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Packaging Machine Design Heeds Plug & Pack Guidelines

January 5, 2004

2 Min Read
Packaging Machine Design Heeds Plug & Pack Guidelines

Originally Published MPMN January 2004


Packaging Machine Design Heeds Plug & Pack Guidelines



A machine suited for testing packaging and performing small-quantity production runs was designed with 
Plug & Pack Guidelines in mind. 
Judicious use of the standard can 
ease integration with other packaging
equipment and improve productivity.

A recently introduced packaging machine is one of few on the market to use the Plug & Pack concept. Developed by MDC Engineering (Sarasota, FL), the machine is suited for testing drug-packaging materials. 

It can also be used for small-quantity production runs. What makes it fairly unique, however, is the integration of control components from Schneider Electric (Paris;www.schneiderautomation.com) that apply Plug & Pack Guidelines.
The Plug & Pack Guidelines were drafted under the auspices of the Open Modular Architecture Controls (OMAC) users group. The standard is designed to enable communication between production equipment and other plant systems. Members of OMAC include OEMs,automation and control suppliers, and consumer products packaging users.

The machine from MDC Engineering uses Schneider Electric's SERCOS motion control and logic controller. The programmable unit contains a built-inWeb server and Ethernet function. This feature enables the display of real-time 
production information, machine drawings, and manuals.
The equipment design is based on an older model of a unit-dose machine, says Jon Ford, co-owner of MDC Engineering. Both systems can be rolled in and out of cleanrooms for sterility runs, package testing, and small-quantity production runs, 
allowing production on larger machines to continue.

"We felt that reintroducing this type of format was beneficial," says Ford. "We looked at consumer products, where marketing often needs to have samples made. [In medical device manufacturing], rigid packs, sterility, and printing can be tested." Machine setup is easy, adds Ford. "The machine can be used to test and shape molds, for example. Then it can be shut down and rolled back into the corner."

Although the machine's format harks back to an older design, the manufacturer's use of Plug & Pack guidelines is hailed as a productivity booster. "The OMAC standards make it easier to integrate our equipment into packaging systems," says Ford. It is one of few such machines that uses the standard as it was envisioned, adds a member of the Schneider team that was involved in the project.

The Plug & Pack initiative develops definitions for widely used terms in the packaging industry. The language, called PackML, includes machine states and tag names, line types, values, and structures. The same naming conventions are used regardless of the underlying network hardware and protocols. Standardized performance metrics also simplify comparisons of different machines, lines, and plants. 

Copyright ©2004 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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