In the high-volume, high-speed world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), productivity makes all the difference.
These are high-demand items such as canned drinks, confectionary, perishable meat, dairy products, and bakery lines that sell quickly at relatively low cost. It’s a market generally characterized by tight unit profit margins, so for manufacturers, the focus is on driving down processing costs and waste and driving-up productivity.
Visit almost any FMCG production line and you’ll see laser technology applying codes or marks at speeds up to 1,000 codes per minute. It’s a process critical to maintaining production schedules and it relies on fume and dust extraction technology filtering the airborne contaminants that could otherwise impact negatively on both mark quality and the wider working environment if not effectively controlled.
This is where BOFA comes in, with a range of extraction systems purposed-designed for FMCG production lines to help filter emissions at the point of ablation. It’s no easy task, given the speed of the lines and resulting velocity of laser-generated emissions, factors that need to be taken into account at the system design stage.
As Josh Evans, Applications Engineer at BOFA, explains: “Manufacturers are acutely aware of the contribution that extraction systems make to productivity, notably in keeping laser lenses free from the dust that could otherwise degrade the coding or markings critical to retail markets. For BOFA, this means understanding the size and chemical profile of emissions to implement an appropriate filtration strategy.
“At the same time, understanding how particulate can ‘travel’ beyond the point of ablation requires detailed airflow analysis and a corresponding refinement of system architecture and control systems.
“This is why we like to engage with equipment manufacturers at the earliest opportunity, so our engineers can undertake a detailed assessment of the process and the emissions to help ensure that the system design safeguards laser performance while returning filtered air into the workplace.”
This assessment is essential in ensuring that all the process variables are taken into account when configuring the fume extraction system. For example, laser engraving onto a glass bottle produces silica dust, which can create health risks if not appropriately captured and filtered, but what’s not as well recognized is that the immediate release of dust can be followed by a secondary release as the area cools. The solution is to add a second-stage filtration point.
The need for speed and different materials has also driven demand for fast fiber lasers. However, with these higher energy processes and more reactive fume comes a risk of thermal events. This is particularly the case when aluminum is being worked, as the laser needs to cut deeper to code onto this material and produces more fume per code as a consequence.
BOFA has developed the Spark Arrestor 2 to intercept and retain any hot embers captured during the filtration process before they reach the extraction system as well as the FireBOX MA and FireBOX GA to suppress potential thermal events.
BOFA has a wide range of portable technologies ideally suited to the laser market, including the AD Oracle iQ, which offers remote system monitoring, onboard data logs, a color touchscreen user interface, smart navigation, enhanced alarms and remote system upgrades.
In addition, units such as the AD 1000 iQ combine extremely large filter capacity with high airflow and pressure rates – the ideal choice for heavy-duty applications that generate large amounts of particulate and gaseous organic compounds.
To find out how BOFA technology can support your laser application, speak to a member of our sales team.