Equipping every machine with sensors that are innovative and, at the same time, compatible with existing plant engineering. This, then, is the strategy for translating the principles and opportunities of Industry 4.0 into practice. “We’re talking about a long-term challenge for global manufacturing”, stated Vezio Bernardi, General Manager of Sacmi's Closures&Containers Division, in an interview given during the last edition of the CBST fair in Shanghai. “In recent years, Industry 4.0 has been at the very core of the Sacmi Group's investment plans. Since it's possible to equip not just new machines but also existing Sacmi systems with advanced process data acquisition sensors, our customers can upgrade all their installed machines and integrate new functions seamlessly along the entire production line”.
Sacmi was founded in 1919. Over the years it grew alongside the nascent Italian ceramic and packaging districts. Today, it is not only a global leader in its core businesses but has, since the turn of the century, gone on to become a leading provider to the beverage industry. It is against this backdrop that, after nearly a century of continuous innovation, we are now focusing on Industry 4.0. The latter, points out Vezio Bernardi, should be seen as a “series of strategies aimed at providing our customers with innovative products and services, guiding them towards opportunities that stem from a new industrial revolution which has been at the core of the Sacmi Group's development policies for years. The ability to integrate new systems seamlessly on existing lines”, he adds, “allows overall optimization of production, identification of potential problems in advance and enhanced process repeatability and plant efficiency”.
The market's recognition of the new Sacmi machine range, together with the successful application of the Sacmi H.E.R.E. (Human Expertise for Reactive Engineering) supervisor, provides clear evidence of the soundness of Sacmi's strategy in this regard. “The range of CCM cap-making compression presses and the IPS injection-technology preform production platform have enjoyed market popularity because, compared to alternative solutions, they provide better productivity, lower consumption and greater versatility”.
Additionally, observes Mr. Bernardi, Sacmi has successfully tackled and resolved certain critical issues such as differences in average efficiency levels between the various stages of the beverage production line. “With the Sacmi CPB-Link magazine”, he points out, “perfect synchronization between the preform and capsule production processes is achieved, thus improving logistics and lowering sanitation costs thanks to reduced handling requirements. This”, he adds, “also paves the way for unprecedented downstream integration opportunities with the stretch-blowing, filling and labelling processes”. A clear example of this is the latest addition to the range, Sacmi HeroBlock, the all-in-one solution that combines stretch-blowing, filling, capping and labelling and includes all the in-line inspection systems as well as advanced plant engineering services.
Plant integration, which forms the foundations of all 4.0 implementation policies, recently saw the advent of the H.E.R.E. plant controller. The latter offers a series of major advantages, such as the possibility of interfacing the supervisor with the customer's ERP system. This latest approach to production and inventory management goes hand in hand with the goal - at the advanced implementation stage - of providing all machines with advanced self-diagnosis and predictive maintenance systems, alongside the remote assistance services provided by the 24/7 Global Sacmi Network.
“The main goal of such services is to ensure customers gets the most out of our machines”, explains Vezio Bernardi, “and overcome the inevitable issues that global interconnection poses from a personal data protection and confidentiality viewpoint. We're committed to providing customers with the strongest possible guarantees by drawing up confidentiality agreements that ensure data from machines is used only for the purposes of improving their performance and enhancing general process efficiency”.
While the future of Industry 4.0 has yet to be written, observes Mr. Bernardi, the development of these services has already triggered a revolution in customer assistance. This change convinced Sacmi to set up a true Customer Care Division that makes the 4.0 approach its priority and manages, in a carefully coordinated way, all data analysis, diagnostics, predictive maintenance and customer training services.
“These services”, concludes the Closures & Containers General Manager, “have been designed to train up customers and ensure they use the full potential of new machines before, during and after the sale. For us, that means remaining strategically competitive and a mutual learning process that ensures we all keep pace with the continuous innovation being generated by Industry 4.0. Of course, accompanying the customer towards the cutting edge of innovation has been the Group's mission ever since its founding. Today, more than ever, that mission is focused on the potential and the prospects of the beverage and packaging sector”.