Change the way. you change over. Automatic Changeover Equipment






Full text



the way

you change








A. S. Thomas, Inc.

355 Providence Highway

Westwood, MA 02090

Ph:781.329.9200 | Fx: 781.461.8431

by A.S. Thomas, Inc.

Automatic Changeover Equipment




What used to take hours is now done in minutes. Changing the rails for a new run is simply a matter of selecting the package from a menu or clicking on a photo of the package. This eliminates costly line downtime and because of the accuracy of ASTRRA, the rails will be returned to their proper position time after time. Now you can bring your line up to speed more quickly knowing that the rails are perfectly positioned and centered, resulting in additional throughput which will increase your productivity and improve your bottom line.



Because the ASTRRA system is so accurate and repeatable, you can be assured that the package is positioned for optimum line efficiency allowing better run rates. Rates that should significantly increase product throughput will add even more to your bottom line.



Because changeovers are so easy, you can now run smaller lots, increasing the plants flexibility while reducing wasteful overstock conditions. You can also provide your customers more flexible services thereby increasing your universe of accounts and business opportunities. Runs previously thought unprofitable can now be viewed as viable prospects. The ASTRRA automatic changeover equipment (ACE) represents a significant

improvement over traditional methods of conveyor rail adjustment mechanisms. Designed for ease of installation, simple retrofit and low wiring overhead, ASTRRA ACE provides the end-user with unprecedented flexibility, speed, repeatability and accuracy in conveyor rail changeovers.

Based on industry standard wireless communications protocols, ASTRRA ACE is a distributed control system which eliminates cumbersome and expensive point-to-point control wiring to a central PLC. Instead, only one inexpensive 24VDC bus is required along the length of the conveyor.

Once installed and aligned, setting up the conveyor for a new package requires nothing more than entering the package width or diameter in the system. The rails will move to the new position and the system will allow the user to tweak the rails to compensate for any package anomalies. Dimensions may be entered in increments of 0.1mm (0.004”).

Simple Installation

Designed for easy retrofit, the actuator modules attach to standard rail adjust mounts with a 3/8-16 stainless steel stud. Mount the actuators, run the 24VDC line along the conveyor using fast attach, IP67 rated connections, hook up the 24VDC, IP66/67 rated power supply and you’re nearly ready to go.

Simple Alignment

Once mounted (and before rails are attached) a simple initialization procedure is performed, followed by an alignment using a self-centering truck fitted with a 50mm or 100mm reference cylinder. Jog the actuators in to touch the cylinder, press the Set Base Dimension button on the ASTRRA-jMAC Commissioning screen and your conveyor rails can now be positioned more quickly and accurately than ever before.

If your application doesn’t require precision, such as an empty carton conveyor, the process is even simpler. Enter the retracted actuator aperture and press the Set Base Dimension button and your done! And you’ll still be accurate within a fraction of an inch.

Simple Product Change

Got a new product coming onto the line? And it’s a wacky shape? You don’t have time to keep on stopping your production line to manually tweak the rails. With ASTRRA installed, it’s only a matter of measuring the package width, keying in the width (plus a couple of millimeters for clearance) and commanding a changeover. In minutes, you can fine tune your line to achieve maximum throughput in less time it would take you to just loosen the rails with manual systems. Then you can store this data, along with a photo of the package for future changeovers.

A. S. Thomas, Inc. provides several different interface and control options to accommodate any user requirement from dedicated HMI’s to integration with existing user control panels.


Hand-Held HMI’s

A.S. Thomas, Inc. provides several options for communicating directly with ASG’s, ASC’s and the Controller Actuators. Physically connect Ultra-Mobile PC’s to the ASTRRA unit with a serial cable through an optional Media Access Unit (AMAU). Or wirelessly communicate with any ASTRRA unit with an ASTRRA-MACusb wireless adapter on any device that has a USB port and Java capability.

Segment Coordinator

The segment coordinator manages the motion of the segment ensuring that each actuator is moved to its proper position. In addition, the coordinator continually monitors the health of each AACM and performs report-by-exception to the upper levels of the system in the event of an actuator problem.

Rail Actuators

The rail adjustment is accomplished by actuator pairs, which are made up of a master actuator and a secondary actuator. The master actuator receives commands from the Segment Coordinator, then moves the rail as specified. The rail is moved sequentially in 3mm increments to its target position.

Sequential and incremental moves benefit the user in several ways. The sequential move allows the use of a small power supply to run an entire 20 actuator pair segment while the incremental motion ensures smooth movement of the rails preventing rail distortion and damage.

