From Canada With HMI

Feb. 20, 2009
Machine Builder Offers Total Package Across Continents

By Mike Bacidore, Managing Editor

Founded in 1989, Premier Tech Systems in Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, provides completely integrated packaging lines for many industries. “We develop, manufacture and market customized automated bag packaging equipment,” says Louis Dupont, integration team supervisor. 

With around 400 team members in America, Europe, and Asia. Premier Tech operates in more than 40 countries worldwide. “Our equipment is tailored to customers' needs for a wide range of applications in various industries such as pet food, landscaping, growing media, minerals, food, feed, seed, wood products, chemicals and insulation,” says Dupont.

Premier Tech provides turnkey packaging solutions, from bulk product infeed to the wrapped pallet. And all of its systems—dosing, bagging, palletizing, load securing and material handling—are designed, manufactured and integrated by its own team.

“Our main goal is to ensure that our customers have all the support they need, and we strive to reach the highest overall equipment effectiveness,” explains Dupont. “We are committed to provide the most valuable services in the industry for on-site technical support, spare parts and preventive maintenance programs. Our group comprises more than 40 team members dedicated to after-sales services.”

Typically, Premier Tech’s machines require digital controls and a few analogue signals for temperature, pressure and weight controls, explains Pierre Morin, industrial data processing systems supervisor. “They are fully automated with a graphical and intuitive human-machine interface that allows the operator to take action and get detailed information for alarming and troubleshooting,” he says. “Our machines are all PLC-based because this is the type of control that our markets want to have. Unless we can't avoid it for very specific functions like weight control, we don't use embedded control. Frequently our customers specify that they don't want to have any black boxes or controllers other than the PLC and its associated human-machine interface. Customers want to have a simple interface to operate the machine that will allow them to take any required action.” 

The FFS series horizontal form-fill-seal baggers are fully automatic systems that make their own bags from rolls of polyethylene pre-printed film. They are intended to package a wide range of products such as animal feed, cat litter, compost, mulch, pet food, salt, seeds and wood pellets.

Ethernet-based networking is very popular with Premier Tech’s customers, says Morin. “During the past years, we have adapted our machines to follow the new technologies, and we can offer a complete integrated communication solution between our machines and between the machines and our customer’s in-house systems,” he says. “We offer wireless applications for all sorts of solutions, alarm monitoring, data collection and even remote control of some pieces of equipment.”

Premier Tech has been present on the European market, where safety relays have been in use since a long while. “It was easy to see their advantages, and we started using them many years ago,” explains Morin. “Our company is very dedicated to safety, and we believe the use of safety relays is the most efficient way to design safety circuits that will meet the stringent safety standards like the ANSI/PMMI B155.1-2006 safety standard for packaging and packaging-related converting machinery. For the moment, we have used standard and programmable safety relays that allowed us to propose an integrated safety solution to our customers throughout complete lines of production.”

Morin explains that Premier Tech follows the evolution of more sophisticated systems like safety PLCs very closely so it’s ready to use them whenever the complexity of the solution requires them.
“The way to stay the leader in our markets is by offering more versatile machines that will be easily and rapidly adjustable to allow complete production order changes within minutes,” explains Morin. “Another important condition is the availability of production data to be able to act promptly on improvement opportunities.”

A variety of technological trends will impact the evolution of Premier Tech’s machine controls, says Morin. “The networking, the safety, the ability to track, identify and store data about any single unit that is produced and the capability to give efficient remote after-sales services are certainly major trends that we have targeted to guide our development,” he explains. “We choose our components, we develop our control strategy, and we network our machines to keep an open architecture that will allow us to integrate the new technologies to reach that goal.”