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Customised bearings for hygiene-sensitive multihead applications

With support from igus, Multipond, a world-renowned specialist for fully automated multihead weighers, can standardise the implemented bearing materials. Moreover, igus has developed a customer-specific linear bearing housing for Multipond, which in terms of design meets the high demands of the food industry. When every gram counts, numerous food manufacturers rely on the automated multihead weighers of the Atoma GmbH in the Bavarian Waldkraiburg, which distributes its systems under the brand name Multipond.

Multihead weigher

The multihead weighing systems from Multipond are in use worldwide - primarily in the food industry.

 
Drop mechanism

The ejection mechanism of the containers - which are cleaned in the washing machine - is equipped with iglidur plain bearings.

 

Problem

The company Multipond was looking for an individual plain bearing solution for their scales.  The requirements here were specifically for FDA conformity and an easy-to-clean design.  

Solution

With the FDA-compliant iglidur materials, an optimum solution was found for all bearing points.  The iglidur plain bearings are resistant to common cleaning agents and are maintenance-free and lubrication-free.  For the manufacture of special solutions, injection moulds and bar stock specially made for the customer were used.  

"The question, what do you need?' is taken very seriously at igus and based on our answers new solutions are being developed, which we can test. In our view, this is quite unique in our industry. “
 
Andreas Peters, Group Manager New Design at Multipond

High-precision, fully automated weighing systems

Feeding unit

The feeding units are individually constructed and adapted to the packaging machine.

 

The company has a very good reputation in this highly specialised market. The weighing systems work precisely and prove their worth by achieving the accurate fill weight each time. The high-precision load cells with readings recorders from own production contribute towards this purpose, along with the so-called selective combination principle: the products are first supplied to the individual weighing systems, then to a storage container. A computer determines the combination which comes closest to the target weight. Since the systems are equipped with up to 36 individual load cells and containers, this principle was found remarkable even in foodstuffs such as cereals, where several ingredients are filled in a prescribed mixing ratio.
 
Multipond weighers are quick: the most powerful systems with 36 heads provide more than 500 wpm. They are made in Germany with high vertical integration, are usually integrated directly into the fully automated production line, and they are in demand worldwide: Multipond has already made more than 3,300 systems. The latest models are equipped with the unique automatic calibration, and besides the weighing, the plants master the functions of dosing and counting.

Good experience with iglidur bearings

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The lower part of feeding equipment - the lowering screen - rises and falls in the fast cycle of the thermoforming machine.

 

The current trends also include a stronger consideration of the hygienic design, besides the ever increasing performance and accuracy. Martin Sedlmeier, group manager for commissioned design: "The weighing systems come into direct contact with the product and are arranged directly above the packaging machines. Therefore, the components must be lubrication-free. “
 
That is one of the reasons why the ejection mechanism of the container is equipped with iglidur bearings: the lubricant incorporated in the smooth high-performance polymer is not released into the environment. In addition, the plastic plain bearings are insensitive to the very thorough cleaning processes in food production. In addition to hot steam and high pressure, aggressive media are also used here - and the weighing containers are put into the washing machine by many users.

Development objective: an iglidur material for all hygienic applications

The Multipond engineers use plain bearings made of various iglidur materials. Sedlmeier: "There are three parameters for the selection of materials: the temperature range, the electrical conductivity and the hygiene or FDA requirements. Depending on the parameter that is important, we use an appropriate material from the iglidur range." “
 
In the future the selection will be even easier. Because, together with Multipond the igus specialists have developed a new iglidur material that covers all three specifications and thus can be used universally. This material is currently undergoing the final tests in the laboratories in Cologne. When it is approved, Multipond can reduce the type diversity of bearings to one-third.

Case study: linear technology for transfer system

Increasingly, Multipond has been offering customers not only customised weighing systems, but also the conveyor systems including peripherals for the integration of the weighing systems into the entire production plant. An exemplary plant is being set up in the production halls of the company. Martin Sedlmeier: "For this customer, we configured a 36-head weigher with a transfer system that combines different cereals with a portion weight of 10 to 20 grams according to the recipe. Each of the 18 outlets, which can be filled at the same time, has a capacity of 30 drops per minute. " Thus, the plant can weigh 540 portions per minute.

Faster cycle, short stroke and high forces

Multipond system

The lowering screen is guided via a drylin linear guide with RGAS housing.

 

The entire complex is located directly above the thermoforming machine, which produces and supplies the trays. The lower part of Multipond system, the so-called lowering screen, rises and falls at high cycle rate and with 40 millimetres stroke above the packaging machine and ensures the quick and precise filling of each packaging unit.
 
Since the lowering screen is fixed only on one side, high forces including tilting moments act on the linear bearing, which comes from the drylin R range from igus. The housing of the type RGAS allows precise and wear-free shaft guidance via the proven iglidur liners.
 
There is a current development project even here: for Multipond, igus has used a special type of RGAS linear housing, which is made completely from stainless steel apart from, of course, the sliding elements. The end pieces of the shafts are also made of stainless steel. Thus Multipond achieved an enhanced corrosion resistance in the frequent and thorough cleaning operations, to which such machines are subjected.

Detailed exchange: What do the users need?

Atoma and igus®

Martin Sedlmeier, Group Manager Commissioned Design at Multipond (right) with igus Sales Consultant, Thomas Weber.

 

There is a current development project even here: for Multipond, igus has used a special type of RGAS linear housing, which is made completely from stainless steel apart from, of course, the sliding elements. The end pieces of the shafts are also made of stainless steel. Thus Multipond achieved an enhanced corrosion resistance in the frequent and thorough cleaning operations, to which such machines are subjected.
 
Both projects - the new, universal and hygienic iglidur material and the full stainless steel housing - emerged from the joint discussion between the Multipond developers and the igus sales consultant, Thomas Weber. Andreas Peters, group manager of new design at Multipond: "The question ,What do you need?' is taken very seriously at igus and based on our answers new solutions are being developed, which we can test. In our view, this is quite unique in our industry. “

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