The Exhibit: Redefining the Possible
There is no doubt that the K 2019 trade fair will take place in the shadow of the discussion about environmental protection and the correct use of plastic. The industry has a duty to present solutions and to prove that plastic can be a future-oriented, energy-efficient and sustainable raw material. Booth partners Beck Automation, GLAROFORM and bfa solutions have taken this opportunity to present a production cell that, in many respects, redefines the limits of feasibility of injection moulding and decisively supports the quest for a “closed-loop” recycling economy.
A 200 ml plastic container produced with a 4-cavity ICM (injection-compression moulding) configuration from GLAROFORM and Krauss Maffei High Performance (formerly Netstal) impresses with ground-breaking material efficiency. The unrivalled low wall thickness stretches physical limits, not only resulting in considerable material savings, but also leading to a further reduction of the already highly competitive production cycle time. The lower closing force and injection pressure required thanks to the new process reduces the forces acting on the machine. This extends the life of production plant, thus increasing sustainability while minimising energy consumption. With this machine, GLAROFORM clearly demonstrates its ability to innovate and is an expression of the company’s philosophy of delivering the highest precision together with a uniquely robust design.
Beck Automation presents compact, high-performance IML automation for wrap-around labels. The system is characterised by the dynamic process, process stability and very high availability with short cycle times. The precise interaction of the individual components of the plant including automation systems, the injection moulding machine, the mould, label quality and the optical control system increases productivity while adding value. The use of lightweight materials on the main arm and the deployment of high-performance linear motors enable fast, dynamic movements. The main axle has two drive motors, which improves dynamics and extends the life of both the belts and the motors. Inclined label magazines, where the labels are contained with the print image facing down, minimise label warpage. This guarantees an optimised, precise positioning of the labels. Even with very fast cycle times, the labels are separated and transferred to the cores without disruption. The removal, transfer as well as the depositing and stacking of the products all impress with captivating levels of automation. The modified logbook which has recently been integrated into the HMI control system features user administration, parameter monitoring, simplified error analysis as well as a maintenance interval. In addition, the IML system is equipped with a 10-camera vision system from Intravis. This monitors the outside of the containers through 360° while at the same time inspecting the inside of the product.
Furthermore, labels with a digital watermark from label supplier Verstraete are deployed. This new technology enables efficient sorting at recycling plants equipped to handle this technology. In addition, the digital watermarks which are invisible to the naked eye can also be used as codes, in the same way simple bar or QR codes are used today.
MES PiSolutions by the company bfa solutions ltd provides the interface between the production and the ERP levels in this sophisticated and pioneering application. It has the task of collating and evaluating data from the injection moulding machine, the handling process and the quality assurance system and to make this data available to different users. The various functions of the MES help to make, among other things, downtime, defective products and production progress all visible in real time. This way, problems can be dealt with quickly or a tool change with a preheated tool can be prepared just-in-time. Thus the utilisation and efficiency of production plant and production lines can be significantly increased. This makes it possible to save even more energy, time and money, and further demonstrates the idea of plastic as an efficient and sustainable raw material.
In the face of changing consumer demands, the plastics industry today has the opportunity to create a win-win situation for the environment as well as its own stakeholders. The production plant shown here, with the significant reduction in wear and consumption in terms of materials, energy, work and the plant itself, while at the same time increasing output, stands for an even more efficient future. We will be presenting the state-of-the-art of tomorrow’s technology at the K 2019 in Hall 12, Booth A51-03 (Swiss Pavilion).
The Partners: Three Success Stories
GLAROFORM is the leading supplier of high performance injection moulding tools for thin wall applications worldwide. With its unique specialisation in such items as food and medical packaging, flower pots and tubs, the company sets standards in terms of production efficiency and continuity. Shorter cycle times, higher availability, longer service life and easier handling are the key drivers in product development.
In the sense of successful partnership, customer needs are paramount. Individual service is just as personal, reliable and competent as it is fast and flexible. GLAROFORM’s range of services includes both comprehensive sales advice and lifelong product support, as well as product development support. This includes advice on product design to ensure stable production processes right up to longer-term development projects for new products or assemblies.
By making use of its extensive network, actively collaborating with leading companies in the industry while closely monitoring technological developments, GLAROFORM is pro-actively involved in the advancement of injection moulding technology, and is always responding to current market needs. The most recent example of this is the launch of high-performance injection-compression moulding (ICM) tools on the occasion of the K 2019. With regard to the continuing discussion on the correct use of plastics, ICM has the potential to be a real and sustainable solution for reducing plastic consumption. The process is primarily characterised by the reduced material and energy consumption and offers the industry many more economic benefits. GLAROFORM intends to establish itself as a specialist in this still relatively unoccupied niche in the coming years.
