Challenge: Tube Supplier Seeks to Improve Material Handling Processes
Tectubes, a manufacturer of aluminium and plastic tube packaging, produces a million plastic tubes per year for the food, personal care and pharmaceutical industries.
To provide the necessary protection and a user-friendly sealing is not enough for Tectubes. The company has a longstanding reputation for enhancing its customers' product images. It is not enough that the package be functional and hygienic. When the consumer is choosing between different products, the visual impact is often critical.
In order to keep up with growing production demands and to improve efficiency at its manufacturing plant, Tectubes replaced its existing mechanical conveyors for transporting plastic granules with a pneumatic vacuum conveying system.
"Handling all of the plastic granules was too labor intensive, and we sought a system that would lower our expenses by automating and streamlining the process," said Tommy Andersson, Production Engineer at Tectubes.
Not only did Tectubes want to reduce overall material handling time, but the company also wanted to ensure the prevention of injuries to employees. Tectubes was concerned that workers were having to do unnecessary bending, lifting, and other movements that could be detrimental to their health.
Solution: PIAB Industrial Conveyor Provides Consistent, Hygienic, Safe and Efficient Transfer of Plastic Granules
In order to come up with the most ergonomic and cost-effective solution, Tectubes sought the help of PIAB, a global leader in industrial vacuum technology. After a thorough analysis of the situation, PIAB recommended replacing the mechanical conveyors with new compressed-air driven vacuum conveyors specifically designed for industrial applications.
The PIAB industrial conveying (IC) system utilizes a vacuum pump to draw the granules from a feed station through a conveying tube and into a closed container. When the container is full, the vacuum pump is stopped and a valve at the bottom of the container opens and discharges the material from the tube.
PIAB's IC Series is completely enclosed, protecting users from inhaling potentially harmful ingredients and preventing materials from damage due to external elements. Constructed of high-grade steel, the IC Series is designed to cope with the most demanding circumstances and its unique filter design traps particles to prevent dust and contamination.
Thanks to an advanced air filter, the IC conveyor protects the vacuum pump from the plastic granules and eliminates dust and contamination in the plant. During each cycle, compressed air cleans the filter to ensure a hygienic environment. Additionally, the suction and discharge times are controlled by a pneumatic control system to allow for optimum consistency.
As opposed to space-demanding alternative material handling methods like belt or screw conveyors, the IC Series features a compact design which conserves floor space that would have otherwise been occupied by larger machinery. Additionally, material conveyed with the IC Series can be transported by pipes or hoses to provide users with extra flexibility.
"We chose the PIAB IC Series because it was easier to control and required less maintenance compared to the other methods we considered," said Mr. Andersson. "Belt and screw conveyors require a great deal of space and involve moving parts that can break down, resulting in unwanted downtime and high maintenance costs."
Because the compressed-air driven vacuum pumps are distributed and located at the point of use, the individual vacuum pumps can function independently without having to consume compressed air between operating cycles, thereby minimizing energy costs.
The driving force behind the energy savings offered by PIAB's IC Series is the company's patented COAXÂ® multistage vacuum ejector technology, which achieves higher performance (up to 15 tons per hour of plastic flakes) and consumes less energy than any other compressed-air driven technology on the market today.
Results: Reduced Maintenance Costs, Energy Consumption, Dust Contamination and Employee-Related Injuries
Since the installation of the first conveyor a few months ago, Tectubes has enjoyed a significant reduction in maintenance costs, energy consumption, dust contamination and employee-related injuries. Because of the tremendous success, the company has installed additional conveyors and is considering the automation of other manufacturing processes with PIAB products.
"PIAB's vacuum conveyors have proven extremely reliable," said Andersson. "We now have ten of the PIAB systems running, and they are easy to operate and require almost zero maintenance. Our operators are now able to focus on more productive tasks, instead of spending time manually handling the plastic granules."
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