Machine automation for aseptic filling machine from VMS

Precise motion control for the entire product and packaging unit process

Sterile filling of up to 38 000 pudding tubs per hour, 38 axes, 9 plug-ins: Manufacturers do whatever it takes to ensure that the final product is something special. Our solution: a high-performance multi-axis servo system, prefabricated software modules and modern motion control.

The project at a glance

VMS Maschinenbau GmbH

Logo with VMS in red and ASEPTIC FILLING as a subtitle on a white background

Where: Obersontheim, Schwäbisch Hall district, Germany

Industry: Food industry

Application: Aseptic filling and sealing machines for tubs, glass containers, bottles and large packaging units

Dark gray VMS building with VMS logo; grass and parking spaces in front
VMS headquarters in Obersontheim
VMS headquarters in Obersontheim

More info on VMS:

  • Founded in 1994 as Verpackungsmaschinen-Service GmbH in Engelhofen, Germany
  • Headquarters relocated to Obersontheim in 2016
  • 87 employees worldwide
  • Mechanical engineering of aseptic filling and sealing machines for the food industry
  • End customers / filling products: Dairies as well as manufacturers of baby food, marmalade, juice, spreads, syrup, concentrate, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, egg yolk, egg white

Sterile, safe and high precision

Tubs with various patterns of chocolate and vanilla pudding
The TWIST filler can fill products in various patterns
The TWIST filler can fill products in various patterns
  • Sterile filling of liquid and paste-like dairy products into plastic tubs
  • Adherence to the strictest hygiene standards
  • Dosing of several products using a single nozzle (patented TWIST filler) – in any order for various patterns
  • Modular and flexible adaptability to various filling containers and filling variants
  • Timed or continuous filling process
  • Safe product filling and transport without spillage
  • Safe sealing with an aluminum lid – also for tubs with thin walls
  • Fast throughput – from 9,600 to 38 000 tubs per hour
  • Minimal and quick maintenance

Multi-axis servo drive system, precise motion control

Installation of black servo gearmotors in the filling plant
Installation of servo gearmotors
Installation of servo gearmotors

High performance and optimal service

Large gray machine with various production steps in a row
Aseptic container filling and sealing machine
Aseptic container filling and sealing machine
  • High-performance machine
  • High-precision product and packaging unit process
  • Precise coordination even at high speeds
  • Intuitive operation and fast startup
  • Optimal, reliable service from SEW‑EURODRIVE
  • Contact persons are industry experts and easy to reach
  • Innovative future-proof technology
  • Energy-efficient solution

Jürgen Lerner, Head of Design at VMS

The innovative operating concept from SEW‑EURODRIVE makes simple and intuitive machine operation possible – even via smartphone and tablet.

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Quote from Daniela Kraft, Marketing and Technology at VMS

Throughout our long and highly successful collaboration with SEW‑EURODRIVE, the high quality of the drive systems we get from Bruchsal has played a key role.

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The project in detail

There are several things to bear in mind when filling sensitive foodstuffs ...

Everyone knows it, everyone loves it: Delicious pudding from a practical plastic tub. It's meant to look seductively good and high-class. And we also want to be able to trust that it won't have any dust, bacteria or disinfectant residue in it.

Feeling spoiled? Don't worry! That's exactly what the manufacturer and system builder want: To spoil their end consumers with a delicious, healthy product that they'll keep coming back to.

And it's no different for filling machine manufacturer VMS. VMS is constantly adding new tweaks and developments to optimize its machines so much that the end product can even be output without cooling.


Hygiene is crucial in the food industry

Daniela Kraft, Head of Marketing and Technology at VMS, knows this from her own experience: "Hygiene is also very important because of how damaging product returns can be for the food industry in particular – they not only cause bottlenecks in supply and high disposal costs for entire batches, but also long-term damage to the manufacturer's reputation." As such, a reliable production process that meets the highest hygiene standards is essential.

What makes the fully aseptic filling and sealing machines in the KONTIFILL® series so special is their design, which boasts a sealed machine tunnel. Everything in the system that comes into contact with the product – and thus has to be sterile – takes place in this sterile tunnel.


Level log6 sets top hygiene standards

Step by step, the tubs are transferred from the light barrier or electromechanical check to the dust blow-out section, after which they are disinfected using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and then dried with sterile hot air. This process is designed to kill off 99.9999% of all the bacteria on the tubs. "Level log6" is the name of this top market hygiene standard. The standard also ensures that the residual hydrogen peroxide is reduced to a minimum – less than 0.5 ppm.

In order to ensure compliance with this strict hygiene standard, the same demanding requirements must also be applied when sterilizing the lid with hydrogen peroxide at the lid applicator station. And last but not least, the cleaning and disinfection of the tunnel is also very important. Cleaning In Place (CIP) and Sterilization In Place (SIP) – these are the two "magic phrases" used to describe the multi-stage cleaning process, which takes approx. three hours to complete. During this process, all the components and pipelines are thoroughly sterilized with saturated steam at 143°C, and the sterile tunnel is disinfected with hydrogen peroxide.

