NPE Newsfinder: Materials & Parts Handling
From pneumatic systems that deliver materials to the processing machine to conveyors and handling devices that pull parts out the back, the trend appears to be “smaller and smarter.” NPE 2000 will show lots of downsized auxiliaries designed for mini processing machines, as well as more compact equipment of every size that frees up floor space. New handling equipment is also packed with more electronic intelligence in the form of upgraded software, new touchscreen interfaces, and distributed control functions that eliminate the need for a bulky control cabinet.
In blenders and feeders, a number of new systems are designed especially for handling wood flour, an up-and-coming ingredient for plastic composites. There’s also an emphasis on micro blenders and micro feeders sized for small injection machines. Some new gravimetric blenders claim to be the first batch gain-in-weight types to be able to meter non-free-flowing powders, more usually handled by continuous loss-in-weight blenders. These target increased metering of small amounts of additives directly at the injection press or extruder, possibly reflecting wider use of new mixing screws and new processor-friendly concentrates.
In dryers, one new compressed-air model uses existing technology in a way that’s new to plastics. It’s a patent-pending application of a selective adsorption device used for decades to dry the air in submarines. It claims to be the only compressed-air dryer that guarantees a certain dewpoint level.
New blenders and feeders
Among special handling equipment for wood fiber at NPE, Brabender Technologie Inc. of Mississauga, Ont., will show a new gravimetric feeder for wood fiber and 1-in. fiberglass. Colortronic Inc., Runnemede, N.J., will show the new loss-in-weight Wood Feed System for wood-fiber composite extrusion. O.A. Newton & Sons, Bridgeville, Del., will show new gravimetric feeders for wood flour and carbon black.
Several new gravimetric blenders include the capability to feed powders. Comet Automation Systems in Dayton, Ohio, is introducing the Exact-A-Batch MP blender, a gain-in-weight model that can meter both pellets and non-free-flowing powders. It has a patented powder dispenser for additives such as blowing agents, uv stabilizers, flame retardants, and pigments. It can feed up to two non-free-flowing and two free-flowing ingredients.
Several companies are offering new micro blenders for small machines. AEC/HydReclaim, Fenton, Mich., will show a new mini batch weigh blender with mini additive feeder and new controls for both injection and extrusion. The mini batch blender has removable stainless-steel hoppers for quick material changes.
Novatec Inc. of Baltimore is showing its new NovaBlend 100 gravimetric micro blender for up to four components. Only 7 x 7 in. and 26 in. tall, it blends one or two additives into two main components at up to 100 lb/hr.
Small feeders are also being introduced to add small amounts of powdered additives to injection machines or extruders running medical tubing, wire, and fibers. Colortronic will bring out a more compact version of its Colorblend low-rate powder dosing unit. Called Colorblend S, it is said to offer very accurate disc dosing of small additive amounts. Colortronic will also show its new model CSPE-30/50 powder loader and model CT-55 twin-screw powder feeder.
Reimelt Corp. in Odessa, Fla., is introducing an automated micro-ingredient feeder. And Vac-U-Max in Belleville, N.J., is introducing the Micro Module Feeder with a filterless hopper loader for “one-shot” material transfer.
Novatec’s new micro auger feeder, with a 6-lb hopper capacity, feeds additives and colorants to small injection presses at up to 7.5 lb/hr. Including motor, it’s 15.5 in. long x 14 in. high and attaches with just a magnet and locating pin. The unit pops off and on in seconds for quick color changes.
Motan Inc. in Plainwell, Mich., will show a new Mini Color “A” model additive feeder with extruder tracking.
Plastrac Inc., Edgemont, Pa., is also introducing a disc-based color feeder with gravimetric calibration and remote vacuum motor. It can deliver less than 0.1-g shots of color micropellets or microspheres.
Maguire Products Inc., Aston, Pa., will introduce a new small size of its Weigh Scale Totalizer. Model WST 110 meters preblended ingredients at the extruder throat to monitor material usage in plants where several machines are fed from one silo. Maguire says it’s the first time that extrusion controls have been incorporated into standard blender controls, eliminating a second scale and controls. This feature is needed for regulating output of one-component extruders on multi-layer film lines.
