US 20070033903 A1
A packaging machine has a housing defining a plurality of stations, respective units in the stations for processing and packing objects, respective windows at the stations each having a glass pane, respective flat-panel displays behind each of the panes, and a controller, wiring connecting the controller to all of the displays, and a service console for displaying at each of the displays information relevant to the respective station.
1. A packaging machine comprising:
a housing defining a plurality of stations;
respective means in the stations for processing and packing objects;
respective windows at the stations each having a glass pane;
respective flat-panel displays behind each of the panes; and
means including a controller, wiring connecting the controller to all of the displays, and a service console for displaying at each of the displays information relevant to the respective station.
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The present invention relates to a packaging machine. More particularly this invention concerns such a machine that makes up packages of pills and the like.
A standard packaging machine has a housing defining a plurality of stations for the processing of objects, particularly tablets, coated tablets, suppositories or the like, and for foils for the reception of objects, with a computing unit or controller, a service console and a display which are connected by means of a data line.
Packaging machines with a general construction as defined in German 199 20 479 of K. Tetenborg have become highly developed devices with a high level of reliability and productivity for the safe and durable packaging of objects. Particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, there are increased requirements with regard to the security of pharmaceuticals concerning hygiene, sterility and impermeability of packages. These requirements can be met by contemporary packaging machines, in which case a base blister foil and a cover foil fed together by feed rollers and pass through a plurality of stations, until finally the objects are packed in blister packs. These stations basically comprise a heating station for the heating of the base foil to provide it with the pockets or blisters that eventually hold the objects, a filling station where the pockets formed in the form foil in the forming station are filled with objects and a sealing station for the sealing of the pockets with a cover foil. Downstream of the sealing station, individual filled blister packs are punched out of a foil strip in a punching station. The further processing of the blister packs is carried out in the so-called boxers, which in a broader sense can be seen as a part of the packaging machine and serve for the packaging of the blister packs in cartons, if required along with the package inserts.
Thus such packaging machines are of very large dimensions, their processes need to be monitored and correspondingly the operator can intervene in many ways. For this purpose, the service console and a monitor are provided. Due to the size of the packaging machine, however, the operator usually cannot directly observe and assess the impact of his or her instructions, if a region of the packaging machine, which is quite distant from the service console, is affected.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an improved packaging machine.
Another object is the provision of such an improved packaging machine that overcomes the above-given disadvantages, in particular that allows the operator to carry out a monitoring procedure and intervene in an improved way.
A packaging machine has according to the invention a housing defining a plurality of stations, respective means in the stations for processing and packing objects, respective windows at the stations each having a glass pane, respective flat-panel displays behind each of the panes, and a controller, wiring connecting the controller to all of the displays, and a service console for displaying at each of the displays information relevant to the respective station.
Thus the packaging machine according to the invention has a plurality of displays and the machine housing has with a plurality of windows each with at least one glass pane, on which a respective flat-panel display is provided, connected with the service console by means of the data line.
This construction is advantageous since the operator can remotely carry out the necessary checks and interventions in several areas of the packaging machine, particularly all along the machine close to the relevant stations, assembly, component or procedure. For this purpose, the operator does not have to move between the service console and the relevant area, which would cause a loss of time, and the designated current state of the packaging process is more quickly attained. The arrangement of the flat display in the windows of the machine housing is particularly advantageous, since this way the advantages related to the invention are achieved without more space being required and without reducing accessibility, due to the fact that the machine housing is used, into which windows can be inserted or, alternatively, already existing windows may be used. Thus, even the complex analyses regarding an adequate position of the operating unit, which were always necessary in known packaging machines, are avoided. The flat display is safely positioned behind glass and does not cause any problems regarding cleaning procedures or the compliance with clean-room requirements.
Therefore, it is also advantageous to provide a window with two glass panes, between which the flat display is arranged by means of an adhesive. Thus, the flat display is protected and the surfaces are planar and easy to clean.
It is especially preferred within the framework of the invention when an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display is provided as flat display. OLED displays are characterized by their flat design and can be optimally positioned between the window panes. OLED displays may be set to a transparent state and thus the window may also be used as such, that is to actually look inside the apparatus. Moreover, a window consisting of laminated glass provided with the OLED display is much less expensive than a personal computer with a display.
