Mechanical Drives in Packaging

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Rotary Pouch Packing Machine

September 5, 2023


Packaging machines cannot function well without mechanical drive systems, which include electric motor, servo, pneumatic, and cam-driven systems. To aid in the optimization of packing operations, this book examines their maintenance techniques, energy efficiency, upcoming trends, and competitive benefits.

Components of Mechanical Drives

Systems of parts known as mechanical drives are made to transfer motion and power from a source to different pieces of machinery used in manufacturing and industrial environments. These systems are essential for controlling the flow of power needed to run basic industrial machinery including air compressors, blowers, pumps, and other pieces of machinery.

Mechanical drives are fundamentally made up of a number of coupled components that cooperate to transfer energy effectively. A number of devices, including as gears, belts, chains, and shafts, can be used to transfer power. Every one of these parts helps the drive system work as a whole, enabling the regulated application of force and movement.

In the context of packaging machines, mechanical drives are essential for powering and controlling various operations. They can be found in different forms, such as:

  • Direct mechanical drives: These systems transmit wave energy into electrical energy using linear-to-rotary conversion systems without intermediate fluid power systems.
  • Gear drives: These use a set of interlocking gears to transfer power and adjust speed or torque.
  • Belt drives: These utilize belts and pulleys to transmit power between shafts, often allowing for speed variation.
  • Chain drives: Similar to belt drives, but using chains and sprockets for power transmission.

Older passenger cars and powered machinery like electric pallet jacks and forklifts also use mechanical drives, demonstrating the industry’s adaptability.

The mechanical drive steam turbine is one particular kind of mechanical drive that is utilized in industrial settings. These are usually multistage devices with the option of extraction/induction or straight-through flow configurations. They are frequently employed in applications that call for high efficiency and power output.

The main benefit of mechanical drives is their capacity to effectively distribute power to different pieces of equipment, which facilitates and increases the safety of industrial processes. But just like any other piece of equipment, mechanical drives can break down over time. To maintain optimal performance, routine maintenance and sporadic troubleshooting are necessary.

Professionals in sectors like the nuclear and maritime industries, which depend on automated moving systems, must comprehend the principles of mechanical drives. With this understanding, maintenance personnel can efficiently maintain and troubleshoot these essential components, resulting in minimal downtime and smooth operations.

Precision Cam Mechanisms

Cam-driven systems, which provide excellent precision and dependability for a variety of applications, are an essential part of packaging machines. These systems provide exact control over packing processes by converting rotary motion into linear or oscillating motion through the use of cam mechanisms.

Leading Italian manufacturer of cutting-edge packaging machinery, CB Packaging specializes in cam-driven systems for the disposable hygiene product market. They are also knowledgeable with wet wipes, tissue packing, incontinence goods, sanitary napkins, and diapers.

Advantages of Cam-Driven Systems:

  • Precision: Cam mechanisms provide highly accurate and repeatable motion profiles, essential for consistent packaging quality.
  • Speed: These systems can operate at high speeds, making them ideal for high-volume production lines.
  • Reliability: With fewer moving parts compared to some other drive systems, cam-driven mechanisms often have lower maintenance requirements and longer operational life.
  • Customization: Cams can be designed to produce specific motion profiles tailored to particular packaging needs.

In the packaging industry, cam-driven systems find applications in various machines and processes:

  • Indexing tables: Rotary and linear indexing tables powered by cam mechanisms ensure precise positioning of products during packaging.
  • Conveyor systems: Cam-driven conveyors provide controlled movement of products through different packaging stages.
  • Denesting and filling: The MR-35 rotary packaging system by ORICS uses a cam-driven mechanism to denest containers and perform filling operations.
  • Sealing: Cam mechanisms can control the motion of sealing elements in packaging machines.

Another type of cam-driven mechanism found in packaging machines are barrel cam indexers. The intermittent rotating motion that these parts offer is essential for numerous packing procedures.

The possibilities of cam-driven systems have been further improved by their integration with contemporary control technology. Precision link conveyors from CDS offer excellent accuracy and repeatability for automated assembly and manufacturing machinery platforms by fusing sophisticated control systems with cam-driven mechanics.

