A better customer experience

Nestlé Waters’ Sanpellegrino Group produces five brands of mineral water on twelve bottling lines in seven plants spread across Italy. These multiple operations are all guided by an overarching commitment: to deliver a consistent customer experience associated with each brand.

A major aspect of the customer experience is bottle performance, from grip and handling to cap removal and pouring. Sanpellegrino goes to great lengths to ensure that every one of the millions of PET bottles it manufactures will conform to brand expectations.nestle article

The key is exacting control of blowmolder operations, achieved with Agr’s on-line thickness measurement technology, the Process Pilot® Automated Blowmolder Control system. Process Pilot manages the blowmolder to virtually eliminate the effect of the process and environmental variables that can impact bottle material distribution, from fluctuations in weather and humidity to the differences between daytime and nighttime plant temperatures.

Not only does the Process Pilot measure every bottle for changes in material distribution, but it also controls the blowmolder proactively to make sure the right amount of material winds up in the right place.

Process Pilot proved its utility in an early light weighting initiative undertaken by Sanpellegrino’s premium Levissima brand, described as “Italy’s favorite local mineral water” and sourced from a mountain village in the Alps. The first bottling operation in Europe to deploy the closed loop Pilot system, the Levissima plant targeted a 22 percent weight reduction for its half-liter round bottle blown on a Sidel Series II Combi blowmolder—an enormous opportunity for material cost savings.

Even with a stable history running at close to 40,000 bottles per hour, this was a major challenge for the integrated blowing and filling line. Lighter bottles produced on faster machines have a much narrower processing window. To deliver on customer expectations, bottle production has to strike the right balance between performance and weight.

“With the Process Pilot installed on this line, managing the process, we were able to reduce the weight of our half-liter bottle to 9.5g while maintaining a very stable process,” relates Sanpellegrino’s Fabio Chimetto, Applications Group Packaging Manager.

As part of a corporate-wide move toward standardized production lines, Sanpellegrino recently installed three additional Agr Process Pilots. One of these will be mated with a new Sidel Matrix Combi blowing/filling/capping system as the company replaces independent equipment with a modern, integrated approach.

A project on tap for the new configuration is a further weight reduction in a 2-liter square bottle, down below 28g. Given Sanpellegrino’s vast bottle volumes, the initiative promises significant savings in material. Still, it can only move forward as long as the light weighting is accomplished without compromising bottle performance. The filled bottle, weighing two kilos, must remain convenient and reliable in consumer use–despite the shrinking margin of error in the blowing process. Having confirmed that Process Pilot’s automated controls maintain the desired material distribution throughout the production run, Sanpellegrino is confident of light weighting success.

“The total cost reduction potential provided by Agr’s Process Pilot in labor, energy, scrap, and material looks to provide for rapid payback and offers a competitive return on investment,” Mr. Chimetto comments.

The Process Pilot system enables Sanpellegrino to align efficient, advanced production lines with the customer-centric focus of its brands’ marketing strategy. “What is right for the consumer is not automatically the lowest weight,” Mr. Chimetto concludes.

Agr continues to grow

kapsamer-005-72As of January 1, 2017, Mr. Christian Kapsamer, formerly of Husky Injection Molding Systems, will join Agr International as the Regional Director, Agr Northwestern Europe.  In this role, Mr. Kapsamer will head a newly established regional sales territory that was created to address continued growth and increased demand for Agr products in North and Western Europe.  This new region includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, the Nordic countries and some of the surrounding areas.   According to Mr. Robert Cowden, Agr’s Chief Operating Officer, “the addition of Mr. Kapsamer to our European team is intended to bolster AGR’s commitment to the continent and grow the Agr franchise to its fullest potential.”

Mr. Kapsamer brings with him over 30 years of experience in the container manufacturing and beverage packaging industry.  Prior to accepting the position at Agr, he held management positions with several major packaging equipment manufacturers including Husky Injection Molding Systems GmbH, where he held a number of senior positions over the last 10 years. Most recently, he held the position of Director Beverage Closures EMEA & SAARC for Husky. In that role, he was instrumental in growing Husky’s beverage closure business and expanding it throughout EMEA & SAARC countries. In addition to his role at Husky, Mr. Kapsamer has been a frequent speaker at packaging forums and conferences throughout Europe.

