Great Success at Interplas

The PREVIEW team represented by Smithers Rapra attended Interplas in Birmingham, UK from 26th to 28th September, 2017. The main purpose was to exhibit its cyber physical system for the optimisation of injection moulding to machine manufacturers, polymer producers, suppliers, researchers and service providers in the plastic sector.
Interplas is the UK’s leading plastic industry event and provides a platform for more than 400 exhibitors from different parts of the world to present and promote recent innovations and technological advancements related to advanced plastic manufacturing process, plastic automotive and medical industries, recycling etc.

Figure 1 – PREVIEW stand at Interplas

The interactive PREVIEW stand attracted a large number of visitors from the polymer industry throughout the three days of the event. The visitors were eagerly interested to know about the whole PREVIEW system, its working principles, the characteristics of each sub-system, economic benefits, stability of the system in the industrial environment etc.

Figure 2- Visitors in PREVIEW stand at Interplas

To make the PREVIEW system easily understandable and representable to the visitors, a simpler version of the Data Acquisition System (DAS) was developed. The visitors could inflate a football with a bicycle pump equipped with a pressure sensor and follow in real-time the evolution of the pressure with a simplified Data Acquisition System. Additionally, a tailored version of the Location Based Content Delivery (LBCD) system was also presented to the visitors. With the combination of two Low Energy Bluetooth beacons installed on the stand and the PREVIEW mobile app running on a tablet, the visitors could use the proximity detection feature of the LBCD and have access on the mobile device to the process information provided by the PREVIEW system such as alerts, setup predictions, production and quality control and documentation about the PREVIEW project. The visitors found it easy to operate and considered it innovative, advanced and very comprehensive to monitor and optimise the whole production process.

They also saw the potential benefits associated with reducing the production set-up time, scrap, raw material and energy consumption of injection moulding process. Queries from the visitors were answered and details of the PREVIEW project were provided by the researchers and consultants of Smithers Rapra. The following areas were found to be of interest for the visitors –
1. Technical details of each subsystem particularly for the wireless network technology of the PREVIEW system.
2. Practical experiences and robustness of the system in the industrial environment.
3. Economic advantages of using PREVIEW system in industries.
4. Equiplast exhibition and practical demonstration opportunity of the PREVIEW system in the Netherlands on 23rd November, 2017 were also discussed with the visitors.

To make the technical information of the PREVIEW project more accessible to all of the participants, exhibitors and speakers at Interplas, Dr Julien Loste, consultant at Smithers Rapra, gave a presentation on ‘Merging Smart Factories with High Volume Manufacturing’. He started by describing the problems faced in the injection moulding industry to improve productivity and the need to monitor the injection moulding process. Then, he highlighted how the PREVIEW system enables plastic moulders and manufacturers to close this gap by incorporating cavity sensors and enabling the digitalisation of cavity and machine process parameters.

Finally, he explained how it is possible to correct any process inconsistencies by using the advanced predictive system that analyses and suggests injection moulding machine parameters to the operator to ensure the best part quality. This data transmission process is possible due to an efficient, novel and robust wireless network protocol that overcomes the usual difficulties encountered in a large industrial environment (impracticality of cables and interferences).

Figure 3 – Dr Julien Loste, Consultant at Smithers Rapra, delivering a presentation on PREVIEW system at Interplas

It was an excellent opportunity to interact and present PREVIEW to a large number of visitors and a wide range of participants at Interplas and get their feedbacks on what the system has to offer. The success and experience of Interplas will be beneficial to prepare the PREVIEW team for upcoming events: Equiplast at the Gran Via, Barcelona 2nd to 6th October and Advanced Engineering at the NEC, Birmingham, UK 1st to 2nd November.


PREVIEW Concludes Its Final Trial Demo at Smithers Rapra

The fourth and final full scale demo trial of the PREVIEW system was performed recently at Smithers Rapra Polymer Processing and Development Centre (PPDC), at their site in Shawbury, UK. Two of the partners in this European project (Horizon 2020), Plastia (Spain) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany) travelled to Smithers Rapra’s facilities to continue the implementation and testing of the PREVIEW technology. The partners worked collaboratively to evaluate the overall performance of the system in a real case and industrially-driven scenario (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Injection moulding machine at Smithers Rapra, UK.

PREVIEW’s four components:
• Data Acquisition System (DAS)
• Wireless Communication Nodes (WCN)
• Advanced Prediction System (APS)
• Location Based Content Delivery (LBCD)
worked together to build the Cyber Physical System (CPS).

