The MONITORING.SUITE from Optalio enables Bergi-Plast GmbH to improve product quality, reduce waste and shorten machine downtimes.
Caps, also known colloquially as “lids”, are an integral part of everyday life: from the shampoo bottle for the morning shower to the orange juice for breakfast and the washing-up liquid for the dishes. A variety of “lids” protect packaged contents, help with dosing and ensure user-friendly handling.
An Optalio customer project shows how the production of caps and closures, as well as technical parts for the automotive sector, can be optimized using thermoplastics in the injection moulding process.
At first glance, caps on bottles, canisters or tubes seem very simple – they are so much a part of everyday life that very few people think about them. Behind this are intensive development and highly complex production processes. Among other things, they ensure that caps provide optimum protection for their contents and that these come out of the packaging in an orderly and well-dosed manner. However, in the injection moulding process used for producing, errors can occur, which can result in very expensive product rejects.
Bergi-Plast GmbH, based in the spa town of Bad Gottleuba-Berggießhübel on the Czech border, is one of the long-established companies in the industry. The medium-sized company has been continuously expanding its expertise in the production of plastic parts made from thermoplastics using injection moulding since 1962.
Since its foundation in 1919 as a small metal production company, Bergi-Plast can also draw on extensive experience in metal processing – the expertise is still used today in the company’s own tool making department for the production, repair and optimization of tools. In two plants, the company produces caps and closures for the cosmetics, food and chemical industries as well as technical parts for the automotive sector.
In the caps and closures sector, approximately 120 standard closures and 60 customer-specific products are produced. While the production of the caps takes place on 33 injection molding machines, this applies to 25 units in the case of the technical parts. Customers cover a wide area, from household, cosmetics and dental hygiene to garden/home tools and the food and gastronomy sector. These include well-known manufacturers of canisters and bottles as well as leading system/module suppliers to the automotive industry.
Although the injection moulding process as a whole reliably delivers very precise results, there are unfortunately also frequent errors that lead to rejects. Additionally, machine downtimes can occur at irregular intervals, resulting in costly production disruptions. Due to the openness towards innovative solutions and continuous search for optimization potential, the collaboration between Bergi-Plast GmbH and Optalio GmbH, a specialist for data collection and analysis, was established.
Tradition and innovation in unison
Throughout its more than 100-year history, Bergi-Plast has repeatedly initiated new innovations and integrated them into the production process. Due to the high level of vertical integration – from project planning to toolmaking and subsequent injection moulding all the way to completion – continuous improvements are essential for success. The digitalization of production and business processes is therefore also part of the corporate strategy.
“Optalio’s concept of a holistic data strategy, which includes the collection, management and evaluation of data and subsequent optimization, convinced us,” says Dr. Ronald Bernstein, Managing Director of Bergi-Plast. “One of the decisive factors was that Optalio’s solution is able to analyze the collected data by correlating numerous process parameters. This makes it possible to detect anomalies. Secondly, all process parameters can be analyzed independently, allowing machine errors to be detected automatically and more reliable forecasts to be made. In the end, we opted for MONITORING.SUITE, which we wanted to use as a first step in optimizing the injection moulding process.”
Start under favorable conditions
At the start of the project, the Optalio experts initially used data records from Bergi Plast’s own production data acquisition system (PDA system) to train the subsequent data science models based on their analysis. The reason for this was to first assess the potential of the data before real-time tracking should take place.
Although not fully implemented yet, numerous advantages in terms of speed and data analysis handling were already evident at this early stage.
“As the data is provided directly via the machine interfaces, no additional hardware investments were necessary for us,” says Bernstein. Planning and setting up the infrastructure for data collection, consolidation and analysis is part of Optalio’s holistic data strategy service portfolio and therefore, in this specific case, did not involve any effort on the part of the injection moulding specialist. Bergi-Plast also benefits from Optalio’s membership as a Gold Partner of the Intel Partner Alliance. This gives data analysis experts access to data science modules that have been optimized for Intel processors. This leads to significant increases in runtime performance in three areas: data pre-processing (up 75 to 80 percent), model calculation (up to 96 percent) and model evaluation (up to 99 percent). As a result, Bergi-Plast receives the evaluation of the data significantly faster than would be the case with regular modules without optimization on Intel® hardware.
Best chances of success
“We are pleased that the results of the data analysis achieved so far already indicate that the ambitious goals we set ourselves at the beginning are likely to be fulfilled – after all, we have big plans,” says Ronald Bernstein. The analysis of the MONITORING.SUITE is intended, among other things, to significantly reduce the time spent identifying defective parts and the resulting costs of customer complaints.
For example, in the year 2022, there were a large number of parts that were not completely filled. Of these, around two percent were scrapped without being inspected – the remaining 98 percent were inspected and sorted out. Above all, Bergi-Plast is planning to invest in imaging systems to solve the main problem of parts not being fully moulded. This enables the Optalio solution to correlate the process data with optical data in order to detect production errors at an early stage. This makes it possible to reduce the costs of the previously manual reading activities.
Increasing production efficiency
In addition, the evaluation of the machine data enables Bergi-Plast’s production management to obtain comprehensive condition monitoring of the injection moulding machines in real time. Anomalies detected at an early stage not only reduce unplanned downtimes. Predictive maintenance measures generally extend the lifetimes of machines and plants because small faults detected early can be quickly addressed and do not develop into serious damage.