Mr. Kapsamer will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the region for Agr, especially on the PET side of the business.  In addition to supporting Agr’s long-standing relationship with glass container producers, Mr. Kapsamer is uniquely positioned to expand Agr’s role with the rapidly growing beverage industry and the self-manufacture of PET bottles within that segment.  Agr Northwestern Europe, with Mr. Kapsamer at the helm, will be well positioned to support the quality and process management needs of the industry within this region.

 

Agr International Inc. appoints William Slusser as Director of Research for its American Glass Research division

wgs-profile-picture-2016Agr International is proud to announce the appointment of William (Bill) Slusser to the position of “Director of Research” at American Glass Research. Under this new title, in a role he has already adopted, Bill will work to grow the business and expand the international reach of the American Glass Research division.

Bill’s career and reputation with American Glass Research are now seventeen years in the making.  Most recently, he lead the strong growth of the division through the expansion of portfolio services, the targeting of geographic development, and the introduction of new and improved educational seminars, now offered more often, and in more places around the world, than ever before. In addition to his strategic and management responsibilities, Bill also maintains his technical expertise in fracture diagnosis, performance testing and bottle design analysis through everyday Testing & Consulting Projects and as a Master-Level Seminar Instructor, having presented over 200 times in more than 20 countries.

“While Bill certainly made strong contributions to American Glass Research during his years as a Project Leader and then as Manager, his greatest strength has been his willingness to pursue a vision, and his drive to successfully manage the reshaping of American Glass Research for the modern era.  This new position will give Bill greater means to continue this work”, said Henry Dimmick, CEO of Agr International.

American Glass Research, a leader in consulting, training and analytical services for the glass packaging industry since 1927, is located in Butler, PA, USA and is a division of AGR International Inc.

Agr’s New CrystalView™ product offers PET bottle manufacturers a means to save energy while improving bottle performance

In the works for several years, Agr International, Inc. has announced the commercialization of its CrystalView™ product for optimizing the material properties of PET bottles. The introduction of the CrystalView product further expands the capabilities and the potential of Agr’s Process Pilot® product group well beyond the measurement and management of material distribution.  With this product, bottle manufacturers now have the means to run the coldest possible process in order to optimize bottles material properties (orientation) while maintaining target material distribution. As a result, the best strength to weight ratio for a given bottle design can be achieved, improving overall bottle performance and at the same time, reducing costs.

The CrystalView measurement system offers a simple, reliable and hands-free means to accomplish the optimization of PET material properties without overstretching or going beyond the temperature boundaries that cause molecules to break and create pearlescence.  The CrystalView system manages the process to the point where it is “just right”; avoiding the creation of pearlescence by detecting the very edge of where the process gets too cold and pearlescence begins to form. With CrystalView, it is possible to reduce the preform processing temperature to the ideal processing point (as much as 10 deg. C) for a given bottle design.

Operation

The CrystalView measurement system incorporates a set of discrete vision components that are mounted inside a reheat stretch blowmolder. As bottles exit the mold, the CrystalView system scans every bottle for the onset of pearlescence. During operation, sophisticated control algorithms incorporated into the CrystalView system actively monitor the levels of pearlescence.  In conjunction with the Agr Process Pilot automated blowmolder management system, and based on a learned mathematical model that identifies the ideal control variables, adjustments are continuously made, including preform temperature, to manage bottle production to the point where the PET material properties are fully optimized, at a level just before the onset of pearlescence.

Improved bottle performance

Optimization of material properties makes it possible to create stronger, better performing bottles. This is evidenced by recent field studies performed in production conditions on bottles manufactured utilizing the CrystalView system.  Test results showed significant improvements in bottle performance (as much as 38%) over bottles produced on the same blowmolder without the aid of the CrystalView system.  Some examples of the improvements experienced during this study include:

  • Shelf Life increased 10%
  • Top Load increased 17%
  • Volume Expansion (Creep) reduced 38%
  • Burst Pressure increased 17%
  • Oxygen Transfer Rate performance improved by 7%
  • Squeeze resistance increased by 7%

The CrystalView system also offers the potential for significant savings along with improved bottle performance in a number of areas including blower energy consumption (from 7-10%), materials savings through expanded light weight potential and Improved downstream efficiencies as a result of decreased downtime losses during filling and processing operations.

Three step blowmolder management

The CrystalView product is the third segment of the Agr Process Pilot blowmolder management product group.  The Process Pilot product is based upon three fundamental concepts:

  1. Measure every bottle to identify variation,
  2. Control the blowmolder, proactively managing target distribution, to eliminate the effects of process variation
  3. Optimize the bottle structure for maximum performance.

