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.
Interroll introduces new oil-free drum motor
Interroll is now introducing a new version of its oil-free drum motor based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform.
Already back in 2010 Interroll introduced the first oil-free drum motors. Since then, thousands of oil-free motors have been installed and are currently in use as a proven solution for many applications, in particular in the food industry. The oil-free drum motors now being introduced into the market are drum motors based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform that has been on the market since 2017. Synchronous oil-free drum motors are by nature very efficient, which means less heat losses and a much higher power density, as opposed to asynchronous oil-free drum motors which are prone to overheating and power reduction and therefore loss in torque.
Compared to standard drum motors, the oil-free motor’s performance is only minimally impacted by the different type of lubrication. Also, compared to a standard asynchronous motor, oil-free synchronous motors are stronger and better performing. But they require a frequency inverter and speed and torque are slightly reduced compared to a standard synchronous motor lubricated with oil. However, high-speed applications are still possible if the belt pull force is sufficient. This is also true for low-speed applications. Typical oil-free motor applications include transportation and packaging of lightweight goods such as candy, chocolate or pralines.
No leakage issues in sensitive production processes
Food manufacturers who have to comply with certain restrictions regarding food contamination benefit from this new option. Oil-free drum motors can be used for any application where the belt moves slowly (i.e., when the production process is in steps and accuracy is of paramount importance, like portioning and cutting for instance). When installed correctly, Interroll Drum Motors have no leakage issue. The oil-free drum motor makes the entire production flow safer as it eliminates any potential risk of oil contamination. It works well in cool temperatures, which are often a requirement in the food manufacturing sector. In certain industries such as fish processing, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) recommends the use of oil-free motors.
Industry 4.0 and the working world of tomorrow
Should we be concerned about the impact of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence on our working environment in the future? Will machines replace many of our jobs over the coming years? Fear is not the best response to this new era of digitalization. The digital revolution already well underway calls for a levelheaded analysis and a good dose of courage as businesses and their employees face the many new challenges that lie ahead.
The figures sound alarming. A study by the University of Oxford predicts that 47 percent of jobs in the United States could be automated over the next two decades, including traditional white-collar jobs such as accountants and loan officers. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 71 percent of working hours worldwide are currently performed by human beings and 29 percent by machines. Machines could take the lead as early as 2025, with only 48 percent of the work carried out by people, and 52 percent by machines.
Can modern technology create new work?
The idea that technology destroys jobs is an old one. In the early 1930s, the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes already warned of the unemployment that technological progress would create. He believed a 15- hour working week was in the cards. As we now know, he was wrong. So far, new technologies have created more jobs than they have rendered obsolete. Take the US for example: In February 2017, about 146 million people had a job – 205 percent more than in 1970 when computers were practically unknown. Over the same period, the US population grew by only around 60 percent.
A recent WEF study on the future of work predicts that new technologies will create more than 58 million additional jobs over the next five years. How do experts from business and academia see the future of work? moving asked several for their views.
How do experts assess the working world of the future? Interroll requested an answer:
“In times of permanent change, further education and lifelong learning will be essential to people’s employability, enabling them to adjust to the digital revolution. High in demand in the future will be cross-sectional skills such as teamwork, analysis, creativity and leadership, as well as technical expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although automation is regarded as a threat to the working world, we should all also see this development as an opportunity to improve our emotional intelligence and one that will play an important role in occupations that involve communication, decision making, negotiation and support.”
Jessie Pallud, Professor of Information Systems EM Strasbourg Business School, France
“As a globally operating transport and logistics company, we facilitate access to goods and progress. We use digitalization and automation and invest in new technologies. We are interested in how technology can improve and support processes and the work of our employees, for example, with robot companions or augmented reality. Careers will continue to change in the future, but for us it’s clear that people will be at the center of everything. We have around 520,000 employees in 220 countries worldwide – diversity makes a big contribution to the success of our company.”
Thomas Ogilvie, Head of Human Resources and Corporate Incubations Deutsche Post DHL Group, Germany
“New technologies will create more jobs overall but, at the same time, make simple, recurring tasks redundant. Everyone increasingly will need to boost their personal skills and determine what career fulfillment means to them. To capitalize on this trend, business leaders need to recognize the individual talents of their employees instead of just expecting them to carry out instructions. It may never be achievable but there is a vision of a future without a ‘bad boss’ and reluctant workers. There are already numerous companies today that allow their employees to take ownership and work independently.”
Bart Friederichs, Managing Director TBWB, Netherlands
New MCP conveyor system for perfect material handling
The Italian e-commerce company ePRICE is feeling the effects of the steady growth in online trade. In response to the rising demand, a new warehouse was to be built which would also be ideally equipped to meet future challenges of material handling. Ideal conditions for Interroll’s modular conveyor platform MCP which offers customers plenty of scope for flexibility.
ePRICE is a leading Italian e-commerce retailer. The company offers a comprehensive product portfolio, particularly for the online sale of household technologies and appliances. To ensure a reliable and punctual delivery at the buyers, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. integrated a complete logistics system for the new distribution center. Directly on the doorstep of Milan in Trucazzano (Italy). And with Interroll as its technology partner and the mission of installing a platform that is efficient, automated and modularly scalable.
Strong growth in the e-commerce market
The decisive factor for the new warehouse was the strong growth figures that the Italian e-commerce market recently recorded: Compared to 2017, sales increased by 16%* – with an increase in the total value of online purchases to 23.6 billion euros*.
And since it is particularly important in the highly competitive online trade to map one’s own product catalog through perfect logistics processes, an automated warehouse enables efficient management for the provision of shipping packages. The fast and smooth delivery ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and good ratings, which is a strong factor for lasting market success for online retailers.
MCP Conveyor System manages volume increase easily
The new logistics system therefore needed a solution that could smoothly handle the expected increase in volume due to rising consumer demand. And since Interroll has the necessary products, technologies and experience, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. was pleased to have found a reliable partner to achieve its goals.
The ePRICE warehouse now uses Interroll’s Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP). It transports the pallets with the individual parcels not only in the warehouse, but also from the warehouse to the picking area, where they are combined in the initial phase for the individual orders. Weighing, strapping, reading the barcodes as well as printing and applying the labels are also carried out here. Interroll has also installed RM6008 elevators to provide access to several levels of the MCP. A highly efficient and long solution: the total length of the MCP conveyor system is almost one kilometer (920 meters). With a total of 10,150 conveyor rollers, 560 RollerDrive units and just as many photocells, it also has a large number of units.
Modular advantage for a future-proof solution
The great advantage of the new conveyor system installed at ePRICE is its high modularity: With the MCP conveyor platform, the e-commerce retailer benefits from a robust and versatile solution that combines various key components into a complete system that reliably masters all expected challenges. With the ability to easily and quickly add plug-and-play functionality to other pre-assembled components, ePRICE can meet further growth in an agile and dynamic way. All in all, it is a flexible, scalable and efficient material handling solution that makes ePRICE fit not only for today’s challenges, but also for tomorrow’s logistics challenges.
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