Control Panel Interface for Filling Equipment
The control panels found on automatic filling equipment are really the heart of these liquid packaging machines. Encased in the control panel are the PLC, breakers, switches, drives and fuses, along with the wires that help the machine components communicate with one another to ensure efficient and reliable filling. Of course, the machine needs to be told what to do, and the touchscreen operator interface found on almost all automatic filling equipment allows an easy method for a packager to do just that.
The interface allows the packager to interact with the machine in a single location to enter all the necessary setting to allow the machine to run automatically, without operator interaction with each cycle. This communication is achieved through a number of different menus found on the touchscreen. When the machine is powered up, the packager will first see a Main Screen which will display a total production count, an infeed count, a cycle indicator and other general information. The Main Screen also allows access to all the other screens with the touch of a button.
The Manual Toggle Screen, as the name suggests, allows for manual control of different components of the filling equipment. While these components may differ from machine to machine, they generally include such items as exit and entry gates for indexing, conveyor control and even fill head dives. This screen can assist in maintenance and parts replacement, among other tasks.
The Filler Set Up Screen generally allows the packager to turn various components on and off before starting automatic production. For example, a packager running multiple containers may have one oddly shaped or tall container with stability issues. Neck grabbers may be included on the machine, but remain off until the one odd bottle is run. When the odd bottle is run, the Filler Set Up Screen allows the neck grabbers to be turned on to assist with the filling process.
The next three screens found on the operator interface work together to create the actual fill cycle for production. The Adjust Pre-Sets Screen is generally used to set delay and duration times for components, minus the actual fill time, to create the fill cycle. For example, times may include the duration that the entry gate remains open to allow bottles to funnel in to the fill area, or a slight delay from the end of the fill time to when the heads retract in the case of a machine with diving nozzles. The components will differ based on the type of filling machine being used.
The second of the three screens is the Adjust Fill Times Screen, which allows the actual control of the time that liquid will be released in to the container. The manner in which this occurs will again depend on the type of filling machine being used for any given project. Actual time in the form of seconds may be entered, or pump duration or even a pulse may take the place of the time, with the pulse based on a turn or partial turn of a pump component, such as a gear. Regardless of the manner, the Adjust Fill Times Screen allows the packager to set the amount of liquid that will enter the containers.
Finally, the Auto Indexing Screen allows indexing times to be set by lining bottles up on the conveyor and simply pushing a button. Rather than use trial and error to figure out how long an entry gate should be open, this screen finds those times for the operator, relaying them to the Adjust Pre-Sets screen to save time.
An Alarm Screen will also be included on automatic filling equipment to notify packagers when there is an issue with the filling equipment or the packaging line in general. In addition to notification, the screen can assist with identifying the issue if the same is not immediately obvious.
Finally, a Recipe Screen is included on the automatic liquid filler to even further simplify the set up process, and in many cases take away the need to visit most of the screens mentioned above. The Recipe Screen allows all the times and settings for any given bottle to be saved and later recalled with the push of a button. For customers that provide product and container samples, these recipes will be included upon installation, literally making the process as simple as pushing a couple buttons prior to starting production.
Additional controls are found at the bottom of each screen for easy access to turning on and off certain functions and components, such as pumps, product supplies, conveyors and auxiliary equipment and the fill cycle itself. Controls found on each screen may differ based on the project at hand and the type of fill principle used for the project. Additional screens may also be found on some machines, including a Clean-In-Place screen for those packagers that need to quickly remove product remnants and prepare for the next run.
For more information on controls for automatic filling machines, including controls for overflow fillers, piston fillers, pump fillers and more, contact a Liquid Packaging Solutions representative today.