The Measure and control portion of the Process Pilot program has been on the market for a number of years and boasts an installed base of over 200 systems.  The CrystalView product fulfills the third segment, Optimization.

Availability

The CrystalView™ system is available as an add-on option to the Process Pilot automated blowmolder management system for all new purchases.  A retrofit version is also available for Process Pilot systems currently operating in the field.

Agr’s Process Pilot automated blowmolder control system has proven to be a vital tool in the production of light weight bottles, while improving overall bottle performance and quality.  It is unique in that it manages the blowmolder based on direct bottle measurements, on every bottle produced.  By controlling the blowmolder based on direct feedback from bottle measurements rather than just blowmolder performance indicators, the Agr system can ensure that the final product has the desired quality and performance attributes in spite of environmental, blowmolder or material variations that occur during the production process.   The CrystalView system further enhances the value of the Process Pilot product group.

Agr International Inc. introduces the MBTxt, the latest advancement in its series of portable thickness gauging devices

The MBTxt is the latest in a line of small, portable thickness gauges offered by Agr International, Inc.  This compact device features an advanced digital architecture and is capable of achieving extremely precise thickness measurements over a wide range. With a low range resolution of 0.1 μm, it is ideal for the packaging industry, especially the intricate requirements of container manufacturers.  However, its applications are not limited to containers, as the MBTxt can be used to measure all types of non-ferrous materials up to 24mm thick.

The MBTxt devices are offered in two models; the MBT7200xt, a basic version that includes real-time measurement, display of minimum and maximum thickness and storage of up to 100,000 values. The MBT7400xt, an advanced version includes the same capabilities plus statistical graphing and trending capabilities and an expanded database.  Interchangeable sensor probes are available for both units making it possible to configure a measurement system for the measurement range and precision appropriate for the application. A notable feature of the MBTxt is its expanded measurement range of over two times the previous versions.

Based upon the “Hall Effect” principal, the MBTxt features an advanced sensor design that works in conjunction with specially designed target balls to achieve the highest precision and repeatability. The new “xt” version offers two sensor options, with ranges from 0-9mm and 0-24mm.  In addition to a re-designed sensor, the MBTxt is provided with a wider range of target balls, including specially configured “magnetic” balls, to facilitate greater flexibility and precision over a wider thickness range.

Other notable features of the MBTxt gauges include:

  • Wear-resistant carbide sensor tip
  • Easy calibration with “calibration memory”
  • Minimum and maximum readings and off-set measurement mode
  • Multiple calibration modes up to 5 points
  • Menu-controlled user interface
  • Large, easy-to-read display
  • Context-sensitive on-line help

The MBTxt devices are battery operated and are completely portable. The internal data logger and statistical functions of the MBT7400xt facilitate data collection in production areas and QC laboratories, making it an ideal tool for data-gathering applications. A large digital display permits the operator to easily view current thickness readings as well as minimum and maximum measurements.  Stored measurements can be transferred to other devices via an RS232 or USB connection.

AGR delivers laboratory precision volume measurement system to the factory floor

The days of dealing with the drudgery of manual volume measurement is finally a thing of the past!  AGR’s new SPT2™ automated testing system not only provides reliable and robust burst pressure testing, but it also delivers the means to perform accurate and repeatable volume measurement of glass container production on the factory floor.

Volume measurement plays an important role in the production of glass bottles.  Not only is it an important quality check and a verification of regulatory compliance, but it is key indicator of the status of the production process.    Accurate and timely volume measurements on a continuous basis through the entire production run can play an important role in the early detection and correction of process-related issues, helping to ensure consistent, high quality product and an efficient production process.

AGR’s new SPT2 provides brimful volume, fill point at a defined volume and volume at a defined fill point all in a single, automated test cycle on the factory floor.  The automation delivers real productivity gains when compared to current manual methods performed in the laboratory.  For example, the SPT2 performs a volume measurement of a typical beer bottle in 30 seconds from start to finish.  This includes handling the bottle, measurement, data capture and documentation.  Compared to an average of 2+ minutes for volume measurement in the laboratory using the gravimetric method, the SPT2 provides a 4x increase in productivity and throughput, all without the constraints associated with traditional laboratory testing.  In addition, with a few extra seconds, further savings can be gained when bottles are pressure tested immediately following volume measurement.  If the system is integrated with an automated sampling system, additional efficiencies can be realized.  Furthermore, with automatic sampling, volume measurement can be staged throughout the day to occur between pressure testing jobs to maximize testing and take advantage of the efficiency of the system.