Supervisory Gateway

The supervisory gateway controls the entire line. Up to 31 segment controllers, each managing up to 120 actuator pairs, may be implemented in a fully outfitted system. Communications with the supervisor may be done with a laptop running the ATOMICS web-based server, a hand-held device such as an ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) or any Java based unit with a USB port. The ASTRRA-jMAC monitor and control application is written entirely in Java allowing you a choice of platforms. Interfaces include RS-232, Ethernet or any ASTRRA wireless module.




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Modular Integration

ASTRRA systems may be incorporated into your plant on an incremental basis. This modular approach allows you to implement levels of changeover automation from the simplest application such as a top cover height adjustment to the most complex complete line changeover solution.

Single Segment

At it’s simplest level, several actuator pairs can be controlled by a Segment Coordinator that takes its commands from an HMI already on the floor. The Segment Coordinator can also be controlled from a hand-held ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) fitted with an ASTRRA-MACusb radio module and running the ASTRRA-jMAC Monitor, Analyzer and Control application. Small islands of ASTRRA automation can easily solve particularly difficult changeover problems such as alpine accumulator rail adjustment, overhead conveyor rail adjustment, top cover height adjustment and areas where personnel access is space limited.

Multiple Segments

Several segments can exist in a facility without interfering with one another. Up to 31 different segment addresses are available (each can handle up to 120 actuator pairs) within a line address. Over 1,000 line addresses are available to the user, which provides over 31,000 segment addresses per plant. If that isn’t enough, there are 16 unique communications channels, each of which can service an entirely new family of segments.

Normally, a conveyor line is given a line address and all 31segments are dedicated to the line. As more sections are integrated, they may be unified by installing a Supervisory Gateway, which gives the user universal control over the line. Built-in security provides for several privilege levels from administrative control to monitor-only access.

Integrated Segments

Segments may be logically linked to provide a seamless changeover of a line section. An example would be a section that requires both rail aperture adjustment and timing screw aperture adjustment. While the apertures are different for a given package, a logically linked segment pair would allow for both to be accurately adjusted with a single command.


In certain circumstances, double-helix timing screws can be used to accommodate several different packages. A. S. Thomas, Inc. developed the Scroll-Ex expert system for several of our change part partners, which has the capability to quickly generate and manufacture this type of timing screw. This is another area for consideration when reducing changeover times.


When several lines in a facility are ASTRRA-equipped, all may be monitored locally or from anywhere in the world. And because of ASTRRA’s extensibility, sensors can be attached to any AACM and make use of the ASTRRAnet wireless system for report by exception capability.

From the simplest implementation to the most complex, ASTRRA is flexible enough to provide cost-effective adjustment solutions making your facility more efficient year-after-year.

by A.S. Thomas, Inc.


the way


Application Software


Every aspect of your ASTRRA-equipped conveyor can be controlled and monitored by the ASTRRA-jMAC software package. Written in Java, ASTRRA-jMAC can be run on any computer with a USB port equipped with an ASTRRA-MAC wireless adapter. Because Java is a network-centric language, the ASTRRA-jMAC application can use either a local database for it’s information store, or any Internet-accessible dataset throughout the world.

Select the facility from your chosen database and every package qualified on each of the lines is available for access. When the line to control is selected, the changeover buttons on the User screen (Fig. 1) are populated with a photo of the package and the package changeover parameters. From there, it is only a matter of requesting a lockout and, after a lockout is granted, pressing the correct photo to initiate a change for rails, timing screws, top covers and other ASTRRA controlled devices.

The Control screen (Fig. 2) provides more in-depth control of the segment. Lockouts are requested from this screen which compels the user to specifically place the segment in a lockout condition prior to any moves. Jog buttons allow the user to move individual or a range of actuators in1mm steps per jog.

When running a new product, measuring the package width, adding a few millimeters and putting this value into the Move ____mm box will allow you to move the segment to the new aperture and rapidly test the flow of the product through your system.

When commissioning a new system, the Commissioning screen, (Fig. 3) allows the integrator complete control over the process. From segment and line definition, to actuator initialization, to laser alignment and line editing, everything needed to set up a line is easily accessible from this page.

The ASTRRAnet wireless environment may be monitored at any time to determine the best channels on which to setup your network, check on communications or to perform an RF analysis in your facility. For these functions, you need to go to the Analyzer page (Fig. 4).

