At the 2018 Pack Expo show, Agr International, Inc. will feature its latest developments for managing the production and quality of plastic and glass containers.
Featured at this year’s show will be Agr’s Process Pilot® blowmolder management system. The system is designed to simplify the production of PET bottles in 3 easy steps: 1. Measure; 2. Control; 3. Optimize. The Process Pilot offers precise material distribution management and hands-off control of blowmolder parameters as well as manufacturers alternatives to optimize their processes in the way that is best for their production. The latest version of this system offers expanded measurement capability with the means to accurately measure material thickness as thin as 0.001 in (0.025 mm). This capability makes it possible for bottle manufacturers to produce bottles with less material and thinner sidewalls while still maintaining desired quality and performance characteristics.
For glass container producers, Agr will feature its latest developments in precise dimensional, thickness and coating measurement. The equipment can be used in the lab or on the plant floor to help manufacturers ensure high quality container production.
Agr International staff will be on hand at Pack Expo 2018, Booth E-8238 to their complete line quality management products designed to assist container producers, converters and fillers stay competitive while meeting the increased quality demands of today’s changing world.
6g PET Loss is Big Win for PepsiCo Bottler
With an Agr Process Pilot® Automated Blowmolder Control System mated to a Sidel SBO 16 Universal blowmolder, Mexican beverage producer GEPP has trimmed the weight of its 2L low-carbonation PET bottle from 52g to 46g. Given blowmolder operating speeds of 24,000 bottles per hour, the six-gram reduction is saving the company approximately seven tons of resin over each 48-hour production run.
This impressive weight decrease has been accomplished against a backdrop of shifting environmental conditions that add an extra layer of complexity to the blowmolding process. Despite temperature swings of 40 degrees or more throughout the day, Line 1 at GEPP’s Hermosillo plant, in the northwestern Mexico state of Sonora, turns out PET bottles that consistently hit the new light-weighted target as it operates around the clock.
Successful light-weighting demands rigorous adherence to the material distribution recipe developed for the bottle type. That is a lot harder to do when working with less material, observes GEPP Corporate Technical Manager Jesús López.
Introducing a new level of control over bottle-blowing, the Agr system provides the acute precision necessary to offset the impact of Hermosillo’s fluctuating temperatures. As López explains, “you don’t want to put the same amount of heat on a 90-degree preform as a 70-degree preform.”
Pilot’s high-precision sensors, deployed in the blowmolder takeout area, measure the thickness of each bottle at 12.5mm intervals along the sidewall. Agr’s proprietary algorithms instantaneously analyze the measurements and compare them to the recipe. If material distribution starts trending out of spec, Pilot adjusts the appropriate blowmolder function control—for example, tweaking the pre-blow setting or lamp temperature—to maintain consistent production. Eliminating the need for manual intervention, which is frequently an exercise in guesswork even for skilled operators; this automated fine-tuning makes sure the right amount of resin is distributed to the right area of the bottle, regardless of ambient conditions.
In addition to the bottom-line impact of less material consumption, the Agr system has enabled GEPP, the exclusive bottler of PepsiCo trademark beverages in Mexico, to make other major productivity gains, especially when it comes to changeover. Hermosillo’s Line 1 produces a mix of no-, low-, and high-carbonation bottles for six different products: Pepsi™, 7UP®, Mirinda (an orange-flavored soda), Manzanita Sol (apple flavor), Limonada (lime), and Epura (water)—in multiple sizes: 600mL, 1L, 1.5L, 2L, 2.5L, and 3L.
Changing from one container to another used to take an average of two hours—about 1.5 hours to replace the molds in the 16-station blowmolder, and then another half-hour for process verification and quality checks. Now, with the Process Pilot installed, the blowmolder produces good bottles on start-up, with no need for sampling and tweaking, making each changeover 25% faster—while also saving 6,000 bottles from scrap.
The benefits of robust bottle production also show up downstream in the integrated bottle-making and filling plant. López has noted far fewer disruptions in labeling, capping, and shrink wrapping due to non-conforming bottles. On the infrequent occasions when jams occur, “Pilot brings the process back to baseline two to three times faster,” he says.
