The world's fastest ice cream packaging machine

Illustration | Bosch Rexroth AG
Marginal Column

Fast cycle times and quick to market: Weyhmüller Verpackungstechnik GmbH has developed the fastest ice cream packing machine in the world, making use of engineering assistance from Bosch Rexroth.

 

Whenever temperatures soar, it pops right up – our appetite for something refreshing. This is much to the delight of ice cream manufacturers, as the sales of their cool treats shoot up accordingly. However, producers find it hard to forecast the next spell of hot weather, especially when operating in the northern hemisphere, where demand is seasonal. Whenever a heat wave bears down, the number of people wanting ice cream simply explodes. This is where flexibility is essential, since the nightmare that plagues every ice cream parlor owner is an empty freezer.

Two pick-me-ups a second

The newest machine engineered by Weyhmüller Verpackungstechnik GmbH to fill and package flat, conical tubes now guarantees quicker shipment of brightly colored popsicle sticks, sometimes called “squeezers”. With an output of 8,400 tubes an hour, it is the world’s fastest ice cream packing machine. The global leader in machines to create ice cream packaging is based in Neu-Ulm, Germany, and was able to increase maximum output by more than 50 percent when compared with the previous model. This was made possible through close cooperation in the development stages.

“At the very first meeting with Bosch Rexroth, we found they felt quite at home with the food and packaging industries and really understood our requirements,” remembers Heinrich Peitz, business manager at Weyhmüller. Since a trade show was coming up, he attached great importance to a rapid time-to-market solution. The specification manual also contained some ambitious requirements: the cycles were to be shortened, the squeezers’ brim rolls were to meet tight tolerances in regard to an oval shape, and the price of the machine itself had to be competitive. Furthermore, the machine had to allow fast format and processing changes and had to conserve resources.

Standards set milestones

A central factor in increasing the output speed was changing from a mechanical shaft to a virtual axis, which the main drive generates. Its software synchronizes all the other axes. Bosch Rexroth’s software specialists assisted Weyhmüller by providing a so-called generic application template – an integral part of open-core engineering for all Rexroth controls and drives. The drive and control concept is based on the IndraMotion system.

Servo drives from the IndraDrive series convert the parameters calculated by the machine’s control system into synchronized and precisely controlled motor positions. VKK feed modules are used for linear movements and Compact Modules handle power transmission. Spares for these standard devices can be quickly supplied; that reduces downtimes.

Although productivity has been boosted by 50 percent, the new machine consumes less energy than its predecessor, thanks to Rexroth’s 4EE system. It is not only the ice cream packers who appreciate this. Peitz provides a forecast for future projects: “Our cooperative efforts were truly effective. Bosch Rexroth has qualified as our systems partner for the next machine generation, too.”