Sweet Temptation: Chocolate Bar and Pieces Boxing Machine

Candy sorting
Fig. 1: Chocolate storage container as a preliminary stage for boxing

A solution story from Pepperl+Fuchs

LEKO-Verpackungstechnik GmbH in Murnau designs and builds special machinery for confectionery technology. These special machines are designed for the isolation, packaging and boxing of small chocolate bars and pieces. The task of this system is to combine individual chocolate pieces into layers and then insert them into various vending boxes. During implementation two chocolate varieties (Napolitanis and alcohol-filled chocolates) and several vending box formats must be taken into account.


candy bar packaging
Fig. 2: Conveyor belt with chocolate detection

Via five sorting pots the chocolates are moved into the correct position and deposited in the correct orientation onto a collection conveyor. The jamming control of the sorting pots is controlled by reflective light barriers. The 180° rotation and the counting are triggered via light sensors with background light elimination and a fixed sensor distance. The reference position of the servo-motor axes is determined via inductive proximity switches.

The detection of packaged chocolates on the white conveyor belt is carried out by the reflection light sensor with background elimination ML4.1-8-H-20-RT. Due to its low black/white difference, the sensor reliably detects every passing item in spite of highly reflective aluminum packaging at a very small distance from the white conveyor belts. The fixed sensor distance prevents a maladjustment during ongoing production.

Fig. 3: Chocolate detection in the box infeed

For the detection of products in the collector rail of the sorting pots, the stacking height of the lining placement unit and the jamming control of the vending boxes, the reflective light barrier with pole filter ML7-55/59/103 is used. The advantages of this light barrier for the client lie in its compact design and small visible beam spot. The distance between the reflective light barrier and the reflector can be kept extremely low.

Fig. 4: Detection of motor rotations
Fig. 4: Detection of motor rotations

The reference position of the servo axes is captured by the proximity switches.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Pepperl+Fuchs in Wisconsin.

MillerCoors Minimizes Downtime Losses With Thermal Edge Enclosure Air Conditioners

MillerCoors  operates multiple breweries located throughout the United States and produces such popular brands as Coors, Miller, as well as a wide variety of specialty and craft beers.

The company relies upon Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) housed in electronic enclosures to control their automated brewing and packaging operations. These critical devices can cost over $100,000. The they raise internal cabinet temperatures to 131° Fahrenheit and would quickly overheat without proper cooling.

The solution:

Thermal Edge Enclosure Air Conditioners
Thermal Edge Enclosure Air Conditioners

MillerCoors needed enclosure air conditioners capable of communicating with their PLCs that could report problems before high internal temperatures impacted component longevity and potential productivity.

The solution includes Thermal Edge air conditioners equipped with an EtherNet/IP port and communication software.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Thermal Edge in Wisconsin and Northern IL.


Safe Gluing and Opening

With the UGB ultrasonic sensor for splice monitoring

A solution from Pepperl+Fuchs

Fig. 1: UGB transmitter above the packaging paper
Fig. 1: UGB transmitter above the packaging paper

Vacuum packages are frequently used to store coffee. To increase the customers’ benefit, the outer package of vacuum-packed coffee has a tear strip. The tear strip is glued onto the back of the printed paper by the coffee producer. This process must be monitored to ensure that all papers have a tear strip.

Depending on the coffee type, the color, thickness and texture of the packaging paper types may vary. The tear strip may be of different colors as well. Until now, sensors that were used to monitor splices had to be adjusted extensively after each paper change. In addition, the reliability of the monitoring process was unsatisfactory.

Fig. 2: UGB transmitter below the packaging paper
Fig. 2: UGB transmitter below the packaging paper

The Solution
The UGB ultrasonic splice detection sensor from Pepperl Fuchs is the solution! This ultrasonic sensor ignores the paper color and texture. With the electrical TEACH-IN input, it is easy to adjust to new paper types and, monitoring 100 packages per minute, the sensor enables very short processing times. Here, the packaging paper passes over a 30 mm hole in the sheet metal. The ultrasonic transmitter sends its signals to the ultrasonic receiver through the hole and accurately detects the paper.

he UGB ultrasonic sensor features high reliability, few adjustments during paper changes and low processing times. The MH-UDB1 assembly aid eliminates installation errors and ensures safe splice monitoring.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Pepperl+Fuchs in Wisconsin.