A seasoned bottle veteran who was heavily involved in GEPP’s transition to PET from glass in the mid-1990s, López is responsible for all PET operations across the company’s 25 plants. Hermosillo, with its long-established history and talented operations team, represents the first site to mount a light-weighting initiative in conjunction with the Process Pilot.
The success of that effort, in tandem with faster blowmolder start-ups, shorter changeovers, rapid jam recovery, and reduced scrap, has generated an attractive return on investment, not only on the 2L container but other sizes and types as well. Even more, it gives GEPP the confidence of improved bottle quality, which for López is the “paramount” consideration.
Looking ahead, López would like to “standardize as much of the equipment and process as possible.” He nurtures the vision of installing the system on Hermosillo’s second blowing line and establishing the plant as the training site for all GEPP blowmolder operations throughout the country.
“Process Pilot manages how the blowmolder makes the bottle so it always comes out the same,” López concludes.
Details on the Process Pilot family of products can be found on the Agr website (www.agrintl.com) or by following this link: www.agrintl.com/123
American Glass Research, a subsidiary of Agr International, recently announced that Patrick Goossens has joined the AGR Testing Laboratory team in Delft, the Netherlands as a Research Scientist.
Patrick’s main areas of responsibility include glass forming issues, manufacturing audits and fracture diagnosis. He will also have considerable involvement with internal research projects and technical papers as they relate to container manufacturing and container performance.
Patrick has over twenty years of experience with a leading manufacturer of glass packaging for the food and beverage industry. Patrick graduated from NCOI Business School, Rotterdam and holds a VAPRO degree in Process Technology.
At the 2018 Expo Pack show, Agr International, Inc. will be in booth 3828 featuring its line of products designed to assist container producers, converters and fillers stay competitive while meeting the increased quality demands of today’s changing world. The show runs June 5-8, 2018.
Of primary focus is Agr’s Process Pilot® automated blowmolder management system for managing the production and quality of PET beverage containers. This system was designed to simplify the production of PET bottles and is ideal for PET bottle converters and beverage producers that self-manufacture PET bottles yet have limited manpower to oversee blowmolder operations on a continuous basis. The Process Pilot product group offers precise material thickness distribution management on PET bottles, while offering hands-off blowmolder control. With the trend towards ever lighter bottles, the Process Pilot system offers producers the ability to aggressively light weight bottles to the absolute minimum while providing the confidence that material is distributed, with the proper thickness in all critical areas, on every bottle produced. Optimizing the process to suit the needs of the product, application or business objective is the third step in Agr’s three-step approach.
Agr staff will be on hand to discuss the latest developments in its line of blowmolder management products as well as its complete line of quality management equipment that includes pressure testing, shelf-life, thickness measurement and dimensional gauging systems for plastic and glass containers.
Agr International’s automated laboratory test cell, AutoLab™, provides a solution for meeting the ever increasing throughput demands on the QA team and the testing laboratory in today’s high production bottle manufacturing operations. The Agr AutoLab provides an automated solution for either a single Agr laboratory device or up to three, tightly integrated Agr testing systems. The AutoLab can be configured with Agr’s most popular plastic container testing devices including the Gawis® thickness and dimensional measurement system, the TL2000 Topload Tester or Combi Tester combined fill height and top load system, and the PPT3000 pressure and volume expansion testing system. These devices can be integrated individually to incorporate robotic handling or together as part of a complete automated laboratory where multiple tests are performed hands free.
The Agr AutoLab incorporates a heavy duty platform that can support up to three independent test stations. At the core of the cell is a precision pick and place industrial robot that manages sample selection, placement of samples into the appropriate test station and the transfer of samples from one station to the next when multiple testing systems are included. When tests on the individual sample are complete, the robot can either discard samples or return them to the sample tray for further analysis. Test results from each testing station are compiled with data correlated by sample and consolidated in a single test report. The rugged, compact design of this system makes it possible to locate it on the plant floor, near critical production operations, or in the traditional laboratory setting.
