ON Review 1 | 2011
The frontiers of technology
The British multinational has begun a qualifying process for the FC8, the G.D's new multiple filter combiner: this bodes well for the future of this innovative machine that offers high levels of performance, modularity and quick sizegroup-changing.
After its launch and numerous plaudits from cigarette manufacturers for its high output capacity and its ergonomic architecture, the new G.D FC8 filter combiner has notched up a further important achievement: the installation in one of British American Tobacco's main cigarette factories in order to begin a trial operation period. BAT requires that the machinery achieve full qualification approval only after a period of verification. The FC8's installation in a BAT plant constitutes a significant step in the approval of this machine, which was developed by the same team that successfully created the G.D DF10 filter rod maker.
The G.D FC8 is an innovative combiner for multiple filters, i.e. filters composed of different segments. The machine consists of three main parts: a first section containing two or more independent combiner modules, each of which receives long incoming rods of filter material - in white acetate, charcoal or other material - and cuts them into segments of the desired length which are then combined in the right order; a second section where the segments are transported to the rod maker section; and the rod maker section, which completes the multiple filter by wrapping the segments in plug wrap paper and cutting them at the right lengths. This third section of the FC8 is practically identical to the second section of the DF10.
Throughout this assembly process, the rods or the single filter segments are held in place by suction, which ensures exceptional precision and accuracy in the making of the filter.
The FC8 rod maker section uses a dual-rod system which makes it possible for the machine to produce 8,000 rods per minute. This speed can be maintained in the manufacture of rods up to lengths of 150 millimetres.
The modularity of the machine's first section endows it with great flexibility: to increase the number of segments in a multiple filter, only another combiner module is to be simply added. The machine's basic configuration consists of two modules but this can be expanded to five modules providing five different segments. In addition, a further module can be added to create recessed filters.
Particular attention has been paid to the reduction of format changeover times, requested by variations in the length of the filter's individual segments. Since the drums in each combiner are attached to the same supporting plate, all it takes to change formats is to substitute this plate in a single manual operation. Once the substitution has been made, all the subsequent realignment procedures are carried out automatically by the electronic control system. Exactly as it is in the DF10, the same principle of quick substitution and automatic realignment is used in the FC8's rod-maker section in order to change the overall length of the outgoing filter rod.
In order to save space, the overall dimensions of the FC8 have been notably reduced, thanks to a combination of many innovations - both mechanical and electronic - that G.D has introduced. Firstly, the extensive use of mechatronic technology (in which all axes are electronically co-ordinated) has contributed to a drastic reduction in the mechanical structure. On top of this, the space taken up by electrical wiring has been reduced through distributed intelligence solutions that make it possible to connect the various motors in a 'daisy chain' configuration (with a single wire passing from one to the next), thus also simplifying the operations of connecting or disconnecting the various modules. G.D has also been careful to facilitate maintenance and cleaning operations through an architecture that ensures maximum accessibility to all the mechanical parts.
In order to make the most of the advantages offered by the FC8's quick sizegroup-changeover system, G.D has recently also created the Filter Tray Unloader (FTU), a device that can be installed upstream of each of the machine's modules to allow it to be individually fed.
The FC8 installed in the BAT plant uses a three combiner-module configuration and is used to produce two- or three-segment filters that alternate acetate with activated charcoal segments. The range of filters produced also includes other variants The machine is fed by three FTU devices which contribute to its simple and quick sizegroup-changing procedure.
A G.D FILTER COMBINER FOR BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO
The British multinational has begun a qualifying process for the FC8, the G.D’s new multiple filter combiner: this bodes well for the future of this innovative machine that offers high levels of performance, modularity and quick sizegroup-changing.
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: THE FILTER
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