Interview With SKF About the Future of Digital Injection Moulding Monitoring

By Julian Resch, CEO of Digital Moulds and Rejnold Macasek, Manufacturing & Process Development at SKF


Digital Moulds

Thank you very much Mr. Macasek for taking the time for this interview! Let’s start with a simple question: How big is SKF and what do you do in Leverkusen?

SKF

With pleasure! SKF is a group of companies with over 91 locations. Leverkusen is one of them and very specialized. We manufacture seals for cars, industry and pharma food.

Originally, all the plants were independent of each other and were then gradually acquired. We have locations on all continents. SKF Seals is located in Germany, for example. SKF has a total of around 45,000 employees.

Digital Moulds

That leads me to the actual point – there is a global project for digital injection moulding monitoring at SKF. Can you tell us something about it?

SKF

We want to connect, digitalize and visualize all machines in such a way that it makes sense for the operations. Each machine has a status and displays production data to keep the plant and operations running. This applies to all sites.

 

First of all, we record where each plant stands with digital injection moulding monitoring. In other words, which systems are available and whether there is already an infrastructure or what the connectivity is like there.

Thought needs to be given to which parts are connected where. It is also necessary to find out where information can be found. Finally, consideration must also be given to how to get the information there. So we have to think about what the screen looks like. We think about what the companies need. We are also working on taking measures to ensure secure data.

So the question is what do you do with big data and what are the benefits in the end? We are sending new tools to Mexico this year. What happens when the machine is set up is one example.

Digital Moulds

That’s the exciting thing about it!

SKF

Yes, it used to be that you said goodbye afterwards and there was no more data. So there is no information about whether the machine is running or not. Now I know what the cycle time is doing, whether it’s producing or not. Three years ago, there was no way for SKF to get this information. Previously, the big question was: How can I check whether machine systems at different locations are working or not?

The process does not end after installation. That’s when the process start or process development actually begins. It takes a long time until the goal is reached and the check can be made to hand over the project. At this stage, there is simply no reliable information about how the machine is running. And that’s when I was lucky enough to be contacted by you.

Digital Moulds

Exactly! Mr. Macasek, can you remember how that went and whether it was complicated?

SKF

It was super easy and quick! After the first few discussions, I thought it was very good that we already had a pilot project. The devices could first be installed in the live version at a fairly manageable cost.

During the test phase, we created a system with motion sensors to see if we could collect data. That’s how we started. We carried out the installation on machines in Leverkusen. The aim was to gain experience before we installed it on another machine in a different location.

That was right in the final phase of Corona. We didn’t have to fly to Mexico and could control everything remotely via the motion detector. The commissioning outside of Leverkusen was very time-consuming, but it worked quite well.

The information from Digital Moulds was good and could be implemented by an electrician within an hour. This meant that we had reliable information and that was the main impetus for me! That’s exactly what I was looking for – that connectivity.

What we do with digital injection moulding monitoring is a long process. But I now need information for the process that I have installed. Even if it’s only a small amount of data, it gives me an indication of what I need. I specifically need information about the condition of the system, which I receive from day one, in order to optimize it.

Digital Moulds

One final question – how do you envisage the future with modern means of digital injection moulding monitoring?

SKF

I am relatively certain that I want to continue with it. We recently brought the system to China. It will soon be installed in Bulgaria too. I have now sent some of the last sensors for plastic injection molding machines to Mexico. To summarize, I want to know whether the machine is running and what cycle it has.

Digital Moulds

This is actually exactly what we see with other customers, like in the automotive sector! They say that they don’t need complicated sensor data because they are not responsible for the process. They just want to know what the condition of the system is, i.e. the overall structure, but not the details.

SKF

Exactly, yes!

Digital Moulds

It is important that the product is manufactured to the prescribed quality and that the customer’s needs are recognized.

SKF

Correct! I can check whether the machine is running at any time from the pool bar while on vacation. It’s very practical and easy!

Digital Moulds

Exactly, the software can be easily used on any device. This is possible because it is a cloud software that does not need to be installed. You can create users in our system that are accessible worldwide. This means that all colleagues in different plants can access the data quickly and easily and check the status of the systems at any time.

SKF

Rejnold Macasek (Manufacturing & Process Development)

It’s exactly the right thing for my purposes and if Digital Moulds didn’t exist and I were to describe what I was missing, I would end up with “Digital Moulds”.

Digital Moulds

Great, of course we’re delighted! Are other sensor values such as temperature also of interest to you?

SKF

Yes, we have just started to access other parameters via the same sensor for one machine. For example, we would also like to have information on the temperature. We just need to continue the conversation and agree with you which other inputs we need.

Digital Moulds

Exactly, and then we can make it available for testing.

SKF

Yes, we select 3 parameters for the condition of the system and then coordinate this with you.

Digital Moulds

Perfect! We can now upgrade to “Professional” and activate it. It offers the advantage that, if it goes well, it can be rolled out worldwide.

SKF

Great! It’s important to me to test processes in Leverkusen first. Then I can expand them if necessary.

Digital Moulds

Exactly! All right, then I say “Thank you very much Mr. Macasek for the great conversation and the super cooperation!

SKF

Yes, I was very pleased, and I am curious about everything to come!

Auf dem Bild ist das blaue Logo der SKF vom Interview zur digitalen Spritzgussüberwachung zu sehen.

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