AutoLab operation, including overall job setup, robot, sample coordination and tracking, as well as activation and control of individual test stations, is managed by a central computer housed within the test platform. The system incorporates a touch-panel user interface that can be positioned by the operator for convenient access for basic operational functions. A web-based Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is also provided and can be used as a remote user interface for this system. Connecting through a local web host, it offers the means for wireless remote management via laptop, tablet or smart phone for overall system operation, job setup and loading, tracking and data reporting.
Specialized bottle and preform trays that represent a complete mold round make it easy for operators to prepare sets of samples in advance and then load them into the system for hands-free processing. To enhance throughput, a pipeline approach is used for sample handling and testing, making it possible for concurrent operation of all testing devices. The robotic handling system ensures that samples are moved with efficiency and precision throughout the testing process.
Unmatched testing and throughput efficiency
The AutoLab is designed to provide maximum testing throughput. In addition to organizing and consolidating critical testing operation in one compact area, the system offers a number of benefits including, walk-away operation, efficient management of samples and testing, documentation of results and, most significantly, an improvement in testing throughput of as much as 300%. In addition to increased throughput, the automated cell approach also offers significant “cost-to-operate” savings.
Agr International is sad to announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Bill Schmidt, following a courageous battle with cancer.
During his 35 years as part of the Agr Family, Bill’s knowledge, dedication and mentoring benefited all who had the opportunity to work with him.
His work will continue to be part of Agr products for many years to come.
Agr International has announced the opening of Agr Packaging Services, a new sales and service center located in Mexico. This new entity is a wholly owned subsidiary of Agr International (USA). Through this entity, Agr will manage all of the sales, parts supply, service and support operations for Agr equipment in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
As the packaging markets in Mexico and the surrounding region continue to expand, Agr has recognized a significant growth in the demand for its quality management and process control equipment. This is evidenced by an ever expanding customer base in this region. The establishment of Agr Packaging Services is intended to meet this growing demand with a direct sales and service operation centrally located in the region that utilizes factory-trained Agr personnel.
According to Robert Cowden, Agr’s Chief Operating Officer, “The opening of Agr Packaging Services will bring a number of benefits to customers in the region. These include the ability to respond to customer calls in a timely and cost-effective fashion via locally based service technicians, local language support, additional training resources and opportunities, and improved parts availability. Key to the operation, however, is the experienced and trained staff that will support Agr customers in this region.”
Sales and associated efforts will be handled by Mr. Carlos Gonzalez and Mrs. Marta de la Torre. Mr. Gonzalez brings with him extensive experience related to plastic production, specifically in container processing and package development. Mrs. Marta de la Torre, a long-time employee of Agr, has vast knowledge in glass container production, quality management and PET bottle manufacturing.
Mr. Israel Hernandez will lead the service and support operations. He and staff of four service engineers are responsible for all installation, service, support and training related to Agr products within this region. All are factory trained and certified on Agr equipment. Mr. Hernandez brings a solid background and experience in preventive, corrective and predictive maintenance on high precision measurement equipment.
The establishment of Agr Packaging Services Mexico is another step in Agr’s global strategy to provide responsive service and support to Agr customers throughout the world.
According to Henry Dimmick, Jr., Agr CEO, “Agr is dedicated to providing products that offer value throughout their life. Service and support are critical parts of the value proposition that goes well beyond the initial purchase price. We have made it a priority to invest in our service network to ensure that our customers realize this value.”
Automated blowmolder control assures container is as pristine as its contents
Poland’s mineral water bottler Nałęczów Zdrój S.A. is well known for the purity of its best-selling brand Cisowianka, sourced from pristine aquifers near its plant in the southeastern village of Drzewce. With such a strong reputation to uphold, as the company prepared to launch a distinctive new 1.5 liter PET bottle for the Cisowianka line, it was guided by the imperative to produce a container capturing the purity of the brand.
The special shape of the new Cisowianka bottle, with its wasp-waist middle designed for consumer comfort and easy pouring, demanded a robust manufacturing process to assure both optimum bottle performance and downstream production efficiency. During the redesign initiative, Nałęczów Zdrój concluded that the linchpin of the process was precise distribution of the PET material by the blowmolder, especially to the bottle’s sensitive waist region.
