Aerotyne Corporation is working with WorldPak Flexible Packaging LLC to create a PDQ box erector that will be incorporated into an already existing packaging assembly line. The PDQ box erector apparatus needs to output 25 erected boxes per minute with the boxes oriented such that the opening is facing the packing worker. The PDQ box erector apparatus must be easily portable, easily loaded, and ideally designed with the least amount of moving parts. A simple design that meets the output requirements will simultaneously follow the safety regulations set by OSHA. The production of the PDQ box erector apparatus must not exceed a $2500 dollar budget.
Aerotyne Corporation’s PDQ box erector can be implemented in any manufacturing environment that requires boxes to be packaged with product. The demand for Aerotyne’s PDQ box erector goes hand in hand with the demand for PDQ boxes, as there are many competitors with products that erect and tape traditional cardboard boxes. In order to successfully enter the box erector industry, Aerotyne has conducted a market analysis on the industry to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats the team has and will encounter. Extensive patent research and literature research was performed to determine what the team can do to separate them from an existing industry solutions and produce an affordable and user friendly machine. Among the current competition Aerotyne Corporation will face, most companies produce large and highly expensive machines with complicated on-board machine programming that is required for operation. Two primary competitors in the industry are Lantech and Combi Packaging Systems LLC. Both companies have a strong global presence in the largest manufacturing facilities and currently market their product to companies that have strong purchasing power.
Proof of Concept
Aerotyne’s PDQ box erector apparatus for WorldPak Flexible Packaging LLC is required to erect 25 boxes a minute with a $2500 budget. With a v-belt conveyor belt it has a price of approximately $200, an estimated price for a motor will be around $200-$300 depending on specified specs Aerotyne has accounted for, and lastly the price for materials in order to create the final project will be around $300-$400. Through careful cost analysis the team concluded that the overall cost of the apparatus does not exceed current budget of $2500. The team is predicting the apparatus to cost around $1000, which could potentially be reduced through WorldPak’s resources. The design specifications include a gravity driven hopper, electrical motor conveyor belt with cogs, and a wedge erecting chamber. Through careful calculations, the team found torque, rotational speed, and power for motor selection to produce the necessary force and speed required to eject a box out of the hopper, erect a box through the wedges, and output 25 boxes per minute. Figure 1, in the concept overview, demonstrates the PDQ box erector apparatus. Incorporating this simple design into an existing WorldPak assembly line will increase productivity by 20% (WorldPak personal statistics) demonstrating the potential for real world applications.
Aerotyne Corporation is in collaboration with WorldPak Flexible Packaging LLC to create a PDQ box erector that will be incorporated into an already existing packaging assembly line. The PDQ box erector apparatus will output 25 erected boxes per minute with the boxes oriented such that the opening is facing the packaging worker. Having this output rate allows for an increase in productivity for Worldpak by eliminating the Human element from erecting boxes. Now, instead of erecting boxes, the free worker can be assigned to more productive tasks. The prototype includes a working conveyor system with a 60W, 1/12 horsepower electric motor. The conveyor will utilize a cleated belt that captures the bottom box from the hopper and transports the box into the erection chamber. Another component is a vertical hopper holding the stack of un-erected boxes. The hopper is a 15x 15 x 60 inch hollow box made of Acrylic sheets, 5mm thick, with three specific cut outs for loading unerected boxes and pushing the boxes out of the hopper with a cleat. The erection chamber is constructed with low friction acrylic plates oriented as wedges that form the shape of the box. The erection chamber is the component where reaction forces from the wedges erect the box. Two standing wedges are orientated such that the distance between them decreases as the boxes travel through the erection chamber. As the boxes are driven by the conveyor through the erection chamber, they come into contact with the wedge walls and the reaction forces from the wedges are what erect the boxes. The boxes are now ready for an assembly line worker to load with product. Aerotyne’s design is a solution to the current highly expensive machines and provides assembly line workers with a convenient machine that delivers an erected box ready for retail product.
