Sunday 22nd Sep, 2019

Flexible automation for the future

Italian bulk packaging manufacturer Concetti has unveiled the I-flex, its most flexible automated bagging machine for free-flowing products to date.

Italian bulk packaging manufacturer Concetti has unveiled the I-flex, its most flexible automated bagging machine for free-flowing products to date.

Compared with the rest of the world, Australia is an isolated nation. Girt by sea and sparsely populated, the distances between the producing regions and population centres can be hundreds of kilometres.

Trevor Mitford, Sales Manager for the Concetti company, says this lack of population density has meant some industries – such as mining, food and agriculture – are ripe for growth and automation.

“Automation will always be key in countries like Australia where the costs of labour are high and logistical challenges are common,” he says.

“For example, if a producer in the United Kingdom makes something, they can send it all around the country without much difficulty. A producer in Perth faces much more difficulty if it wants to do the same thing, especially for low-cost products.”

To equip Australian feed and seed producers with the tools they need to solve these challenges, Concetti has unveiled its latest open mouth bagging machine called the I-flex, which stands for ‘infinite flexibility’.

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I-flex has been designed for producers of loose, free-flowing and moderately powdered materials that need frequent packaging changes. The machine is one of Concetti’s most compact plants, and can be installed in facilities with restricted heights and floorspace. It can handle multiple bag formats across the one line, from five to 50 kilograms.

Multiple bag types and closure systems are included, letting the I-flex stitch, heat-seal, glue or custom close bags made from paper, raffia or plastic. The system can perform fully automatic format changes across a range of bag widths from 250 to 600 millimetres. It also features a flexible bag holder that adapts itself to different bag widths.

Concetti performs continuous research and development, listening to customer feedback to ensure its products meet the changing requirements of different industries. One of the most important pieces of feedback it has gathered is that two production lines will almost never be the same.

Mr Mitford says each business will have different requirements for its products, bags, closure, labelling, pallet dimensions, protection type or even space and height availability.

“Our customers demand enhanced flexibility from their technology. This is why we have focused our passion into developing a solution that can handle the wide variety of uses the international market requires,” he says.

Automation is core to the I-flex. The system is able to change bag format within 60 to 90 seconds. Improved machine intelligence and connectivity have been included to help the I-flex incorporate into Industry 4.0 systems.

Mr Mitford says Concetti’s philosophy is to find new ways of automating and connecting its machinery.

“In fact, Concetti has incorporated the same principles in our own manufacturing centre to provide the highest quality machines possible.”

Concetti aims to build a partnership with its customers instead of a traditional supplier/client relationship. Its customers are encouraged to discuss what they want out of their plant, which drives the company’s development.

The company has created a project development team that regularly visits international clients. New customers are also frequently invited to visit the company’s headquarters in Umbria, Italy.

Every machine that leaves the company’s factory has connectivity functionality built in, allowing Concetti to provide remote diagnostics and maintenance no matter where the plant is. Around 80 per cent of issues are able to be solved remotely, with a specialised team of technicians able to assist over a telephone call, email, Skype or directly through a teleservice connection with the plant itself.

To further support Australian customers, Concetti has also launched a partnership with Victorian-based company Automaint Solutions.

Automaint has almost 50 years of experience in automation and technical assistance of highly mechanised systems. The companies work together to provide remote assistance managed directly by specialised Concetti technicians in Italy, and field interventions within a few hours, by Automaint engineers.

“Our customers ideas become our challenges. We listen, learn, study and apply all our experience in providing the most efficient, reliable and cost-effective packaging machinery,” Mr Mitford says.

“Teodoro Concetti, the company’s packaging machinery division founder, said customer service was the bread and butter of the business. He believed he should be proud of every machine stamped with his family name.”