IO-Link Solution Reduces Commissioning Time for Filling Machines

Elopak relies on IO-Link and ultracompact block modules from Turck for its new Pure-Fill filling machine platform – thus increasing commissioning speed, flexibility and cost efficiency

Elopak develops and produces filling machines for beverage cartons in Mönchengladbach. The packaging specialist uses IO-Link as the basic technology for the automation of its new Pure-Fill machine platform. The decision to choose Ethernet and network components from Turck was based on their flexibility as well as the simple wiring and seamless integration in the Profinet engineering. The ultracompact multiprotocol I/O modules TBEN-S2-4IOL, -4AI and -8DXP, as well as the TBEN-LL-SE-M2 Ethernet switch were particularly impressive.

Everyone has probably held it in their hands before: the “Pure-Pak” beverage carton from Elopak. As one of the world’s leading system suppliers of carton packaging and filling machines, Elopak from Spikkestad, Norway, offers innovative packaging solutions made from renewable, recyclable and sustainably sourced materials. The German subsidiary Elopak GmbH develops and produces filling machines at its Mönchengladbach site. The highly specialized systems open out the carton, dose the liquid and fill it aseptically in order to finally seal the beverage cartons airtight. The systems are self-cleaning without the need for any dismantling. The beverage cartons are filled directly at the installation site in compliance with the highest hygiene standards.

New machine generation with a wide application range

The new Pure-Fill machine platform, based on the predecessor model E-PS120 A, is designed to be particularly flexible and adaptable to suit customer requirements. “Our primary goal was a modular machine that can be easily adapted to specific customer requirements while retaining the same overall design,” explains Horst Klesse, manager electrical design, product & development at Elopak. The new filling machine platform must be flexible in order to cover a wide range of applications – beverages with a low acid content such as milk or those with a high acid content such as fruit juices, in different volumes such as one or two-liter cartons, at filling speeds of up to 14,000 beverage cartons per hour and production on two to five lanes.

  • The Elopak machine platform PureFill-60AL can be adapted to different product and customer requirements

  • The TBENS2-4IOL enables the efficient use of IO-Link and digital I/Os in an ultra-compact assembly group 

  • I/O modules of the TBEN-S2 series are only 32 mm wide and allow flexible group mounting in many locations

  • TBEN-LL-SE-M2 Ethernet switch with eight 100Mbit and two Gbit ports for fast and secure data transmission

  • Compact TBEN-S modules ensure efficient communication path in the process node of the plant

  • »TBEN-S2 proved to be the ideal solution for our application, as there are no comparable alternatives.«

More flexibility with the same footprint

When integrating IO-Link into the machine platform, the overall size of the system should remain the same despite the increased flexibility. “In the new platform, we wanted to use IO-Link consistently throughout the entire machine, but the size of the master modules previously used was a problem,” says Horst Klesse, describing a challenge during development. “Devices without an IO-Link connection also had to be integrated into the system.”

Compact IO-Link master: space-saving and combinable

Turck’s TBEN-S2-4IOL, TBEN-S2-4AI and TBEN-S2-8DXP multiprotocol I/O modules and the IP67 8-port Ethernet/IP switch provided the solution. With a width of just 32 millimeters, the ultracompact TBEN-S2 devices are ideal for systems with limited space. This means that module groups can be easily mounted at different points in the system – even directly on the profile rails. The use of smaller M8 connectors and thinner cables allows easy connection – even if the modules are mounted directly next to each other and connected with small bridges. “The requirements for the optimum IO-Link master for the filling machine platform were a compact design, multiprotocol capability, M8 power supply, Profinet connectivity, suitable connection options and a wide range of mounting options,” Klesse explains. “The TBEN-S2 modules from Turck meet these requirements best of all.”

The TBEN-S2-4IOL master module has four Class A IO-Link ports and digital I/Os. Despite its compact form factor, it offers a wide range of communication options and enables easy integration of IO-Link devices in the Profinet engineering without additional software, thanks to Turck’s “Simple IO-Link Device Integration” SIDI. Up to four sensors or I/O hubs can be connected via the IO-Link master channels, enabling a total of up to 64 sensors to be connected. The two four-pole M8 Ethernet/fieldbus connections enable flexible communication via Profinet, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP, while the integrated Ethernet switch allows straight-forward cabling using a line topology. The built-in web server simplifies diagnostics and commissioning, making the TBEN-S2-4IOL extremely versatile and considerably facilitating the integration of devices. 

The identically designed TBEN-S2-4AI offers a powerful solution for applications that process analog signals. With four analog inputs that can be configured for voltage, current, RTD or thermocouples, it enables a versatile adaption to different requirements. Each analog input can be configured individually, allowing flexible use. The universal use of these analog modules is unique on the market. As only one type of module is required to process all common analog value types, this also simplifies spare parts inventory and ultimately machine maintenance. The integrated Ethernet switch simplifies cabling and optimizes communication. 

The TBEN-S2-8DXP is Turck’s compact solution for applications that need to process digital signals. With eight universal, digital channels, configurable as PNP input or 2 A output, this module also enables application-specific adaptions. The diagnostic functions of the supply per I/O port and the output diagnostics per channel ensure reliable monitoring and fast fault detection. “We can supply the machine with just three small modules that are identical in terms of shape, size and connections,” emphasizes Klesse. “This makes it possible to install even simple sensors without IO-Link. Groups of four to six or even more devices can also be easily formed in the system and connected with the thinner M8 cables.” As a special feature, the module offers a third switching output on each M12 port, i.e. a total of 12 switching signals. This enables lights with three segments, for example, to be connected and controlled via a standard cable.

Installation time reduced by more than 50 percent

One of the biggest advantages of the IO-Link solution is the reduction in installation time by over 50 percent and commissioning time by 30 percent.  This considerable time saving not only reduces production time, but also overall costs. Offline parameterization of the IO-Link devices directly from the Profinet engineering considerably simplifies commissioning and ends time-consuming manual settings of sensors and actuators. Maintenance is also significantly simplified: As all device properties and parameters of masters and devices are directly available in the central project file of the controller, automatic device replacement in the event of damage can also be carried out easily without any problem – both for IO-Link masters as well as devices.

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