How it works

The volume measurement system incorporated in the SPT2 utilizes positive-displacement technology.   In simple terms, the positive-displacement approach employed by the SPT2 works as follows; a known volume of fluid is transferred from a temperature compensated, calibrated piston and cylinder into the test container.  At the same time, the fill level is dynamically monitored as the container is filled to overflow.

More specifically, the SPT2 incorporates a calibrated cylinder at the center of the volume station.  During the volume measurement process, a piston pushes water from the calibrated cylinder into the bottle.  A defined volume of water, relative to the container size and specifications, is dispensed into the container.  The SPT2 measures the dispensed volume by tracking piston motion with a high resolution encoder.  As the container fills, the level of the water meniscus is measured by a high resolution displacement sensor.

The positive-displacement method offers a number of advantages.  Most significant is the accuracy. This filling technique, in tandem with a high-precision fill-height sensor makes it possible to deliver defined volume and fill measurements at any point within the process, to an accuracy of + 0.5 ml. This this is equivalent to a single drop of water!  Other advantages include little or no effect on measurement precision due to water quality, container shape or rate of fill, regardless of the size and volume of the container.  Furthermore, the volume measurement system on the SPT2 is self-contained, requires no delicate scales and is not affected by water density, flow rate, vibrations or issues that commonly plague other methods.

Non- round containers

Non-round containers present their own unique challenges when it comes to capacity.  Non-round volume can vary dramatically as a result of subtle changes in the process. Heavy corners, sunken or bulged panels are some of the issues that can dramatically affect capacity and result in fill point and overflow volumes that are out of specification.  With non-round containers, especially spirit bottles, managing capacity is critical.  The SPT2 universal gripping system is able to handle a wide range of non-round shapes and sizes.  Measurements are performed in the same manner as round bottles at the same levels of accuracy.

Pressure testing

In addition to high precision volume measurement, Agr’s SPT2 also provides burst pressure testing. The pressure testing component of the SPT2, offers a solution to overworked testing laboratories and a need to maintain a continuous regimen of pressure testing 24/7. The SPT2 features an advanced, controlled-velocity pressure generation system that can pressurize containers up to 1000 psi (1 minute equivalent) while providing extremely accurate and controlled pressurization throughout the testing process.  The system is designed specifically to meet industry testing requirements per ASTM C-147 and ISO 7458. The SPT2 incorporates a number of advanced features designed to simplify testing and improve plant efficiency.  Some of the features include a high throughput rate of 270+ bottles per hour (when volume is not measured), a universal gripping system that can accommodate a range of bottle finishes up to 38mm and dynamic adjustment for bottles of varying diameter and height without job change. Jobs can be setup to perform proof or full burst tests, combined volume and pressure tests or just volume.  Since the SPT2 can perform in-process job changes, it is possible to test bottles from different manufacturing lines, or hand-feed a set of bottles as required, with testing protocols unique to that specific bottle type, without the need to stop and reconfigure the system, maximizing testing efficiency.

Whether set up for pressure only or pressure and volume testing, the SPT2 can be configured as a stand-alone testing station, integrated into a sampling line in conjunction with a plant-wide process management system or combined with Agr’s OmniLab® automated measurement system.  When combined with the OmniLab® system, pressure and volume as well as dimension, weight and thickness can be measured in a single hands-free operation with data correlated into one comprehensive report.

Agr will display their latest quality management and process control equipment at K 2016

Agr International offers a number of products that are designed to aid bottle manufacturers achieve their most aggressive light weighting goals while maintaining the highest quality.  Agr products are designed to assist container producers, converters and fillers stay competitive while meeting the increased quality demands of today’s changing world. Agr will display their latest developments in this line of products as well as an array of quality management and process control equipment for plastic containers at K 2016, Stand 11B40.   Products featured at this year’s event will include the following:

Process Pilot® — The Process Pilot® automated blowmolder management system is designed to help PET bottle manufacturers measure, control and optimize their bottle blowing process in order to produce the highest quality, best performing bottles possible while maximizing production efficiency.  The Process Pilot system interfaces with the blowmolder to provide precise material thickness distribution on a per bottle basis while managing the blowmolder to eliminate the effect of process and environmental variables that impact bottle material distribution throughout the production cycle. With the trend towards ever lighter bottles, the Process Pilot system is the ultimate light-weighting tool.  This system offers bottle producers the ability to aggressively light weight bottles to the absolute minimum, while providing the confidence that material is distributed appropriately. The Process Pilot system makes it possible to produce consistent high-quality bottles on a 24/7 basis regardless of operator skills, environmental changes and preform variations.  The Process Pilot system has proven to help bottle producers optimize their bottle production process and realize the full savings potential of their light weighting projects as a result of reduced material and energy consumption, higher overall quality and significantly improved production efficiencies.

