History of Maflex automation of start stops lines
Maflex has a long history in providing solutions for automating machinery. Since its early days, Maflex has been responding to customer requests to modify or create machinery to either simplify the production process, reduce labor costs or increase efficiency. In fact, the first MAFLEX project for many new customers was automating older Start-Stop machines which relied heavily on operator intervention to make finished product. The introduction of our “MINI-ROBOT” resulted in automatic mandrel handling for running coreless products. Once the benefits of the automations were realized, customers often followed up with a purchase of an additional brand new Maflex converting line without adding human resources.
Automatic roll change on HERACLE
Most Maflex customers have a diverse product offering which can require multiple product changes throughout the production shift. This often includes changing embossing patterns. With varying skill sets available on non-daytime shifts, the need to make the roll change an “operator function” was a must. The Robotic Actuator on the HERACLE Embosser Laminator allows the operator to perform a Tool Free Automatic Embosser Roll change from the HMI without the need to break the web (an absolute novelty introduced by Maflex in the tissue industry in 2019).
Once the operator requests the change, the RUNNING to RUNNING time required for the machine to automatically execute the change is under 3 minutes.
SCARA robots used to manipulate products
When Maflex America was in discussion with a U.S. based customer about an Industrial Log Saw project, the customer advised that before they could move forward with the Maflex LADON Log Saw, they needed to resolve an on-going Core Crushing problem with a saw supplied by a Maflex competitor. They also needed to address the inefficient process of manually inserting proprietary dispenser caps in the ends of towel rolls. Maflex took on the challenge of creating a solution to address both these issues.
There was a limited amount of space available in the production line, so a new approach was needed to correct the crushed cores and insert the caps. Maflex came up with a solution utilizing SCARA robots to take care of both issues. Together with a vision system and conveyor tracking, the first robot reforms the core on each roll. Two additional robots pick caps from a sorter and place them into the end of the core. This small footprint, high speed and efficient system allows the customer to reallocate the resources previously used for capping and the overall quality of the product has increased. This innovative approach to roll manipulation resulted in additional projects for Maflex. The commitment to pursue this technology resulted in a multi machine order from a leading multi-national tissue manufacturer. There are many other applications where these types of systems can be adapted to enhance product efficiency and free up resources to do more meaningful tasks.
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