A Dutch custom injection and blow molder has outfitted 40 extrusion blow molding machines with a wireless system for monitoring operating status and plans to extend the system to 30 more injection-blow and injection molding machines. Flestic in Dronten, the Netherlands, is now using the SmartMonitor system from Werma Signaltechnik in Germany (Werma USA Inc., Norcross, Ga., werma.com), which is described as a simple, cost-effective and retrofittable alternative to more complex monitoring systems. It’s designed to be ready to use “out of the box” and to quickly help manufacturers increase productivity and minimize downtime.
Flestic employs more than 80 people in a more than 75,350 ft2 production area devoted to producing bottles, tubs and closures for food, cosmetics, household and personal-care packaging, as well as some automotive applications. Says Bas van Nes, a safety engineer who has worked at Flestic for over 25 years, “Until now, we could only roughly measure productivity on the basis of the figures we determined ourselves. That was simply not enough for us. We wanted accurate, reliable metrics and also to see when a machine started and stopped, or what the reason was for that stoppage. This has been a gray area for us, but one we were eager to shed light on.”
The Werma SmartMonitor system, which has over 4000 installations worldwide on injection molding, metalworking and a wide variety of other machinery, consists of two main components. One is a three-colored signal light atop the machine, which signals red for a machine stoppage, yellow for temperature out of range (used by other molders to indicate an open safety gate), and green for normal operation. The second main component is the wireless monitoring system. Using what’s said to be a “robust and proven radio network” (868 MHz), a signal tower on each machine transmits data to a receiver that saves all data in a Microsoft SQL database. The system reportedly can be installed on any type, age or make of machine. It can report frequency and causes of downtime as well as production data.
Since installing the system, says van Ness, “We can see every start and stop of the machines—both on the screen and on the machine itself. It’s visually clear which machines are running. We can see immediately where there are malfunctions or a breakdown and can therefore react immediately.” He says the company plans to install a signal light in the employee canteen as well. “This should immediately inform our employees of a machine stoppage, even during breaks.”
Van Ness adds that Flestic moves its machines around occasionally, and thanks to the wireless SmartMonitor, he doesn’t have to worry about communications cabling to make such changes. Also, he notes, “We can network virtually every machine in our company with the system, such as chillers, compressors, and so on—I see a lot of possibilities.”
- Xaar, the leading inkjet printing technology group, says the advanced capabilities of its Ultra High Viscosity technology demonstrates the significant difference that inkjet printing can make to labels and packaging.
Part of Xaar’s ImagineX platform, Ultra High Viscosity technology ensures Xaar’s printheads deliver high impact, productive and efficient results for volume digital label and packaging printing applications.
At INTERPHEX NYC, Stevanato Group to Demo Robotic Inspection Unit, Present Modular Assembly Solutions and Recent After-sales Expansion
Company’s solutions offer streamlined management of complex projects, enabling pharmaceutical companies to rely on a single partner from visual inspection to palletizing. At the show, Stevanato Group also will focus on its recently enhanced after-sales services for the US market.
Covid accelerates use of digital print in packaging to $21.1 billion in 2021, new Smithers data finds
LEATHERHEAD, Surrey, UK and AKRON, Ohio, USA – September 8, 2021 – Through 2020 and into 2021 inkjet and electrophotography printing has secured new markets in labels and packaging. Data from the new Smithers report – The Future of Digital Print for Packaging to 2026 shows total value for this will reach $21.1 billion in 2021
Stevanato Group strengthens its collaboration with Microsoft Italy in support of its growth program through the use of new technologies to meet the challenges the pharmaceutical industry is currently experiencing as a result of the pandemic. The Group, which has over 4,200 employees and 14 production facilities in 9 countries, is playing a key role in the production of plastic components for diagnostic tests and glass primary packaging for drugs. It provides packaging and syringes for the major international anti-COVID-19 vaccine programs being developed, as well as pharmaceutical inspection equipment. Cloud Computing is, thus, strategic for business continuity during this delicate phase in which Stevanato Group has never ceased production, with the goal of providing support to the pharmaceutical industry.
Stevanato Group’s constant growth is sustained by an extensive digital transformation plan which also includes the development of a series of applications which, leveraging Microsoft Mixed Reality technologies, are designed to respond to the current needs of the pharmaceutical sector. For example, a Virtual Audit plan was launched, thanks to which the Stevanato Group quality teams wear the Microsoft HoloLens2 holographic headset with integrated Dynamics Remote Assist. This allows them to move throughout the installation to show customers in remote connection all processes, including production phases and lab testing. This also makes it possible to perform a remote quality system audit to ascertain that the installation complies with required standards and customer needs without requiring an interruption in the pharmaceutical supply chain, which is even more strategic during the pandemic. In addition, the HoloLens headset also makes it possible to perform the Virtual FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) — the final pre-delivery inspection that assures the remotely connected customer that the equipment is functioning properly. While wearing the headset, a technician can demonstrate machine components, start it up and share documentation. Remote acceptance of equipment for the inspection of drugs and vaccines being developed makes it possible to accelerate delivery to pharmaceutical companies, a factor that is critical in this period when the company has to manage large volumes on a short time frame.