To meet the challenging material distribution specifications, the company equipped each of its two newly installed KHS Blowmax Series IV blowmolding lines with a Process Pilot® automated process control system from Agr International.
The Agr system incorporates three components: the Pilot Profiler® (PET material distribution measurement), Pilot Vision™ (visual defect detection), and the Process Pilot closed-loop control software, which provides the link between the bottle measurements and blowmolding machine controls.
The Pilot Profiler relies on an array of sensors at the mold out-take to measure the material distribution on every bottle. The thickness data are fed continuously to the Process Pilot controls, programmed with the perfect dimensions of each bottle model. The Pilot controls automatically adjust the blowmolder to conform to the specified recipe, maintaining the desired material distribution at all points along the bottle sidewall—regardless of even slight changes in plant temperature or preform conditions, or other variations that could impact the blowmolding process.
In addition to keeping the material in the right place, automatic thickness monitoring allows Nałęczów Zdrój to skip the time-consuming step of manually taking traditional, cross-section measurements, a labor-intensive process that requires considerable trial and error.
Pilot Vision was instrumental in resolving another challenge to Cisowianka bottle integrity: sealing surface defects. System cameras inspect the sealing surface of every preform, rejecting those with any scratches or damage. The defect detection capability not only prevents disruption to downstream processing, it also eliminates the potential risk of product leakage and a compromised customer experience.
The Agr Process Pilot system also serves as a valuable diagnostic tool for blowmolder maintenance, for greater filling line efficiency. By identifying the mold cavity where a defect originates, the system allows plant personnel to quickly address the issue and return to production with minimal downtime.
The assurance that only commercial-grade bottles reach the filler enables the lines to run at higher speeds, an important advantage in the competitive water market, where costs are optimized based on economies of scale. The line configuration for the Cisowianka “wasp-waist” bottles has proven to play a key role in Nałęczów Zdrój’s financial strategy as well as market position. With the Agr Process Pilot systems mated to the KHS blowmolders, the company benefits from robust production and higher yields. The consistent quality of the shapely new bottles tells consumers they can enjoy their favorite mineral water with confidence, in keeping with the high repute of the Cisowianka brand.
Details on the Process Pilot family of products can be found by following this link: www.agrintl.com/123
Agr International offers a number of products that are designed to aid bottle manufacturers achieve their most aggressive light weighting and sustainability 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 quality management and process control equipment for plastic containers at NPE 2018, Stand S16045. Products featured at NPE will include the following:
Process Pilot® automated blowmolder management system – now with Individual Mold Control™, 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. The Process Pilot system offers a simple three-step approach towards PET blowmolder management:
- Step1 – Measure material distribution and pearlescence on every bottle
- Step 2 – Control the blowmolder to overcome process variation and maintain on-target material distribution
- Step 3 – Optimize the process to suit the product, application or business objective of the production facility
Not only does this system simplify and stabilize the production of PET bottles, but it also provides the versatility to manage bottle production in a manner most suitable to the product and application. Whether the goal is to make the lightest bottle possible, process preforms of mixed lineage or material quality, improve bottle shelf-life and performance characteristics, save energy or just run a stable process 24/7, the Process Pilot product group offers a means to realize this goal profitably and with confidence.
Automated laboratory system — solution that offers a precision pick and place industrial robot to select, handle and transfer PET container and preform samples through multiple thickness and dimensional tests. Integrated with Agr’s Gawis® container measurement system, comprehensive measurements, including thickness and critical dimensional measurements can be performed without operator intervention. The tests are fully optimized and performed quickly and efficiently through the handling of the multi-axis robot and the fast throughput of the Gawis® measurement device. Test results are compiled with data correlated by sample and consolidated in a single test report. 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. In addition to the Gawis measurement system, the automated laboratory system can be configured to incorporate Agr devices for top load, volume and pressure measurements, providing a complete laboratory automation solution to meet the challenges of over-worked testing labs and the ever increasing demand for testing to manage quality and support ongoing production.