Since its foundation in 1986, the family-run business has been developing and manufacturing all tools in Switzerland. The long-term strategy of solid, qualitative growth has led to the creation of structures necessary to continuously provide the market with the latest technology at the highest level. The workforce has developed into a constellation that combines years of experience with a forward-looking dynamic approach. The company’s manufacturing infrastructure is one of the most modern and well-maintained in the industry. More than ever, GLAROFORM today enjoys the trust of well-known companies in the food, medical and agricultural industries. Since 2015, the company has been listed as a global supplier of a leading brand owner group.
Visit GLAROFORM at K 2019 at the following locations:
• 4-cavity round ICM cup tool with IML // joint booth with Beck Automation and bfa solutions (Hall 12, Booth A51-03, Swiss Pavilion)
• 6-cavity round 250g container tool with IML // on the Krauss Maffei High Performance booth (Hall 15, Booth D24)
Beck Automation AG
Beck Automation AG based in Oberengstringen, Switzerland, is one of the leading manufacturers worldwide of automated solutions for in-mould labelling (IML) for injection moulding applications. As a trendsetter, pioneer and “hidden champion”, Beck Automation’s core business is the decoration and labelling of lids, tubs, trays and buckets for a wide range of both food and non-food applications.
In fulfilling exacting customer requirements, BECK’s process-reliable and cost-effective IML robotic systems are in use worldwide. Systematically focussing on the IML field of application guarantees users the very best technology in terms of quality, profitability, effectiveness and long service live.
The level of process design and the quality of the labels are significant factors for process reliability, reproducibility, part quality and cost-effectiveness. A high-quality automation system, which is equally impressive in terms of availability, process reliability, stability and long service life, is crucial for return on investment and the level of added value.
Building and maintaining long-term relationships with market partners through future-oriented, predictable company policy determines the management approach of what is still a family-run company, now in its second and third generation; this strategy secures the jobs of dedicated and experienced staff. In the interests of all partners, customers and employees, the preservation of traditional structures, an established network of partners and far-sighted adaptation to change form the basis for the company’s continuous development and inspiration.
Beck Automation, established in 1934, celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014. More than 700 reference plant underline the global significance of the company. In 2017 the company Robobeck was founded in Braga, Portugal. Here, the new standardised BASIC IML system is exclusively assembled there under Swiss management.
Some 50 automated systems are produced each year at the Swiss headquarters in Oberengstringen near Zurich. Beck Automation generated sales of CHF16m with 60 employees in 2018.
Visit Beck Automation AG at K 2019 at the following locations:
• 4-cavity round ICM cup with IML // joint booth with GLAROFORM and bfa solutions (Hall 12, Booth A51-03, Swiss Pavilion)
• 6-cavity round 250g container with IML // on the Krauss Maffei High Performance booth (Hall 15, Booth D24)
• 4-cavity square pail with handle and IML // on the BMB booth (Hall 13, Booth A33)
bfa solutions ltd
bfa solutions ltd from Fällanden (Switzerland) is a globally well-established and highly reliable supplier of automation engineering solutions as well as MES solutions in the fields of injection moulding and assembly. Since the establishment of company in 1981, bfa has built up a broad base of experience and expertise in the field of industrial automation and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems).
Customers benefit from concentrated, field-proven know-how. Topics range from project management, analysis and design through to the maintenance and servicing of systems. Smart factory, IoT and digitisation have belonged to the core competences of bfa solutions ltd for many years.
Reliability and a quality-first, dependable approach mean that the areas of classic automation and software development are closely interlinked, resulting in the realisation of highly integrated solutions.
With well-founded expertise in the field of automation engineering, bfa speaks the same language as the plant engineering industry and stands out from traditional MES providers. As an experienced partner, bfa supports its customers in making machines smarter, more efficient and therefore future-proof. The customer-specific programming of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) from various manufacturers is just as much a part of the company’s service portfolio as is the maintenance and care of existing control systems.
The highly competent MES team at bfa realises customer-specific solutions in all areas of automation and digitisation. To ensure successful implementation, the company’s in-house developed MES PiSolutions is deployed. MES PiSolutions is a modular and scalable production control and production data acquisition system, covering all areas of injection moulding. Unlike many other MES solutions, it not only supports connections to injection moulding machines, but also to assembly systems, quality assurance systems, life cycle management systems, ERPs and other peripheral systems. Not only is the injection moulding process depicted by MES PiSolutions, but also the entire process chain, putting the customer’s product truly into focus.
bfa solutions ltd has been advising and supporting its customers for over 38 years. Bfa will be happy to assist you on your way to Industry 4.0 and into the digital future!
