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Quality assurance and sustainability go hand in hand more than ever

How BST eltromat helps its customers to achieve their environmental goals
By Dr. Michael Dattner
Quality assurance systems from BST eltromat support in many ways the striving of web processing industries for more sustainability. Especially in the film and packaging industry, the topic of recycling management has been gaining importance for years. The industry is undergoing a radical change which also places new demands on quality assurance systems. As a worldwide leading manufacturer of these systems, BST eltromat is at the forefront of the transformation process towards recycling management.

Web guiding, register control, web inspection, 100% inspection and color measurement - especially in the production of flexible packaging, quality assurance systems minimize material and energy consumption as well as waste. The systems are easy and safe to operate. They shorten set-up processes and guarantee a constant quality level in production. And they can be integrated with upstream and downstream production steps across all processes in the sense of Industry 4.0. Manufacturers from different sectors enable the exchange of process data between their machines and solutions. This integration opens up additional, previously unknown options for increasing efficiency in web processing industries - and thus for more sustainability.
With all this, quality assurance in the film and packaging industry along the entire value chain contributes to improved life cycle assessments of production processes and products. But also other web processing industries benefit from the higher sustainability that quality assurance systems from BST eltromat make possible. Examples are the nonwoven, battery and tire industries.
Legislative decisions drive the upheaval
In the recent past, greater sustainability of industrial production processes has been one of the central themes at practically all trade fairs and congresses in these sectors. Manufacturers of films and flexible packaging in particular have come under enormous pressure to dramatically increase the environmental compatibility of their products. Across Europe, it is above all "The Strategy for Plastics in the Recycling Industry" of the EU Commission from the beginning of 2018 and the "Directive (EU) 2018/852 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste" that are setting the direction: Packaging should be 100% recyclable, recoverable or biodegradable. In Germany this results in the German Packaging Act (VerpackG), which came into force at the beginning of 2019.
Pressure is also coming from the branded goods industry. It requires manufacturers of flexible packaging to deliver novel solutions by 2025 that are 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable. At the K 2019 plastics trade fair in Düsseldorf, functional monopolymer materials were shown for the first time as a replacement for the multipolymer composites that have so far been common in flexible packaging. In addition, intensive work is being done on the production of packaging made of recycled plastics. The particular challenge in the development and manufacture of the new packaging materials is that they must not only keep pace with the performance and optical quality of the previous materials, but also allow for equally high efficiency in their production.

New requirements for quality assurance
Since the new materials, including the recyclates, have special properties, they place new demands in quality assurance, for example on web guiding systems or surface and print image inspection. BST eltromat covers these requirements among others with adapted web guiding systems, sensors and inspection systems. For example, in the production of new types of packaging materials, it may be necessary to gather experience and process know-how in order to adapt the coatings of the web guiding rollers.
Another example are the Digimarc barcodes, which are increasingly used in the production of packaging. In contrast to the one- and two-dimensional barcodes used so far, Digimarcs are components of the packaging design and therefore not easily recognizable by the human eye. As a rule, they are integrated into the artwork of packaging at many points. Digimarcs can be read from virtually any angle and at the highest machine speeds. They also make it possible to automatically eject plastic packaging from the sorting machines of recycling companies and send it for recycling.
The Digimarcs also place new demands on quality assurance. BST eltromat solves them with its solutions iPQ-View for digital web inspection and iPQ-Check for 100% inspection. Both solutions are modules of the iPQ Center of BST eltromat which comprises four seamlessly integrated high-end modules for the control and monitoring of quality in web printing and with its functionality covers practically all requirements of the market.
In addition, innovative sensor technology can contribute to minimizing the use of materials in the production of flexible packaging. Shortly, BST eltromat will present possibilities how web guiding systems can save even more material than before even at high machine speeds. BST eltromat is known in the global market for facing new challenges and developing new solutions for individual requirements together with customers. No matter in which direction the new packaging materials develop: The company will flexibly support the market here with its solutions.
Industry 4.0 as the key to greater sustainability across all processes
The integration of the various process steps in the production and further processing of flexible materials - from film extrusion to printing and packaging - opens up a wide range of options for increasing sustainability. BST eltromat strives to provide customers with all options when networking their quality assurance systems. Thus, the company participates in the OPC UA working groups (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) of the VDMA, among others. This interface is intended to standardise the networking of the various production systems.
At the trade fairs and other events in 2019, Industry 4.0 was an important topic at BST eltromat. For example, at the K 2019 at the Circular Economy Forum of the VDMA, the company demonstrated in its presentation "Quality assurance tailored to products made from recyclates" how integrated processes support the production of innovative plastic materials.
In 2017 BST eltromat was involved in the foundation of the Converting 4.0 network initiated by Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik. At the K 2019, both companies jointly demonstrated in a simulation the interaction of a digital line and contrast sensor CLS PRO 600 from BST eltromat with a winder of the type ConSlitter and the integrative platform the@vanced from Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik. The integration enables automatic setup of the sensor system and the motorized knife axis of the winder, which simplifies the slitting process and significantly reduces setup times. It also eliminates sources of error and thus avoids waste. A concrete example of how integrated processes support more sustainability in packaging production.

Artificial intelligence in defect classification
In mid November 2019, BST eltromat participated in the fourth meeting of the Converting 4.0 network at Windmöller & Hölscher in Lengerich. Here, too, data communication beyond process limits was discussed. BST eltromat showed how the merging of quality data results in higher efficiency and safety as well as more comfort and sustainability - provided that the information is available in a synchronized form. For example, artificial intelligence in process analyses can bring great benefits in defect classification. Scenarios are currently being developed in the Converting 4.0 network on how the consideration of additional process and material data can bring additional added value. Here, too, the future promises to be exciting.
Another example of how Industry 4.0 can contribute to greater sustainability in the production of flexible packaging: Within the scope of its cooperation with SeeOne Vision Technology, manufacturer of surface inspection systems based in Florence, Italy, BST eltromat links, for example, information from film extrusion with quality data from the printing process. The SeeOne systems detect surface defects in various materials such as films, metallized films, paper or cardboard and classify them with the help of artificial intelligence, for example as holes or inclusions, insects or dirt. The findings from surface inspection can be used for optimization in production processes in various ways.
For example, if the quality logs flow into the iPQ workflow of BST eltromat, defect interpretations beyond process limits become possible. An example: If the quality assurance in film extrusion detects abnormalities in a certain linear meter range, these are recorded in the quality protocol. If unwanted effects occur later in the printing process in the same linear metre range, it can be recognised that the cause was in the film extrusion.
In addition, BST eltromat is working with industrial partners on possibilities to further reduce waste in web printing.
www.bst.group

 

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