Sidel (sidel.com), the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, has recently developed Intelliblower™ technology, a significant innovation which brings control and self-regulation to the blow molding process. The patented technology ensures greater accuracy in distribution of material during the production of individual bottles, with the elimination of inconsistencies resulting in improved quality, regardless of bottle weight.
Bottle quality affects brand perception
The blow molding process is becoming increasingly important as the drive for ultimate lightweighting of PET bottles within the industry continues. Poor or irregular material distribution within the production of bottles can adversely affect quality throughout the entire process and can even lead to a total shutdown of the line. Because the appearance and handling of the bottle is what ultimately affects how any brand is perceived, Sidel is continually striving to create the highest quality and performance possible in PET?bottles. With the new Sidel Matrix™ blower, Sidel is challenging the conventions of production and manufacturers can rest assured that their beverage brand will consistently appear on the shelves exactly as they intended. With the introduction of Intelliblower, Sidel is also leading the way in blow molding performance with this unique patented blowing process control and self-regulation system.
Embedded intelligence enables improved quality
Prior to Intelliblower, quality control for PET bottle blowing involved frequent sampling and laboratory testing of bottles. This was then followed by manual adjustments to the process. The procedure is lengthy and considerably reduces line efficiency. More importantly though, it does not completely remove the possibility that a number of bottles may still be produced outside accepted tolerances. By controlling parameters of the pre-blow phase that strongly impact final material distribution instead of simply focusing on regulation of heating, the Sidel Intelliblower uses PET material optimally and cost efficiently. It is therefore able to have a higher impact on production uniformity and packaging quality, irrespective of the weight of the bottle being produced.
Self-regulating, the Intelliblower system automatically detects and corrects process deviations on the shape of each bottle being blown, adapting to maintain an even material distribution with only the most minor variations. This ensures that every milligram of PET is correctly allocated. With control of this level combined with the packaging expertise and process capability of the Sidel Intelliblower, waste is reduced and excellent PET lightweighting potential is possible, even with recycled material (R-PET).
A very responsive process correction
Inconsistencies of material distribution within the bottles are usually caused through incorrect blowing pressures of individual blowing stations, by inaccurate component calibration or through wear and tear of mechanical components. The self-regulation of Sidel Intelliblower avoids these deviations by analyzing and controlling the blowing curve on each individual bottle. This produces accurate and consistent distribution with a closed loop on each blowing curve and adjustment of critical points during the pre-blow phase. This process regulation is managed in a responsive way by using decentralized and more responsive automation that allows faster and better exchange of information. As a result, only five consecutive bottles are produced at a blowing station before the necessary correction is validated. This self-regulation means far less sampling, testing and adjusting for producers, along with increased bottle quality.
Simple self-regulation of the blowing curve
Sidel Intelliblower is designed to be user-friendly. Its operation is based on continuous and automatic process regulation without the need for any manual intervention. This regulation is applied in three areas: pre-blow start, pre-blow flow and pressure. The line operator defines the blowing process that matches the technical specifications of the desired bottle shape and these parameters are used to define the pre-blow reference curve. Then the real blowing curve is systematically self-monitored at each blowing station during actual production of the bottles. If blowing deviates from the reference curve, a correction is automatically implemented. Finally, referenced and real blowing process phases are aligned in terms of pre-blow timing (start and duration) and the pressure at all the blowing stations. This continuous regulation is performed on every bottle to ensure each one consistently meets the necessary specification. With Sidel’s Intelliblower, the standard deviation of material distribution between different blowing stations can be halved when compared to a machine without self-regulation.
A perfect way to anticipate maintenance
Through the Human Machine Interface (HMI) of the Sidel Matrix blower, process values of individual blowing stations are recorded, along with dedicated graphs. This gives operators a comprehensive overall picture of the process performance. It also alerts them to any potential inconsistencies, indicating those stations where any bottles are being blown outside accepted tolerances. They are therefore able to easily identify malfunctioning stations and plan any necessary maintenance in order to minimize impact on production. Even if maintenance is deemed necessary, production generally still remains viable. As a whole, the Sidel Matrix blower is reducing the amount of maintenance and manual operations required, while lowering labor and control costs significantly.
With Sidel Intelliblower, beverage producers are able to enjoy improved bottle quality due to higher blow molding performance along with an increased insight into the operation of their production equipment. Put even more simply, they will benefit from greater package consistency and subsequently, better brand value.