The new frontier of Stevanato Group digital transformation process also includes the development of Artificial Intelligence to improve the performance of inspection systems and detection of defective glass containers filled with a range of drugs. In fact, a project designed to make inspection equipment supplied by the Group even more intelligent was launched in recent months, and it will be completed by 2021. Artificial Intelligence will be an additional ally of Stevanato Group in guaranteeing maximum quality to the pharmaceutical industry, by reducing potential errors and quickly detecting defective products along the production line. The integrity of these containers is essential and, thanks to Microsoft AI integrated into Stevanato Group inspection equipment, pharmaceutical companies will be able to make use of reliable algorithms to identify any defects even more easily and guarantee the highest standards of drug and vaccine conformity. False positives can be reduced by 10-fold, also decreasing container production waste, and detection rate can be improved by 5%.
These projects are part of the broader Digital Transformation plan of Stevanato Group, which is aimed to the completion of the New Digital Ecosystem by 2022. Within this context, the Group has worked side-by-side with Microsoft, focusing on a 360° Cloud approach. Over the last two years, Microsoft 365 cloud platform for productivity and security was adopted, utilizing Teams for collaboration, the New Digital Architecture on Microsoft Azure cloud was extended with advantages in terms of scalability and computing capacity, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud platform was implemented to provide a unified picture of customers and sales processes across all business lines. An integral part of the new digital ecosystem will also be the Data Strategy focused on Azure Synapse platform, the analysis service that combines data warehousing features with Big Data analysis, making it possible to carry out queries on a large scale, while providing analysis with unparalleled rapidity — up to 14 times faster — and detailed information for Business Intelligence and Machine Learning. All this with the guarantee of maximum security and privacy, which is a strategic factor when working with the pharmaceutical companies involved in drug patents and research projects, such as those for the new anti-COVID-19 vaccine.
UK, September 2021 – After the Australian "Bridgestone World Solar Challenge" was canceled, an adequate alternative route to the flat outback was quickly found with the "Solar Challenge Morocco". Despite the changed route through the desert and along the Atlas Mountains, the dutch racing team of Solar Team Twente is still optimistic that they will be able to win the World Championship for Solar Cars – also thanks to the sponsorship of Leybold.
Promoting efficient use of renewable energies
Utilized for Well Body foot cream from Steinfels, Neopac’s DigitAll360° offers intuitive ordering of digitally printed tubes with high-quality variable printing, precision color matching, flexible batch sizes and expedited delivery.
This announcement comes after a successful UK trial last year( see AIPIA newsletter 14-10-20) in partnership with Co-op, on Kellogg’s Coco Pops boxes. Evaluation of the pilot by the UK charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) showed that 97% of the participants would like to see more of these accessibility features available on grocery packaging.
Important information on food packaging, such as allergen details, can often be printed in typeface that’s difficult for blind or partially sighted people to read. The new boxes will allow a smartphone to easily detect a unique on-pack code and playback labelling information to these shoppers. All Kellogg's Europe boxes will contain the NaviLens tag in 2022.
“This announcement from Kellogg’s is a real game changer within the packaging world. It marks a significant step-change in how big brands can put accessibility at the forefront of design and packaging decisions and be a catalyst for change," said Marc Powell, strategic accessibility lead at RNIB.
“Designing packaging so that it works for everyone makes complete sense and we hope that other brands will follow Kellogg’s lead in making packaging information more accessible,” said a company spokesperson. Unlike other types of printed codes, the new technology includes high contrasting colored squares on a black background. Users do not need to know exactly where the code is located to scan it.
The first accessible boxes of Special K will appear on shelf next January. The idea came to life when Kellogg’s met with children from St Vincent’s in 2019, a specialist school in Liverpool for children with sensory impairment.
"Over two million people in the UK live with sight loss and are unable to simply read the information on our cereal boxes," says Chris Silcock, head of Kellogg’s UK. "As a company focused on equity, diversity and inclusion we believe that everyone should be able to access important and useful information about the food that we sell. Kellogg’s will be the first company in the world to use NaviLens on packaging. We will share our experience with other brands who want to learn more.”
The technology allows smartphones to pick up the on-pack code from up to 3 metres distance. This then alerts the phone and the shopper can choose to have the ingredients, allergen and recycling information read aloud to them – as well as reading it on their device using accessibility tools.
"The incorporation of the NaviLens codes onto food packaging is a positive step towards a more inclusive and accessible shopping experience for the visually impaired," according to Javier Pita, CEO of NaviLens.
The global pandemic has affected the packaging solution industry by leading to a significant price increase and shortage of raw materials and components used in packaging equipment. To compensate for the rising costs and continue to provide the highest quality solutions, Sidel is implementing a commodity-induced price adjustment on its equipment by an average of 5% effective September 6, 2021. Deficiency of raw materials and components may impact equipment delivery time as well.
As promised, here is an exhaustive list of companies currently developing and supplying sensor-activated packaging to the industry. This list will include developers, manufacturers as well as examples of retail brands that make use of their patented technology.