Reducing CO2 emissions by avoiding recalls and held ware

The focus of this year’s AFGM conference was net zero carbon future for the glass industry.  In this era of focused attention on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we here of many approaches.  Most of these are of a grand scale and involve extensive resources, time, and effort to make an impact. But like with many other things, there are small, everyday actions and changes in our old routines that can make a difference.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, small reductions in many areas can be as effective as some of the grand schemes.  At this year’s conference, Agr’s Martin Küstner outlined how a simple change in process can make an impact on greenhouse gas emissions related to glass bottle manufacture. Individually, these efforts may seem insignificant, but when combined with other similar savings, they can be a meaningful factor in the path to a net zero carbon future.

In his presentation, Mr. Küstner discussed the impact that recalls and held ware, along with the remelting of wasted product, have on Co2 emissions. He focused on how the simple addition of high-speed, automated sampling for quality checks during glass container production, in conjunction with Industry 4.0 connectivity, can lead to both financial savings and provide another step on the path towards a glass plant’s CO2 reduction goals.

According to the publication “Systematically Increasing Energy Efficiency and Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Glass Industry”, by the German Energy Agency (dena), the production of glass for beverage bottles has an average emission of 436 kg CO2 per 1 ton of glass[1].  As an example, a high speed 10 section double-gob NNPB forming machine manufacturing 185g long neck bottles at 300 BPM produces 18,000 Bottles per hour. Using this example, approximately 3.3 tons of glass are consumed per hour of production.  This equates to the creation of approximately 1.4 tons of CO2 per one hour of production in this scenario.

Timing Matters

In many bottle manufacturing plants, 1 sampling set in a 3-shift operation is often the norm. Once collected, the sampling set is taken to the QA lab where it is put in que along with sampling sets from other lines. In many QA labs, it takes several hours before the testing of bottles from the sampling set begins. Once testing has begun, it takes additional time and labor to perform the measurements and document the results. Under these conditions a production defect may not be caught for eight or more hours.

Automated measurement and sampling make it possible to reduce the time it takes to discover a production defect. When utilizing Industry 4.0 connectivity, actionable information can be shared immediately once a defect or issue is discovered, facilitating prompt corrective action, and avoiding the unnecessary production of defective ware.

Referencing the production example given previously, 8 hours of production on that line consumes 26.4 tons of glass and produces the equivalent of 11.2 tons of CO2.  If using automated measurement and sampling, a defect is caught within 30 minutes vs. 8 hours, 7.5 hours of unusable production that needs to be sorted, and re-melted can be avoided. This equates to 10.5 tons of unnecessary CO2.  And this is only from one instance.

The benefits of precise and high-speed sampling

In addition to the environmental gains, precise and high-speed sampling and measurement of bottles can render numerous benefits that can improve productivity and profitability. In QA operations, these include the substitution of measurements with increased accuracy and repeatability for labor intensive, hand measurements and associated documentation. Most significant however, is the potential to dramatically increase laboratory throughput, delivering actionable results to production in a meaningful timeframe. Faster test results, quicker response and less scrap equate to improved profitability as well.

Agr International, with over ninety-five years producing testing and measurement instruments for the glass industry, offers several automated measurement and sampling gauges for the glass container industry. These include the Gawis4Glass®, a compact measurement system designed for the laboratory, and the DSG series of dimensional gauges that can be used in the laboratory or connected directly to the production line in a sampling arrangement.

These systems focus on five key principals:

  1. Laboratory efficiency to speed up daily tasks.
  2. Dimensional gauging that is flexible, precise, and comprehensive
  3. Simplicity in ease of setup and operation
  4. Durability to operate in a 24/7 environment.
  5. Industry 4.0 connectivity

The Gawis4Glass® and the DSG utilize advanced vision technology with telecentric optics and lighting with 100% bottle image capture for maximum precision and fast and efficient dimensional processing. With multifunctional operation, these systems can perform multiple measurements in a single operation with an average throughput of less than 20 seconds per bottle.

Many plants have numerous SKU’s and job changes, and setup of a measurement system can be a challenge. Agr’s patent pending AutoJob® is designed to overcome this challenge by providing automated recognition of key finish measurements.  With this feature, the operator simply selects the AutoJob mode and the work of locating and identifying finish features is performed automatically, within thirty seconds.

The Gawis4Glass, introduced in 2020, features a compact design that is compatible with the size and style of laboratory operations. This system has an extensive library of tests including all critical dimensional measurements from push up through complicated finish measurements as well as a robotic handling option for hands-free operation.

The DSG, Agr’s flagship automated measurement system, is now in its fifth generation and features a total measurement process that includes all dimensional attributes, pushup, weight, ID/bore and thickness distribution.  The DSG500, slated to be introduced in early 2024, incorporates a number of new advancements including a large format user interface, Industry 4.0 communications and AutoJob® automated job creation.  This system sports a totally hands-free operation with the ability to be used at the production line in a sampling configuration. In this configuration, it can operate on a continuous 24/7 basis collecting and measuring samples, bypassing the QA lab altogether. In addition, it can be interfaced with Agr’s SP2 sampling pressure and volume measurement system to provide pressure and volume test results in the same process.

Achieving a net-zero glass plant is a daunting task that will take time to master. However, achieving actionable testing results in thirty minutes or less is a reality. This will not solve the world’s problem with greenhouse gases, but it can contribute in a positive manner. Sometimes it’s the little thing that you do that makes the biggest impact.

[1] Average emissions from flint glass (481 kg CO2 per 1 ton) and colored glass (391 kg CO2 per 1 ton)