Among other new gravimetric blenders, Mould-Tek Industries Inc. in Toronto will show its new Exac-U-Batch GXB weigh-scale blender. Colortronic will also show a new gain-in-weight gravimetric blender called Ultra Blend II. Plastrac is showing a new gravimetric blender with self-calibrating feeders, metering disc, and brushless mini loader. Plastore Inc., Hudson, Ohio, is also showing new gravimetric blenders, both large and small. Its new Power Hopper feeds non-free-flowing materials, and a new water-cooled feeder is for heat-sensitive materials.
Some suppliers are bringing out equipment to handle larger numbers of components. Process Control Corp. in Atlanta is introducing two new Guardian gravimetric batch blenders for 10 and 12 components. The 12-component version will be at the show. Although processors seldom use 10-12 ingredients at once, Process Control says keeping 12 ingredients loaded speeds product changeovers.
Brabender will demonstrate a new trapezoidal loss-in-weight feeder that allows more feeders to cluster around an extruder throat.
Upstream Systems & Machinery of Atlanta (a joint venture of TSM Control Systems Inc. of Ireland and Barron Inc. in Atlanta) will show three new models of Sigmabatch gravimetric batch blenders: a Mini Sigmabatch for up to six components and 600 lb/hr; an Extended Sigmabatch for up to eight components and 2400 lb/hr; and a Mega Sigmabatch for up to 10 components and 5000 lb/hr. All are designed to mount directly on the extruder throat and include integrated extrusion controls, patented continuous mixers, and no separate weigh hopper.
Motan’s new Gravicolor 300 gravimetric blender for up to six materials runs at up to 660 lb/hr and uses a segmented mass-flow hopper and two load cells to blend additives with 0.1% accuracy, Motan says.
In addition, AccuRate, Whitewater, Wis., will show its new family of Mechatron feeders. Citsco Inc., Lancaster, S.C., will introduce a large, twin-auger gravimetric feeder from Arbo in Switzerland. Acrison Inc., Moonachie, N.J., will introduce new weigh feeders and new controls. Colourmate Inc., Woodbridge, Ont., is bringing a new Equalizer Feeder for injection molding. It weighs color going directly into the extruder without a blender.
There’s also more news in blender controls. AEC/Whitlock, Wood Dale, Ill., will show new controls, a new touchscreen interface, and new software. Mould-Tek is introducing new touchscreen blender controls, called GXB Series 4, with remote access. Maguire is launching new blender software said to increase batch-to-batch accuracy of minor-ingredient dispensing.
Romax Inc., Louisville, Ky., will introduce new Movacolor LAN software to control up to 99 feeders from a remote PC. Romax will also launch two new feeders, including the MC-24 gravimetric/volumetric feeder.
Novatec’s new blender control adjusts additives for each batch based on the actual amount of virgin resin and regrind in that batch, rather than averaging from batch to batch. The new control is available on Novablend 600 and 1200 gravimetric blenders for up to four components and on BBS series blenders for up to eight components.
Comet will show a recently introduced volumetric blender controller, the CT-100, which can be retrofitted to any make of disc-fed blender. It gives readouts of resin usage and controls up to six components and one mixer. The CT-100 software also calculates color based on the amount of regrind used. It senses if the blender runs out of regrind and switches to two-component blending, then returns to three-component operation when the regrind hopper is replenished.
Brabender is also showing new On-Line Feed-Rate Verification software for its gravimetric loss-in-weight feeders. Brabender says this is the first capability to measure gravimetric feed rates “on line.” Weigh scales are verified off-line and the software revises previous weights automatically.
Process Control is showing its new PCCWeb feature, which lets you monitor and control Guardian blenders and extrusion controls via Web browser. (see PT, Mar. ’00, p. 39).
Conveying & bulk loading
In materials-conveying controls, AEC/Whitlock has a new two-pump, 12-station controller for smaller plants or injection molding cells. A new networkable five-pump, 50-station conveying controller has a touchpanel display and distributed intelligence for faster, simpler wiring and installation.
