Agr International Inc. introduces automated Volume measurement system for the plant floor

A more efficient way to manage volume and fill height requirements during glass bottle production

Agr International, Inc. announces the latest addition to its family of products for the glass container industry, the SPT2-Volume. This automated, self-contained testing station is designed to provide hands-free, automated volume measurement of glass containers on the plant floor or in the laboratory, offering a cost-effective alternative to the tedious hand measurement of bottles.

According to Agr, this system was developed to meet the needs of glass container producers and brand owners that need fast and precise volume measurement but do not require pressure testing.  This product is particularly applicable to the producers of non-pressurized ware, including spirit, olive oil and specialty beverage and food containers where volume measurement is critical.

The SPT2-Volume is an extension of the industry leading Agr SPT2 product line. Built upon the same testing platform, this system shares many of the popular features, including a rugged stainless steel framework, no job change bottle handling system and a Linux operating system.

What is unique about the SPT2-Volume is its ability to perform fill height and volume measurement with laboratory accuracy, the repeatability that is achieved with automation and a fast throughput necessary for effective process management.    System handling and operational components have been configured with this in mind.  Plus, the system can be configured to operate autonomously, where it can provide round-the-clock volume measurement without additional labor requirements.

Volume measurement with precision

The SPT2-Volume system utilizes positive-displacement as it core technology.   A known volume of fluid is transferred from a temperature compensated, calibrated cylinder into the test container.  At the same time, the fill level is dynamically monitored as the container is filled to overflow.

The positive-displacement method offers a number of advantages over traditional laboratory methods.  Most significant is the accuracy and speed. 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. Measurements can be performed at a rate of up to 120 bottles per hour (350 ml bottle).

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-Volume is self-contained, requires no delicate scales and is not affected by water density, flow rate, vibrations or issues that commonly plague other methods.

Since the SPT2-Volume 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.

This system 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.

The SPT2-Volume is the latest generation in a long line of automated testing systems supplied by Agr for the glass container manufacturing industry.

Agr’s new in-the-blowmolder vision inspection system for PET bottles to be the focus for Pack Expo 2019, booth 6538

Pilot Vision+™, Agr’s latest and most powerful in-the-blowmolder vision system will be featured at the upcoming Pack Expo show in Las Vegas.  This system is uniquely positioned for the quality management of bottles with high percentages of rPET. Designed to work in conjunction with today’s high speed reheat stretch blowmolding equipment, the Pilot Vision+ system offers a modular approach to defect detection that works within the blowmolder.  The open architecture of this system allows for simultaneous management of up to 6 cameras, in multiple locations.  Some of the features of this system include color preform cameras for managing color variations, simple configuration and operation, large-screen user interface and defect categorization by mold/spindle and defect type.  As part of Agr’s Process Pilot family of products, Pilot Vision+ can be combined with Process Pilot for a total bottle management solution, providing the ability to detect random occurring defects as well as manage the process to maintain precise material distribution, even with the lightest and/or most difficult-to-process bottle design.

Agr will also feature the Process Pilot® system with Advanced Thin-wall capability. Introduced earlier this year, this tool is ideally suited for facilitating the production of ultralight bottles.   It provides the added precision and blowmolder control necessary to produce very light bottles, with consistent quality, in order to ensure proper performance on the production line and throughout the distribution chain. The Process Pilot system works in conjunction with the blowmolder to continuously measure material distribution on every bottle, and proactively manage the blowmolder to maintain optimal material distribution. Since the Process Pilot system manages the blowmolder based on actual bottle measurement, it is an ideal tool that can be used to overcome many of the issues, outside of the blowmolder, that compromise bottle manufacture and filling line productivity such as process and environmental variables, resin quality, increased levels of rPET and preform variability.

Agr technical experts will be available at Pack Expo booth 6538 to discuss these products and the rest of their complete line of process monitoring and quality control equipment for the plastic container industry.

All-new, high-precision laboratory thickness and dimensional measurement system for plastic containers to be introduced by Agr International at K 2019

All-new, high-precision laboratory thickness and dimensional measurement system for plastic containers to be introduced by Agr International at K 2019

Agr will display several new product developments as well as an array of quality management and process control equipment for plastic containers at K 2019, Stand 11B40.

