Process Tracking for Transparent Manufacturing
Process tracking for unparalleled transparent manufacturing
Achieving genuine in-mold quality control in real-time is now truly possible. All thanks to fully transparent manufacturing. In other words, you can now keep track of what’s happening in your mold and maintain a consistent level of manufacturing quality, regardless of deviations in material behavior.
In addition, all your production processes are regularly uploaded to sensXPERT's Digital Cloud Service. This is designed to provide you with a comprehensive archive of previous production parameters, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Via unique dashboards and customizable graphs, you can monitor trends and performance indicators across all your production lines. It allows you to evaluate your entire manufacturing landscape and respond more effectively should any unwanted production issues arise.
Relevant industry challenges
To truly get a handle on what sensXPERT’s process tracking can do for you and your manufacturing output, let’s first explore the different challenges it was designed to address.
Lack of in-mold transparency
To date, most plastics manufacturers are limited to post-process quality checks. In other words, they can only validate the quality of the products they produce after the fact. What happens in the molding process, has always been invisible.
Consequently, manufacturers are forced to artificially inflate cycle times to accommodate additional contingencies, or ‘safety buffers’. They also must accept that invisible (and therefore unpredictable) deviations in material behavior can lead to scrap production and wasted energy consumption. Furthermore, this lack of transparency makes it difficult to pinpoint the cause of production errors, thereby increasing the time it takes to recommission a production line.
Whether it’s a change in humidity, aging, or storage conditions, the raw materials you use are subject to many unforeseen influences. Inevitably, these influences could, and often do, impact material behavior in unexpected ways. Therefore, despite all the simulations of material behavior that manufacturers create ahead of production, a consistent level of quality cannot be 100% guaranteed.
Consequently, there will always be a potential risk for deviation from what is expected in terms of material behavior, which in turn could lead to scrap production and unnecessary costs.
Manufacturers encounter numerous cost-related challenges, prompting them to adopt various process optimization measures. However, even with these measures in place, they still rely on post-production quality assurance.
This type of downstream testing often leads to a belated detection of defective parts or scrap, resulting in a waste of time, energy, and raw material, and ultimately adding to overall unnecessary costs.
Too many data-generating silos
Within the plastics industry, it is not unusual for a manufacturer to be using an assortment of many different equipment and technology solutions. This diversity, or lack of holism, often results in disconnected technology stacks, creating silos that generate their own data streams.
Consequently, massive, and cumbersome data lakes are formed, overwhelming most companies with volumes of data too vast to be processed and utilized for data-driven optimization decisions.
The plastics manufacturing industry faces significant scrutiny due to its impact on the environment, particularly regarding its carbon footprint from plastic waste incineration and the harm caused to ecosystems by non-biodegradable materials. There is mounting pressure from the public, NGOs, and governments for the industry to increase sustainability throughout the production process and at the end of the product's life.
As a result, EU member countries are obligated to disclose information on their process sustainability, as part of the EU Green Deal and EU Taxonomy.
Benefits of Process Tracking
A boost in economic efficiency
The type of process tracking provided by sensXPERT delivers genuine savings by helping to minimize machine downtime, lowering scrap production, cutting cycle times, and reducing an overreliance on post-process quality assurance testing. The combined effect translates directly into an economic benefit. In other words, it costs less to produce every part. Furthermore, by refining the manufacturing process, sensXPERT aids in creating higher-quality parts within a set timeframe. Consequently, this leads to increased turnover and a boost in sales opportunities.
Quality control in real time
Once installed in your mold, sensXPERT offers real-time process transparency and quality control during the curing or crystallization phase, diminishing the need for post-process testing. This allows materials with deviations to still produce satisfactory parts that meet your exacting requirements. This is achieved via sensXPERT’s machine learning models that accurately predict material behavior in real time and in the mold, enabling you to dynamically control the process and maintain consistent part quality throughout.
Measurable and sustainable production
On a practical level, sensXPERT’s process tracking can also help you achieve your sustainability goals more easily. In other words, by reducing scrap production, valuable raw materials are preserved, preventing waste on substandard parts. Then there’s also the associated decrease in cycle times, which contributes to lower energy consumption. Ultimately, these improvements not only foster a more sustainable production process but also lead to reduced costs by alleviating the strain on personnel and material resources.
Holistic and transparent manufacturing
It’s also worth noting that sensXPERT supports OPC-UA (not to mention other digital and analog connection standards). OPC-UA not only enables data communication among individual machines within your production facility but also extends to the organization-wide intranet. Consequently, data can be accessed anytime, anywhere, providing the sensXPERT Digital Cloud Service with more comprehensive information for precise and robust outcomes. So, when coupled with the interconnectivity of the sensXPERT Digital Cloud Service, process tracking promotes a more holistic and transparent production process across all your manufacturing locations. In fact, individual machines can now learn from each other, as you remotely analyze and correlate data from multiple sites worldwide.
Digital component tracking
With process tracking fully implemented, the data collected on all your manufacturing output is stored and made accessible via the sensXPERT Cloud Service. In other words, there is a digital thread and history linked to every part you produce. Moreover, it is an extremely comprehensive approach, which promotes the highest level of transparency and traceability – particularly useful for manufacturers who are required to comply with the EU’s regulations on taxonomy reporting.
Explore real-world success stories with sensXPERT
Improving in-mold transparency in the electrical encapsulation industry
Find out how two companies successfully used sensXPERT on their reaction injection molding processes to boost in-mold transparency and reduce scrap production rates.Find out more