Conair is introducing the SLC 48 touchscreen control panel for up to 48 loaders and eight vacuum pumps. It has a high-speed industrial PC and can manage two pumps seeking material from the same source at one time.
The new Metrolink fully automated material selection and distribution system from Motan accepts up to 16 source materials. An air cylinder rotates one of up to 15 standard discs to connect the materials to as many as 240 preprogrammed destinations.
Premier Pneumatics Inc. in Salina, Kan., is launching a new central Series II 2400 central control for up to 24 vacuum receivers.
Several suppliers are showing smaller vacuum pumps. Conair will introduce a low-cost SPP-1 pump for small-volume conveying of up to 600 lb/hr. Novatec is introducing a new two-stage, regenerative vacuum pump that occupies less than 3 sq ft but moves up to 2000 lb/hr with a 6.2-hp motor. Hamilton Avtec Inc., Mississauga, Ont., will introduce sound-enclosed vacuum pumps and a new digitally controlled vacuum loader.
Hamilton Avtec is also bringing new JIT loaders with upgraded controls, and new preventive-maintenance software. Bry-Air Systems, Sunbury, Ohio, will introduce two new JIT sight-glass pneumatic loaders: a single- and a double-shot model for ratio loading of virgin/regrind.
Among other new hopper loaders, Motan’s compact new Metro HL/ML model conveys up to 100 lb/hr, from one- or two-material sources. Cactus Machinery will show two new venturi-type, compressed-air loaders, the AL200 Superloader and RL500 Ratio Loader. They measure only 18 in. high and have dust filters in their lids. Plastore will show new compressed-air models.
Nucon Systems Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ont., will show its new CVR-800 series central-vacuum and glass-tube vacuum loaders. New hopper loaders from J-TEC Groep in Belgium will be shown at the booth of Pelletron Corp., Lancaster, Pa.
Premier Pneumatics is launching new Series 2400 stainless-steel vacuum receivers with two inlets to refill loss-in-weight feeders. It separates fines from conveying air using nine filter bags with a total of 9 sq ft of cloth area.
Silos y Camiones S.A. de C.V. in Pachuca, Mexico, will introduce a vacuum receiver for powders and a new central control panel to monitor the whole plant’s pneumatic conveying. Universal Dynamics Inc., Woodbridge, Va., will show a redesigned vacuum receiver for pellets. And for receiving PVC powder, Conair will introduce a compact model with special filter cartridges.
For silos and bulk loaders, Laidig Industrial Systems in Mishawaka, Ind., is introducing new cone-bottom bulk unloaders with 45° and 60° cones and augers. They are suitable for existing or new silos of 9 to 21 ft diam..
Other types of materials-conveying components will debut in Chicago:
A.O. Smith Engineered Storage Products, Parson, Kan., is introducing several passive flow-control devices. Its SoftFlow letdown chute fills silos gently to minimize polymer degradation. A new split-flow device splits product discharge to conveying lines. And the new ExpandaFlow device promotes mass flow in new and existing silos.
New “smart elbow” from Hammertek Corp., Landisville, Pa., reportedly conveys pellets or regrind without wear, fines, plugging or surging.
Salina Vortex Corp. in Salina, Kan., is launching the 3-Way Flex Tube Diverter valve for dry materials. It uses a sliding tube of rubber or stainless steel to convey material from one source to any of three destinations.
Sterling Systems div. of Sterling Blower Co., Forest, Va., is launching the Diamond Line Series of wear-resistant blowers and cyclones, designed for abrasive glass-filled materials.
Masterduct Inc. in Houston is bringing new polyester polyurethane material-handling hoses, which are said to be resistant to flame, microbes, and abrasion.
News in dryers
Novatec is introducing the desiccant-free NovaDrier, said to be the first compressed-air dryer that guarantees a specified dewpoint. The patent-pending unit will “drastically reduce energy and maintenance cost,” Novatec says. It has no process motors, regeneration heaters, cooling coils, or moving parts. Compressed air is dried by passing through a selective adsorption device.
Autoload Inc. in Smithville, Mo., will introduce the new Autodry line of machine-mounted dehumidifying dryers for small injection machines.