All-new measurement system for plastic containers – the focal point for Agr’s display will be an all-new laboratory measurement system for plastic containers.  Designed to streamline laboratory measurement operations, this system provides operators with the ability to perform multiple measurements, on a wide range of plastic containers and preforms, with un-matched accuracy, repeatability and operational throughput.   This all-in-one measurement system incorporates the latest optical gauging and thickness measurement technology, in combination with automation, to simplify container measurement operations while maximizing testing throughput.  Additionally, this system includes a number of features including advanced job setup tools to minimize time required for job creation, large screen image display with ability to expand images for close analysis, comprehensive data capture/reporting and Industry 4.0 communications.

Pilot Vision+™ – Agr’s latest and most powerful in-the-blowmolder vision system.  This system is uniquely positioned for the quality management of bottles with high percentages of rPET. Designed to work in conjunction with today’s high speed reheat stretch blowmolding equipment, the Pilot Vision+ system offers a modular approach to defect detection that works within the blowmolder.  The open architecture of this system allows for simultaneous management of up to 6 cameras, in multiple locations.  Some of the features of this system include color preform cameras for managing color variations, simple configuration and operation, large-screen user interface and defect categorization by mold/spindle and defect type.  As part of Agr’s Process Pilot family of products, Pilot Vision+ can be combined with Process Pilot for a total bottle management solution, providing the ability to detect random occurring defects as well as manage the process to maintain precise material distribution, even with the lightest and/or most difficult-to-process bottle design.

Process Pilot® with advanced Thin-wall Measurement The Process Pilot system with Advanced Thin-wall capability, introduced earlier this year, is ideally suited for the production of ultralight bottles.   It provides the added precision and blowmolder control necessary to produce very light bottles, with consistent quality, in order to ensure proper performance on the production line and throughout the distribution chain. The Process Pilot system works in conjunction with the blowmolder to continuously measure material distribution on every bottle, and proactively manage the blowmolder to maintain optimal material distribution. Since the Process Pilot system manages the blowmolder based on actual bottle measurement, it is an ideal tool that can be used to overcome many of the issues that compromise bottle manufacture and filling line productivity such as process and environmental variables, increased levels of rPET and preform variability.

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 90 years, Agr is committed to provide the plastic container industry with the most technologically advanced products available for quality control and productivity improvement.

Agr offers a complete line of products for the measurement and testing of plastic containers.  Agr products are designed to assist container producers, converters and fillers stay competitive while meeting the increased quality demands of today’s changing world.  Additional details can be found on the Agr website at www.agrintl.com.

Agr’s Delft Testing Lab celebrates its first year of operation and continues to expand services and personnel to meet the needs of the region

Agr International has invested more than 1 Million Euros in the establishment of an American Glass Research Testing Laboratory in Delft, The Netherlands. The lab has completed its first full year of operations and AGR CEO Henry Dimmick declares it has more than met its first year objectives.  “Our goals were to create and staff a state of the art testing laboratory for glass containers and be able to offer all of the same core glass testing services American Glass Research is known for, including: Fracture Diagnosis, Proof of Design Testing, Filling line and Glass Manufacturing line audits, Container Design Study, as well as Label, Decoration and Closure Analysis”, said Dimmick.

We have installed Agr International produced testing equipment including a Ramp Pressure Tester 2X, Vertical Load Tester, and Pendulum Impact Tester for comprehensive,  performance testing of glass containers. Additionally   complementary AGR equipment housed at the laboratory includes the following:  Line Simulator, Hot End Coating Measurement System, Finish Coating Measurement System, Tilt Table, Polarimeter and MBTxt thickness measurement gauge. Along with the Agr equipment, the lab also has a range of state of the art optical and polarizing microscopes along with an array of metrology devices to round out the capabilities of the facility.

The lab in Delft has a highly trained and experienced staff that fully understands the issues associated with the design and production of glass containers.  “We have continually expanded our staff to meet our growing needs.  In support of this, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Clarissa Justino de Lima has joined the AGR Testing Laboratory team as a Research Scientist” said Peter de Haan, Senior Scientist and Manager of the Delft lab. Clarissa’s main areas of responsibility will include fracture analysis, container testing as well as seminar instruction.

She will also have considerable involvement with the internal research projects and technical papers as they relate to glass as a material for use in the container industry.   Clarissa received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Technische University Delft.  She also

ince 1927, operates laboratories located in Butler, PA and Maumee, OH in the USA and Delft, the Netherlands.  American Glass Research is a division of AGR International Inc. holds a Master’s degree in Science & Engineering of Materials from Federal University Alfenas in Brazil. .

