series available today.

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Linear Motion Devices

Moulding machine OEM opts for NSK´s NH linear guides

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A leading manufacturer of blow moulding machines has recently replaced its linear guides with the NH series from NSK. The move comes after the OEM received complaints about the poor service life exhibited by its previous linear guides, which are used to move the mould platens.

Blow moulding machines, which are used to manufacture hollow objects such as plastic bottles, feature linear guides that are subject to very challenging operating conditions. As a result, service life can be compromised if the optimum linear guide is not selected, as this particular OEM discovered. The manufacturer began receiving complaints from customers who were unhappy that the linear guides were showing visible signs of wear after just 12 months. As blow moulding machines operate with fast cycle times and high clamping forces, any wear to key components such as linear guides can be extremely detrimental to the manufacturing process.

To investigate the situation, the machine manufacturer challenged its existing supplier of linear guides, but was told the wear had resulted from alignment errors. In other words, the supplier was intimating that the OEM had made errors when assembling the linear guides to its machines.

Dissatisfied with this answer, the manufacturer turned to NSK, requesting that the company undertake a full assessment and failure cause analysis. Once the investigation was complete, NSK discovered there were in fact some very minor alignment errors but that these were not the principal cause of damage to the guides. At the same time, NSK technicians established that the load factors given by the linear guide supplier had been calculated using a method which produced results quite different from the values calculated using industry-standard ISO formulae.

The recommendation was made to replace the existing guides with equivalent ones from the NSK NH series, which offer higher load capacity and very long service life due to their optimised design, especially in cases of dynamic stress, overloading, impact loading and shock loading. These effects are often unavoidable in blow moulding systems, so linear guides must be designed accordingly.

For the NH series, the relevant load factor values are calculated based on ISO standards, which is not always the case for linear guides. Very often, values are calculated from tests which have not been made under ISO conditions. The values may appear to be better, but for NSK, a comparison based on the ISO standard is the correct method and one that users can replicate.

A growing number of reputable moulding machine manufacturers, as well as builders of machine tools and handling systems for semiconductor production, are benefiting from using NH series linear guides. In the case of the blow moulding machine manufacturer, the switch to NH guides led to a significant reduction in the wear susceptibility of the clamping units. As a result, the OEM has now equipped its entire range of machines with NH series linear guides from NSK.

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