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 subsequent expertise, which has enabled them to successfully bring a range of quality and competitively priced packaging and weighing machines to the market.
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, 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 1 or 2 product feed hoppers; this enables products to be conveyed by means of vibrating rails or conveyor belts. Featuring a mechanism for filling sachets directly or via the bucket to minimise cost, this also means that fragile products, such as biscuits, dried fruits, coffee, berries and confectionary products sold by weight, 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 state of the art range of machines from LGC Automation, the PW20i load cell met the requirements of filling sachets ranging from a few tens of grams to 1.5 kg, with measurement in accuracy in order of the gram. This enabled LGC Automation to accomplish the objectives it set out to achieve – flexibility and versatility.
Easy to fit with 2 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 the bagging plate can be exposed to shocks, for example, as a result of operating errors which can occur.
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 initial proposal, PW20i load cells also feature an accuracy class C3 per OIML, which provides total precision and ensures that overfill is kept to a minimum, which in turn, 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 of 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 in the past, 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”, says Thierry Cerisay. “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”, concludes Thierry.
When size doesn’t matter – it’s the little things that count!
Regardless of the size of a project or its individual requirements, HBM is all too aware of the importance of excellent customer service, which comes as no surprise considering the pivotal role it plays. But how do you define good service? HBM recognises that the key factors at the heart of good service all come down to reliability and support; supporting the product and offering the customer a solution to the problem at hand. In short, regardless of the problem, the customer needs to feel that they can pick up the phone and help is at hand.
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.
“The cells installed on our machines inspire confidence in every way, especially as they are provided by a leading manufacturer with extensive experience in weighing operations all over the world”, concludes Thierry Cerisay.