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 90years, Agr is committed to provide the plastic container industry with the most technologically advanced products available for quality control and productivity improvement.
Butler, Pennsylvania – January 2, 2018 – Agr International announced today a realignment of its sales force in order to better serve its customers located in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Specifically, effective January 1, 2018, Agr will focus its sales force along product and service lines to better support the distinct needs of each customer segment.
Marco Palma, a 20+ year Agr sales management veteran, will lead the sales team targeted to support the equipment needs of glass container manufacturers. The Agr glass equipment product line includes market leading solutions targeted to address laboratory and cold end factory floor needs.
Alexander Broda, also a 20+ year Agr sales veteran, will work with customers who utilize the services offered by Agr’s new research facility located at Delft, Netherlands. The research services include glass production and filling line audits, schools as well as container design and breakage analysis.
Christian Kapsamer, an experienced sales professional formerly with Husky, will lead the sales team targeted to support the equipment needs of plastic container manufacturers and the brand owners that utilize plastic packaging. The Agr plastic equipment product line includes the market leading reheat stretch blow molding automated process control solution, Process Pilot®, and a complete suite of laboratory solutions.
Agr International Inc. develops and manufactures a full line of laboratory and on-line testing/quality control devices for glass and plastic containers and similar products. American Glass Research, a division of Agr International provides a wide range of testing, training and consultative services to the worldwide glass industry. The Agr headquarters is located in Butler, PA, USA.
AGR’s new European testing laboratory in Delft, Netherlands is now open to serve the glass manufacturing and beverage filling industries. At this moment, all modern analysis and testing equipment has been installed and is ready for use.
Recently meeting with local officials were:
- Henry Dimmick, Jr., CEO Agr International
- Bill Slusser, AGR Director of Research
- Peter de Haan, Senior Scientist/Manager of the Delft Office.
City Council Member, Ferrie Förster, and Sr. Advisor Economy – Business Relations for the city of Delft, Remko van Eldik, were provided a tour of the laboratory and demonstrations of various testing equipment utilized for diagnosis, testing and analysis.
AGR Europe will have the ability to conduct a wide range of testing services including:
- Performance testing of glass packaging
- Fracture Diagnosis
- Proof-of-Design testing
- Dimensional evaluation
- Analysis of label, decoration and closure issues
- Evaluation of coating performance
- Audit of glass plant operations
- Filling line audits
- Glass technical consultancy
- Training and seminars
Additionally, the staff will organize and conduct Training Seminars to be held in Munich, Germany; Krakow, Poland and Montecchio, Italy. On-site consultancy including filling line and glass plant audits can also be handled by the Delft staff.
The office will be led by Senior Scientist Peter de Haan along with Jennifer Hu-a-ng and staffed with two lab technicians Laura van der Harg and Samantha Beijersbergen van Henegouwen. Jennifer will principally be responsible for office management.
The full resources of the AGR North American offices are also available for material analysis, glass quality and complete container design and development.
AGR has also developed and launched a new Dutch language version of the website to support the testing lab which details all of AGR’s services and training seminars. Click HERE to visit this new website.
At the recent PETnology Conference, held in conjunction with drinktec 2017, Mr. Robert Cowden, Agr’s Chief Operating Officer, discussed the topic of Improved Beverage Line Productivity via Automated Process Control. The presentation was co-presented by Mr. Frank Haesendonckx, Director of Sales & Technology KHS.
In his presentation, Cowden detailed the effect that process variability has on the blowmolding process and the cascading impact that this has on downstream beverage line efficiency and overall plant productivity. He pointed out that whet her the variability is a result of environmental conditions, operator skills or manufacturing practices; these all have an impact on bottle production and the ability to operate at optimum levels.
“Managing variation in the blowing operation is the key to optimizing beverage line productivity, and the most efficient way to accomplish this is through automated blowmolder control,” explained Cowden. He stated that Agr’s Process Pilot blowmolder management system has proved to be very effective in reducing or eliminating the effects of environmental and manufacturing-related variables on the blowing process as evidenced by the four hundred plus unit installed base worldwide.
