Environmentally friendly, sustainable, and cost-effective operation: That was one of the paramount goals for this latest evolution of the Contiform. When it comes to stretch blow molders, the greatest potential for improvement in these areas often lies in reducing energy consumption in preform heating and, of course, in lowering compressed air consumption in the blowing process. And Krones R&D team have made the most of these opportunities: They’ve shortened the distance between the heaters, made the heating space even more compact overall, and redesigned the heaters with parabolic reflectors. As a result, they’ve cut energy consumption by 11 percent compared to the previous generation.
The team has also achieved substantial savings on compressed air. Unlike the technology customary on the market to date, the new Air Wizard Triple air recycling system uses a three-stage compressedair recycling process that can reduce compressed air consumption by as much as 20 percent. The required valve technology - the basis for the Air Wizard Triple - was developed together with the Seitz company.
But the focus on sustainability hasn’t been limited to the machine’s operation. It also includes the materials used in the installation process. As an example, the protective panels used are made of recycled plastic.
Efficiency thanks to reduced downtimes
In order to further improve total cost of ownership (TCO), the fourth generation Contiform uses a newly developed skip-and-run technology, which monitors the mold-hanger locking device and allows a blowing station that is not locked to pass along the main cam, for instance to eject a defective preform without triggering an emergency stop of the entire machine. That considerably reduces the scrap rate and eliminates the need for operator intervention.
Enhanced user friendliness
But the improvements don’t end with consumption and TCO. The new Contiform is also now even more user-friendly: It features a large-screen interface with the latest touch technology and improved visualization software. And assistant systems guide the operating personnel through the settings, even making automatic suggestions. That makes operating the machine more intuitive and more efficient. Changing out handling parts has likewise been optimized for operators. It’s now possible for robots and human operators to work on changing over the machine at the same time.
A machine that learns
To help relieve operating personnel of especially challenging tasks, Krones has developed Contiloop AI, an automatic process control system, and put it to use in the new Contiform: The combination of AI-based software and newly developed hardware makes it possible to detect even the slightest variations in material distribution in the production of PET containers and to automatically adjust key stretch-blow-molding parameters in real time – and thus to ensure that the bottle quality meets specifications. This factor is particularly important when working with rPET. That’s because quality and composition are critical factors when processing preforms made of recycled material – and they can sometimes be rather uneven. Any inconsistencies have to be offset in the blow molding process so that every container meets the specified quality criteria.