The fundamental goal of PREVIEW is to reduce waste, and improve productivity through the smart monitoring, control and optimisation of the injection moulding process. The DAS records cavity and machine signals (temperature, pressure), and they are processed and transferred via wireless communication to a central wireless node that collects the data. This node acts as a centralised server that works in conjunction with the advanced predictive system (APS) which analyses the data, determines process inconsistencies and recommends optimum production parameters that are delivered to the user through a mobile application named the location based content delivery (LBCD).

In this demo trial, all of the PREVIEW subsystems were set up on the first day. The DAS was connected to both: the ARBURG 420C injection moulding machine, and the sensorised mould to read the signals. The DAS interacted properly with the machine and sensor interfaces, timely receiving cavity and machine signals (temperature, pressure). The rate of the data transfer process from the DAS to the WCN was seen to function efficiently, and the main information of the signals was seen to arrive at the node within the first few seconds.

The reach of the wireless network was evaluated by installing an additional node positioned at least 200 meters away from wireless server in the opposite extreme of the production floor. Simulated data incoming from this node was adequately received and processed by the central server node. It was possible to confirm that both WCNs and the server created a robust wireless network (Figure 2) that benefitted from the customised communication protocol to prioritise information and communicate effectively with the APS.

The optimum parameters of the injection moulding process were established and a Design of Experiment (DoE) was designed based on the following parameters: injection speed (cm3/s), injection pressure (bar) and holding pressure (bar). This was done to identify any deviations that could pose a risk in part quality to feedback into the APS system.

Figure 2 – Robust Wireless Network.

On the second day, the connection between the DAS-WCNs-CMS-APS was checked again to ensure the whole PREVIEW system loop was working smoothly. The DoE was conducted, and throughout these runs the DAS was able to acquire and display digital data coming from the machine and cavity signals that projected the corresponding plot deviations resulting from the changes of the injection speed, injection pressure, and holding pressure.

In Figures 3 and 4 two examples are presented of the observed changes in injection speed and holding pressure, respectively, as obtained from the data captured by the DAS. These results prove the adaptability and capability of the DAS to accurately monitor the changes in injection moulding parameters. The quality of the produced parts, in addition to any production defect (e.g. flash, flow mark, shrinkage etc.) was monitored and visually inspected by the operator. Part dimensionality and weight were also measured for the purpose of quality control.

On the third day, after completion of the training process for establishing the production parameters in the APS, this subsystem was evaluated and it was corroborated it could effectively monitor the injection moulding process, providing part quality classification and recommendations to secure optimum set-up. All this information was easily retrieved remotely by the user through the location based content delivery mobile application. In addition to classifying the quality of parts (e.g. good/bad), the APS was capable of assisting the user in identifying the type of defect, which was seen to greatly improve the quality control process by guiding the operator into what to specifically look for.

Figure 3 – DAS identifies the changes in injection speed during demo trial.

Figure 4 – DAS identifies the changes in holding pressure during demo trial.

The whole third day was focused on running the system autonomously, e.g. as in full scale production trial, and monitoring the stability, smoothness and performance of both: the individual subsystems, and the PREVIEW system as a whole. The overall observation from the partners was that PREVIEW can work smoothly in an industrial production scale environment. Yet another successful trial for the PREVIEW Project team after spending more than two and a half years on the development of an inclusive, innovative and smart technological system.


PREVIEW Attends ICCCN

The PREVIEW project went international on 31st July – 2nd August 2017 when Humboldt University, a partner from the PREVIEW consortium attended the ICCCN in Vancouver, Canada.

Roman Naumann, Computer Engineer at PREVIEW partner Humboldt University of Berlin attended the ICCCN, The International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks Conference, presenting a paper to the Conference. This paper, titled TANDEM: Prioritizing Wireless Communication for Robust Industrial Process Control Presentation session: Wireless Network focused on the PREVIEW industrial wireless network developed by the partners.

This paper was one of just 25% to be accepted into the main conference out of all submissions from across the globe, owing to the innovative technological development of the PREVIEW sub-system.

This conference was the 26th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks.

ICCCN is one of the leading international conferences for presenting novel ideas and fundamental advances in the fields of computer communications and networks. ICCCN serves to foster communication among researchers and practitioners with a common interest in improving communications and networking through scientific and technological innovation. The primary focus of the conference is on new and original research results in the areas of design, implementation, and applications of computer communications and networks.

Authors of the paper: Roman Naumann, Stefan Dietzel, Laura Wartschinski, Ben Schumacher and Björn Scheuermann.