We are also pleased to announce the expansion of our renowned Training Program and will now be conducting open enrollment seminars for the first time in Moscow, Russia in addition to expanding our offerings in Krakow, Poland, Lake Ammersee, Germany and Montecchio, Italy.

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

Dr. Clarissa Justino de Lima joins American Glass Research Delft Testing Lab

American Glass Research announced that Dr. Clarissa Justino de Lima has joined the AGR Testing Laboratory team in Delft, the Netherlands as a Research Scientist. « We have continually expanded our staff to meet our growing needs and are pleased that Clarissa is joining us and bringing a wealth of experience » said Peter de Haan, Senior Scientist and Manager of the Delft lab.

Clarissa’s main areas of responsibility will include fracture analysis, container testing as well as seminar instruction. She will also have considerable involvement with the internal research projects and technical papers as they relate to glass as a material for use in the container industry.

Clarissa received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Technische University Delft.  She also holds a Master’s degree in Science & Engineering of Materials from Federal University Alfenas in Brazil. She is co-author of a number of publications related to glass science, manufacturing and innovative applications of glass materials and has presented her findings at a number of industry conferences around the world.

Agr International creates new division focused on assisting PET bottle self-manufacturers optimize their production operations

The Agr Process Performance Optimization Group offers technical assistance to maximize the productivity and efficiency of PET blowing and beverage production lines.

Self-manufacture of PET bottles has grown in popularity with beverage producers.  The ability to produce bottles, on demand, at the point of filling offers a myriad of advantages.  Cost containment, reduced warehousing and transportation costs, improved inventory control and increased production flexibility are but a few of these advantages.

However, along with the advantages come some new challenges. Many companies that self-manufacturer struggle with PET bottle processing. This often involves determining the proper recipe for a given bottle, taking into consideration the local plant and regional environments or dealing with preforms from different sources or lineages. Sometimes it is just a challenge to produce bottles with consistent quality and performance that do not compromise downstream operations. And, let’s not forget about the scarcity of experienced blowmolder operators and processing personnel. These are just a small sample of some of the issues that self-manufactures face.

Overcoming blowmolding challenges

The Agr Process Performance and Optimization Group was established to provide self-manufacturers with a go-to resource to help overcome some of the everyday challenges in producing their own bottles. The approach of the Process Group is somewhat different than what is traditionally offered by the blowmolder manufacturers.  The Agr Process group takes a holistic approach towards optimization that not only focuses on the blowmolder, but goes beyond to understand issues affecting the efficiency of the entire production line. Since Agr is not affiliated with any specific brand of blowmolder, the group can provide whole plant assistance in operations that have different blowmolder brands in the same facility.

Some of the offerings now available through this group include working directly with a plant’s process engineers and plant floor personnel to help manage challenging light weight applications, develop effective processing recipes and address process variation and quality issues as well as a myriad of downstream process improvement efforts that can lead to improved pack rate.  The services of the group are offered under the following categories:

  • Blowmolder management and optimization – individual assessment of individual blowing lines
  • Effective use of basic quality tools for blowmolder management
  • Optimizing Pilot Profiler® and Process Pilot® automated tools to manage blowmolder and production quality
  • Production line auditing and optimization planning
  • Job-specific services such as recipe design and startup assistance

According to Robert Cowden, Agr’s Chief Operating Officer, “our primary mission is to work with our customers to optimize production efficiency, both in terms of blowmolding and total line efficiency. Agr’s consulting professionals work directly with plant personnel to optimize blowmolding and container flow downstream in order to reduce manufacturing costs.”

Agr is not a novice when it comes to managing blowmolder performance. This Process Performance Optimization Group is an outgrowth of the Agr Process Pilot® automated blowmolder management program.    With over 400 Process Pilot systems operating in the field, Agr system engineers have encountered many of the issues that traditionally plague PET bottle manufacturers, helping to identify a need for this kind of service.  As part of the installation and commissioning of these Process Pilot systems, Agr engineers have been tasked to provide some of the very services that are now being offered through the Process Performance and Optimization Group. However, through this group, the services have been greatly expanded and are no longer limited to facilities only using Agr’s Process Pilot system.

Request more information here.

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.

