Starting out where others stop

Special machine for ready meals benefits from innovative multiple connector

Robot Food Tech, based in the municipality of Wietze in Lower Saxony, manufactures packaging systems for the food and cosmetic industry. The design engineers use the highly flexible LIEDER RCR line as the basis for custom special machines. Eisele’s stainless steel MULTILINE ADAPTIV provides the company with an ideal connection solution.

As a leading manufacturer of custom filling and packaging machines, food assembly lines and final packaging lines for convenience food and cosmetic products, Robot Food Technologies Germany GmbH stands for innovative developments, decades of competence in packaging technology and the worldwide proven technology of the LIEDER brand. The servo and robot controlled machines fulfil the most stringent requirements for technology, economy and quality. They form the basis for individually equipped, customised special machines and feature a freely programmable drive system for adaptation to diverse products and packages. They are designed for high output capacity and optimal efficiency. The spectrum of products that can be processed is accordingly wide-ranging and includes ready meals, deli salads, sandwiches, fresh salads and sauces, as well as cosmetic products such as creams and lotions. Depending on the requirements, the modular RCR can be equipped with many functions, such as denesting, various filling machines, heat sealing or a lid application station. It is also possible to combine the machines with robots and garnishing systems. All of the machines incorporate high standards for hygiene and cleanability, which is why clean design stainless steel components are used for all relevant components.

The right lid for every container

LIEDER machines make use of similar basic constructions, components and system modules. Customers in the food and cosmetic industry, however, usually have individual requirements so that numerous specific adaptations are necessary and no machine is really like another. In 2013, for example Robot Food Tech developed a production line for ready meals for a worldwide leading food corporation. It is nine metres wide and 45 metres long and can achieve a production output of 210 packages per minute. Different filling machines along the line fill and position the different ingredients of the ready meals in prefabricated plastic trays. Integrated control scales monitor this process. After the trays are filled they pass through a sealing station for heat sealing with plastic foil from a roll.

Quick tool changing

The sealing station of the ready meal line is equipped with two tool heads for three sealing tools each, with integrated cutting tools for punching out the foils. When the tray format is changed, or in the event of faults and also during cleaning the entire tool heads have to be changed as quickly as possible. Each tool head comprises, in addition to the tools, a total of four pneumatic cylinders for actuating the punching movements, four more for locking the tools in place while they are changed, as well as additional shut-off valves. To change each tool head, a total of six pneumatic lines have to be disconnected and reconnected. Despite an intensive search, only the custom MULTILINE ADAPTIV multiple connector from Eisele fulfilled all of the important criteria for this task: it is robust and safely designed for a long life and it is resistant to numerous cleaning agents. It requires very little installation space, is fast and easy to use and features two-sided shut-off. And the danger of incorrect connection is eliminated.

The design engineers at Robot Food Tech chose the six-way connector made of 1.4404 stainless steel with a shut-off for connecting hoses with an outer diameter of eight millimetres. The ADAPTIV inserts comprise a plug and socket, respectively, so that the connection consists of a total of 14 parts that can easily be assembled manually. Eisele delivers simple stainless steel angle brackets for mounting the connection socket to the machine. This saves the customer from having to drill special holes on the machine frame or housing.

Connection technology with maximum flexibility

MULTILINE ADAPTIV enables the reliable, efficient and compact connection of single components or complete assemblies in one simple step by means of a single connector. The advantages apply during system installation, maintenance and repairs: installation expense and set-up times can be reduced significantly with the MULTILINE. The cartridge system with its ADAPTIV inserts allows combination of exactly the connections required for a particular application. Thanks to the strictly modular principle, different connections such as electronics, pneumatics and liquids can also be integrated in one interface. The size of the connections is variable, since they are integrated in the ADAPTIV inserts, which have a standard outer dimension. Only with this concept is the entire tool changing in industrial plants possible with only one turn of the hand. The inserts allow the customer to configure the required interface and modify the configuration later for re-use. To change a push-in connection, only the ADAPTIV insert in the connection has to be exchanged. Thanks to the modular system, warehousing is minimised.

Inserts based on push-in connections

The ADAPTIV inserts themselves are based on the time-tested Eisele push-in connections with a release sleeve and are manufactured from nickel-plated brass, dezincification-resistant brass or 1.4404 stainless steel. The inserted hose is held securely in the housing by an inner collet. The outer release sleeve protects the connection from impurities and enables easy disconnection of the hose without tools, even after extended use. The push-in connections are available with one or two seals and are also suitable for use with vacuum.

After the ready meal line from Robot Food Tech was set up in Wietze in the Südheide region, it was tested thoroughly before being packed in 21 overseas containers for shipment to the customer. After the positive experiences with the connection technology from Waiblingen the first MULTILINE ADAPTIV on board definitely will not be the last.

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