However, every part of the drive technology is installed outside the sterile tunnel, and is thus not equipped with such measures.

A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach ...

Why do we choose one particular type of pudding at the supermarket over the others? The brand and price play a role, of course. But let's be honest: When we really want to treat ourselves, checking the label, the nutritional values or the price stamp is never the first thing we do.

For a new product to make it to our shopping cart, it first needs to pass our personal visual inspection – consumers only buy products that look tasty or stand out from the crowd, and only if they are packaged accordingly. We want something that really catches our attention – the ultimate feast for the eyes.

There are countless desserts whose tubs only offer one type of product. But we are now also seeing more and more mixed products on the market: pudding or yogurt with cream, vanilla pudding with chocolate flakes, and so on. Production is getting more and more complex


Colorful product patterns with just one nozzle

The folks in VMS's Marketing department know the industry like the backs of their hands. They have come up with a special solution that allows their manufacturers to stand out from the crowd. Thanks to a patented plug-in called "TWIST Filler" a single nozzle can now perform the work of several fillers, filling tubs with different products in any order the manufacturer wants. This allows them to put a whole range of colorful patterns on the top of the product, from spirals to a pair of kissing lips. Even colorful writing is no problem – and completely free of bacteria, of course.

Ensuring safe and flexible production ...

The more complex the product, the more machine functions it needs

System builders like VMS often have to field a lot of customization requests from customers who want to fill their tubs with truly high-class and appealing desserts. New custom products often need to be developed and fitted to a filling machine. The more complex the end product, the more extensive the package of additional functions – what is known as the plug-in.

The quality requirements for the drive and automation technology increase in direct proportion to the complexity of the filling machine. And just as a machine builder like VMS works according to its end customers' technology, so its own suppliers, in turn, need to adopt a future-oriented approach in their thoughts and actions.


Customers expect suppliers to move with the times – just like they do

This is what has made SEW‑EURODRIVE the perfect VMS partner for so many years now, as Daniela Kraft explains: "It's not just our customers who expect us to keep up with the times. Offering pioneering technological solutions is a big part of who we are. This focus on the future is something we also see reflected in SEW‑EURODRIVE. As such, there's no doubt that we want to keep this partnership going in the future." She also adds: "Throughout our long and highly successful collaboration with SEW‑EURODRIVE, the high quality of the drive systems we get from Bruchsal has played a key role."


Sophistication, multi-axis servo technology and motion control with ready-to-install software modules

In order to ensure absolute precision throughout the entire flow of products and containers in the complex aseptic filling machine, the various motion sequences need to be perfectly attuned to one another. After all, there are a total of 38 axes to coordinate. VMS achieves this using a high-performance, multi-axis servo drive system provided by SEW‑EURODRIVE. In addition to the total of 13 servo gearmotors – in with different designs to suit different motions and precision requirements – the system also uses a MOVIAXIS® multi-axis servo inverter.

Modern motion control technology for the machine automation system guarantees optimum motion sequences and positioning. Our ready-to-install software modules are a big help in this area, allowing simple, uncomplicated simulation of kinematic types such as curves. All the drive and automation components work in perfect harmony, ensuring precise coordination of every movement, even at very high speeds and acceleration rates.

Even the best technology is useless without the perfect all-round service ...

The more complex a machine's technology is, the more important it is to offer the right service for every aspect of it. After all, machine downtimes, inadequate service and delays can cause a manufacturer's costs to rack up very quickly. If things get really bad, the product might be spoiled and the whole process will need to be started over – including the initial cleaning sequence.

As such, VMS pays extra-special attention to this concern for its end customers. In fact, that's why the company was founded in the first place. Before VMS became one of the world's technological leaders in the field of aseptic foodstuff filling, it was originally just a service company focusing primarily on care and maintenance for other brands of filling machine. And VMS still offers personalized customer service today: from maintenance and repairs to conversion and the modernization of packaging and filling machines made by a wide range of manufacturers – not just its own.


Quick-response service and continual optimization

When a machine manufacturer is as focused on comprehensive service as VMS is, it needs partner to whom good service is equally important. This is yet another factor that makes VMS and SEW‑EURODRIVE the perfect match. Daniela Kraft sums it up perfectly: "We offer good service ourselves, and this has been the driving force behind our current market standing. As such, we appreciate the excellent service provided by SEW‑EURODRIVE." Since the staff responsible for approving their machines are always pressed for time, a single point of contact and fast service response are crucial.

And this is why Daniela Kraft is so satisfied: "We know who to speak to at SEW‑EURODRIVE – not just if there's a problem, but also if we need help straight away. We always get a response within a few hours, which is extremely fast for this industry! When we send a quotation form to SEW‑EURODRIVE, we usually get a finished quotation containing all the information we need the next day."

But neither partner wants to simply remain at this level. Maintaining this high level of quality isn't enough for them. Due to the speed of technological development, continual optimization is an integral part of their collaboration. In fact, the two companies are currently conducting a joint project to develop pioneering condition monitoring solutions for the machine. Details are scarce, but we can tell you this much: virtual reality technology will be involved. We hope you're excited!

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