Agr International, Inc. announces new sales roles for Latin America

As of January 14, 2019, Ms. Marta de la Torre has been named Regional Director of Sales and Service for Latin America.  A 20 year veteran of the Agr organization, Ms. de la Torre has vast experience in these regions with her former role as Sales Regional Manager.  She has successfully provided knowledge of quality assurance and process control to the glass, plastic and packaging industries in the region.

Latin America continues to offer development in the packaging markets, evident with significant growth in Agr’s customer base within this area.  Following the opening of Agr Packaging Services in Mexico and to better support this growing customer base, Agr made the decision to advance the role of Ms. de la Torre as well as expand the sales force in the region with the addition of Mr. Sergio Ruiz.  Mr. Ruiz comes to Agr following 10 years in process, project and sales engineering in the region.   In addition, Mr. Israel Hernandez and his team of factory-trained service engineers continue to provide installation, service support and training to meet the needs of the customers within the area.  Maintaining a local presence of Agr personnel is central to this market with the ability to respond to customer needs in a timely and cost-effective fashion.

Agr International Inc. develops and manufactures a full line of laboratory and on-line testing/measurement devices for containers and similar products.  The Agr headquarters and main manufacturing facility is located in Butler, PA, USA.  Agr is committed to provide the container, filling and packaging industries with the most technologically advanced products available for quality control and productivity improvement.   

Agr’s new multi-head coating measurement system performs body and finish coating measurements in one operation

This new device offers significant improvements in accuracy and testing throughput

Agr International, Inc. recently announced the introduction of the Combined Coating Measurement System (CCMS) for measuring metallic coatings on both the finish and body regions of glass containers. This totally new device provides operators with a one-stop, single operation testing station for measuring tin oxide coatings applied to the container during the production process.

This system utilizes Agr’s proven reflective coating measurement technology as a foundation and features a fully automated measurement approach.  By incorporating a number of technological advances in combination with automation, Agr has been able to achieve a 33% improvement in testing throughput and a 70% improvement in precision with this device over previous coating measurement systems.

Some of the features incorporated into the CCMS include:

  • Finish and/or body measurements in one operation
  • Dual head design
  • Universal hold down mechanism
  • Automated test or spot check operation
  • Secure Linux-based operating system
  • Industry 4.0 ready
  • Software-based calibration
  • Advanced electronics for better precision

According to Agr sources, the basic goal of the CCMS development program was to provide the industry with a leading-edge system that could provide the measurement precision needed for process management requirements while reducing the labor intensity of coating measurement.

Two heads are better than one

In order to achieve maximum precision on finish and body measurements, the CCMS incorporates dedicated measurement heads for each of the finish and body regions.  One head is optimized to operate with the precision necessary for the limited area of the finish region.  The second head is configured for body measurements where larger areas and heavier coatings are encountered. The advanced electronics of the system, in conjunction with dedicated measurement heads for finish and body, make it possible to precisely identify the presence of very small amounts of coating in the finish region while measuring heavier coating levels applied to the body of the container, all in one operation.

Automated, one-touch operation

The CCMS is designed for fully automated operation.  Positioning of measurement heads, including vertical height location, container rotation and capture of measurement data is performed in a single progression, without the need for operator intervention during the testing sequence. Jobs can be created to measure the body or finish regions individually or a combination of both.

For additional operator convenience, the system offers two testing modes. The “spot test” measurement mode affords the operator the ability to take a quick spot measurement on a single container location.   The “job-based” test mode provides the operator with the ability to create and store jobs that can be used to measure multiple containers of the same type.  In this mode, each measurement is performed at the same locations on the container body and/or finish, as defined by the job, on every container in the set.

The CCMS provides a wealth of test data. Measured values are presented in easy to understand color-coded graphic format for each test in progress, to permit operators to readily identify measurements that fall outside of acceptable ranges.   Job-based numerical results are also available in spreadsheet form, detailing the min/max/average data for each measurement (height and angle) for both body and finish regions on every container.

The CCMS incorporates a Linux-based architecture and operating system to manage the continuous, multi-function operations of this system.  Linux was chosen for its ability to run efficiently on the embedded computing platform that manages the CCMS test operations as well as its proven stability, security and long-term availability.

According to Robert Cowden, AGR’s Chief Operating Officer, “The CCMS product encapsulates Agr’s unique, high value added relation to the global glass container industry by combining an innovative, proven measurement technique developed years ago by American Glass Research scientists with current state of the art electronics, operating system and automation technology.”