CrystalView™ — The latest enhancement to the Process Pilot product line is the CrystalView material optimization system.   The CrystalView system provides PET bottle manufacturers with the means for automatic management of material orientation/crystallinity.  The CrystalView system works in conjunction with the Agr Process Pilot blowmolder management system to simultaneously manage material distribution and optimize material orientation.   By doing so, material orientation is optimized over the entire bottle, making it possible to produce the best possible bottles at the coldest practical processing temperature.

Automated Laboratory Test Cell — Agr International will unveil its Automated Laboratory Test Cell for plastic bottles and preforms. The Laboratory Test Cell provides an automated solution that tightly integrates multiple testing operations, including thickness, dimensional, topload, volume and pressure, with a precision pick and place industrial robot.  Selection, handling and transfer of samples through the multiple test stations is fully optimized and performed quickly and efficiently by the multi-axis robot.  Test results from each testing station are compiled with data correlated by sample and consolidated in a single test report. The laboratory test cell offers a solution to meeting the challenges of over-worked testing labs and the ever increasing demand for sampling and testing to manage quality and support ongoing production.  In addition to organizing and consolidating critical testing operations in one compact area, the system offers a number of benefits including hands-free, walk-away operation, efficient management of samples, testing operations and documentation of results, and, most significantly, an improvement in testing throughput of as much as 300%.

Agr staff members will be available to discuss these products and the rest of their complete line of process monitoring and quality control equipment for the plastic container industry.  As an industry leader for over 85 years, Agr is committed to provide the plastic container industry with the most technologically advanced products available for quality control and productivity improvement.

American Glass Research Teams Up With Molson Coors to Develop New Glass Bottle

3BottleAmerican Glass Research (AGR), in partnership with Molson Coors, has unveiled an innovative new beer bottle design for one of the brewing company’s popular brands in India, Thunderbolt. Featuring unique embossing and debossing, a fresh new color, and a ring-pull cap, the new bottle is designed to help Molson Coors distinguish Thunderbolt from other beers in the market.

Thunderbolt, described as “India’s original strong beer,” had previously been packaged in a 650ml amber bottle, a common bottle type in India’s returnable glass market. In an effort to have Thunderbolt’s packaging match its one-of-a-kind bold taste, Molson Coors turned to AGR to create a bottle that was proprietary, branded and uniquely recognizable in the marketplace, while remaining easy to produce.

“The collaboration with Molson Coors provided a unique challenge that we enthusiastically undertook,” said Bill Slusser, Manager of Research Services for AGR. “It is always gratifying when our customers provide such positive feedback regarding the introduction of a bottle design that is deemed a success both functionally and aesthetically.”

Produced in emerald green glass, the new Thunderbolt bottle features an instantly iconic debossed, shield-shaped label panel adorned with the familiar silver and blue paper label. The angular and aggressive shoulder construction displays an embossed lettering wrap that spells out the Thunderbolt brand name including a lightning emblem within the letter ‘O’. Two additional embossed lightning emblems bracket the back label panel, just above the lower sidewall pinch, which transitions into a prominent heel construction. A new ring-pull cap gives the bottle a modern and premium twist in both look and function.

“We have received rave reviews from both customers and consumers about the new Thunderbolt bottle, which we believe reinforces the brand’s identity of always staying original,” said Mr. Ashish Kapoor, President of Molson Coors in India. “Nobody can lay claim to our distinctively different, signature bottle, which in turn will bring greater savings and efficiencies to our business.”

The bottle was created by Dr. Wenke Hu and Brad Salitrik of AGR, using a concept design provided by Molson Coors. Harnessing their experience and knowledge of glass bottle design, Hu and Salitrik created an enhanced design incorporating the specific bottle features and characteristics specified by Molson Coors along with appropriate bottle thickness and glass distribution. Using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) techniques, the team was able to evaluate the bottle’s ability to acceptably withstand the expected loading conditions (internal pressure, impact and vertical load) and to verify that the bottle would perform as desired once it was manufactured.

