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Dryers, feeders, blenders, loaders, receivers, level sensors, system-wide controls, parts conveyors, and box fillers account for dozens of new products at NPE. Most of them constitute new sizes in existing product lines or offer incremental improvements in energy efficiency, control, maintainability, and ease of use.
Resin dryers and drying hoppers are one of the biggest categories of new products. One of the most intriguing entries is Wittmann’s new option of embedding a web server in the dryer controls to allow users remote access to setpoints, status indication, help documentation, and troubleshooting. Wittmann intends to offer this option on its full line of auxiliary equipment.
Other control enhancements allow programming multiple-hopper banks with different drying times and temperatures for each hopper or improve energy efficiency by minimizing use of heaters and compressed air based on monitoring incoming and outgoing air temperatures. Such enhancements, as well as remote control and monitoring capabilities are featured in new dryer controls from Bry-Air Systems, Dri-Air Industries, and Novatec. Besides the firms already mentioned, look for new dryers from Autoload, Conair, Maguire, Motan, Process Control (back in the dryer market after an absence of 20 years), Sterling, Thoreson McCosh, and Universal Dynamics. A number of these units are portable models with conveying/loading systems built in.
Tighter control, quick-change capability, more versatile controls, and (in some cases) lower cost are claimed for new feeders and blenders from Colormax, Comet Automation, Conair, Fabri-Dyne, Foremost, Hamilton Avtec, K-Tron, Maguire, Motan, Novatec, Plastrac, Premier Pneumatics, Process Control, Sterling, and TSM. Most of the new blenders are gravimetric (batch or continuous). Mould-Tek and Novatec are emphasizing remote monitoring and control capabilities.
Liquid metering is featured by a smaller group of exhibitors: Inoex is introducing a rare gravimetric liquid dosing system; Riverdale Color has a new liquid-color pump for 7-gal pails; and Zenith Pumps has digitally controlled fluid dispensing system that can be set up and controlled wirelessly from a Palm PDA.
New hopper loaders and vacuum receivers will be shown by AEC, Air Conveying Systems, Colormax, Conair, K-tron, Molders Choice, Motan, Novatec, Plastrac, Premier Pneumatics, Sterling, Thoreson McCosh, Universal Dynamics, and Wittmann. Some products emphasize low cost, others low maintenance or easy cleanout. Premier Pneumatics and Thoreson McCosh are also highlighting controls for large systems or entire plants. The big news from Sterling is its first complete line of material-handling products—feeders, loaders, receivers, dryers, pumps, and controls.
In a recent issue (PT, Oct. ’02, p. 62), we pointed out the growing importance of level sensors as a tool for inventory control. Exhibitors of level controls at NPE are Bindicator, Binmaster, IFM Efector, K-Tek, Kistler-Morse, Monitor Manufacturing, and Thermo Electron Process Instruments.
New parts conveyors that angle up, down, and around curves will be introduced by Crizaf, Direct-Line Products, Dynamic Conveyor, EMI, Foremost, and Harvard Factory Automation. Foremost will show one with an integral metal detector. Some of these firms are rolling out new belts that withstand high temperatures or treat parts more gently.
Automatic box fillers and tote stackers will also make news at the booths of Crizaf, Direct-Line, and Dynamic Conveyor. Rennco is bringing out a new cup loader and counter. And Hunkar Laboratories is showing off a new wireless, handheld barcode scanner/printer as well as a box label printer/applicator.