As part of his presentation, Cowden detailed two case studies that illustrated how production variation can be reduced through the entire production and filling process with the Process Pilot system.
In the first example, the plant was experiencing large temperature fluctuations and high humidity. The line experienced inconsistent container material distribution that resulted in performance issues, most notably the prevalence of stress cracks that necessitated continuous adjustment to the process. After the installation of the Process Pilot system, process changes were reduced from 150 per month to just three. Base stress cracks were dramatically decreased by reducing the base wall thickness variation by nearly 80% and, as a result, customer complaints shrank by nearly 70%. As an added bonus, the improved stability of the process made it possible to further lightweight the bottle by two grams.
The second example involved a plant that experienced numerous preform-related issues. The preforms used in this operation ranged in age from one week to six months, manufactured in five different plants, involved two different resins and were produced on over ten different injection presses. The variety of preforms made it necessary to maintain a number of different blowmolder recipes to accommodate the difference in performance from lot to lot and played havoc on the material distribution, further affecting downstream productivity. The installation of the Process Pilot system made a dramatic improvement in blowmolder management, most notably the ability to consolidate recipes from 30 to one. Additionally, a 65% average reduction in wall thickness variation was realized on the bottles produced, regardless of preform origin or age. The improved consistency in material distribution made it possible to increase the speed of the filling line as well as overall blow-fill efficiency by 10%.
On the new development side, Mr. Frank Haesendonckx discussed the joint effort between Agr and KHS to implement Individual Mold Control on the KHS series IV and V blowmolders. Haesendonckx emphasized the intelligent maintenance system and how monitoring the performance of individual molds through the Process Pilot system could play an important role in this process. Individual Mold Control not only provides the means to quickly identify and correct performance issues on an individual mold station but also captures valuable mold-performance data that can be used to determine the optimal time to perform system maintenance, all while maximizing productivity.
Agr’s Process Pilot system works in conjunction with the reheat stretch blowmolder to proactively manage and maintain container material distribution at a specified thickness to within ~0.01mm. This is accomplished by continuously monitoring every bottle for material distribution, analyzing minute changes and adjusting the blowmolder controls to maintain pre-defined distribution levels. With Individual Mold Control, this can be taken to the next level by providing the ability to fine tune material distribution on the individual mold basis, eliminating the mold-to-mold variability that is common with bottle production on blowmolding systems without this capability.
Agr’s patented Process Pilot automated blowmolder control system has been on the market for several years and has amassed a significant global install base of major bottle converters and self-manufacturing brand owners. 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 occur during the production process.
This product has proven to be a vital tool in the production of light weight bottles while improving overall bottle performance and quality. Details on the Process Pilot family of products can be found on the Agr website (www.agrintl.com) or by using the following link: http://bit.ly/agrProcessPilot
Agr International is pleased to announce the appointment of Alain Nassy as Director, Sales & Service – Americas, following the retirement of Ray Speicher. Alain is a 17-year employee of Agr, spending the majority of those years as Customer Service Manager. With this new role, Alain will oversee sales and service in North, Central and South America, including the Caribbean countries. Stationed at Agr’s Butler, PA, USA headquarters, Alain will manage sales and service personnel based in the USA, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.
Agr International is sad to announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Michael Kovac, following a courageous battle with cancer. Mike enjoyed traveling the world and meeting many customers over his 42 year career with American Glass Research. Mike was a expert in fracture diagnosis and container testing, and was respected by all who new him. He authored multiple papers relating to glass container performance and failure analysis, and taught fracture and design seminars in more than 30 different countries.
As part of it efforts to continually expand the capabilities of its Process Pilot automated blowmolder control system, Agr International, Inc., has announced availability of the latest system enhancement, Individual Mold Control™. The addition of Individual Mold Control further expands the capabilities and the potential of Agr’s Process Pilot® product group to include the management of thickness distribution during PET bottle production on the individual mold level.