About American Glass Research

American Glass Research is a full service independent, research and testing laboratory with expertise in testing, design analysis, consulting, training, inspection, product liability and auditing for the glass container industry. Initially established in 1927 as Preston Laboratories, American Glass Research is now a division of parent company AGR International, Incorporated, which supplies on-line and laboratory inspection equipment to the glass and plastics industries. With facilities in Butler, Pennsylvania and Maumee, Ohio, American Glass Research is recognized around the globe as a provider of essential services to both manufacturers and users of glass products. American Glass Research is staffed with engineers and technicians who understand and are responsive to the needs of customers. As a third-party laboratory, AGR is committed to developing strong partnerships with our clients and providing solution oriented services. For more information on American Glass Research visit the company’s website, www.americanglassresearch.com

About Molson Coors

Molson Coors Brewing Company is a leading international brewer delivering extraordinary brands that delight the world’s beer drinkers. It brews, markets and sells a portfolio of leading premium brands such as Coors Light, Molson Canadian, Carling, Staropramen and Blue Moon across The Americas, Europe and Asia. It operates in Canada through Molson Coors Canada; in the US through MillerCoors; across Europe through Molson Coors Europe; and outside these core markets through Molson Coors International. The company is the only alcohol producer currently recognized for world class sustainability performance through the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. It was listed on the World Index for the past four years and named global Beverage Sector Leader in 2012 and 2013. For more information on Molson Coors Brewing Company visit the company’s website, www.molsoncoors.com or www.ourbeerprint.com

Agr International Inc. opens new, larger Italian sales, service and training center

April 30, 2016 officially marked the opening of a newly expanded sales, training and service facility in Montecchio, Italy. This grand opening event was attended by a number of Agr customers and a large representation of business associates from the region and other key players within the Italian packaging industry. In addition to these customers, management from Agr International’s USA corporate headquarters took part in this event.

Marco Palma, the director of Agr Europe S.R.L., hosted the ceremonies. The ceremonies featured an extensive tour of the facility and an overview of the new capabilities and services that will be provided at this location. Guests were also treated to an expansive offering of local Italian cuisine and refreshments.

Agr srl office opening 1

According to Mr. Palma, “Increased business in the region, especially North Africa and the Middle East, required us to consider additional space to handle our operations. We decided that it was time to move to larger quarters in order to support our customers to the level they expect from Agr. Furthermore, the old facility was limiting our ability to grow our services. We now have that capability.”

The new sales and service facility is located in the Montecchio industrial estate, an industrial park strategically located 15 minutes from Parma, midway between Milan and Bologna in the heart of the Italian packaging industry. The 1100 sq/m facility includes 900 sq/m dedicated to service and support operations for Agr equipment and another 200 sq/m housing the sales offices, conference area and training center. This new facility offers a number of amenities that are designated for optimizing the sales and support of Agr products and services throughout southern Europe, the Middle East and Central and North Africa.

Some of the amenities of the Montecchio center include the latest high-speed internet and tele-communication equipment. These new capabilities to further enhance the ability of the service group to coordinate service work throughout the region as well as to remotely communicate with customer equipment for product upgrades, rapid diagnosis and problem resolution. The center also includes a demonstration show room that showcases Agr’s newest and most popular products, allowing customers to spend as much time as they would like with the equipment to fully understand how it works and what it will do for their operations. In addition, the center also includes dedicated facilities for component/small equipment repair, a section for refurbishment and re-manufacturing of legacy equipment, calibration and recertification, equipment training and an expanded parts warehouse.

Agr SRL team 3

According to Robert Cowden, Agr’s Chief Operating Officer, “AGR values its European customers. That said, Agr is increasing its European presence and support. The most recent investment is the opening of the new sales and service center located at Montechio, Italy. In addition to providing a regional center for our sales and service professionals, the site will serve as an equipment showroom, including Agr’s most recent product innovation, the Sampling Pressure Tester 2. The addition of the equipment will enable our European Team to conduct demonstrations and evaluations in a manner more convenient for our customers. This is part of our global initiative to move closer to customers in order to provide timely, competitive service and support.”

Services offered at the center include depot repairs and rebuild services for all Agr laboratory products, for both the glass and plastic container markets. This Montecchio center now has expanded capabilities to provide customers with the ability to have their equipment that is in need of more extensive repairs, shipped to the center where the work can be performed under factory conditions. In many cases, this can be more cost effective than an on-site service call. Plus, it takes advantage of the specialized equipment, parts availability and the thorough testing program that is only available at the depot level.

