Seed packing machine to improve productivity
Due to the growing global population, the demand for grains, oils and vegetables is increasing significantly, and consequently driving the seed market. To meet this increased market demand, seed manufacturers are leveraging advantages in automation.
Asytec, a South Australian-based automation specialist and machine builder, recognised the market opportunity and developed a seed packing machine that meets global safety standards and leverages automation technology to provide a turnkey solution for seed manufacturers. The company called on Dematec Automation, a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, to assist with the electrical and control system design for the automated seed packer.
David Hart, CEO at Dematec Automation, selected Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture solution for this application.
“The new seed packing machine was designed to automatically pack seeds of many volumes into plastic magazines, minimising the requirement for manual handling. Therefore, the control and automation of the machine was critical to its operational success,” Hart said.
The Rockwell Automation programmable safety platform achieved PLd/SIL2 Cat 3 certification, without adversely impacting on machine productivity. At the core of the machine is an Allen-Bradley control suite, operating over an Ethernet network. Primary control is delivered by the CompactLogix programmable automation controller with secondary control and safety provided by Micro800 controllers. PowerFlex 525 variable speed drivers with Safe Torque-off provide flexible motor control and seamless integration with the Logix environment.
“In addition to the integration and safety features provided by the solution, the flexibility of these products in the machine design helped to reduce engineering time by nearly 20%, which is an important consideration in any OEM application,” said Tim Bubb, Managing Director, Dematec Automation.
Variability and traceability
Traceability also presents challenges for the agricultural industry, as manufacturers are required to be able to trace seed information back to harvest and maintain a reliable record. Accuracy and traceability of the variety and volume of seeds going into each magazine in each trial batch is critical to achieving successful outcomes for the plant breeders. It is also important that the integration between the system software, motion control hardware and external database is accurate and reliable.
The benefit of intelligent software solutions is that they can eliminate the requirement for manual record keeping. The new seed packaging machine utilises FactoryTalk View to help address traceability requirements, while providing real-time visibility and receiving data from a custom database that is used by plant breeders in the development of new varieties. The seed packing machine has the capability to pack seeds up to five times faster and with a better standard of variety randomisation.
A key feature of the machine is its flexibility to pack a range of seed types, using the same equipment. It also provides visual feedback including weight estimates and progress indication with options to override existing seed profiles. The database is dynamically updated as each seed variety is packed. Asytec’s machine is a clear example of how automation technology can be applied to address variations in product and packaging requirements, helping to minimise human error and interaction.
- Automated seed packing.
- Increased throughput.
- Reduced manual handling requirements.
- Can be customised to meet local and global safety standards with Rockwell Automation hardware and software.
The collaboration between Asytec, Dematec and Rockwell Automation has culminated in an OEM solution for the seed packing industry.
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