Agr’s advanced thin-wall measurement for PET bottles helps producers get one step closer to meeting sustainability goals

New Lightweight option for the Process Pilot® blowmolder management system affords the production of even lighter, more sustainable PET bottles

With increasing focus on sustainability in packaging, Agr’s new Lightweight option for the Process Pilot® blowmolder management system gives brand owners and bottle manufactures another tool to meet this complex and growing challenge.  The Process Pilot system, with the Lightweight option provides assurance that the limited material available for producing a light weight PET bottle is distributed exactly where it needs to be, and at the appropriate thickness, to ensure proper performance. 

There are many facets to this issue and improving the sustainability footprint of a product or brand can be a complex undertaking. Most avenues to sustainability are not under the direct control of the bottle manufacturer or brand owner. One option that is within their control however, is the reduction and optimization of the amount of resin that is used to manufacture the bottles.  Resin (or weight) reduction per bottle does not need to be excessive to have an impact with regards to sustainability and financial benefits particularly when factoring in the quantity of bottles produced over a given period of time.

Over the years, many PET bottle manufacturers have made great progress reducing excess material and moving towards lighter, more sustainable bottles.  However, as weights continue to be reduced, the role of process variation and its effect on material distribution increasingly becomes a factor in the success of the weight-reduction program. Agr’s Process Pilot blowmolder management system was developed to address this issue and offers manufacturers a valuable tool to use in their weight reduction efforts. The Process Pilot system, with Agr Pilot Profiler® measurement technology installed inside the blowmolder, provides a means for manufacturers to accurately measure material distribution on every bottle (to 0.05mm), in real time, and proactively adjust the blowmolder to maintain proper distribution, countering the effect of process variation.

In the push for more sustainable bottles, weights are being reduced even further and, with that, the sidewall thickness of the bottle.  In order to process these bottles effectively and control the material distribution, additional measurement accuracy is required. The new Lightweight option, incorporated into the Pilot Profiler measurement component, offered with the Process Pilot system was developed to address this need for even greater measurement accuracy and control on very light bottles. With this option, a level of control is now available with the Process Pilot system that extends the measurement range to 0.025mm, with an accuracy of +0.01mm for PET bottle sidewall material.  This added functionality delivers greater distribution control on bottles with very thin sidewalls or at specific locations on other types of bottles where precise material management is critical to meet performance and quality requirements.  This capability removes one of the barriers to producing usable, lighter and more sustainable bottles.

Agr’s Process Pilot automated blowmolder control systems are operating on over 400 PET bottle production lines. They have proven to be a vital tool in the production of light weight bottles while improving overall bottle performance and quality. The Process Pilot system 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 can occur during the production process. Now with the Lightweight option, the process can be controlled for even the lightest bottles. The option is currently available on all new production Process Pilot systems. To achieve these capabilities on existing systems, Agr also offers an upgrade package that can be easily installed in the field.