Level measurement in buffer tanks in bottling systems and machines

sick-buffering-tanks-filling-systemsAn application solution from SICK

The level measurement in buffer tanks is a key application in bottling machines. The correct level must be measured in order to ensure the liquid supply to the bottling systems. The SICK LFP Inox level sensor reliably distinguishes between liquid media and foaming. Using FDA-compliant materials, the LFP Inox is suitable for applications with stringent hygiene requirements.

Tri-Phase Automation is a Distributor of SICK sensors in Wisconsin.

Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get a Quote

Thermoforming Equipment with Electric Linear Actuator

A Packaging Solution from Exlar.

Powerful Roller Screw Actuators Replace Hydraulics.

Commodore Technology


The customer’s thermoforming equipment was using two opposing vertical hydraulic cylinders that came together to compress polystyrene sheets into foam trays at a high rate of speed. These trays are commonly found in grocery stores mainly in the meat department for meat and fish, fast food containers, restaurant take out containers, etc.

The customer wanted a “green” solution that eliminated the undesirable traits of hydraulics – such as mess from hydraulic fluid leaks, constant maintenance, etc. They were also seeking a higher production rate and improved product consistency.

The Exlar proposal consisted of an Exlar®FT35-0410 with high capacity screw, 2:1 parallel mount, oil ports with site gauge and a Schneider servo motor / drive.

The Exlar actuation solution nearly doubled the production rate from 20 cpm to 37 cpm.  It also provides significantly better consistency of the finished product

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Exlar in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get a Quote

Relco Replaces Pneumatic Actuators with Electric in Cap Closing Application

A packaging application from Exlar.


This cap closing application has previously been performed with a pneumatic cylinder and also with a ballscrew. Relco desired more precise control.

By replacing the pneumatic cylinder with Exlar’s Tritex actuator, not only did they achieve more precision, but at a lower cost and in a smaller space. Cycle rates were increased using the high speed capability of Exlax’s linear actuators with speeds as high as 40 linear inches/second, and with the control benefits of servo technology. This flexibility allowed Relco to adjust position and speed without setting any switches or changing offsets. They simply entered a new setting in the operator interface panel. Replacing a ball screw with a roller screw can offer several advantages for your machine’s performance. Exlar’s planetary roller screw designs provide many more contact points than possible on comparably  sized ball screws, see diagram right. This means that the roller screws have higher load carrying capacities, improved stiffness, are more compact and offer longer travel life. A roller screw offers an expected service life 15 times longer than a ball screw.

Read the full story

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Exlar in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get A Quote

Hamer, LLC Increases Control and Fill Rate with Exlar’s Tritex II® AC Rotary Actuator

An application story from Exlar

Hamer's Net Weigh Scale with Exlar’s Tritex II AC rotary actuator.
Net Weigh Scale with Exlar’s Tritex II AC rotary actuator.

Gate valve control on an automated bagging machine


Hamer, located in Plymouth, Minnesota, manufactures packaging equipment for landscape and agricultural products. They offer a wide variety of equipment from hand bagging systems to fully automated bagging machines that include the most advanced, robust and productive turn-key solutions in the industry.


Hamer is using a pneumatic actuator to control the gate valve on their net weigh scale. This gate valve regulates the flow of landscape products such as fertilizer, salt, and sand from a hopper into the scale below. The pneumatic  system works, but the cylinder needs to be manually adjusted in order to get an accurate fill weight. This is both time consuming for Hamer’s customers, as well as problematic for consistent accuracy. Hamer wanted to offer their customers a superior control solution to increase productivity while maintaining weight accuracy, so they began looking for alternatives to their pneumatic system.


