In an interview, Thomas Nitsche, Senior Manager of Sales Training at Pilz, explains where the challenges lie in the packaging industry, how packing plants are designed and what customers can rely on from Pilz.
What role does safety play in the packaging industry?
It is the nature of packing plants to execute hazardous movements that users need to be protected from. This is exacerbated by the current trend toward single-product packaging and individualisation. You no longer find cookies together in one package, but instead individually packaged. Packaging that is growing increasingly more sophisticated leads to the packaging process having to become quicker and more efficient. This means that the throughput is increased. And with the increased speed of the movements and the high degree of automation, the danger posed by the packaging machines and plants also increases. The safety technology must also be adapted to these growing challenges.
What specific support does Pilz provide?
We support you across the entire packaging process – from primary and secondary packaging to end-of-line. During the primary packaging process, the end product makes direct contact with the plant and the packaging material. Accordingly, the requirements for sterility and so-called hygienic design are high. Pilz thus provides robust stainless steel versions of safety gate switches such as the washable PSENmag VA in IP 67/69k with a very wide temperature range.
What else needs to be taken into account in addition to hygiene?
The process must also be protected against un‑authorised access. This can be performed using a modularly designed operating mode selection and access permission system such as PITreader and PITmode fusion. With this, certain functions and safe operating modes can only be called up or gates, flaps and covers opened by people with the corresponding permission. This is a good example of how both safety and security requirements can be covered with one system.
Industrial firewall solutions like our Security Bridge protect from unauthorised external access to the machine controller – for example during service and maintenance. It monitors the data traffic between the PC and controller and reports unauthorised changes to the control project – making manipulation impossible.
And in secondary packaging?
The individual packaging is placed into outer packaging, such as cardboard boxes. Tray formers are used here, for which Pilz now offers a new TÜV Süd certified solution. This prevents reaching into the machine when the cardboard stack is used up.
What must be taken into account when goods are placed on a pallet?
Palletising is primarily performed using robots that take packages from the conveyor and stack them on a pallet. The safety concept of these end-of-line cells often includes safety fences with safety gates and openings for feeding the packages as well as loading and unloading the pallets. To safeguard the openings, we offer safety light curtains and scanners that are also used for protection against encroachment from behind. The safety gates are ideally safeguarded with our modular safety gate system comprising PSENmlock, a handle module and the push‑ button unit PITgatebox – which can be combined with our access permission system PITreader.
As a side note, our modular safety gate system is also well suited to the big, heavy gates in the packaging industry. The module provides the required robustness and tolerance so that the gate – should it ever happen to warp – can still be reliably operated. Or we are also happy to work with the customer to develop a specific solution depending on the requirement, one that they can rely on.
What does “being able to rely on Pilz” mean?
For me, one part of it is the human side. We take the customer by the hand and work together to find a tailored solution. We provide comprehensive consulting on machinery safety in the packaging industry and on the application of our products and provide support in every phase, 24/7. On the other side, our products satisfy the valid standards and high quality demands. The customer can be sure that employees and plants are protected from hazards, that downtimes are minimised and that productivity increases as a result.