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Speedy Changeovers and Quick Product Swaps with Sick Smart Sensors

The customer of today expects to be able to order a product that meets his exact needs and wishes. He mixes his own muesli. He picks his favourite chocolates for his chocolate box. He designs his own label for his champagne. He wants shoes that fit his feet exactly, in his favourite material and colour. All of these options will affect the packaging process.

Consumers also expect to receive more and more information. They want to know how their products are manufactured and what they are made from. They want to know what the packaging is made of and how they should dispose of it. Tailor-made products manufactured in line with a specific customer’s requirements call for a flexible packaging solution. As such, sensors play a considerable role in the production process. Why is that? Sensors are becoming increasingly intelligent, turning them into one of the main components in many systems. They play a particularly important role in the Industrial Internet movement.

Effects on the packaging industry

Major changes in industry affect the foundations of the production process itself: These changes call for shorter changeovers, remote production management solutions, and packaging systems that can be adapted to product flows, formats, materials, and environmental conditions. As a result, companies can manufacture and package made-to-order products at mass production prices. This basic concept is known as 'batch size of 1.' The packaging industry is already prepared for the dawn of the Industrial Internet. The benefits of minimal changeover times and immediate production are clear: They improve the system’s flexibility when it comes to the type and size of packaging produced.

Automatic configuration prevents incorrect settings

Over the next few years, sensors will begin to play a fundamental role in machine automation and the improvement of flexibility. Their adaptable design has helped to win over many packaging manufacturers. Users are now able to store parameters for special formats, colours, contrasts, and surfaces straight to the sensor without having to touch the sensor at all. In the event of a product changeover, they can be automatically activated in a matter of moments and their settings can be replicated in full. In accordance with the manufacturing process or product in question, the automation system provides the sensor with optimum application-specific parameters, such as the sensing range, hysteresis, or threshold.

System performs self-test to ensure that sensors are working correctly

Sensors make the packaging process more transparent. They record and process values and statuses and then share them at controller level. Sensors sort, detect, locate, identify, and verify. Sensors are able to monitor certain parameters, thus enabling users to apply an accurate maintenance plan for carrying out preventive maintenance. And, sensors come with their own reliable auto-diagnosis function, meaning that they can be replaced both quickly and easily in the event of malfunction.

Interactive sensors

With its Smart Sensor Solutions powered by IO-Link, SICK provides its customers with all the advantages of an intelligent sensor system. Its products and systems include a comprehensive range of communication functions and are also able to carry out certain functions automatically. For instance, 'smart sensors' are able to count process events independently. They can also measure the time and speed at which objects pass the sensor and monitor values such as revolutions per minute. The sensors either transmit the measured values to the control unit as absolute figures or they analyse the data themselves and transmit it in the form of binary information. This is why SICK’s sensors are the ideal solution for improving the flexibility of automation technology in the packaging industry.

Looking for more information? We can help with that...

If you would like more information about Sick Sensors or would like to discuss a specific sensor application you may have, please call our Head Office Sales Department on 01254 685900 and our Technical Support Engineers or Sales Team will be happy to help.

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