GreenMouldiTwin: green digital twin for efficient and environmental-friendly plasctic injection moulding
Plastic injection moulding industry has evolved over decades and became the most common method to manufacture plastic parts. It is one of the techniques used in producing plastic product by injecting plastic materials molten by heat into a mould and then cooling and solidifying. It is a very complex process due to various parameters that must be considered. At this time, the industry manufacturer plastic consumes high electrical energy to produce plastic product. This in turn will release carbon dioxide gas which can have adverse effects on the environment. To optimal setting up of injection moulding process, variables play a very important role in reducing electrical energy consumption to produce product. The variables involved to control settings are holding pressure, injection pressure, injection speed, mould open/close speed and screw rotation speed.
The main objective of the experiment relies on the usage of the digitalisation to improve the environmental friendliness of the plastic injection moulding process, which is primary technology used by the manufacturing SME Cotexsa producing high quality bathroom plastics products.
Indeed, Cotexa sees the digitalisation as a possibility not only to reduce costs and increase productivity, but also to lower the environmental impacts. The main challenge is that this transition must be affordable, smoothly integrated in the existing automation of processes and quality control. Cotexa cannot “only” rely on using renewable energy sources for being environmentally friendly, but also to integrate environmental awareness into production processes, what we call environmentally friendly production, which is one of the strategic goals of the company
Cotexsa’s production and brand have been developed using extensive knowledge and, above all, understanding of the bathroom accessories industry. SME manages an adequately equipped production plant, which consists of hydraulic press machines, tools and machines for the production of supporting elements. Cotexa performs quality control, as an individual testing of each product, while continuously working on the new designs of toilet seats and new types of hinges. The company has also included polypropylene toilet seats in its range – adequate and adaptable material, practical design, a good solution for wide use and affordable prices. Polypropylene is a hard thermoplastic polymer. It is widely used due to its good physical and chemical properties that can be adjusted by adding different types of additives.
The experiment should prove that by using efficient collection of data, Digital Twin technology and AI services provided by DIH, it is possible to model the production quality from the environmental protection point of view and react if some problems appear.
The goal of the experiment is achieved through the realization of following objectives:
O1: Define new concept of the Green Twin which is green digital replica of an asset, focused on the plastic injection moulding.
O2: Enable efficient sensing (CPS) of data relevant for the plastic injection moulding process.
O3: Enable and efficient development and maintenance of the Green Digital Twin by using DIHs services based on advanced data analytics.
O4: Provide GreenMouldiTwin proof of concept (PoC) in selected manufacturing SME using clearly defined KPIs.
O5: Promote the results and enable the commercialization of the solution.
For the consecution of these objectives two main activities have been performed:
1. Data collection phase, in which the infrastructure for data collection is set up, the data transfer mechanisms are put in place and the data collection process is started.
2. Data processing phase. The previously collected data is analysed through a manual process, a machine learning process is applied and production plans are consulted. Afterwards, the log files of the machine are analysed and the data analysis and machine learning process are validated through experts.
The main conclusion is related to understanding the behaviour of the moulding machine in the eco-friendly context (the energy and environment impact)
The experiment has showed that it is possible to understand the relation between the energy consumption and environmental aspects thorough the definition of different operating modes. Among the two modes of the machine, one mode (mode 2) impacts more environment and mode 1 influences more the environment (mode 1).
Another important result is the automatic classification of the working modes of the machine. There are 4 major operations modes:
- Machine shut down
- Machine plugged in, not working
- Machine in motion, no molding
- Machine is molding
Impact of the experiment
The main innovation of the experiment is related to understanding the behaviour of the moulding machine in the eco-friendly context (the energy and environment impact).
This enables to understand the relation between the energy consumption and environmental aspects thorough the definition of different operating modes.
Therefore, the major impact of the experiment is related to the set up of an infrastructure that enables sustainable manufacturing, in this case of plastic injection moulding.