When packaging machine manufacturer, LGC Automation, needed a weight sensor for a new range of machines for smaller scale customers it chose a load cell from HBM, MEPCA found out why.
Confronted with the demand for ever increasing precision and higher speeds in packaging – often with expectations of reduced costs at the same time – weighing and packaging machine manufacturers in the food and agriculture industry are faced with a challenge.
Based in Isère in France, LGC Automation was founded by Francis Le Garric and Thierry Cerisay. With over 25 years of experience within the industry, Francis and Thierry brought together a wealth of experience and expertise, which has enabled them to successfully bring to market a range of quality and competitively priced packaging and weighing machines.
Meeting the demand
Following its decision to develop weighing and packaging machines specifically targeted to the needs of small companies and craftsmen in the food and agriculture industry, LGC were initially confronted with the need to produce a range of machines which met the demand for ever increasing precision and higher speeds; while doing so at an affordable cost. In short, LGC Automation needed to ensure its machines met the criteria, without compromising on either functionality or performance.
Taking these factors into consideration, LGC Automation took the decision to develop a range of semi-automatic standard machines which offer flexible performance. The benefits of this are two-fold. Featuring one or two product feed hoppers enables products to be conveyed by means of vibrating rails or conveyor belts. While featuring a mechanism for filling sachets directly or via the bucket to minimise cost, also means that fragile products which are sold by weight, such as biscuits, dried fruits, coffee, berries and confectionary products, can also be accurately filled, offering manufacturers a versatile solution.
When it came to the measurement chain, LGC Automation took the decision to specify its own circuit board for the processing electronics and a touch-screen tablet in Bluetooth mode for the display and user interface. However, this left LGC in a predicament when it came to the weight sensor.
“From the start we wanted to have an RS232 interface so that we could connect the cell to our circuit board”, explains Thierry Cerisay. “In addition, we needed a small product which would fit well with our compact machines, and finally, we needed a product which was correctly protected against overloading”.
Traditionally purchased as part of a complete package, the load cell is one of the most crucial components in constructing powerful packaging machines. When it comes to specifying the load cell, precision and speed are crucial elements, ultimately because both factors can offer considerable cost savings; precision because it makes for improved safety margins and speed because faster weighing means greater output.
Big things come in small packages
With this in mind, the compact PW20i weight sensor from HBM was the obvious choice. Optimised for dynamic weighing applications, such as those specified by the new range of machines from LGC Automation, the PW20i load cell met the requirements of filling sachets ranging from a few tens of grams to 1.5kg, with measurement accuracy in order of the gram. This enabled LGC Automation to accomplish its objectives – flexibility and versatility.
Easy to fit, with two screws to fix it to the machine structure and 2 screws to fix the plate, the PW20i also offered a protection against overloading, which is a central requirement as, for example, the bagging plate can be exposed to shocks resulting from operating errors.
In addition, the PW20i also offered additional benefits such as its high resonance frequency, which meant that no electronic filters or reduction measures needed to be applied. Also offering an IP65 degree of protection, as initially specified by LGC Automation in its proposal, the PW20i load cells feature an accuracy class C3 per OIML, which provides total precision and ensures that overfill is kept to a minimum, which dramatically reduces waste.
Above and beyond
In terms of functionality, LGC Automation was in no doubt that the PW20i from HBM ticked all the boxes. However, when it came to specifying a suitable load cell it wasn’t just the practical aspects which put HBM firmly at the top of its game. Following a healthy relationship spanning over 20 years, LGC Automation was not only impressed with the quality range of weighing technologies available from HBM, but perhaps more importantly it admired its commitment, dedication and the service which was always extended to customers.
“Having previously worked alongside HBM, I have always been impressed with its level of commitment to customers – large or small – in difficult times or in the face of a lack of prospective orders. The level of service is never compromised”, said Thierry. “Despite being one of its smaller customers, we were always aware of the same level of listening and the same level of support when studying the different technical options available to us, so in our mind, we are in no doubt that we chose the best solution”.
As continuous growth and competitive pressure look set to continue in the weighing and packaging market within the food industry, thanks to its assured partnership with HBM, LGC Automation is not only confident in its product but it also believes it has some exceptionally convincing arguments to put forward to its future clients with regards to quality and longevity.