Bry-Air Systems will offer two new desiccant-wheel type dryers. The FD Series has capacities from 15 to 600 lb/hr, while the FDI Series is for 700 to 6000 lb/hr. Both have improved “Smart-Dry” controls with optional “Smart Dry” diagnostics to monitor dewpoint, regeneration temperature, and alarms. Soon these units will also get a “two-dewpoint” control setting so as to prevent both under- and over-drying. Bry-Air will also show a model MDS-3 portable dehumidifier with a new desiccant wheel.
Hamilton Avtec will show its new digitally controlled hot-air dryer series. Motan is introducing the Luxor gas dryer with independently controlled burners for maximum energy efficiency. Its new Luxor ETA-process box recovers heat from flue gas for further energy savings.
Thoreson-McCosh Inc. in Troy, Mich., is introducing TD-6 dehumidifying dryers that have three desiccant beds but are priced like models with only one desiccant bed. It will also show new Delta T dryer controls and the DVL dryer/loader. Universal Dynamics will introduce a “cabinetized” PCT dehumidifying dryer. Walton/Stout Inc. in Lithonia, Ga., is also introducing energy-efficient desiccant dryers. AEC/Whitlock is showing new multilingual software for its large PET dryers. Nissui Corp. in East Lansing, Mich., will show its new NS-XXX next-generation Dezat Dryer and NB-XXX measuring and mixing equipment.
Trap metal and fines
For metal detection, Bunting Magnetics Co. in Newton, Kan., will bring new single- and multi-coil metal detectors and detector-separators for non-magnetic metal contaminants, including stainless steel, aluminum, lead, copper and brass. Air jets remove tramp metal from materials on conveyors, in pneumatic tubes, or free-falling stream.
Bunting has also developed two new compact drawer magnets in its FFV Series to mount on the throat of an injection machine. Models FFSV1300 and FFSV1400 target machines fed by a central system with portable dryers at the press.
Eriez Magnetics is bringing a new hand-held metal detector able to find tramp metal inside shallow parts. Eriez also says its new tube magnet (model RE5HP) is the strongest available. It has increased holding power to prevent already separated metal from getting back into the plastic stream.
EMI Corp., Jackson Center, Ohio, is showing a new Crizaf flat-bed metal detector to catch ferrous and non-ferrous metals passing on a conveyor. It reportedly detects metal inside a plastic part. S&S Metal Detectors North America, Slatington, Pa., is introducing the MES Compact Metal Separator and Rigid Compact Metal Separator.
T&T Technology in Chicago is introducing Fines-Sep Central, a series of gravity fines separators with cyclone collectors in six sizes for throughputs of 300 to 40,000 lb/hr. T&T is also launching four new non-ferrous metal separators: Met-Sep MM (machine mounted) to mount on the feed zone of the machine; Met-Sep FF (free-falling) to remove metal from free-falling plastic; Met-Sep Bulk to remove metal from bulk pellets; and Met-Sep Tunnel to remove metal on a conveyor belt.
New dust-removal products include the small Model P-1 Deduster from Pelletron, which removes fines from pellets at 50 lb/hr. Pelletron also has a new vertical cyclone dust collector. Rotex Inc. in Cincinnati will introduce the MA 100 Series Megatex screener for pellets and PVC powder.
News in parts handling
On display are new aluminum, plastic, and stainless conveyors. Crizaf Automation Systems in Wickliffe, Ohio, will preview a new continuous aluminum conveyor belt up to 48 in. wide with integrated sidewalls. Called the Crizaf 2000, it’s said to be “virtually indestructible.” The Crizaf 2000 also comes in a plastic version for use with its new flatbed metal detector.
Eriez Magnetics in Erie, Pa., is bringing a new electromagnetic conveyor, model VMC, with integral metal detector and alarm. And Axmann Conveying Systems Inc. in Jeffersonville, Ind., is introducing the Model 4051 stainless-steel conveyor for cleanroom use and a new lightweight “Micro-Drive” conveyor drive package.
