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Pneumatic Precision: Elevating Food and Beverage Automation

Efficiency Unleashed in Food Processing and Packaging

Jan 31, 2024


In the dynamic food and beverage industry, where competitiveness hinges on efficient and innovative production processes, pneumatic technology emerges as a pivotal driver. Recognized for its clean, compact, and efficient propulsion, pneumatic technology finds extensive applications in food processing and packaging machinery, delivering outstanding performance and production benefits to the industry.

Pneumatic Technology Overview:

With a history spanning over a century as a mainstream player in the field of mechanical motion, pneumatic technology exhibits unique advantages in the food and beverage sector, propelling advancements in production methodologies. This article explores the applications of pneumatic technology in food processing and packaging machinery and highlights the resulting benefits.

Pneumatic Applications in Food Processing:

At the core of the entire production process lies food processing equipment, where pneumatic technology plays a crucial role. Taking Ga Food Machinery Enterprise as an example, they utilize a range of pneumatic products provided by FESCOLO, including double-acting cylinders, custom non-standard cylinders, solenoid valves, filters, and pneumatic hoses. These pneumatic components offer flexible installation configurations, accommodating cylinders with different diameters and strokes, providing reliable power support for food processing. Notably, in specific environments such as humid, high or low-temperature, and sterile conditions, the advantages of customized pneumatic components become evident.

Pneumatic technology is widely employed in stirring, mixing, and conveying processes in food processing. Pressure adjustment allows for easy control of the force applied by cylinders, while electronic regulators offer adjustable force for precise operations. Speed regulation can be achieved using simple needle valves or electronically controlled proportional valves based on control signals, ensuring the efficient operation of the production process.

Pneumatic Precision: Elevating Food and Beverage Automation

Pneumatic Applications in Packaging:

In packaging machinery, pneumatic technology plays an irreplaceable role, particularly in pneumatic actuators and control systems. For instance, in box-packing machines, pneumatic devices drive various functions, including feeding blank paper boxes onto the production line, driving machine components to fold and close paper boxes, and moving glue guns or other sealing devices. Commonly used pneumatic-driven clamping devices and heat sealing machines in forming, filling, and sealing machines, as well as tension controllers on rollers, demonstrate the diverse applications of pneumatic technology in packaging machinery. The synergy of these pneumatic components ensures a more efficient and precise packaging process.

Manifold Valve Technology in Pneumatic Systems:All pneumatic systems operate on the same fundamental principles: a pneumatic source provides the required air pressure for various components, and valve systems control the distribution and sequence of air to drive various actuators. Standard valve systems typically provide directional flow control; meanwhile, manifold valves control the flow. Manifold valves, controlling flow rates, are essential for pneumatic systems. Standard valve systems, including 12-15 station manifold valves commonly used in packaging machines, but more advanced designs supporting up to 64 valve stations are available. Another common valve configuration is the 3/2 valve, supplying air to the actuator and allowing it to exhaust for retraction. This compact design offers greater flexibility in controlling motion sequences, as some manufacturers allow pairing two 3/2 valves in a single valve slice for increased flexibility in controlling motion sequences.

Pneumatic Technology in High-Speed Movements:

Pneumatic technology is particularly suitable for high-speed and point-to-point movements in packaging machinery. Typical systems support motion sequences of up to 5 meters per second, meeting throughput requirements for various packaging machine applications, including indexing, sorting, pick-and-place functions, and applications involving suction cups or non-contact transfer devices. In machine movements, pneumatic technology demonstrates its efficiency and controllability. In pick-and-place systems, pneumatic technology ensures rapid and accurate positioning of products on the production line, providing robust support for the entire packaging process.

Factors Making Pneumatic Technology Popular:

  • Cost Advantage: Most pneumatic components have relatively lower costs, and system maintenance and repair are relatively straightforward, requiring collaboration between experienced technical personnel and reliable pneumatic product suppliers.

  • High-Speed Operation: Pneumatic-driven systems achieve high-speed movement of products through machine sequences, with typical systems supporting motion sequences of up to 5 meters per second (16 feet/second), and advanced cylinders supporting up to 11 meters per second (36 feet/second), meeting throughput requirements found in many packaging machine applications.

  • Ease of Integration: Pneumatic technology is easy to integrate into large machine designs, highly modular, lightweight, and compact, suitable for various production environments. It can be installed on moving machine elements such as linear modules.

  • Reliability: Pneumatic-driven systems provide long-life reliability, meeting high standards in today's automation technology. For instance, FESCOLO's pneumatic valves must undergo service life testing (SLT), electrical characteristic tests, environmental tests, and performance parameter measurement and verification before being qualified for shipment. According to feedback from after-sales surveys in October 2023, some valve series from FESCOLO have operated without equipment failures over 120 million actual working cycles.

Case Study - Ga Enterprise:

To vividly illustrate the application of pneumatic technology in the food and beverage industry, we share a real case study of a client, referred to as Ga Enterprise. Ga is a well-established local food machinery manufacturer that, faced with intense market competition, embarked on designing new machinery in 2021.

After deciding to collaborate with FESCOLO, Ga introduced 20 upgraded production and packaging machinery units between 2022 and 2023, enhancing and optimizing the after-sales maintenance of their existing equipment. During the collaboration, FESCOLO established a dedicated technical team, conducting feasibility analyses and providing suggestions for the new machinery's functionality and cost optimization. Development and customization of pneumatic components for the first batch of equipment were carried out through precise pneumatic system control, ensuring the quality and efficiency of food production.

In the field of food processing and packaging equipment, pneumatic devices are widely used in driving beverage conveyor lines. Along with the coordination of other pneumatic components such as solenoid valves, the first batch of equipment successfully passed tests, achieving a 15% improvement in overall performance compared to the old equipment. Ga received positive feedback from the market, heightening expectations for future collaborations.

In June 2022, based on market feedback, Ga conducted further research, revealing a higher demand for product equipment compatibility with environmental protection and AI automation technologies. For specific environmental conditions in production and packaging lines, Ga's mechanical engineers, in collaboration with FESCOLO's product engineers, developed a series of customized pneumatic components, including high-temperature-resistant, humidity-resistant, and food-grade non-standard stainless steel cylinders. This not only enhanced product safety and environmental friendliness but also extended the lifespan and stability of production line equipment.

Pneumatic technology in the safety and environmental performance of the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries offers significant advantages. This technology provides an economical, compact method for generating linear motion while maintaining cleanliness, safety, and reliability. Through the tailored development of pneumatic components and complementary solutions by FESCOLO for Ga, the stability of supply and professional technical support of FESCOLO's pneumatic products played a crucial role, aiding Ga in standing out in the fiercely competitive market.

Looking ahead, pneumatic technology continues to hold vast development opportunities in the food and beverage industry. Seamless integration and innovative applications will further drive its prevalence.

In summary, the application of pneumatic technology in the food and beverage industry demonstrates multifaceted advantages. From food processing to packaging machinery and from manifold valve technology to high-speed movements, pneumatic technology consistently brings innovation and improvements to food and beverage production through its economic, efficient, and reliable characteristics. As a cornerstone in the industry, FESCOLO Pneumatics maintains a commitment to enhancing product market compatibility, striving to improve and perfect professional automation processing technology, and continuing to play a crucial role in supporting customers in production stability and expanding market share. Let us collaborate and work towards the healthy and sustainable development of the food and beverage industry.

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