The CCMS is the latest generation in a long line of coating measurement devices supplied by Agr for the glass container manufacturing industry. The CCMS is part of Agr’s broad line of on-line, laboratory testing and quality control devices for the glass container and filling industries.

High-precision Dimensional Gauging System Enhanced in New Release

Agr International has introduced the Dimensional Sampling Gauge, Series 400 (DSG400).  This is the latest generation in a line of high-precision dimensional gauging systems designed by Agr expressly for glass container measurement.

While the DSG400 retains much of the look and feel of previous versions of Agr’s Dimensional Sampling Gauge, this version incorporates a multiplicity of new hardware, features and capabilities that further expand the handling, throughput, precision, communication and measurement functions of the DSG product line.

Some of the most prominent features incorporated in the DSG400 include:

  • Advanced high pixel density, USB 3 camera technology with optimized lensing and telecentric optics
  • Expanded measurement algorithms for multiple critical measurements
  • Hands-free job change
  • Optimized tool set for expanded measurement of small ware
  • A Quad-core central computer
  • Positive table positioning for enhanced thickness measurement
  • Industry 4.0 communication protocols

When performing the complicated measurements required for managing glass container quality, maintaining sufficient throughput without sacrificing precision is always a concern, The DSG400 overcomes this in several ways.

  • An advanced no-job change feature makes it possible for the DSG400 to accept bottles of different sizes and shapes from the same or multiple lines without the need for an operator to adjust handling components or change parts. This same enhanced tooling also facilitates positive bottle placement and increases the measurable thickness range for pharmaceutical and small format bottles.
  • A new quad-core central computer system with a USB 3.0 camera interface and an embedded operating system provides the horsepower necessary to manage high speed communication with the system’s multiple cameras. This increases overall processing speed and vision frame rates, making it possible to capture more images, with higher density, in less time.

Focus on precision

The DSG400 precision is improved over previous models with new camera technology that sports a 2x increase in pixel density.

A major emphasis for the DSG400 is measurement precision. Enhanced telecentric lighting provides for improved edge shadow for the highest dimensional precision and repeatability.  This improvement is of major significance as it provides for more distinct categories and lowers the percent of process variation for individual measurements.

Several enhancements have been made to simplify and improve measurement capabilities for label panels and finish thread measurements.  These include an optional “point cloud” function for contour visualization of label panels. An intelligent “T” measurement has been added to improve precision and simplify the measurement of non-overlapping, partial overlapping and depressed threads.  For one of the most difficult measurements to perform by hand, an enhanced lug algorithm has also been incorporated to accurately measure lug finishes including L, Lug diameter and gaps between lugs.

When measuring thickness, it is important to be able to measure material distribution over the complete bottle profile including sidewall, shoulder and angled areas.  The DSG400 provides high accuracy thickness measurements simultaneously with dimensions by seamlessly incorporating the Agr’s Thickness 360® measurement system.  With its patented vision-guided, three-axis positioning and optical measurement, Thickness 360® can measure round and non-round panels, tilted sidewalls or even corners at an accuracy of +/- 0.02 mm and repeatability of +/- 0.01mm.   Thickness measurements, on the DSG400 are further enhanced through optimized bottle positioning and additional software features that extend the measurement range making it possible to measure thickness over the complete body sidewall particularly on small pharmaceutical ware.

Advanced communication

Industry 4.0 standard communication protocols have also been incorporated into the DSG400 to improve communications and support Industry 4.0 objectives.  These include CSV added outputs, XML and TCP/IP connectivity as well as XML tags on all data points. The addition of this capability expands the DSG400’s ability to talk to other devices, support remote computer job change (commands and uploads) and interface with factory robotic handling systems without operator intervention.

The Dimensional Sampling Gauge is Agr’s premier dimensional measurement system that functions as an automated laboratory test station, providing hands-free, high-precision measurement of critical glass container attributes such as body and finish dimensions, weight, pushup, bore, wall thickness and, when mated with Agr’s SPT2 (OmniLab® configuration), volume and pressure testing, all in one system.

Agr to feature latest blowmolder control and container quality management products at Pack Expo 2018

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.

Agr Process Pilot® Advances GEPP Light-weighting Projects

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

AGR Testing Laboratory adds new staff member

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.

Visit Agr at Expo Pack in Mexico City (Santa Fe)

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 AutoLab™ improving container testing precision and efficiency through laboratory automation

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 mourns the passing of Bill Schmidt

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.