Even with the most advanced PET bottle blowmolding system, there are variations in bottle material distribution from mold to mold. Each mold performs slightly different. This can be evidenced when analyzing bottles from a mold set, in the same region, as some produce thicker and some thinner distributions. These variations can result in inconsistent performance from bottles of the same production run, leading to potential downstream problems.
In a collaborative effort between Agr and KHS, work was performed to develop a means to reduce or eliminate mold-to-mold variation, resulting in Individual Mold Control. Built on the foundation of Agr’s Process Pilot automated blowmolder control system, Individual Mold Control provides the ability to optimize the blow-molding process by controlling the blow parameters for each individual mold station, in addition to the global parameters set for all molds. This makes it possible to proactively manage the process down to the individual mold level to finely control material distribution and minimize mold-to-mold variation.
With the Process Pilot system, high-precision thickness distribution measurements are captured on every bottle. Typically the Process Pilot system manages material distribution to a base-line thickness established on an overall average of all mold stations by controlling the oven parameters and P1 pressure as well as start time. These parameters are common to all the molds and move the material distribution close to baseline to produce a consistent quality of bottles. The Individual Mold Control option takes distribution management to a new level by identifying the distribution variance from mold to mold. Using an advanced control algorithm, the Individual Mold Control option provides the means to reduce individual mold station variability by proactively adjusting the pre-blow start time of each mold station through individual mold offsets. By doing this, the material distribution can be controlled on a per mold basis. This makes it possible to achieve an overall tighter distribution model over the entire mold set, much closer to the baseline than can be provided using the global approach. Furthermore, the level of trend analysis incorporated by Process Pilot on a mold station by station approach provides valuable data for targeted blowmolder maintenance.
The benefits of Individual Mold Control
There are several benefits to controlling thickness distribution on the individual mold basis. These include the following:
- Reduced production variation
- Increased production days due to targeted maintenance
- Elimination of “outlier” mold-specific containers that may cause downstream issues
- Opportunities for further light weighting
- Improved down-stream performance
Availability and compatibility
The Process Pilot with the Individual Mold Control option is compatible with rotary stretch blowmolding systems that incorporate independent mold station management. The Individual Mold Control option is currently available for KHS Series IV blowmolders. 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 addition of Individual Mold Control further compliments this.
Agr International has announced plans to establish a new testing laboratory in Delft, Netherlands. This lab will be part of Agr’s American Glass Research division. The laboratory is slated to open and be fully operational in October, 2017.
The creation of this facility is part of Agr International’s global expansion and commitment to its customers, and particularly intended to provide European glass manufacturers and fillers with better access to American Glass Research services. The new location will offer flexibility and reduced turnaround times on projects, lower shipping cost with relation to samples and the availability of American Glass Research expertise within the local time zones.
The new lab will provide many of the same services currently offered by American Glass Research in their Butler, PA, USA facility that are geared toward solving breakage issues, evaluating container designs and improving both the manufacturing and filling processes. Some of the services to be available initially at the Delft site include:
- Performance testing of glass packaging
- Proof-of-design testing
- Fracture diagnosis
- Dimensional evaluation
- Analysis of label, decoration and closure issues
- Evaluation of coating performance and analysis of coating issues
- Audit of glass plant operations
- Filling line audits
- Glass technical consultancy
In addition to providing European glass manufacturers and fillers with a range of testing and evaluation services, the new office will also offer a complete schedule of training seminars taught by the American Glass Research staff.
The new Delft facility will encompass 5500 square feet of laboratory and office space. Nearly 70% of the facility will be dedicated to the fracture analysis, measurement and testing laboratory. The lab will house new, modern testing equipment, microscopes and measurement equipment.
The Delft testing laboratory will be headed by Peter de Haan, AGR Senior Scientist, and a Dutch national, who is returning to the Netherlands following several years at the American Glass Research Butler, PA, USA facility. De Haan and his team of technicians have well over 40 years of experience in the glass industry, and they will have full access to American Glass Research resources worldwide.
For more information on American Glass Research and the Delft testing laboratory, visit the American Glass Research website at www.americanglassresearch.com or contact Mr. Peter de Haan directly at: email@example.com
American Glass Research is a division of Agr International, Inc.