A multihead weigher from Japanese firm Ishida has proved to be the ideal solution to enable Austrian silicone specialist Elmet to efficiently fill around 100 million small parts into bags every single day. Investing in this exceptional packaging technology, which has greatly increased speed, accuracy and production throughput for a fast payback on investment, has allowed the company to sustain its rapid growth, according to Elmet.
Elmet supplies the global automotive industry with seals and parts for electronic components. The Ishida CCW-SE3-214W-1S-20-SS multihead weigher with 2 litre hoppers installed at Elmet’s production facility in Oftering in Upper Austria, is packing sorted single-wire seals into 1.2 kg bags. One bag contains 20,000 of these parts, each just 8 mm long. Their light weight (0.06 g) and elongated shape demand fine tuning and accuracy during weighing.
The 14-head weigher regulates the flow of product by interfacing with an upstream vibratory feeder. An elevator lift transfers the single-wire seals before they are dropped through a funnel onto the dispersion table of the weigher. From there, the product travels across 14 radial feeder troughs to the 14 pool and weigh hoppers.
A weigh sensor in the dispersion table ensures that the flow to the radial feeder troughs, which can be individually adjusted, remains constant. Stepper motors manage the hoppers, making sure they open at exactly the right times to maintain consistent speed and accuracy so that the product flows through the multihead weigher in one smooth process.
To prevent any of the tiny parts from getting stuck, the multihead’s contact parts are deliberately designed to be free of sharp edges and corners. The ribbed surfaces of the hoppers ensure that no silicone part sticks to any area of the weigher, which is something that could otherwise happen due to the oils exuded from the silicone.
It takes a fraction of a second for the weigher’s microprocessor to calculate the combination of hoppers that comes closest to the target weight. The precisely dosed portions of the product are then released directly into polybags.
With its new Ishida packaging system, Elmet says it can achieve a rate of 10 cycles/minute while maintaining an incredible degree of accuracy. Output has not only increased by 50% compared to the company’s previous linear weigher but is also being delivered in half the time. Equally important, two out of six employees on the line have now been freed up to be redeployed to other operations in the factory. This impressive performance has meant that the new packaging system has paid for itself within a very short space of time.
Elmet is currently using its Ishida multihead weigher to pack 90% of its small silicone parts for automotive applications whilst the remaining 10% are small items for the medical and healthcare industries. The three to four product changeovers that take place every week only require the operator to call up pre-sets at the touch of a button. Cleaning is easy, as all contact parts can be removed and replaced without any tools, ensuring a high level of availability. The weigher’s small footprint saves valuable production space.
Thanks to the booming market for electric vehicles, demand for Elmet’s silicone products has been on the rise for several years. “We reached a point at which our previous packaging technology was no longer able to handle the quantities that we needed it to,” explained Production Manager Markus Stockhammer.
DI Christl, Ishida’s agent for Austria, recommended the Ishida CCW-SE multihead weigher, and its suitability was confirmed after Elmet conducted a series of tests, which the weigher passed with flying colours. “Ishida is the global market leader in multihead weighers, which made the decision even easier,” said Markus Stockhammer.
Elmet is growing and is building a new production facility, which is currently under construction on a neighbouring plot of land measuring 3,000 sq m and due for completion in summer 2022. The company is planning to set up an additional packaging line for larger silicone parts there, featuring another Ishida multihead weigher.