Putting a cap on traceability issues

Paul Boughton

Traceability of product, reliability of performance and ongoing support are the key components of a recent project undertaken by Siemens Industry for Precision Engineering, a special purpose machine builder based in Kent, UK, who manufactures the world renowned Dico capping and Gravfil liquid filling brands.

With more than 6,000 worldwide machine installations, Dico has a rich history in the design, development and manufacture of cap tightening and closing machinery dating back to the late 1940s.  Its management team turned to Siemens to help them with the development of automation technology controls for its latest Dico servo-capping machine used to apply caps to containers in a variety of industrial sectors.

In this case, their customer had a clear requirement for full traceability on every container capped ensuring that the cap tightening process could be monitored, measured and data acquired for future analysis in the unlikely event of an issue once product was released to market.

Rick Aitchison, sales manager for ‘Dico & Gravfil’ outlines the project: “The capping machine had to provide torque feedback for every single cap tightened. This would provide full traceability on all product from manufacture to point of sale and beyond, providing peace of mind that all caps had been applied to the correct tightening specification.”

The capping machine undertakes a number of other functions including a fully integrated vision system checking cap condition prior to application and a fully integrated coding system marking a unique serial number on every container. For every cap tightened, the machine PC records the acquired tightening data and a time stamped graph is automatically created and stored. This information is then available should its retrieval be necessary at any point in the future.

Once assembled containers and caps leave the machine an automatic reject system will reject any out of specification containers according to the user configured process parameters, with only correctly applied product proceeding to the next part of the production process.

Russell Wheeler for Siemens Industry comments: “Precision Engineering was attracted by the wide-ranging benefits our automation technology could deliver. A combination of the integrated safety functionality, the connectivity of the drives and the remote diagnostic fault-finding capabilities for machines shipped around the globe, ensured we delivered a bespoke, cost effective solution for its Dico capping machinery.”

For more information, visit www.siemens.co.uk

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