BlendSave. Plastics Processing in Industry 4.0

Plastic manufacturers today are focusing on Industry 4.0 compliance for plastics processing. As it becomes a universal standard, they want to react quickly to industry changes in the current fast-paced competitive environment. This fourth industrial revolution enhances computers and automation with smart and autonomous systems.

plastics processing in industry 4.0

In the highly competitive plastics industry, capital expenditure considerations are crucial to the bottom line. For example, expensive machinery, factory space, manpower, and long-term maintenance are resulting in high costs.  As a result, manufacturers have to reconsider how they manage, convey, weigh, blend and feed all the raw materials that go into individual formulations while ensuring uptime and quality.

Challenges to Plastic Resin Blending

The current methodology of resin blending, central blending, and blending next to or on top of the processing machine poses significant challenges such as:

  • Material segregation during conveying
  • Homogenizing multiple batches to ensure accuracy of the blend
  • Labor and clean downtime of each batch blender
  • Lost uptime for product changes
  • The capital cost of having a batch blender for every line
  • Centralized control of all individual batch blenders
  • Complicated vacuum systems
  • Mezzanines for each batch blender

BlendSave— Revolution in  Plastics Processing in Industry 4.0

Ampacet’s LIAD Smart Technology brings a revolutionary Industry 4.0 innovation to the plastics processing industry. To be concrete, it is addressing the challenges of raw material automation in weighing, conveying, and blending. LIAD Smart deals with the wasteful, inefficient, and overly complex manner of weighing, blending, and conveying raw plastic material. Standard gravimetric batch blenders weigh batch components in serial order while homogenizing three batches to ensure accurate weighing.

To meet this challenge, LIAD developed BlendSave, a patented centralized multi-channel gravimetric batch blending automation system. It provides optimal management of multi-ingredients and multi-processing machine combinations for plastics plants. Featuring precision weighing of each ingredient and segregation free blending in-line.

plastics processing in industry 4.0

BlendSave optimally manages combinations of ingredients across multiple processing machines in plastics plants, offering unparalleled consistency and high throughput. According to factory specifications, multiple BlendSave systems can communicate with each other. They create a platform that is virtually unlimited in the number of raw materials and recipes that can be processed. As well as how many processing machines can be serviced.

BlendSave Capabilities

BlendSave’s centralized resin blending system accommodates up to 50 individual weighing chambers, fed directly from silos or containers, and can serve up to 50 processing machines with a potential throughput of up to six tons per hour.

BlendSave can simultaneously and accurately weigh raw materials, combining them as a batch according to a predetermined recipe. Each batch is then distributed via a rotating-arm-dispenser to its own buffer comprised of up to 50 batch buffer bins, with each buffer linked to one dedicated processing machine. Once a signal is received from a vacuum receiver mixer/blender, material from the linked buffer is transferred via a delivery pipe to the mixer. The volume within a buffer bin and that of the linked mixer is adjustable so that the second can accommodate the first, producing exceptional batch uniformity. Blending in-line prevents the risk of material segregation during conveying.

The BlendSave innovative in-line blender is filter-less, eliminating the need for cleaning.

The dedicated weighing chambers and mixers at the inlet of each processing machine eradicate the risk of cross-contamination. BlendSave offers a unique solution that eliminates many manufacturing challenges when working with, for instance, a variety of resins, recycled plastics (regrind and PCRresins), compounds, and additives.

It is possible to configure each of the 8 up to 50 weighing chambers as a 20-liter weighing chamber or as a 3-liter weighing chamber, with potential throughput of up to six tons per hour. Weighing in parallel allows for the use of smaller load cells, affording superior batch accuracy at greater throughputs.

Depending on the number of masterbatches (additives and/or colors), they can either be dispensed via theBlendSave or by integrating a single component gravimetric feeder.

In fact, the LIAD Smart ColorSave 1000 precision dosing unit provides significant savings in the cost of the additives.

BlendSave — Ability to Expand and Scale 

A single BlendSave system is modular in design, allowing configurations that can service up to 50 processing machines. Multiple units can integrate into a platform according to the number of raw materials. That way, as a plant grows, BlendSave can grow with it.

BlendSave provides full monitoring and control of customized job status, batch auditing, historical graphs, and performance reports for each machine and job via an interactive PC dashboard or by linking BlendSave to a factory’s ERP platform, resulting in total communication and real-time monitoring integration with the operation’s production plant.

Conclusion

The convergence of Industry 4.0 in plastics processing is leading the charge towards the development of smarter and more efficient factories. BlendSave allows manufacturers to improve their efficiency by simplifying and streamlining the workflow process, resulting in faster production of materials with greater quality control. To sum up, the result is new opportunities for business growth through automation.

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