In order to allow the operator to observe the effect of his or her input, not only on the display in close proximity, a plurality of operating units is provided, each operating unit being arranged in sight of one of the flat displays.
Since the operator is generally familiar with the standard peripheral units of a computer, it may be recommended to provide the operating unit in form of a keyboard and/or a computer mouse and/or a trackball and/or a joystick and/or a microphone with a speech-recognition unit assigned to the computing unit or controller.
It is advantageous to make the operating unit a touch display coordinated to the pane, since this way the integrated operating units as operation panels can be as easily cleaned as the displays. The control panel does not have of any projecting parts which might affect the accessibility of the packaging machine and that might injure the operators.
Alternatively, the operating unit can also be a mobile unit, that is a wireless remote control in order to save expense for a plurality of operating units, particularly as thanks to modern technologies such as WLAN or Bluetooth the remote control can be easily connected.
A further particularly preferred embodiment is characterized in that sensor means such as cameras and/or detectors are provided for monitoring the operating state of the stations and/or for checking the operation procedures and/or the objects, the outputs of which can be fed to the computing unit and displayed on the display. This way, malfunction messages can be displayed directly in the concerned area, such that the operator simultaneously has an overview over the process, the sensor or the data captured by the sensor. Even defective objects can be shown on the display, particularly from an angle which is typically not at the operator's disposal.
In order to provide additional support for the operator, display diagrams can be shown on the display by the computing unit to illustrate the current state and/or the nominal is state of the processes or respectively of the objects. Thus, the operator can access additional information concerning the packaging machine, the packaging process or the objects in the relevant area, so that correct operation can be more quickly achieved, both when the packaging machine is activated and after elimination of a malfunction.
It is possible according to the invention to provide the machine housing with a plurality of safety doors each having one of the display windows, since this way not only a visual check through the window is possible but it is also easier to access the machine.
A further particularly preferred embodiment of the invention is characterized in that the actual walls of the machine housing consist of laminated glass, between the panes of which the flat display and/or the service console is/are arranged. By this construction, it is possible to avoid the use of reproductions for a schematic display of the processes and instead the process can be directly observed by the operator and be directly displayed. Additionally, information is displayed on the display in real time and at the actual location. The thus created cladding display covers the processes in the packaging machine with its stations like a skin. For example, in case of a malfunction, an indicator, a pixel or the like might flash on the display directly above the concerned component when the display is semitransparent, so that the sensor information is processed and displayed in a particularly operator-friendly way. This is also advantageous regarding the time required for the training of the operator.
Instead of designing the whole machine housing as a cladding display, there is also the possibility of providing the window with the flat display in front of a section of at least one of the stations or in front of one region that needs to be observed.
If the safety doors have assigned sensors detecting the position of the doors for optionally adapting the display on the flat display at the front face or the back face of the safety door, the operator has easy access to the information which can be provided even when the door is open.
The above and other objects, features, and advantages will become more readily apparent from the following description, reference being made to the accompanying drawing in which:
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In addition according to the invention there are a plurality of operating units 3 each in sight of one of the OLED displays. The operating units 3 can each be is designed as a keyboard and/or a computer mouse and/or a trackball and/or a joystick and/or a microphone/speech-recognition unit connected to the controller 14, or, as preferred within the framework of the invention, as a touch display right on the glass pane 6.
According to an alternative embodiment the operating unit can be a wireless remote control 3′.
Furthermore, the packaging machine 1 has of sensors 12 and/or cameras and/or detectors for monitoring the operation of the stations 7 and/or for checking the operation and/or the status of the objects being packaged, the outputs of which can be fed to the computing unit 14 and be shown on the display(s) 4.
Thus, the processes in the packaging machine 1 can be displayed as graphics 9 on the display 4 by the computing unit 14 in order to show the current state and/or the nominal state of the processes or of the objects being packaged. The walls of the machine housing 2 can thus generally consist of laminated glass the displays 4 and/or the service console 3 between its glass panes 6.
The invention is also compatible with the designated arrangement of safety doors 8 in the machine housing 2, in which the windows 5 are arranged, the safety doors 8 being conveniently provided with sensors 12 detecting the open or closed position of the doors 8 for optionally adapting the displaying on the flat display 4 at the front face or the back face of the safety doors 8.