The PDQ box erector apparatus designed by Aerotyne Corporation was fabricated and assembled through a combination of vendors and team 11 personnel. Multiple manufactures for specific components were solicited for custom parts, which included: a conveyor, conveyor belt with cleats, formed hopper, various acrylics, fasteners, and a variable drive Brushless DC gear motor. These components then were assembled by Aerotyne personnel using Worldpak’s on-site machine shop.
The conveyor was ordered from a custom conveyor manufacturer which included the belt and the pulley wheels. To incorporate into final assembly, the conveyor was drawn by Aerotyne and sent to manufacturer for custom order. The conveyor belt was specified to include 0.79 inch cleats. Each listed component is individually assembled and then fastened to the base of the structure.
The base is composed of aluminum members that are welded and bolted together. The hopper and erection chamber walls were cut by a water jet table and formed by a pneumatic plastic bending table. Aerotyne personnel assembled the hopper apparatus by attaching two acrylic strips to the sides of the table, then fastened the hopper and erection chamber walls with high strength glue, L shaped brackets, nuts, and bolts.
Aerotyne personal created each component with SolidWorks 3D modeling software where each dimension and material was specified for fabrication.
Testing and Results
Aerotyne’s test procedure for the PDQ box erector consisted of three main components to assure the apparatus successfully accomplished its designed applications. First, a custom made conveyor was assembled with a cleated belt that required proper calibration and fastening to prevent any type of vibration. After assembly the conveyor was tested by running multiple iterations at different speeds where the cleats were counted per minute. At maximum speed we concluded at 30 cleats per minute which adds up about 2.4 seconds per cleat.
Second, the erection chamber was assembled and fastened to the working conveyor towards one end with the exit of the chamber at the end. With the conveyor running at maximum speed (4000 RPM) boxes were placed on the conveyor to test if a box would be erected with the cleat forcing a PDQ box through the erection chamber. The test consisted of constant flow of boxes for about a minute to ensure constant box erection and eliminate any stalling, jamming or other unforeseen issues. The test was concluded with 100% success rate of erecting boxes at constant flow.
The third component for testing was the hopper. The hopper’s main purpose was holding the boxes for belt capture and delivery. The hopper was designed with a cut-out on the bottom where one box is allowed to be ejected at a time. Due to the elastic behavior of each cleat, where slight bending occurs, proper height at the dispense slot was the primary aspect of the hopper that was tested. A sample of boxes was stacked within the hopper and the hopper dispense slot was set at an initial height of 0.78 inches. Numerous cycles of running the conveyor and examining the cleats ejecting boxes were performed to determine the desired height that allowed a single box to be ejected. The hopper failed multiple initial tests due to boxes becoming jammed in the dispense slot. The issue was solved by adding an adjustable skirt to the dispense slot where the height of the slot was adjusted until no boxes became stuck.
With the successful testing of the PDQ box erector, WorldPak will have a solution that will enable production to go from 15 boxes/min to 25 boxes min. The increased productivity allows line workers to be freed up from erecting PDQ boxes themselves and dedicate more time to packaging product. The increased production rate was the goal of the product and Worldpak is happy with that outcome.
Meet the Team
Pablo Miller is a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno. Pablo was born in California but raised in Reno, NV where he has spent the majority of his academic career.
Currently, Pablo is working directly with a University of Nevada, Reno mining engineer to create an autonomous PC 8000 tractor prototype resulting in his most challenging engineering project because of the needed skills and knowledge required to create this robot prototype. Throughout the design of the project, Pablo has improved and developed new knowledge and skills needed: Solidworks part development and analysis, Inventor software use, gear/bearing/motor selection, and the overall engineering process. Pablo’s first task for the project was to analyze the already existing PC 8000 tractor and convert the current existing hydraulic system to an electrical motor system. This required a complete redesign of the tractors mechanical components to implement the electrical system. The project still requires further advancement which will allow Pablo to continue to develop and improve his knowledge and skills as an engineering.