The new center, with its large conference room and training section is well suited for training programs of all types. Future programs include high-level training on Agr equipment as well as a new offering of American Glass Research training seminars. “Over the years, Agr Europe SRL has had numerous requests from customers in the region to hold the seminars in this area but we were limited by the space available in the former facility. The new site eliminates this problem,” cited Mr. Palma. “Further, this site is a convenient and easily accessible location for Agr customers in Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. We believe the availability of these seminars in Italy will be of great interest.”

The opening of the new expanded service center in Italy is one more segment of Agr’s program to provide accessible and responsive worldwide support for Agr testing and quality management equipment. This center compliments Agr’s other service centers located throughout the world.

Learn how to protect your brand at Agr’s glasstec booth

Agr will feature its new Sampling Pressure Tester, the SPT2, which offers an enhanced level of testing capability for the glass bottle industry. The Agr SPT2 automated testing station is designed to provide critical pressure strength and volume performance data for glass containers, on a sampling basis, on the production floor. Integrated into the production line, it can automatically test and collect pressure and volume data on bottles selected for sampling, without operator intervention, on a 24/7 basis. Agr invites visitors to their stand for an in-depth discussion and demonstration of its SPT2 and other products such as the Dimensional Sampling Gauge (DSG) with Thickness 360 and to learn how their brands can be protected by incorporating Agr equipment in their quality management program.

Customer Equipment Training Sessions slated for October/November

Customer Equipment Training Sessions provide advanced insight into the operations, setup and maintenance of Agr testing and measurement systems.  The sessions are held at Agr’s new state-of-the-art facility in Butler, PA, USA and are designed to cover the full range of system capabilities and benefits.

Plastic Equipment Training Sessions

  • October 10-11 Pilot Profiler/Process Pilot
  • October 12-13 PPT3000/M-Rule

Click here to download the flyer.

Glass Equipment Training Sessions

  • October 17-20 DSG/Thickness 360
  • October 24-25 RPT2
  • October 31-November 1 SPT

Click here to download the flyer.

Contact Kathy Hines (khines@agrintl.com) for more information.

Agr’s SPT2 shown in action through in-plant video

The Agr SPT2 automated testing station is designed to provide critical pressure strength and volume performance data for glass containers, on a sampling basis, on the production floor. Integrated into the production line, it can automatically test and collect pressure and volume data on bottles selected for sampling, without operator intervention, on a 24/7 basis.

Agr International Inc. expands Asian presence with Bangkok service center

Agr International, Inc. has expanded its Service Center offerings with the recent opening of a service office in Bangkok, Thailand.   The Bangkok service center is co-located with the Agr’s regional sales office, Agr Bangkok ltd.

The opening of this Service Center in the Pan Pacific region is one more segment of Agr’s program to provide accessible and responsive support for Agr testing and quality management equipment in use around the world.  This center compliments Agr’s other service centers located throughout the world. Because of its central location, the Bangkok service center will provide expanded services for Agr products over the entire Asian region.  Over the last few years, southern Asia has been one of the fastest growing packaging markets, as evident by the significant growth in Agr’s customer base within this area.  Expansion of services in this region was a logical decision, given the growing customer and the importance of this market.

Services offered at the center include depot repairs and rebuild services for all Agr laboratory products for both the glass and plastic container markets.  This new center is intended to provide customers with older equipment, in need of more extensive repairs, the ability to have their equipment serviced and thoroughly tested without the cost of on-site service calls.

Agr established the Bangkok sales office (Agr Bangkok Ltd.) to provide a regional center staffed by Agr personnel that was central to this market and could respond to customer needs in a timely and cost-effective fashion. “This office has been widely received by our customers in the region. With the great success of the Agr sales branch in Asia, it was a logical move to offer additional services such as depot repairs at the Agr Bangkok office.  With this step we are able to offer fast as well as cost-effective repairs and avoid customs issues and time-delays previously experienced with the need to send the equipment overseas,” stated Martin Küstner, Managing Director of Agr Bangkok Ltd.

Immediately after opening the Service Center, even before the official notifications went out, the first machines were received from multiple customers and turned around in record time.  The machines were returned to the customers fully performing to new machine specifications.

Technicians at the Bangkok service center are fully trained and certified on all Agr products.  All Agr service technicians go through a rigorous and extensive training program at the Agr headquarters, in Butler, USA, plus extensive field training and must achieve certification on all current and legacy products. Agr technicians participate in a continuing program of training to keep them abreast of the latest industry standards and Agr product enhancements and developments.

