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Multi-carrier digital twins will speed machinery set-ups

14 October, 2021

Schneider Electric has announced a multi-carrier system for transporting, grouping and positioning products in industrial operations. It claims that the Lexium MC12 system will boost the performance and flexibility of automated machinery by up to 50%, cut installation and commissioning times by up to half, and reduce design times and time-to-market by up to 30%.

The multi-carrier system can be combined with digital twin technology, allowing machine-builders to design, test, and optimise their systems without needing to build physical machinery. And users will be able to test new products virtually, slashing times-to-market. Schneider adds that simulated models of the multi carrier system will provide new levels of flexibility and efficiency for operations and maintenance.

Other benefits that Schneider is claiming include savings of up to 40% on investment costs, and footprints that are up to 20% smaller, as well as easier-to-install and more reliable machines.

“Multi-carrier solutions are paving the way for innovative machine designs that reduce footprint, add flexibility, and integrate modern diagnostics into highly efficient machines,” says Ali Haj Fraj, senior vice-president of Schneider’s Digital Plant and Machine Solutions business. “The Lexium MC12 is a new generation of linear transport systems and part of EcoStruxure Machine – the open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform from Schneider Electric.

“Machine-builders,” he adds, “can use one tool for engineering and lifecycle management for logic, motion, safety, variable-speed drives, digital load management and robotics – and now multi-carrier transport solutions.”

Schneider Electric says that its new multi-carrier system could halve machine installation times

The carrier system can be installed on site without needing special tools. When creating tracks, segments can be assembled and fixed on a plain surface, without stands or holders. Power and fieldbus are looped through without needing extra wiring. There are no cover plates or constructive elements in the inner loop, simplifying the mounting of mechatronic elements such as robots or processing stations.

Centralised diagnostics help to reduce maintenance and unplanned downtime. Individual components can be analysed easily and any problems detected before issues occur. Machine-builders and operators will be able to track, monitor, and fix their machines remotely, as well as provide after-sales services via Schneider’s cloud-based EcoStruxure Machine Advisor platform.

The carrier system’s modules can be programmed independently. Other benefits claimed by Schneider include:
• quick mounting and demounting of carriers, combined with high payloads;
• the flexibility to run more formats/products on the same machines;
• simplified change-overs;
• fewer wear-prone parts;
• easier servicing by changing single segments change and replacing the carriers rapidly;
• auto-configuration of replaced segments of new or additional carriers;
• fast, simple restarts/start-ups of machines by recognising carrier positions; and
• IP65 protection and resistance to cleaning agents.

Federico Scornaienchi, export manager for the packaging machinery specialist Livetech, predicts that the multi-carrier system will make his company’s products easier to integrate. “Our machines will be faster, more modular, and have a smaller footprint that saves us 30–40% in costs and gives us a 50% faster changeover time,” he says. “We can also better service our leading multinational customers in the food industry with easier maintenance provided by a high-performance digital solution.”

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