The Ergonomics and Measurement of Shuttle Sealers
Algus Packaging's tray sealers feature a push-button power shuttle for automated tool exchange.
In shuttle-style tray sealers, Algus Packaging Inc. (DeKalb, IL) and SCA Consumer Packaging (DeKalb, IL) feature matched seal-die systems in which the top die is machined out to match the contour of the sealing flange. Blocks attached to the heat plate are contoured to match seal sizes to focus heat and pressure on the packaging in SCA’s Aergo unit.
In SCA’s Automated Heat Plate Exchange System (ATEX) in its Aergo units, the heat-plate changeover process employs transfer trays for easier operator loading and unloading. ATEX supports better sealing, as there is a more-secure connection between the heat plate and the heating platen. “With ATEX, the heating blocks are hotter, which gives you more consistent sealing and actually quicker cycle times,” says Kenneth Sullivan, director of marketing, SCA.
Algus offers three levels of process control and data acquisition. In the highest level, the sealing cycle is interrupted and audio and visual alarms engage if the machine deviates from acceptable tolerance ranges. A PLC supports data acquisition and recipe storage, says Ray Eimerman, Algus.
Algus features a push-button power shuttle that automatically draws the tool into the seal station and automatically returns it to the operator for finished package inspection, Eimerman says.
Both companies now offer a quick tool-change system for switching out heated dies when sealing jobs change.
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Atlas Vac Machine, a division of Planet Products Corp. (Cincinnati, OH), has added the ability to measure down-force yield. The Direct Force Sensing System uses load-cell technology to provide a reading of the force exerted by the tray sealer pressing against the sealing tool. The feature is standard on its medical tray shuttle sealers and offered on its indexing blister card sealers, says John Abraham, vice president, sales.
Atlas Vac units also employ the Infrared Vision System Temperature Sensor that enables engineers to receive immediate readings of the actual surface temperature of the sealing platen. In shuttle-style sealing, the platen surface is always a few degrees cooler than the platen heater. Engineers typically use hand-held J-probes to measure the temperature of the platen surface and calculate offset values to adjust for this variance. But the platen temperature changes with variables such as production speed. “J-probes are not very accurate, and readings vary based on how the probes are held,” says Abraham.