Furthermore, Pablo spent his sophomore year of his university career studying abroad in Hong Kong, China. During his year abroad Pablo was able to become a novice Mandarin, Chinese speaker allowing him to roam the streets of China comfortably. This is a great accomplishment Pablo is proud of and will continue to improve on throughout his life in attempts to become a fluent trilingual speaker.
To conclude, Pablo’s more immediate goals consist of finishing his research project, continuing to improve and develop knowledge and skills to become an adequate engineer, and graduate well standing in the upcoming year. After graduation, Pablo plans to work for a company that will allow him to exercise his mechanical engineering skills preferably on UAVs, robotics, or automobiles. Simultaneously, continuing his life long learning in engineering, Mandarin Chinese, and any other future goals Pablo plans to pursue.
Kastell Go is currently a mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada Reno. Kastell was born and raised in Reno Nevada, and spent his entire academic career in Reno.
Throughout Kastell’s academic career, he has been through many difficult challenges that make him stop and think. Because of these kinds of situations, he has developed skills in order to overcome these situations. He has learned to stop, think about the possible ways to solve the issue, then finally implement his plan. He has also developed his skills of working with others in a team by effectively communicating ideas and solving issues that the team faces. As he finishes his academic career, he can use the skills learned and apply them to any job that he faces in the upcoming future
After graduation, Kastell plans on working with a local company that specializes in creating prosthetic limbs for those in need of one. He plans on working directly with a team of engineers to create the perfect prosthetic limb for each client that is presented to the company. He also plans on becoming an EMT paramedic in order to expand his knowledge of the human body in order to create limbs that are both effective and less cumbersome. His immediate plans is to complete the engineering program from the University of Nevada and gain the skills necessary to become an effective engineer.
Jose Munoz is a senior mechanical engineering student originally from California but raised in Las Vegas that is currently studying at the University of Nevada, Reno. Jose has acquired a great deal of practical knowledge through projects requiring assembly and calibration of additive manufacturing devices, electrical devices such as multimeters, and a hovercraft. However, in terms of difficulty and scope, it is safe to say that the design and construction of a working PDQ box erecting prototype will prove to be his most challenging engineering task to date. Over the years Jose has managed to greatly improve and develop his ability to communicate engineering technical data, problem solve, analyze through finite element analysis, and design parts using SolidWorks. One of his greatest external achievements was winning the 2014 Nevada state championship in club soccer. Jose has employed analytical problem solving techniques to solve design based projects and assignments presented in his undergraduate courses such as aerodynamic airfoil design. Jose’s current goal is to do well in his remaining classes to increase his academic performance. Another major goal is to land an internship his final semester as an undergrad to gain valuable experience in the industry and to go on to find a job in the automotive industry immediately after graduation.
Chris is a native of Las Vegas, NV currently pursuing a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently in his senior year, Chris is a part of a team with a goal of designing an innovative PDQ box erector that is competitive in the box erecting industry. Throughout his academic career Chris has been involved with many engineering projects that have fostered his skills in solid modeling and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) with the software Solidworks, effective technical writing though his schoolwork, and team communication while participating in team projects. Chris’ most challenging engineering project is the PDQ box erector he is designing with his teammates. His work at Falcon Roofing allowed him to utilize his critical thinking and communication skills acquired from his engineering education career to successfully complete multiple residential roofing projects. Outside of work and school Chris enjoys his love of cars by working on his own car and exploring car shows throughout the year. Chris is working on finishing his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering and hopes to work for an automotive company as in automotive engineer after graduation.
Aerotyne Corporation would like to acknowledge the following people and companies for the their support on this project:
- Josh Felten, mentor
- Ken Earnest, Worldpak leader
- WorldPak Flexible Flexible Packaging LLC, Project sponsor