Gloucester Engineering Adds Servo Drives to 4180 Bag Machine, Will Retrofit Older Models

Gloucester Engineering Co.

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Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. has been producing versions of its 418 inline bag-making machine for over 40 years. The newest model of the shuttle-motion, bottom-seal bag machine features innovations that continue to set this iconic brand apart from competitors. These include 4-axis servo con-trol, print registration, and an advanced operator interface that greatly improve process efficiency and economy. The new design also makes the unit run qui-eter. The servo motors and control package can, moreover, be retrofitted to all versions of the bag-making machine in operation, a number that Tom Helming, Gloucester's product sales manager of film converting machinery, says is between 4,000 and 5,000 units operating world wide. Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. is formally introducing the upgraded model 4180 bag-making machine at the Converting Machinery/Materials (CMM) Ex-position in McCormick Place South, April 18 to 21, in Chicago. The company is ex-hibiting in Booth 2552. The servo motors replace hydraulic mechanisms. The axes they regulate are the speeds of infeed and exit nip rolls, up-and-down motion of the head, and the dis-tance the shuttle travels. The use of servos on the nip rolls prevents over-tensioning of the film during sealing and minimizes the possibility of distorting and breaking the web. Servo control of head pressure and distance-of-travel assures accuracy and repeatability, as does linking the shuttle to a servo motor and linear actuator. The use of servo motors in place of hydraulics not only improves machine control but reduces the number of mechanical parts and seals in use. "Since these machines are designed to run 24/7 with blown film lines, this means less maintenance and re-duced operating costs," Helming says. One area where servo motors are of special benefit is the advanced direct-drive design of the head, which contains fewer me-chanical parts than competitive machines and contributes to the component's re-peatability. The replacement of the hydraulics with servo motors is in response to film converts' request for easier maintenance and the elimination of dealing with any possible oil spills or leaks, which can be considered hazardous waste in some areas. The operator interface features a user-friendly touchscreen that simplifies operation. The control also utilizes advanced algorithms to regulate the machine. Retrofitting older models of Gloucester's bag-making machine with servo motors and the operator interface requires a major factory overhaul, Helming says, but provides substantial improvements in efficiency and economy. "This is a major capability and an important way of differentiating Battenfeld's technology and service from competitors." The model 4180 also incorporates print registration, an electronic scanner that as-sures printed images appear in the same position on every bag, no matter how much the film stretches or relaxes during processing. The new version of the model 4180 can convert up to 450 feet of film or achieve throughput of 200 cycles per minute. The process speed is dependent on bag size, Helming says. Long bags are converted at rates to 450 feet/minute while shorter bags process at up to 200 cycles a minute. The machine is designed to run linear low-density polyethylene, low-density PE, and high-density PE films, as well as polypropylene film and combinations of these mate-rials. End-uses include most categories of rolled or stacked, bottom seal or side seal bags. "The redesigned 4180 bag-making machine is another example of the technology and process capabilities that are available from Gloucester Engineering," Helming says. "With this machine, people will be buying our reputation as much as our expertise in bag-making."