Exlar’s Tritex II®AC electric rotary actuator offered the perfect motion control solution for Hamer’s net weigh scale. Hamer chose to use Exlar’s actuator because it offered a  4-20mA analog I/O option tied to position which allows for automatic positioning of the gate valve. The Tritex II actuator also has a built-in position feedback sensor providing very high accuracy. These features allowed Hamer to easily control the gate valve and enhance their capability to meter the flow of granular products from the hopper into the scale below. With the increased metering capability provided by the Tritex II actuator, Hamer’s net weigh scale was able to fill bags at a faster, more accurate rate and eliminated the need for manual adjustment of a pneumatic cylinder.


  • Increased control and responsiveness of the gate valve
  • Greater accuracy metering the products from the hopper into the scale
  • Faster fill rate of bags

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Exlar in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get A Quote

Package verification and presence/absence detection

Cermex – Perfect packaging at 150 products per minute

cognex-cermexCermex manufactures the liquid that is injected during MRI scans. This product, which is expensive and sensitive to light, is packaged in small flasks/containers and is placed in special crates for maximum protection.

In order to inspect this packaging, Cermex, specialist in end-of line packaging machines, chose  Cognex vision technology. A Checker® vision sensor and an In-Sight vision system from Cognex verify the number of flasks placed in the crates as well as checking for the presence of a document in each one.

Read the full application story:
Package verification and presence/absence detection


In-Sight 5100 in Packaging Automation

Tingyi Holding Group specializes in the production and distribution of instant noodles, beverages, and baked goods in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).cognex-packaging-automation

Tingyi’s traditional manual information collection methods on its production lines suffered when the accuracy of the data collected was seriously affected by the visual fatigue of workers which increased the probability of errors. This loss of accuracy posed a potential safety hazard to workers required to operate production lines for long hours. In addition, human resources needs and payroll costs increased significantly resulting in higher operating costs. Meanwhile, since the observers had to record the collected information on paper there was a significant risk of data loss and alteration, making it difficult to track data for future reference accurately.

Tingyi chose a Cognex In-Sight® 5100 vision system because it offered the richest application experience, sturdy and durable devices, high-quality service after the sale, and a global support network. In addition, in order to simplify and accelerate the system integration process, the In-Sight 5100 provided a variety of accessory options specially designed for use with vision sensors, including light sources, I/O expansion modules, monitors, Ethernet workstations, and camera shots. Furthermore, the In-Sight 5100 also provided a variety of support methods and training courses which allow easy and illustrated guidance on using vision sensors and provided excellent solutions to help Tingyi operate its equipment in an intelligent way.

Read the full Story

Improved Food Safety with Self-Contained Vision System that Inspects Unlabeled Cans

cognex-unlabeled-cansA Success Story from Cognex

Producers of canned foods typically make a large volume of a particular product, such as tomato soup, then store the cans in a warehouse without labels while waiting for orders from customers. The cans are labeled just before shipment, often with the customer’s private brand label. The cans go by at a speed of one every 60 milliseconds so conventional manual inspection is not possible. The only known effort at applying machine vision to this problem used a camera connected to a frame grabber board on a computer. Its weakness is that the specialized hardware is not designed for use in a factory environment. The cameras and frame grabber boards are susceptible to heat and dust. A considerable level of expertise is also required to set up and maintain this type of system, expertise that is typically not found in a canning plant.

A new approach
Matrix Technologies utilized recent advances in vision system technology to develop a better approach to brightfield automated inspection. “The key to the new approach is the use of the Cognex In-Sight® 5600 vision system to inspect the product codes against the bright can background at a speed of 1000 products per minute,” said Les Haman, Department Manager for Matrix Technologies. The Cognex PatMax® pattern matching tool inspects the product code. This application takes advantage of the ability of the PatMax tool to recognize a pattern regardless of its location. Rather than reading individual characters the application is configured to simply look for an image that matches the three-digit product code. A new product code can be configured simply by putting a can with the new code in position to be viewed by the vision system and positioning a rectangular box around the product code. From that point, the vision system will detect that product code even if it is in a different position or at a different angle as long as it is in the field of view. This approach is much simpler, more robust and more economical than the machine vision technology used on this application in the past.

Read the full Customer Success Story:
Self-Contained Vision System Inspects Unlabeled Cans to Improve Food Safety