Boxes and Packaging

Industrial Control Panel Design for Boxes and Packaging

Controlsforce were approached by Andy Clarke, Managing Director at Boxes and Packing in Bristol, to quote for updating the industrial control panel and control system on an old McKinley box printer-slotter machine, which was mechanically sound and formed a vital part of their main production line.

The system controlled the position of four cutting heads and dies with a single servo motor, which used a steel pull wire system with a series of pneumatic clamps to allow each head to attach to the pull wire. Each head was fitted with an independent position monitoring transducer and was clamped to the pull wire in sequence. The original control system was no longer supported by the American manufacturer, so Controlsforce performed a site survey to determine if any of the original control system could be retained.

Whilst the original system was nicely made, the age of the parts meant that the only way to ensure reliable operation was to fit a modern system. Therefore Controlsforce:

  • Replaced the original DC servo motor with a Siemens AC servo motor and drive.
  • Replaced the old control, operator interface and display electronics with a Siemens PLC and colour HMI.
  • Sourced a replacement head position transducer.
  • Built a bespoke interface module in our electronics workshop, to couple the remaining original machine sensors to the new PLC.
  • Retained the original machine gearbox, limit switch assembly, pulley systems, electro-pneumatic solenoid valves and actuators.

The control system was installed by the client’s usual electrical contractor, following our detailed installation instructions and we attended site to check the final installation and commission the system.

The use of a HMI greatly simplified the operator controls and added a number of useful features, including a recipe function allowing a number of machine setups to be saved and recalled from memory. The HMI also benefited from password control to prevent unauthorized access to the system settings as well as a comprehensive alarm and diagnostics page.


"Controlsforce were determined to find the best possible solution for our control system, working within the timescales and budgets set. They were also a great support throughout the installation and the new functionality has been very useful."

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