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.