Smart Factory Expo Success for PREVIEW

PREVIEW felt right at home exhibiting at the Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool on 15-16th November, the UK’s largest showcase for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The event is at the forefront of displaying the many innovative and advanced technological products and services, from artificial intelligence to robotics, and PREVIEW was no exception. The project, a location based wireless technological solution to optimising the injection moulding process was a hit amongst the 4000+ visitors over the two-day event, with experts such as Dr. Abu Saifullah at the stand in the Innovation Alley. PREVIEW was on display hosted by UK-based consortium partners Smithers Rapra.

Attendees of the exhibition were able to have their questions and queries answered by the PREVIEW team in the Innovation Alley. The array of visitors from a number of different companies in the industry were impressed by the benefits of the wireless advanced predictive system which would help the efficiency, waste and energy consumption of injection machines.

The Innovation Alley is a densely packed networking space, where companies and entrepreneurs alike showcase their innovations to the large audience – the perfect setting for PREVIEW.

The Smart Factory Expo event is the final exhibition for PREVIEW, having already attended other advanced technical and engineering events such as Interplas, Advanced Engineering and Equiplast. The concluding event for the project is the PREVIEW workshop, a one-day event held on 23rd November 2017 at consortium partner Promolding’s facilities in The Hague, The Netherlands, where attendees will experience first-hand the benefits of PREVIEW through a series of presentations, demonstrations and feedback activities.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend this event and would like to find out more about PREVIEW, you can find information on the system in our ‘Knowledge Base’ section. Alternatively, feel free to contact us! Use the form in ‘Contact Us’ and one of our experts will answer your questions or queries.

PREVIEW Shines at Advanced Engineering

Recognised as one of the leading and highly influential manufacturing events of the year, Advanced Engineering constitutes the perfect platform for the promotion, showcasing and introduction of novel technologies in the fields of materials, processing and smart manufacturing. This year’s event put together over 200 conference sessions, 6 forums and over a thousand products on display for the estimated 13,000 participants. Among these, PREVIEW, represented by Smithers Rapra, made an outstanding appearance on stand J14, with interactive activities to show the principle of cavity-signals monitoring, as well as a tailored version of PREVIEW’s location-based content delivery application, customised by Eurecat, to enable the attendees to interact via a tablet with the APS and DAS features that are available for potential injection moulders during real-time production. One of the most attractive attributes of such a demonstrator was the ability of the participants to view their position within the Advanced Engineering floorplan, and of receiving real-time notifications that were triggered by strategically located Bluetooth beacons within the stand.

The PREVIEW system was well received at Advanced Engineering in the NEC, Birmingham

A vast majority of the queries from the stand attendees were seen to relate to:
• The nature of the data acquisition system that was being used
• The compatibility of sensors with injection moulding equipment

On the 2nd day of the event, the PREVIEW project featured a presentation by Andrea Sanchez Valencia at the Connected Manufacturing Forum, entitled “PREVIEW: Innovating injection moulding monitoring through cyber physical systems.” The talk was well received by the audience, and it captured the structure of the PREVIEW system by exposing the details of each one of its constitutive subcomponents: i.e. data acquisition system, wireless network, advanced predictive system and location-based content delivery module. The presentation concluded with novel data collected during the demonstration trials at the different end-partners, -MPT, PROMOLDING, PROFORM and Smithers Rapra- throughout the summer of 2017.

Attendees were able to see for themselves how the PREVIEW system could benefit them by trying out the PREVIEW Pressure Pump demonstration

This event forms part of an active campaign of introducing the world to the benefits of in-cavity signals monitoring during injection moulding brought by PREVIEW, which started with an attendance to Interplas, and is expected to conclude with a final participation at the SmartFactory Expo on the 15th-16th November at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, along with a practical workshop organised by the PREVIEW consortium at PROMOLDING’s factory in The Hague on the 23rd November.

Eurecat and Plastia Take PREVIEW to Barcelona

With 35,000 visitors attending, the Equiplast Fair in Barcelona was the perfect venue to showcase the PREVIEW system. Project partners Eurecat Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya and Plastia came together on 2-6 November at the Gran Via Centre, to display the innovative wireless technological solution for injection moulding optimisation and setup as part of a wider effort, the Barcelona Industry Week.

During the Equiplast Fair, PREVIEW secured interest from the thousands of attendees of the event and show promising results for potential clients of the project. A demonstration of PREVIEW was set up at the event, using the Location Based Content Delivery mobile app to display data just as the real-time system would do during operation.

Xavier Rubiralta Alcañiz, Director and Service Manager from Plastia reflects on the event’s significance for PREVIEW,

“At Equiplast we were able to implement a software within the Data Acquisition System (DAS) to simulate injection moulding runs, which allowed us to display real time some injection moulding curves (graphs) and thus showcase some of the functionalities/capabilities of the DAS and Advanced Predictive System (APS).”

Trialling the Demonstration Phase at End User Sites

During the summer 2017, the PREVIEW system was installed, tested and validated at the facilities of four end users: MPT, PROMOLDING, PROFORM and SRSP. At each demonstrator, the performances of the system were measured following a methodology previously defined by the consortium. Assessing the performance of the subsystems and of the whole system in four real industrial scenarios has been a challenge as the requirements, system specifications and facilities varied from one end-user to the other.

At the four demonstrations, the whole PREVIEW system was successfully installed and the four subsystems correctly communicated with each other and worked all together to form only one PREVIEW system. The end users could finally have access on their smartphones/tablets to all the useful process information provided by the PREVIEW system such as alerts, setup predictions, production and quality control and other static machine information.

The demonstration phase has been an essential step of the PREVIEW project to greatly improve the functioning of each subsystem and to make the PREVIEW system even more performant.


Figure 1: PREVIEW demonstration taking place at a) MPT, b) PROMOLDING, c) PROFORM and d) Smithers Rapra

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.