Logoplaste, based in Cascais, Portugal, introduced its embedded wall-to-wall manufacturing model to reduce waste and increase efficiency. The model also results in a more economically and environmentally sustainable method of production of rigid plastic packaging since it eliminates the need for a separate secondary packaging plant and the logistics associated with transporting empty bottles. Logoplaste (www.logoplaste.com) operates imbedded production lines throughout the world, 70% of which use the wall-to-wall concept. The remaining operations are traditional production facilities.
Known as “wall-to-wall manufacturing,” the concept of producing containers within a customer’s facility leaves a very small margin for error, said Leandro Sponchiado, Technical Director USA, Logoplaste.
“The room for mistakes is zero,” Sponchiado said, noting Logoplaste was among the first to introduce wall-to-wall manufacturing. “We need to deliver containers just in time at all times. If my machines stop, or quality isn’t 100%, the customer doesn’t have containers to fill.”
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Designing World-Class Production Lines - Compressed Air Included
Pivotal to reliability and quality is the compressed air used to power Logoplaste imbedded wall-to-wall manufacturing production lines.
“Everything in these plants is the best you can have,” Sponchiado said. “They are showcase facilities with best-in-class machines. The compressed air systems used were born in the correct way.”
Much of the success for the wall-to-wall concept stems from the ability to design the operation from scratch based on long-term plans. The opportunity to build the compressed air system from the ground up is no exception Sponchiado said.
“We design everything around a specific number of plastic product production machines with room for two or three open positions. We have the correct air flows and clean air with stable pressure because the design concept was correct from the start,” he said.
Two Compressed Air Systems Matched to Processes
A typical wall-to-wall manufacturing system can feature Extrusion Blow Molding (EBM) machines and Stretch Blow Molding (SBM) machines. Blow molding operations are supported by injection molding machines.
Different plastic container designs, as well as machines and materials used in production, can dictate the use of two separate compressed air systems, at different pressures, for the EBM and SBM production lines.
The Logoplaste team will opt for the compressed air technology best suited to the unique requirements of each distinct blow-molding production process, Sponchiado said. This normally means two separate compressed air systems are part of the system design. A low-pressure system supplying approximately 100 psig (7 bar) compressed air will support the injection molding machines and EBM machines. A separate high-pressure system providing up to 580 psi (40 bar) will support the SBM machines.
Start-up of an oil-free, reciprocating, high-pressure air compressor (photo courtesy ABC Compressors).
Oil-Free, Reciprocating, High-Pressure Air Compressor Packages for Stretch Blow Molding
The stretch blow molding (SBM) process begins when preforms, created by injection molding machines, are supplied to a multi-level rotary wheel blow-molding system. In the first of a two-stage process, compressed air is injected into each preform through a stretch rod at between 101-203 psi as the stretch rod itself simultaneously pushes the material into a closed mold chamber. The blow stem then stops before it reaches the end of the mold. The second stage begins when compressed air is injected into the mold at between 377-522 psi so it fully forms into the shape of the container. After each container is fully formed, high-pressure air is routed back through a feedback loop to be reused as low-pressure air for the first stage.
Logoplaste wall-to-wall manufacturing designs often see the plastic product production equipment powered by HORIZON 3000 oil-free, reciprocating high-pressure air compressor packages designed and manufactured by ABC Compressors. The two firms have worked together to install compressed air systems at multiple locations within the United States. The HORIZON 3000 air compressor package features a variable speed drive (VSD) 610-horsepower (hp) air compressor rated to deliver up to 1,715 scfm of air at 580 psi (40 bar). Each package includes refrigerated dryers rated at 37°F (3°C) pressure dew point, as well as an electronic condensate drain and filters.
“Unlike other high-pressure reciprocating air compressors, ABC Compressors’ HORIZON air compressors feature horizontally configured pistons on both sides of the crankcase for added stability, while at the same time, virtually eliminating vibration,” said Nacho Urbistondo de Leiva, Sales Area Manager, ABC COMPRESSORS USA, LLC. “Also unique to the air compressors are double-acting cylinders, allowing both sides of the piston to compress air for optimal efficiency. The double-acting design also results in lower operating temperatures, further enhancing efficiencies and energy savings.”
With the SBM process, the output of each VSD machines is automatically adjusted to ensure the necessary volume of stable air with a variation of 0.01 to 3.0 psi. The VSD air compressors also automatically avoid idling scenarios and wasted air production with open valves when the SBM process requires less air than a given air compressor is able to deliver. The compressed air system master controller automatically starts and stops units that aren’t needed and rotates run-times of all installed air compressors to ensure even wear and tear as part of ABC Compressor’s overall intelligent compressor room design.
Compressed air system designs including redundancy allow for routine air compressor maintenance to occur without interrupting production (photo courtesy ABC Compressors).
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Redundancy and Compressed Air Quality
Routine preventive maintenance is regularly performed on offline low-pressure and high-pressure air compressors to ensure 100% availability of air.
“We’ll always have the capability to have one high-pressure air compressor and one low-pressure air compressor down for routine maintenance,” Sponchiado said. “That way we will always have compressed air for production.”
Each compressed air system is also configured to deliver clean dry air that conforms to ISO 8573-1 air quality standards specifying compressed air dew point, oil content and particulate purity levels.
“We simply cannot have contamination in the containers,” said Sponchiado. “It’s also essential to have clean, dry air for the pneumatic system to avoid damage that could potentially harm production.”
“Building a huge manufacturing line is never easy, and operating systems for such complex production processes is even harder,” he said. “But the systems we have allow us to meet the demands of the customer with 100% quality. It’s a good recipe for long-term success.”
ABC COMPRESSORS USA
Although ABC Compressors has a presence in many sectors such as biogas, water treatment, natural gas, and petrochemical, the Miami location was set up to service the beverage and packaging industries.
ABC Compressors USA exhibited at the Best Practices 2022 Expo & Conference. Pictured are Gonzalo Gabarain, Nacho Urbistondo de Leiva and Carlos Martín Andrés (left to right).
For more information on Compressed Air for Plastic Blow Molding visit https://www.airbestpractices.com/industries/plastics.
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