Multi Carrier expands PacDrive for packaging industry

The name lives up to its promise: the new Multi Carrier Lexium MC12 specialises in the transport and positioning of objects. As an integral part of the PacDrive 3 automation platform LMC12 is fully integrated into Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Machine IIoT solution architecture.

Rapidly changing customer requirements, permanent product range expansions, niche products and even fluctuating raw material capacities in global supply chains put high pressure in terms of flexibilty on machines and systems in the packaging industry. Today, the main KPI test criteria in addition to availability and overall operation efficiency are changeover times and the associated technical efforts. With the new Multi Carrier Lexium MC12, Schneider Electric has succeeded in supplying machine builders and OEMs with a transport unit that precisely masters this challenge: flexibility, precision, profitability, and efficiency – and that for any batch size. Particularly tailored to the complex requirements of the consumer goods industry, Lexium MC12 enables the implementation of compact machine designs and short throughput times.


Easy assembly with plug & play for hardware and communication

The new Multi Carrier from Tech Group Schneider Electric specialises in transporting, positioning, and grouping objects. It basically consists of a track and freely attachable carriers. Flexible changes to the modular system are possible at any time, even after commissioning. The track layout is essentially composed of freely combinable motor segments, connecting elements and rails. The motor segments contain power electronics and generate a magnetic field, which enables the carriers to move over the track with an accuracy of up to 0.03 mm. Simple plug-in connectors ensure fieldbus communication and power supply between the motor segments and reduce cabling to a minimum. As a result, and due to the operation with 48 V DC, no special electrotechnical knowledge is required. In addition, the rails are fitted above and below the motor segments to keep the magnetically attached carriers precisely on track. All in all, setting up and change over of the system is very easy and requires no special tools.

Flexible design enables a variety of placement options

Particularly valuable is the adaptable design of the Multi Carrier – especially in industrial machine environments: with the help of freely combinable straight lines and 45-degree curves, a multitude of different track geometries can be implemented – for example circles, ovals, squares or rhomboids. Open layouts are also possible. In the case of closed geometries, the inner area between the motor segments and guide rails also remains free and offers space for the installation of process stations or robots. Thus, the entire installation takes up less space and remains compact.

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In addition, the carriers on the rails can not only be moved extremely precisely, but also move at own speed. Since individual process stations along a packaging or production process can work individually and are not dependent on uniform cycle times, the number of processing steps can often be greatly reduced. In addition, fewer buffer zones have to be planned between the individual stations. Thanks to the high precision of the carriers movements, it is also possible to carry out robot interventions in the curves. So the full length of a rail layout can be used for material processing.

PacDrive as enabler and accelerator in the packaging industry

By any means, the Multi Carrier is not alone and detached in the machine hall – even if it could still find a free mounting place anywhere due to its flexible assembly structure. Many work steps are required to connect such a component. Starting with the planning within the virtual software environment, through the design and construction of the real system, to test runs and commissioning – the integration of new system components such as the Multi Carrier into already complex machines not only covers a wide range of activities, but also requires the cooperation of many different specialists. Ideally, planning, design, programming, and commissioning should be comprehensively covered by software and hardware solutions from a single source. PacDrive 3 from Tech Group Schneider Electric is a good example of this. On the hardware side, PacDrive 3 offers the engineer a complete package for the real design of his application for the real design of its application a complete offer for the automation of highly sophisticated machines. Among other things, this includes servo motors and drives, robotics components, safety components and very powerful motion controllers. Since one controller can already control up to 130 axes – and up to 20 controllers (for operating 2,600 synchronous axes) can be linked together – the amount of installed hardware is significantly reduced compared to conventional systems. In addition, the availability of single-cable motors and ILM drives for decentralised installation keeps cabling and space requirements in the control cabinet extremely low. Thanks to the safety protocol via Sercos, the communication of the safety-relevant elements can also be fully integrated into the standard communication – no additional cabling is required here either.

With EcoStruxure, the whole is more than the sum of the parts

As an integral part of the PacDrive 3 automation platform, the Lexium MC12 multi-carrier system is fully integrated into Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Machine IIoT solution architecture. This ensures that there is maximum data continuity between the physical machine and the software application. Within the EcoStruxure Machine Expert software environment, planning, simulation, programming, and commissioning of an entire plant can be carried out without breaks or error-prone exports. A virtual image of the machine is created at a very early stage in the development process: with this digital twin, all motion sequences can be simulated, visualised, and checked for their purpose in real life even before a single piece of hardware has been installed. With this data, machine manufacturers have reliable figures at their disposal to convince customers of the added value of their design in terms of output and flexibility. And even during operation of a machine or plant, users can check and secure planned investments in conversions or expansions based on valid data.

Schneider Electric

Embedded in Schneider Electric’s complete range of products for industrial automation, users of the new Multi Carrier are offered a comprehensive range of hardware and software solutions that helps to significantly expand the potential of Lexium MC12. These include, for example, apps and digital services for mobile commissioning, cyber-secure remote management, condition monitoring or augmented reality-based maintenance processes.