While the ASTRRA-jMAC application continually monitors signal strength during normal operations, the Analyzer provides a good deal more functionality to assist in the determination of the best wireless network coexistence strategy for your operation. While not intended to replace network analysis tools, the ASTRRA-jMAC Analyzer can provide a great deal of information regarding

the amount of traffic on every channel of the IEEE802.15.4 spectrum. In addition, the energy density in the 802.15.4 channels for the 2.4GHz ISM band can indicate WiFi and Bluetooth activity, providing insight into the best channels to use and placement of the ASTRRA components.

Fig. 1 User Screen

Fig. 2 Control Screen

Fig. 3 Commissioning Screen


Central Control

Plant-wide control over the conveyor lines is easily achieved with the ATOMICS system offered by A.S. Thomas, Inc. This web-based system can store all package information and each can be accessed for immediate upload to any line with the simple click on a package photo. (Note that the line must be in a lockout condition for a changeover to be enabled.) Several levels of access ensure the security of the system and all actions are permanently logged in the ASTRRA database.


The Actuator Control Module, Segment Coordinator and Supervisory Gateway all have an expansion port which allows the user to extend the capabilities of the ASTRRA system. From simple RS-232 interfaces to RFID readers, adding functionality to enable communications to PLCs and tracking product through the line becomes an easy and valuable option for critical product applications. A. S. Thomas, Inc. will even customize interfaces for specific customer requirements.

Worldwide Access

The ATOMICS system can be accessed from anywhere in the world thanks to its web-centric design. Using your secure VPN, package configurations can be stored and sent to any of your ASTRRA-equipped facilities for rapid line configuration in the event of a production bottleneck or under-capacity problem. Just another example of how the ASTRRA system allows you to maximize your international resources.

Report By Exception

Because the Master Actuators can be equipped with several different communications interfaces, they may be connected to equipment in the line and provide report capabilities. This data can be used for maintenance or stored in the ASTRRA database for analysis at a later time.







3/8 - 16 x 1. 500" SS Mounting Stud


5. 97 (0. 235) 23. 81 (0. 937) 13. 46 (0. 530) 39. 62 (1. 560) 103. 12 (4. 060) 111. 63 (4. 395) 25. 4 (1. 000) 27. 94 (1. 100) 83. 31 (3. 280) 29. 97 (1. 180) 14. 73 (0. 580) 103. 12 (4. 060)


3/8- 16 Mounting Hole P1 P2 P3 P4 Standard Location 50. 80 3 Places (2. 000) 43. 24 (1. 702) 24V DC IN

M8 3 Pin Male M8 5 Pin MaleMaster to Secondary


Network Specifications

No. of Lines (WPANs) >1000 No. of Segments/Line 31 No. of AACMs/Segment 120 Protocol:

PHY & MAC IEEE 802.15.4

NWK Modified MiWi1

(deterministic address allocation)

APL ASTRRAnet Transceiver Tx Power 20 dBm typ. Rx sensitivity -102 dBm typ. Range 1000m typ. Power Specifications Power Supply: Input 85-264VAC 100-353VDC Output 24VDC +/-2% 3.8A

conductor length 15M (50 ft.)max. [power supply may be centered on a 30M (100 ft.) run] number of actuator pairs 25max.

Power requirements:

ASG current 75mA@24VDC typ.

ASC current 75mA@24VDC typ.


quiescent 80mA@24VDC typ.

actuating 350mA@24VDC typ.

Actuator Specifications

Stroke 50 mm (2 in.) nom.

100 mm (4 in.) nom. 200 mm (8 in.) nom. 400 mm (16 in.) nom. Positioning command resolution 0.1mm (0.004”) repeatability +/-0.1mm (0.008”) Capacity 500n (100lbs) typ. Drive Acme

Drive speed 12mm/S (0.5”) typ.

Protection IP66/67

Operating temp. range -20oC - +65oC Optional Accessories


Optional stud locations:

-2 positions 1 & 2

-3 positions 1 & 3

-4 positions 1 & 4

Actuator Dimensions

Model Length (A) Stroke (B) Tolerance AAM-050L 182.88mm (7.2”) 50mm (1.97” )

AAM-100 L 231.90mm (9.13”) 100mm (3.94” )

AAM-200 L 331.90mm (13.07”) 200mm (7.87” ) +/-2mm(+/-0.079” ) AAM-250 L 381.90mm (15.03”) 250mm (9.84” )

AAM-400 L 531.90mm (20.94”) 400mm (15.75” )

by A.S. Thomas, Inc.

1. MiWi is a registered trademark of Microchip Technology Inc.

Area Sales / Integrator:

Automatic Feeder Company, Inc. 921 Albion Ave Schaumburg, IL 60193 (847) 534-2300



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