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ENGEL Technical Centre St. Valentin. (Photo credit: ENGEL)

Digital Days at ENGEL: Advances in plastics technology in focus

Schwertberg, Austria

From June 18 to 20, 2024, ENGEL hosted the Digital Days event in Schwertberg and St. Valentin. This event provided concrete answers to central questions in the injection molding industry. Over 400 enthusiastic visitors attended, gaining exciting insights into the current state of advancing digitalization in injection molding through practical examples, and offering interesting perspectives on the near future. ENGEL's activities in digitalization aim to enhance customer orientation by optimizing production, reducing energy costs, improving quality, and addressing the skills shortage.

Gerhard Dimmler, CTO of ENGEL, and Hannes Zach, Head of Sales Digital Solutions at ENGEL, opened the event with a lecture on the importance of digitalization for the injection molding industry. ENGEL has evolved from a machine builder to a provider of complete solutions with a high degree of digitalization possibilities. The digital transformation encompasses process optimization, sustainability, and addressing the skills shortage. Digital assistance systems and products enhance production efficiency and quality. ENGEL sees the future of injection molding in the use of AI and digital twins for process optimization. ENGEL is a pioneer in this area and supports its customers with innovative products in digitalization.

FUTURE meets REALITY

Under this motto, Johannes Kilian, Head of Process and Application Technology at ENGEL, presented how digital products can enhance productivity in the injection molding industry.

ENGEL's "inject 4.0" strategy aims to enable customers to develop and produce high-quality, cost-efficient parts. Through the use of digital assistance systems, AI-based analysis tools like the iQ process observer, and shopfloor monitoring in the e-connect customer portal, the entire production chain is optimized, from design to sampling, production, and maintenance. These digital solutions lead to energy savings, better part quality, and increased machine availability, ensuring long-term competitiveness.

ENGEL's One-Stop-Shop for digitalization was summarized as follows:

  • ENGEL takes care of the entire product lifecycle – from design to maintenance.

  • ENGEL takes care of the entire product lifecycle – from design to maintenance.

  • ENGEL offers solutions for all entry points of digitalization – whether customers are just starting or are already experts.

Unlocking New Possibilities

AI Evangelist Malcolm Werchota, Head of Generative AI at Triple Eight Solutions and Co-Founder/COO at CoatingAI, Switzerland, gave a talk on "AI in Industry - Has the Future Already Begun?" and provided a clear answer:

“ ENGEL uses artificial intelligence to improve the process efficiency of its customers.”

In his lecture, he highlighted the benefits of generative AI, which is already being used in many areas today.

At the end of his lecture, he introduced the prototype of a world-first innovation:

ENGEL GPT

This large language model offers significant value to ENGEL's customers:

  • reducing the need for internal emergency services

  • ENGEL GPT can ease knowledge drain

  • minimal implementation effort on the customer side

With ENGEL GPT, employees of injection molding companies will have all machine and process data available directly on the shop floor. Through simple voice input, they can access extensive and interconnected knowledge. The system is integrated directly into the customer portal.

The prototype of the system was a crowd-puller at the technology center in the large machine plant in St. Valentin. Here, the opportunities and potential that AI offers for the future of injection molding became clear. At additional stations, ENGEL presented the practical implementation in digital products and assistance systems.

Presentations by Customers with Practical Examples

Customers using ENGEL's digital products in daily operations provided in-depth insights.

Dariusz Barton, Managing Director of SolidPlast Sp. Z O.O., spoke about transparent production at a medium-sized company. With ENGEL's innovative concepts, SolidPlast improved its production processes. Thanks to ENGEL's iQ systems and shopfloor monitoring, the innovative injection molder was able to reduce production costs by 4.2% and increase machine availability by 270 hours annually, leading to higher efficiency.

Injection Molding in Transition: BIC's Digital Journey

The global player in disposable lighters, razors, and pens, BIC, looks back on eleven successful years of digital cooperation with ENGEL, significantly enhancing its production as a result.

Yiannis Voultzatis, IMM Process & Mold Optimization Manager at BIC Violex S.A.:

“ With ENGEL authentig we have improved our Manufacturing KPIs significantly. Our already high Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for molding was increased by 3% and our scrap was reduced by approximately 40%, which is really significant, leading to a more sustainable molding process.”

Addressing the Skills Shortage

Piercarlo Balducci, Head of Product Engineering & Head of Maintenance at Interroll SA, also sees technology as a key to solving personnel challenges. The company relies on the digital setup assistant, ENGEL setup assistant, which allows for short setup times even by less experienced operators. Machine downtime due to tool changes can be reduced by up to 80%. For contract manufacturers, this represents a clear competitive advantage. Additionally, the company managed to reduce energy costs by 15.38% through the use of iQ flow control. Therefore, Interroll described ENGEL's digital solutions in their presentation as a game changer.

AI in the Textile Industry

Florian Wurzel, Cluster Leader at KM.ON GmbH, presented an impressive example of production revolution through edge computing. His company uses the edge computing platform from DAIM, a joint venture between ENGEL Austria GmbH and uni software plus GmbH. Edge computing is a data processing concept where data is processed and analyzed directly at the "edge," or the source of the action, rather than centrally in the cloud. This allows large data volumes to be processed quickly and with minimal delay. DAIM's edge devices are also used in ENGEL injection molding machines' e-connect products.

Ready for Smart Operation – The New CC300 plus Controller

An advancement of the CC300 machine controller, the CC300 plus, was also a crowd-puller at the technology center in St. Valentin. It offers enhanced ergonomics, assistance, and personalization. The extended control concept, which is already successfully in use by customers, was presented here.

Efficiency Enhancement in the Service Process

How ENGEL is already using AI today was made clear in remote support and digital tools. AI is a key to service optimization and significantly reduces the time required for injection molding companies.

Paperless Manufacturing:

ENGEL demonstrated how production can be optimized through data-based decisions. Manufacturing companies receive item- and order-related results and KPIs to significantly reduce scrap and machine downtime.

Creating Added Value Together with ENGEL – Partner Companies Presented Solutions

DUALIS GmbH IT Solution: Production optimization with the digital factory.

DAIM GmbH: Smart solutions for Industry 4.0 with a focus on industrial security.

Symate GmbH: Data management via AI, capturing interactions.

iQ user communites:

On the first and last day of the event series, the iQ user communities took place. They specifically targeted the practical needs of process technicians and machine operators. Here, users were able to test and discuss ENGEL's iQ products at the technology center in Schwertberg.

In conclusion, ENGEL impressively demonstrated its innovative strength in plastics technology to an enthusiastic audience with the Digital Days. The developments and technologies presented highlighted the company's commitment to sustainably shaping the industry through digital transformation and advanced solutions focused on customer orientation. The event provided valuable insights and impulses, paving the way for future progress and cooperation.

www.engelglobal.com

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