Contexo GmbH started to produce continuous motion systems back in 2007.
In just 10 years, the market for the company's automation systems has changed dramatically.
"Contexo systems were considered as among the fastest ones available in the market [in 2007], but no one asked for zero defects in those days," CEO Jürgen Müller said. "Now they do, despite the fact that the equipment now runs three to four times faster."
Müller was interviewed at the Drinktec fair in Munich, where the company exhibited a machine that also will be the highlight of its Fakuma stand. Müller said Contexo is building a similar machine for a large beverage cap moulder. It will be the customer's third Contexo machine ordered in 2017.
Pride of place for the family-owned and -managed Winterbach, Germany-based automation specialist was the company's high-speed, small footprint Feeding Track equipment, a carousel-based part handling and inspection system offering up to three parallel tracks running at stepless controllable speeds up to 5 metres per second.
The system is so compact that "you could literally operate a production site in your living room," Müller said.
Highest performance is achieved with installation of part deflection to different track sections with an integrated points system, analogous to railway system points. The system can be equipped with up to 16 different inspection cameras, which can provide 360 degrees of visual inspection.
An Infeed Satellite with 12-18 independent feeding tools, synchronised at 15 degrees to the system's main tower, work solely with mechanical movement, while up to four types of quality checks are performed with use of vacuum technology.
The unit running at Drinktec handled and packed tamper-evident (TE) caps, without being directly connected to an injection moulding machine, which is a normal operation mode for the system.
"In our opinion, continuous motion combined with feeders for parts that are still warm after moulding and that are inspected inline is the most effective solution," said Matthias Müller, sales and joint managing director.
In addition to speed and accuracy, there is another big difference in Contexo's new technology compared to 2007: Although many processors have installed inspection equipment, most can only inspect caps after they have been produced as finished parts, with difficulty in fully illuminating them then. Contexo equipment sets itself apart here, as it inspects mouldings prior to assembly with more effective use of illumination, and inspects final assembled parts.
Jürgen Müller said Contexo works with Intravis GmbH so that Contexo continuous motion technology can work together with Intravis vision inspection systems. The Intravis CapWatcher III has already been successfully integrated within Contexo equipment, Müller revealed.
As speeds increase, not only does inspection become challenging, but also mouldings tend to "pearlesce," which is why Contexo introduced a vibrating feeder to overcome this problem with TE sports beverage caps, Müller said.