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Schneider Electric Case Study

Ropak Manufacturing

Decatur, Alabama

New Aseptic Stik Pak machine hopes to put the cream in your coffee -- and so much more.

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Schneider Electric Case Study > Ropak Manufacturing

Challenge

Ropak Manufacturing, of Decatur, Ala., became the first American manufacturer to produce a "stick pack" machine in 2000. Its continuous-motion Stik Pak platform quickly set the standard for the industry. With stick pack packaging continuing to remain a growing trend in the market, Ropak is hoping to set the standard again with their Aseptic Stik Pak machine. Aseptic packaging requires that bacteria be neutralized in the process to ensure a longer shelf life. The aseptic opportunity posed several significant technical issues for the team at Ropak to overcome. Aside from heat-sealing pouches filled with product that has been cooled to 35.6° F (2° C), the filling system must withstand both a rigorous clean-in-place (CIP) process and a sterilization-in-place (SIP) process, where the filling path is heated to 266° F (130° C) for 30 minutes and the filling chamber is

The iSH servo modules simplify wiring.

chemically cleaned and sterilized. This multi-step process also involves a foaming solution for cleaning, followed by an acid mist for sterilization. Although the Aseptic Stik Pak machine was originally designed to run milk and cream products, Richard Matthews, Ropak's technical service manager, affirms, "There are many other opportunities, including pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, food, and beverage. The European market has already embraced the stick pack technology. Ropak expects the U.S. market to do the same."

Solution

Ropak Manufacturing introduced its new Aseptic Stik Pak machine. The machine is designed to fill a wide variety of liquids and powders. The aseptic design will provide a longer shelf life for products at a lower cost. The Aseptic Stik Pak machine is available in a 10-lane version. Each lane is capable of up to 100 cycles

The aseptic filling chamber -- 10 lanes at 100 cycles per minute each.

per minute, which is significantly faster than the 60 cycles per minute of their original Stik Pak machine. At these speeds, the new machine can produce 500-1,000 stick packs per minute. The Aseptic Stik Pak machine is able to withstand both CIP and SIP processes, where the filling path is heated to 266° F (130° C) for 30 minutes and the filling chamber is chemically cleaned and sterilized. Key components in the chamber, including the sealing mechanism and the rotary knife assembly, were designed for harsh environments. The aseptic technology used on the machine was licensed to Ropak under an exclusive arrangement with the Farmright Group in the United Kingdom. Another key difference with the machine is the Aseptic Emitter Chamber. "An electron beam (EB) emitter sterilizes the film," says Andrew Fenton, the electrical designer for the project. "It does not kill the microbes, but it prevents them from reproducing." This is the key to long shelf life. The EB technology is not new and has a long history of use for sterile packaging. By removing the need for heat or chemicals, packaging can be lighter and production lines can be more environmentally sustainable. However, this process created additional concerns for Fenton. Ropak added a secondary film steering system after the sterilization since the EB process changes the drag coefficient of the film.

New Aseptic Stik Pak Machine Hopes to Put the Cream in Your Coffee -- and so Much More | 2

Schneider Electric Case Study > Ropak Manufacturing

"Two Aseptic Stik Pak machines have already been shipped to Europe for use in production. Pending FDA approval in the United States, Ropak expects the business to expand domestically as well. Until then, we'll keep close watch on the market with our morning cup of coffee," Fenton continues.

Partnership with Schneider Electric With the PACDrive iSH solution, Ropak Manufacturing is hoping to set the standard yet again with an Aseptic Stik Pak machine. Ropak will continue to grow the industry stick packaging trend by providing a longer shelf life for products at a lower cost.

The choice for Ropak's automation partner was easy. Ropak had used Schneider ElectricTM PACDriveTM iSH solution for an earlier design of its Stik Pak machine. In addition, another machine on the line was already equipped with the PACDrive solution. "It seemed like a natural fit," says Fenton, referring to their decision to use Schneider Electric, formerly Elau Packaging Solutions. PACDrive M provides a wide range of scalable performance for synchronized multi-axis motion, PLC functionality and robotic control on a single hardware platform for both highly complex and simple machine configurations. With the addition of SERCOS III, PACDrive M is the first fully Ethernet-based communication solution for PACDrive applications, enabling communications with both drives and field devices. EPAS-4 is the new software development environment for the entire engineering process, including commissioning of PACDrive M and diagnostics. EPAS-4 includes tools for motion design and drive train design (ECAM), program development (EPAS with ETEST, VijeoTM Designer), diagnostics, and data handling (assistants) in a single package. In addition, a safety editor has been integrated for machine safety automation software development. PACDrive also offers remote maintenance options, from reducing travel costs and increasing availability by accelerating response times. PACDrive provides the interfaces and protocols needed for remote maintenance via the Internet, modem, and mobile phones.

Service with Schneider Electric

The service from Schneider Electric has been superior. "When it comes to support, we have no problems. I cannot remember a single complaint," Fenton says, referring to working with Schneider. "We have always had prompt support." The Schneider Electric OEM Technology and Solutions Center helps to remove the complexity of machine building by offering start-to-finish project life cycle expertise, including project management, electrical panel design, application codesign, joint marketing, testing, training, and services resources.

About Ropak Manufacturing Company

Ropak has been a leader in the flexible packaging industry for more than two decades. They are known for their ability to manufacture quality machinery with the latest in technology, and for their skilled personnel to support the equipment. For more information, visit www.ropak.com or email [email protected]

New Aseptic Stik Pak Machine Hopes to Put the Cream in Your Coffee -- and so Much More | 3

Schneider Electric Case Study > Ropak Manufacturing

About Schneider Electric

As The Global Specialist in Energy ManagementTM with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centers/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company's 100,000+ employees achieved sales of more than $22 billion in 2009, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations make the most of their energy. Visit www.schneider-electric.us

Schneider Electric USA, Inc.

Automation and Control Center of Excellence 8001 Knightdale Blvd. Knightdale, NC 27545 Tel: 919-266-3671 www.schneider-electric.us Document Number 0106AC1101

This document has been printed on recycled paper

August 2011

© 2011 Schneider Electric. All Rights Reserved. Schneider Electric, PACDrive, Vijeo, Make the most of your energy, and The global specialist in energy management are trademarks owned by Schneider Electric Industries SAS or its affiliated companies. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.· 998-4878_US

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