Both the sales and service operations of Agr Bangkok Ltd. are managed by Mr. Martin Küstner, a 14 year veteran of the Agr organization.   In addition to providing a high level of technical assistance, equipment support and product application information to Agr’s diverse customer base, Agr Bangkok also offers a series of American Glass Research sponsored seminars for the industry, including the popular fracture seminars and other training programs pertinent to the glass manufacturing and packaging industry.

Agr to exhibit at Expo Pack in Mexico City

Agr International will present their latest products for quality management and process control for the packaging industry at Expo Pack, booth 3814. Agr products are designed to help container producers, converters and fillers stay competitive while meeting the increased quality demands of today’s changing world.  Featured will be:

The Process Pilot® automated blowmolder management system, a unique product that interfaces with the blowmolder to provide precise material thickness distribution management and defect detection for PET bottles while offering hands-off blowmolder management and control.  With the trend towards ever lighter bottles, the Process Pilot is the ultimate light-weighting tool.  This system offers bottle producers the ability to aggressively light weight bottles to the absolute minimum while providing the confidence that material is distributed appropriately. The Process Pilot system makes it possible to produce consistent high-quality bottles on a 24/7 basis regardless of operator skills, environmental changes and preform variations. Some of the benefits this product offers include: overall improved quality with reduced variation in top load and volume, production efficiencies that result from eliminating the need for section weights as well as reduced scrap and lower incidences of downtime in the blowing operation or filling line due to quality issues.

The CrystalView™ system, Agr’s newest product, is designed to help PET bottle manufacturers produce the best bottles possible by optimizing material orientation as part of the blowing process. The CrystalView system offers a simple, reliable and hands-free means to optimize material orientation while maintaining proper distribution. The CrystalView system not only can improve bottle performance, but in doing so, makes it possible for bottle manufacturers to reduce processing temperatures by as much as 6 deg. C, and as a result, significantly reduce energy consumption.

Agr staff members will be available to discuss this product and the rest of their complete line of process monitoring and quality control equipment for the plastic container industry.  Additional information can be found on Agr’s website;www.agrintl.com.  As an industry leader for over 85 years, Agr is committed to provide the plastic container industry with the most technologically advanced products available for quality control and productivity improvement.

Latest Gawis upgrades available on new and existing machines

Vision based measurement systems have greatly simplified the dimensional measurement of PET containers.  However, non-round containers continue to offer a number of challenges when it comes to measuring body sidewall dimensions.  Unlike traditional round containers where measurement is simple and straight forward, measuring non-rounds can be quite complicated especially when using vision-based technology. Factors such as the severity of corner radii, panel width, decorations and clarity of the material all affect the efficacy of dimensional measurements.

The latest upgrade from Agr for the Gawis OD® automated measuring station addresses this measurement challenge.  In this upgrade, new algorithms and control routines have been added that re-define the way the Gawis cameras perform edge detection, the key to non-round measurement accuracy. As part of this upgrade, emphasis has been made to precisely control the position of the bottle during the imaging and measurement process. Operators now have the ability to choose from several “step size” selections based on the shape and measurement difficulty of the container.  On the finest selection, up to 1200 images per measurement around the perimeter are captured, ensuring that the absolute minimum and maximum dimensions are identified.  In addition, a selectable light threshold on a job by job basis has been included. This capability improves edge detection even further, especially for ultra-clear bottles, or for the rare cases when the edge of the container is difficult to see reliably. These advancements ensure that the true edge of even the most challenging container, round or non-round is detected with the highest precision. Results have shown as much as a 10x improvement in accuracy and repeatability on horizontal width and depth measurements on multi-panel non-round containers.

Upgrade available for existing systems

Expanded measurement capabilities will be included on all Gawis OD systems shipped in 2016 and beyond.  An upgrade package is also available for existing Gawis OD® owners with the purchase of Agr’s Software Maintenance Plan or Total Care Program.  This package includes new software for non-round measurements, expanded container position selections, selectable light thresholds and a Windows 7® operating system.

The Gawis automated measuring systems are the workhorse of the PET container testing lab.  Gawis systems are relied upon around the world by PET bottle converters and brand owners alike for highly accurate thickness and dimensional measurements on a range of PET bottle shapes and sizes.  Gawis systems also provide a range of thickness and dimensional measurements for PET preforms.

For information on a new Gawis OD or an upgrade to an existing system, contact your local regional Agr sales office.