Sidel recently developed Intelliblower technology, a significant innovation which brings control and self-regulation to the blow moulding 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.
The blow moulding 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. It 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, the company 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.
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.
The Intelliblower uses PET material optimally and cost efficiently by controlling parameters of the pre-blow phase that strongly impact final material distribution, instead of simply focusing on regulation of heating. 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 machine, waste is reduced and excellent PET lightweighting potential is possible, even with recycled material.
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 analysing 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 decentralised 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
The machine is designed to be user friendly with operation that 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 the 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 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 minimise impact on production. Even if maintenance is deemed necessary, production generally still remains viable. As a whole, the Sidel Matrix blower reduces the amount of maintenance and manual operations required, while lowering labour and control costs significantly.