Visit bfa solutions ltd at K 2019 at the following locations:
• MES PiSolutions Live Application (Packaging) // Joint booth with Beck Automation and GLAROFORM (Hall 12, Booth A51-03, Swiss Pavilion)
• MES PiSolutions Live Application (Automotive) // Sumitomo Demag booth (Hall 15, Booth D24)
The Technology: Modern Processes
Injection Compression Moulding (ICM)
Injection Compression Moulding (ICM) is a manufacturing process that combines injection and compression moulding. This is a dynamic injection process: compared to conventional injection moulding, the mould is not closed completely at the filling stage. As a result, the closing force is then used to distribute the injected material throughout the mould cavity. The following figures illustrate the principle of ICM.
Today, ICM is particularly common in the production of technical parts such as DVDs or lenses. Here, the ICM process offers essential advantages in terms of dimensional accuracy and moulded surfaces. Conversely, the market for ICM systems in the field of thin-walled packaging is still in a state of development. The first early adopters are emerging, both on the supplier and the user side. These companies are mastering the challenges of this process and thus creating economic as well as ecological benefits for the environment, society and for themselves. The key benefits of Injection Compression Moulding of thin wall packaging are as follows:
▪ Material savings of up to 25%
Greatly improved filling behaviour with a high flow path/wall thickness ratio enables significant reductions in wall thickness.
▪ Enhanced possibilities regarding raw materials
The compression moulding process enables plastics to be processed, for example, which are usually unsuitable for thin-wall injection moulding due to their low melt flow rate (“strength”).
▪ Increased output by up to 5%
Due to the thinner wall thickness, faster cooling and thus a decrease in production cycle times decrease.
▪ Closing force requirements reduced by up to 40%
Due to the use of the closing force to distribute the material in-mould, injection pressure can be significantly reduced. This in turn lowers the closing force, which serves as a counterforce to the injection pressure.
▪ Reduction in energy consumption by up to 20%
Due to the lower closing force and injection pressure required.
▪ Lower maintenance costs
Due to the lower forces at play, the whole load on the production plant is reduced, which leads, as expected, to lower maintenance costs.
▪ Reduction in production area by up to 15%
Because smaller injection moulding machines with less closing force tend to be used for ICM, the production area required can be reduced.
In Mould Labelling (IML)
Since IML is a very dynamic process, operational efficiency is the sum of all the machine’s high quality components.
First, the labels are sucked out of the label station. In the second step, the labels are placed on the cores and held in place by a vacuum. The cores move into the cavities to transfer the labels. In this phase, the labels are blown off against the vacuum, electrostatically charged and thus positioned in the mould, mapping the cavities as closely as possible and held in place.
The level of process design and the quality of the labels are decisive for process reliability, reproducibility, part quality and cost-effectiveness. A high-quality automation system, which is equally convincing in terms of availability, process reliability, stability and longevity, is crucial for return on investment and the level of added value.
Ditial Watermarks on IML Labels
The pioneering project HolyGrail, led by Procter & Gamble and facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, officially closed on May 23rd. This follows three years of innovation in the improvement of post-consumer recycling using chemical tracers and digital watermarks, with the aim of moving closer to a circular economy.
Digital watermarks will open up new possibilities currently not feasible with existing sorting technologies, including:
▪ making a distinction between food and non-food packaging
▪ proper identification of full-body shrink sleeve bottles
▪ ODR packaging (opaque and difficult to recycle, including black packaging)
▪ Distinct mono and multilayer flexible packaging
▪ proper identification of rigid multi-layer packaging materials (thermoforms, bottles…)
▪ safe introduction of new materials not hindering established recycling streams and proper identification of recyclable vs. compostable packaging
▪ ability for closed loop recycling
. During the course of the project, significant progress has been made in the area of digital watermark technology, with ‘invisible codes’ being integrated into both printed materials (labels, sleeves, in-mould labels, films/pouches), as well as directly into a mould (PET bottles, HDPE bottles, thermoformed trays, injection moulded crates, etc.).
Through this, the packaging becomes intelligent, a feature which can then be used across the full value chain: QA and inventory management at fillers; anti-counterfeit checks at stores; fast check-outs at retailers (making 2D barcodes and QR codes redundant); consumer engagement; and finally, to close the circle, improved sorting and recovery.
The consumer engagement aspects are particularly interesting, as the invisible codes can be easily read by mobile phones, bringing new features – ingredient transparency, coupons/loyalty, information on product use / dosage, and how to deal with the packaging at the end of life – directly to the consumer’s fingertips.
In order to build on the achievements of HolyGrail, it says the logical next step would be to upscale from an R&D test line to a (semi)-industrial line for which a couple of options have been identified after which the technology can be rolled-out on a wider scale. To sum up, HolyGrail has proven that digital watermark technology can ‘revolutionize’ the industry’s approach to sorting, thereby increasing efficiencies and leading to high quality/high quantity recycled materials.