“The Mitsubishi iQF PLC was the exact fit for our control needs on the Automated Box Sizer and helped us meet our customers’ needs within their budget.” —Ron Cowell (Owner & CEO, T-ROC) Components

Machine Benefits
  • Improved accuracy
  • Precise fit to measure packaging
  • Lower shipping costs for customers
Mitsubishi Electric Value-Added Advantages
  • Comprehensive single source solution
  • High speed measuring and data transmission
  • SQL server interface
 

The Situation

T-ROC, a high-quality automated box-making company based in Kansas City, built the first state-of-the-art, heavy-duty, automated box-making machine in 1995. To help companies improve their bottom lines through better shipping efficiencies and carrier costs, T-ROC needed a simple and automatic way to measure items and determine the size of boxes for their machines to make, sometimes in lot sizes of one, and capable of loading the appropriate dimensions into the board feeder and box maker. With FedEx and UPS both charging based on box size and weight, the solution needed to enable machines to make exactly the right size box and communicate information for cost-effective shipping decisions.

The Solution

In partnership with T-ROC, Power Motion helped develop a made-to-measure box machine using a high-speed Mitsubishi Electric iQ-F PLC connected via RS-485 with a Banner MINI-ARRAY. Items to be packed are set on a sizing table and scanned with a mini-array scanner that feeds an iQ-F series PLC capable of high-speed calculations. The machine is controlled by an FX5 controller and 2 axes of servo communicating via RS-485 to Banner arrays. An encoder measures height, and Banner outputs connected to high-speed inputs record encoder count and communicate when no beams are blocked. A GOT interface uses the MES option to send box and material size and weight to an SQL database, where they are compared to common shipping carriers’ rates.

The Value

With an economical cost, this solution provides measurement of different part sizes to precisely determine box size, interfacing successfully with new and existing box machines. The user can quickly size boxes without manual guesswork, achieving more efficient packing and less wasted material. Sending information to the SQL database allows selection of the best carriers and shipping prices, resulting in substantial cost savings. Wireless communication from the sizer to the box machine allows for flexible placement and workflows.

 

Scanner bar to determine the required box size

 

Automatic entry of dimensions

 

Dimensions sent to box machine wirelessly

 

iQF controlled machine with MR-J4 servos

 

The box is a perfect fit!