Although cam-driven systems have several benefits, it is vital to remember that their versatility may be limited when compared to some servo-driven systems. However, cam-driven systems continue to be a well-liked and useful option in the packaging sector for applications needing steady, fast, and accurate motions.

Pneumatic Cylinder Systems

Air cylinders, sometimes referred to as pneumatic cylinders, are crucial parts of packaging machinery that produces linear motion by compressing air. These devices are well-liked options for a range of industrial applications because of their simplicity, dependability, and controllability.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders and Key Features:

Type Description Key Features
Single-acting cylinders Work performed in one direction by compressed air, return by mechanical spring Limited stroke length, lower air consumption, simpler design
Double-acting cylinders Driven in both directions by compressed air Work performed in both directions, longer strokes possible, more versatile
Rodless cylinders Piston and load move together along the cylinder body Space-saving design, reduced bending forces, suitable for long strokes
Guided cylinders Use guide rods parallel to the piston rod Stable, non-rotating motion, high side load performance, precision applications

Pneumatic cylinders are widely used in packaging machines for various tasks:

  • Material handling: Cylinders can push, pull, lift, lower, and clamp objects in packaging processes.
  • Printing machinery: Used for paper feeding, ink distribution, and press plate movement, contributing to high-quality and consistent printing results.
  • Textile industry: Employed in yarn tensioning, fabric cutting, and needle movement in sewing machines.
  • Industrial automation: Essential for tasks such as sorting, assembly, and packaging in manufacturing processes.

The force generated by a pneumatic cylinder depends on the piston diameter and air pressure. For example, a cylinder with a 40mm diameter piston at 6 bar pressure can generate a theoretical force of approximately 754 N.

Advantages of Pneumatic Cylinders:

  • Simplicity and reliability
  • Cost-effectiveness compared to some other drive systems
  • Easy integration with existing pneumatic systems
  • Suitable for clean environments (food and pharmaceutical packaging)
  • Capable of high-speed operations


  • Lower precision compared to servo-driven systems
  • Limited force output compared to hydraulic systems
  • Potential energy inefficiency due to compressed air losses

Pneumatic cylinder selection for packaging machines should take into account several aspects, including speed, stroke length, needed force, and environmental conditions. Pneumatic cylinders are frequently used in conjunction with other technologies or substituted by electric actuators for applications that call for precise positioning or complicated motion profiles.

Electric Motor Drive Systems

The increasing popularity of electric motor-driven systems in packing machines can be attributed to their precision control, energy efficiency, and versatility. These systems, which offer a variety of applications from filling and conveying to sealing and labeling, use electric motors to power different packing equipment components.

In order to meet the demands of contemporary packaging lines, electric motors used in packing machinery are become smaller, more energy-efficient, and more adaptable.

Key Advantages of Electric Motor Drive Systems:

  • Accurate Positioning and Speed Control: Crucial for many packaging processes.
  • Improvements in Motor Technology: Increased torque output while maintaining compact sizes.
  • Integration: Motors, drives, and encoders are often integrated into single packages, simplifying installation and reducing the need for extensive engineering expertise.

This trend towards more integrated and customizable solutions allows packaging machine manufacturers to meet specific requirements more easily, with motor suppliers reporting that up to half of their sales are now customized rather than off-the-shelf products.

Servo-Driven Packaging Technology

Packaging machinery has undergone a revolution because to servo-driven systems, which provide increased efficiency, flexibility, and precision above conventional mechanical drives. Servo motors, which offer exact control over torque, velocity, and position, are used in these systems to enable quick and precise adjustments during packaging operations.

Advantages of Servo-Driven Systems:

  • Precision Control: Enables rapid and accurate adjustments during packaging operations.
  • Flexibility: Allows for simplified format changeovers, increasing versatility in packaging processes.
  • Enhanced Process Safety: Provides stable throughput and reduces rejects.
  • Reduced Downtime: Recipe-based and motorized automatic changeovers minimize downtime between product runs.

Simple format changes are made possible by motion controllers like the SIMATIC 1500T and servo drives like the SINAMICS S210, in part because the electronic cam discs for the current packing format are automatically computed.

