The keyword is Industry 4.0 – a project which is of major proportions. The German government and industry want to work together on merging the real and virtual worlds while actively promoting digitisation in industry. This will involve both customers and business partners in an endeavour to make German industry more flexible in its response to future demands for large-scale production and in its efforts to remain competitive as an international player. The packaging industry, too, is focusing on innovative value-added processes that are set to make the most of the existing potential in manufacturing and logistics. .
Machine-to-machine and smart factory
Machine-to-machine communication and smart factories are two important modules in realising the research objective. The purpose is to automate production equipment with the help of central control systems, so that they can work more efficiently in terms of time and cost. This involves collecting and analysing data to reduce downtimes and to optimise processes, while manual working methods are restricted to the monitoring of the production machinery. Experts believe that these innovative solutions will have an important place in the packaging industry, particularly in the use of modern materials such as forgery-proof polymers and organic plastics.
Diagnostic systems in plastic packaging
On average, the plastic packaging volume that is produced in Germany is over 4,335,000 metric tonnes per year. The sector is seeking to address the growing demand through an information exchange between production machines via the internet and mobile telephony. Using intelligent media such as RFID chips, for instance, it is possible to save the required manufacturing details to the products themselves, in machine-readable form, to identify faults as soon as they occur and to notify the operator accordingly. Expensive purchasing costs are no longer necessary, and it is now possible to retrofit existing machinery as and when required.