Failures, Costs, Interrupted Production Processes: Easily Avoidable Through Surface Cleaning

 The production of high-quality parts is indeed daily business for the plastics processing industry. In production, it is not uncommon to fall back on the moulds of the customers. It is indispensable to treat the tools provided with care, because if damages occur, the reputation of the processing company naturally suffers. But that's not all: competitive pressure is also forcing thermoplastics processors to achieve maximum efficiency and constantly rising quality standards.

During thermoplastic processing, small amounts of the polymer, additives and pigments usually remain on the surface. Over time, this leads to deposits that also affect the surface quality of the parts. This threatens an increase in rejects - and creates a clear economic risk. In fact, just a few defective parts can affect an entire batch.

If such a batch is nevertheless delivered, there is a risk of consequences such as complaints or a poorer supplier rating. And in its worst case, the customer relationship is in jeopardy. The formation of such residues is a slow and steady process that is by no means always synchronous. For example, certain polymers, additives and pigments have a greater tendency to form deposits during long production cycles, others less so. Polyamides, PVC, acetals and numerous other substances, for example, accumulate more, polyolefins leave wax and trapped pigments on cavity surfaces.

How To Proceed With Maintenance?

The question of how to proceed with maintenance is by no means trivial. The differences in quality only become apparent in the final analysis. In order to reduce the unavoidable and often considerable maintenance costs and downtimes, the regular use of mould cleaners is recommended. The advantage is that plastics processors can save a lot of money, time and waste with a small amount of material and only a few minutes for regular cleaning.

What is particularly important to look out for? Checking for weld lines, bubbles and surface defects is still comparatively simple. This can be done directly at the machine and in a timely manner. Partially blocked vents (such as vent pins) can be much more difficult to detect. But they are very important in the process, because contaminated mould parts and tools can significantly impair filling. A good indication is also when an increasing surface gloss appears on structured surfaces - but this is often difficult to detect.

Source: Laurent Saleur (Chem-Trend) in the trade journal Plastverarbeiter 9/2021

Photo: Всеволод Чуванов


Digitalisation: Adapting Mechanical Raw Material Handling To A Fast-Moving Market

Getting raw materials to the right place in the right quantity and at the right time is becoming increasingly complex and time-consuming. The turnover on the market is becoming faster and faster – and so a traditional process such as raw material handling must be significantly accelerated for this market through accompanying digitalisation. New challenges posed by new markets, a growing interest in recycling solutions or the rapid progress of electromobility require clear changes.

''The dust-free handling of raw materials for battery masses is extremely challenging, ' comments CTO Klaus Kilian of AZO in Osterburken, Germany, one such example. In future, not only product protection but also operator safety will have to be taken into account. And, of course, there are the special properties of such raw materials – very high requirements can hardly be solved with traditional mechanical processes, or they become very expensive and thus cannot be marketed well.

Data Analysis And Intelligent Tools For Future-Proof Business

A good example is powders that are used in 3D printing. Up-scaling, which is common in the industry, becomes down-scaling here. Some things just don't work anymore when the systems get smaller. Handling is really challenging: operator protection is extremely high, and at the same time the product itself must be protected from environmental influences, as it is sometimes very reactive. Digitally supported handling makes a decisive difference here. Clear data analytics will play an increasingly important role in the future. In the future, data will have to be collected and analysed at various levels so that companies can react even more quickly and in a more targeted manner.

Thinking consistently ahead, the systems will also have to become easier to operate, and the same applies to maintenance: "The goal must be that routine maintenance no longer takes place every two years, but that the system signals itself when a component threatens to fail," say the specialists from AZU.

The ubiquitous shortage of skilled workers also plays a significant role in this new, digital raw material handling. At the moment, there are still plant employees with 15 to 20 years of professional experience who can sense or hear the slightest discrepancies in a plant. Although not everything will be replaced by sensors, digital tools will increasingly be used to replace such specialists.

Raw material automation and logistics still include many mechanical process engineering procedures, but these must be combined with intelligent digital tools to be able to act in a future-proof manner for the benefit of the customer.

