The team at Simmatic relish a challenge, and one that crops up frequently these days is devising a way to open the premade bags that are now so widely used in the food industry containing a wide variety of products from readymade meals, nuts, fruits and pet foods.
When food processing and packaging expert Target Packaging Systems recently approached Simmatic for help with an application of this type, there was already a solution in the market, but it was not meeting the high standard of reliability that Target Packaging and its customers expect and demand.
The existing bag-opening solution was based on a traditionally-designed, centralised vacuum system, with a single electrically driven vacuum pump working in conjunction with four vacuum cups. The principle shortcoming of an arrangement of this type is that if one of the cups fails to seal on the surface of the bag, this compromises the vacuum at the remaining three cups and the bag is no longer held securely. Failure of a cup to seal is a very common occurrence when working with plastic films and bags.
To solve this problem for Target Packaging, partnering with Simmatic delivered a novel solution based on Magic Grippers selected from the extensive VMECA range for which Simmatic is the UK agent.
Magic Grippers comprise a high-performance lifting cup paired with an efficient two-stage vacuum generator. The vacuum generator is a compact maintenance-free device with no moving parts. It is powered by compressed air and has been designed to have very low air consumption. In addition, it needs no vacuum release valve.
The key benefit of Magic Cups in the bag opening application is that each cup has its own vacuum generator. If one cup fails to seal, the vacuum provided at the other cups is completely unaffected and the bag opening system will still function successfully. In practice, it was found that there was an added bonus: if only three cups sealed initially, as these cups pulled the bag tighter, the recalcitrant fourth cup was able to grip.
Not only does the bag opening system devised for Target Packaging by Simmatic work very reliably, it also delivers important additional benefits. It is much more energy efficient than the previous system, because the vacuum generators are turned on only when they are lifting the bags, whereas the electric vacuum pump had to run continuously. Maintenance requirements are greatly reduced, as the vacuum generators in the Magic Cups have no moving parts, and the likelihood of leaks is virtually eliminated, as the vacuum is generated right where it’s needed, rather than having to be conveyed to the cups by pipework.
As this example has illustrated, Magic solutions are a speciality at Simmatic! So, if you have a tricky film or bag handling application, why not call in the Simmatic wizards to wave their wands and conjure up the answers to your challenges?