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How can manufacturers benefit from the latest machine control technology?

03 May 2019

What if it was possible to develop a machine learning model capable of predicting that a critical element of your manufacturing equipment is at risk of breaking down – and order spare parts well in advance? Or what if you had access to an industrial controller with built-in artificial intelligence, that uses pattern recognition to predict an unwarranted deviation on your filling line that you otherwise would never have detected?

These examples may sound like wishful thinking, but they exist here and now as applications for artificial intelligence on the factory floor. Discussions around artificial Intelligence (AI) in manufacturing are gaining momentum. AI is already used in many companies, aiding them in the analysis of large amounts of data to improve their R&D and plant management processes. However, AI can also offer significant advantages in packaging applications on the machine level, allowing manufacturers to re-think their processes to be more flexible and adapt better to any potential change. 

The importance of operational excellence

Operational excellence is required to maximise capital expenditures. But at the same time, manufacturers are challenged to move away from traditional high volume, low mix production runs, to more complex high mix, lower volume production – with demand linked directly with production. 

In addition, legislation and retailer mandates, for example in food & beverage, is putting greater demands on manufacturers to ensure that labels printed are accurate and contain all the data required, including readable barcodes. Late-stage customisation includes adding variable data to labels or packaging that are pre-printed. This allows the manufacturer to customise product labelling for certain markets, customers or products without having to stock individual packaging materials for each possible variant. In addition, the flexible production of smaller batch sizes places new requirements for automatic and fast changeovers. 

Read the full article in the May issue of DPA

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