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CKF System Ltd Spiral Solution

12 March 2010

CKF Systems Limited were recently selected to provide a bespoke handling system for a range of packaged products in a chilled room environment

Specific challenges included a high speed flow rate coupled with the need for an intelligent in-line buffer storage facility based on FIFO principle.

The established buffer facilities such as serpentine units, vertical buffer stores, multi-tiered luffing systems and reversible/infeed conveyors were evaluated against the application and deemed unsuitable for this specific requirement. CKF subsequently designed a unique handling/buffer system incorporating a multi-lane spiral elevator (with four independently driven lines around a common cover) linked to a 1:4 diverter at the infeed and a 4:1 combiner at the discharge end.

Under normal production conditions product would be dedicated to one lane of the spiral for through flow of goods between the respective packaging operations. In the event of an upstream stoppage the 1:4 diverter would redirect the flow onto one of the other spiral lanes, where products would accumulate along the full length.

As each line is filled with product the diverter will re-direct the flow on to the next available lane. The maximum storage capacity of the system, with all four lanes full of product, provides up to five minutes of production. If all lanes are full and the upstream stoppage has not been resolved, a signal would be initiated to stop the feed.

When the upstream stoppage has been resolved each lane will independently discharge at an increased flow rate until the buffered product has been depleted - at which point the system will revert to a single lane of flow at a nominal rate.

The overall system is controlled by a Siemens S7-315 PLC providing sequential control of the automated equipment along with fully integrated diagnostic messaging via a Siemens OP270 HMI. The control system provided total flexibility for the varying demands required to fulfil production quotas. The communication backbone of the system is Profibus DP on which sits the HMI and Moeller variable speed drives along with interfaces to adjacent systems to control product flow rates.

This innovative solution further demonstrating CKF Systems ability to provide product handling solutions and high technology systems at competitive costs.

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