Among new lifting aids, Roni LLC in Charlotte, N.C., will introduce Lift-O-Flex 17000 and 19000, which are mobile, electric lifters for loads up to 700 lb. They can manually or electrically lift, tip, and turn large objects for palletizing or changing molds and dies. Expand-O-Turn and Squeeze-O-Turn are similar mobile units for transporting rolls of film and paper, gripping either from the inside with a core expander or from the outside between V-shaped holders.
EMI is introducing barcode readers for box filling and warehousing and a new direct-drive conveyor with adjustable-height conveyor legs. EMI will also show a new weigh-hopper box filler, reportedly accurate to within 1 g. Another new EMI portable, low-cost box filler is driven by cycle count and interfaces with most conveyors.
A new weigh hopper for very precise box filling from Crizaf reportedly achieves higher accuracy than ever—within 0.2 g.
MAC–Molding Automation Concepts Inc., Woodstock, Ill., will demonstrate a new box filler, mounted under an injection press with a low-profile, lightweight aluminum conveyor that counts parts and fills and indexes boxes.
An air-vey system is being introduced by Palace Packaging Machines Inc., Downington, Pa., to move lids and bottles through clear PVC tubing for distances of up to 350 ft at speeds up to 1400 ft/min.
Tec Engineering Corp. in Oxford, Mass., is introducing ZIP, an overhead monorail system for automated transfer of boxes. ZIP also features new over/under box filling.
Yushin America, Inc., Cranston, R.I., is launching a new product line with its MI Decker Stocker system that receives parts under the press and delivers them to bins. It consists of a servo-driven parts-receiving bucket and bin circulating mechanism. Bins are closed automatically after filling with lids that have a QC-sample storage packet. The system is said to deliver exact part counts to the bins and can segregate good and bad parts and QC samples. It stores 2-8 hr of parts beside the machine.
Also new from Yushin is the ACS-EGS-H Stocker, a tray-filling and handling system that works with a parts-removal robot, automatically destacking trays, presenting them for filling by the robot, and restacking filled trays. It runs unattended for 2-4 hr.
For stacking and counting parts, Custom Systems Integration Co. in Carlsbad, Calif., is introducing the CMF-4 rotary feeder capable of de-nesting 300 trays/min. Rennco Inc. in Homer, Mich., is introducing automatic packaging technology for stacking and counting foam trays. It will run at the booth of Irwin Research & Development. C.B.W. Automation (based in Fort Collins, Colo.) will also demonstrate its case packer with a servo-driven, side-entry stack mold robot. It will retrieve cups from a 2 x 32 cavity mold in 3.5-sec cycles, stack and sleeve the cups, and pack them in cartons.
Direct-Line Products in Wickliffe, Ohio, will show new controls that let a parts-handling robot tell a conveyor when to index. Direct-Line also has a new box filler with photo-eye controls and gravity rollers to carry filled boxes away.
C&D Robotics Inc. in Beaumont, Texas, is introducing a line of small gantry robots for palletizing and depalletizing products in one or more work cells. Fanuc Robotics North America, Inc., Rochester Hills, Mich., is bringing the M-16/T, one of its new line of overhead rail-mounted jointed-arm robots. It has a full range of motion for palletizing and packing. Moog Inc. in East Aurora, N.Y., is also showing new distributed intelligence technology for controlling material-handling robots.
Series 4 touchscreen blender control on Mould-tek’s GXB Blender has new T-Com software for two-way communication with a central PC.
Maguire’s Weigh Scale Totalizer is said to be the first time that extrusion yield control is included in standard controls.
Comet Automation’s Exact-A-Batch MP gravimetric blender has a new dispenser (left) for non-free-flowing powders such as pigments and additives.
Novatec’s new NovaDrier has no motors, heaters, cooling coils, desiccant beds, or moving parts, but it guarantees a preset dewpoint.
Processors today face bewildering choices of at least five basic types of dryers, whose capabilities are subject to conflicting claims from equipment suppliers. For the buyer, the most basic questions are: How much drying is needed for the job and which dryer types are up to the task?
The pump is a good place to start looking in you are having materials-conveying problems as it is the likely source of the trouble.
The priority is to maximize movement of powders while minimizing dust exposure.