Moreover, this technology makes it easier to automate manual procedures, which boosts productivity and accuracy. Furthermore, servo-driven systems frequently need fewer mechanical parts and require less maintenance, which increases the dependability and lifespan of the machine.

Drive System Comparison

Mechanical drive systems in packaging machines vary significantly in their characteristics and applications. Here’s a comparison of the key types:

Drive System Advantages Disadvantages Best Applications
Cam-Driven Systems High precision, speed, reliability, customization Complexity, cost High-speed repetitive tasks, e.g., pharmaceutical packaging
Pneumatic Systems Simplicity, cost-effective, high-speed operations Lower precision, limited force output, potential energy inefficiency Material handling, printing, textile industry
Electric Motor Systems Accurate positioning, speed control, energy-efficient, versatile Higher initial cost Conveying, filling, sealing, labeling
Servo-Driven Systems Superior precision, flexibility, reduced downtime, enhanced process safety Higher cost, complexity High-speed adaptable packaging, e.g., luxury goods, electronics

The choice of drive system depends on the specific requirements of the packaging application, balancing factors such as precision, speed, maintenance needs, and cost.


For packaging machines, choosing the right mechanical drive system is essential to maximizing both product quality and operational efficiency. Regarding accuracy, speed, cost, and maintenance needs, every drive system type—from electric motor and servo-driven to pneumatic and cam-driven—offers specific benefits and trade-offs. Pneumatic systems offer affordable options for less complex processes, while cam-driven systems are superior in high-precision applications.

Electric motor drives are becoming more and more common because of their adaptability and energy efficiency. Even though they are more costly and sophisticated, servo-driven systems offer unmatched programmability and precision, which makes them perfect for flexible, fast packaging operations.

In the end, the decision is based on the particular application requirements, taking into account budgetary limits, production volume, product kind, and other aspects to achieve the best possible packaging performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of products can horizontal packaging machines handle?

Horizontal packaging machines are adaptable and suitable for a broad variety of solid products, such as non-food items like hardware, electronic components, and toiletries, as well as food items like pasta, baked goods, and chocolates. They are excellent at packing fragile or oddly shaped goods.

How fast can horizontal packaging machines operate?

Horizontal packaging machines can achieve high production speeds, with some models capable of packaging up to 200 bags per minute. When equipped with specialized feeders, such as for hard candies, speeds can exceed 400 bags per minute.

What are the main advantages of horizontal packaging machines?

Key advantages include high packaging speeds, flexibility in handling various product shapes and sizes, and the ability to provide more surface area for graphics and messaging on packages. They also offer consistent packaging quality and can integrate easily into production lines.

Are there any limitations to horizontal packaging machines?

While versatile, horizontal packaging machines may struggle with certain materials like monolayer straight PE films. They also require more floor space compared to vertical machines and may not be ideal for powdery or liquid products.

What factors should be considered when purchasing a horizontal packaging machine?

The particular application, product dimensions, packing speed requirements, floor space availability, usability, and compatibility with current manufacturing lines are all crucial factors to take into account. The machine’s technical specs and adherence to quality standards must also be taken into account.

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    Leon Liu

    Leon Liu


    Hello! I’m Leon, a seasoned Technical Sales Manager with over a decade of immersion in the packaging machinery sector. Currently, I’m putting my expertise to work at Spack Machine, a front-runner in crafting innovative packaging solutions.

    Having a solid educational foundation in mechanical integration and adeptness in marketing and AI tools gives me a unique perspective. I seamlessly bridge the gap between the technical and commercial facets of our offerings. My primary goal? To craft tailored solutions that resonate with our clients’ unique demands, ensuring they benefit from enhanced efficiency and cost savings.

    At heart, I’m driven by my passion to assist businesses in refining their packaging workflows. I firmly believe in a customer-first approach, emphasizing genuine value creation for our partners.

    I cherish connections with fellow professionals from the packaging realm and beyond. Let’s collaborate and chart a course for mutual growth!

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    1 Comment

    1. Optima Weightech

      Thank you, Leon, for sharing comprehensive details about the mechanical drive system and explaining the electric and servo-driven systems.


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