Photo: industrieblick


Closed Product Life Cycles For Sustainable Production In The Global Textile Industry

In order to realise the change to a sustainable and user-oriented value creation of textile products, product life cycle management (PLM) offers a forward-thinking and holistic design concept. In the highly networked structures of the textile and apparel industry, this is increasingly becoming a must. In fact, a fundamental change of policy is evident in almost all sectors. Not only the short-term consequences of the pandemic, such as unsaleable stocks, sales slumps or failures in the supply chain, are putting the entire industry under pressure. The significantly increasing user interest in questions of sustainability and manufacturing conditions in low-wage countries confronts textile producers with the task of turning away from cheap mass-produced goods and initiating a change to a transparent, environmentally compatible product portfolio. Comprehensive control of data, methods and processes through PLM along the entire life cycle of a product not only allows an increase in efficiency and quality but also stands for said transparency in the production process.  And: with regard to the growing importance of closed material cycles, the methodical generation, processing and distribution of product-related information by manufacturers also means an improvement in the data basis for producers of raw materials and subsequent recycling companies. Ultimately, the high emissions of the textile industry will be noticeably reduced, write Kai Müller and Thomas Gries (RWTH, Aachen) in the trade journal ‘CITplus’.

Strategies For The Business World

Compared to typical users such as mechanical and vehicle engineering or electrical engineering - which are classically strong in their development activities – PLM is only slowly spreading in the textile industry. The focus here is on standardising processes, followed by increased development productivity and a faster ‘time-to-market’.

Information on the actual use and utilisation has only been available to a limited extent so far. And this is not only due to the complex design of tracking textile products after they have been handed over to the customer. The lack of skills and resources also makes it difficult for many textile companies to introduce the necessary digital systems. This means that essential information from the use phase for the necessary improvement of machines and the development of customised services simply remains unused. One focus of research work to improve this situation is the development of textiles with integrated electronics (such as RFID tags). These smart textiles can record and exchange environmental data via suitable components, communicate with corresponding interfaces and thus support the analysis of usage behaviour. In the condition monitoring of textile components, too, these smart textiles open up new possibilities for online data collection during operation. This opens up the possibility for a real quantification of error causes as well as the support of real-time decision-making processes.

 Photo:  kyrychukvitaliy


Contact-Free Emptying Of IBC Tank Containers For Aggressive Chemicals

Barrels and especially ‘intermediate bulk containers’ (IBCs) in which aggressive and harmful chemicals are stored are emptied with barrel pumps as standard. However, there is a risk of employees picking up parts contaminated with chemicals, for example when opening caps or lids.

A new pump set from Sondermann is therefore working with a permanently installed dip tube – this completely avoids contact with the chemicals. The Cologne-based company has tackled this current problem, which mainly affects modern IBCs. These are completely closed and sealed so that neither the contents can come into contact with dirt and foreign substances with the hazardous liquids – nor, of course, people coming into contact either. In order to safely empty the contents of these containers, they are equipped with a permanently installed dip tube. A quick-action coupling prevents the contents from escaping unintentionally.

The core of the set is a self-priming magnetic centrifugal pump. The externally rotating drive magnet transfers the motor power to the inner magnet and thus to the impeller without contact. This means that there is no need for a continuous shaft and thus no shaft seal to the motor that would be subject to wear.

Non-Contact Pumps In Operation

In automatic mode, different filling quantities can be stored and selected. When filling starts, the pump starts and stops automatically as soon as the desired filling quantity is reached. If the container is empty and the pump draws in air, it also switches off automatically. The graphic display of the touch panel shows the operating status and can also be operated with gloves.

The pump set, which was developed in cooperation with the Dutch manufacturer Promens, combines all components such as pump, flow meter, sensors and control in a compact console. It is delivered with a wall bracket, but can also be mounted on a trolley and is therefore very flexible to use. Typical areas of application are places where hazardous chemicals such as sulphuric acid or cleaning agents are stored on sites without a WHG tank.

In terms of good, preventive environmental protection and the applicable Water Resources Act (WHG), this is a good basis for using modern storage technology and protecting employees.

Photo: Danish Khan


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