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Over 5% increase in productivity through digitization in extrusion

Many manufacturing companies today have heterogeneous machine parks. Due to the mixture of existing equipment from different manufacturers, there are often a large number of different control systems, controllers, sensors, and other systems. Rarely are all these systems connected with each other or with other software, so that potentially available data end up in separate archives or are not even collected in the first place. The combined overview of all influences on the production process is therefore missing and optimization potentials remain undiscovered.

For this reason, we at ENLYZE have developed a solution that collects, combines, and evaluates all data sources on the shop floor. From machine control to external machine periphery, to ERP/MES/QM systems, we integrate all your systems into our platform. With our analysis tools, you are able to derive targeted recommendations for countering production incidents and continuously optimizing your production processes.

In the following, we report on the added value of the ENLYZE digitization solution at our customer mk Plast, where we were able to jointly achieve decisive improvements in process stabilization.

Das Unternehmen

mk Plast is a medium-sized company, which is active in the field of production plastic films and their further processing. For more than 10 years, mk Plast has been digitally tracking its production using its own ERP system developed for film production.

The problem: Fluctuations and variations in production processes lead to losses

The problem at mk Plast is as follows:

As in many manufacturing companies, productivity losses due to unstable processes are part of the daily challenge. This is particularly noticeable at mk Plast due to the large variety of products and the associated changeovers. Particularly affected are the complex blown film lines with multiple influencing factors that make robust operation difficult.

With the help of our technologies, we were able to observe the complex production at mk Plast in detail for the first time and document all relevant process parameters from the extruders, gravimetry, and machine periphery over long time periods and in high resolution.

One of the first results was an unexpectedly high variation in production performance and product quality. These performance factors are influenced by external factors such as weather conditions, raw material usage, and operator experience. This resulted in a monthly average production performance of approximately 93.7%. On the product quality side, it was found that approx. 2t of film were flagged for manual re-inspection every month. This was the initial situation that had to be improved by targeted measures.

The solution: Transparency and process knowledge through digital analysis for all employees

The exchange between mk Plast and ENLYZEquickly revealed that the approach to improving process stability should be a digitally optimized selection of machine parameters for every production order.

Accordingly, those best-practice parameters demonstrably should have lead to stable and optimal production processes. Thus, best-practice parameters had to be derived from the production history for each product of the product portfolio. A non-trivial task, which could be solved in an automated way by ENLYZE and mk Plast.

Today, digital evaluations and analysis tools support the production staff in deriving targeted best-practice parameters and in implementing the findings when operating the production machines.

In this way, the process knowledge gathered to date is available to all specialists throughout the company. Whereas previously the quality of machine set-up depended on the experience of the individual worker, ENLYZE now makes it possible to achieve consistently high production stability and productivity regardless of the level of knowledge of individual employees.

Results: 24000€ additional gross profit per production line per year

Since its introduction at the end of 2020, the methodology created by ENLYZE has been used at mk Plast to increase productivity in their extrusion department. All relevant employees have access to the best-practice parameters, share learnings, and coordinate the machine setup among themselves.

The goal of process stabilization has been achieved in numerous cases. The improvements are also reflected in objective KPIs. Both the average production output and the production quality have increased significantly compared to the previous months.

With the help of the ENLYZE solution, mk Plastwas able to achieve an overall performance increase of 4.8% in the introductory month of December compared to the performance of the previous months. For an average month, this performance optimization corresponds with a reduction of losses of approx. 25 h per extrusion line. Extrapolated to a full production year, this results in the equivalent of adding half a month’s production through optimized machine operation. Concerning the second aim of increasing product quality, interventions during running production due to incidents or production anomalies were reduced significantly and the effort required for manual follow-up checks was more than halved..

Financially, the increase in productivity has major advantages: As a result of the increase in production output, mk Plast can generate € 2000 in additional gross profitper extrusion line in an average production month. As a spill-over effect, the project has significantly improved the ability to plan production. Differences between pre-calculation and post-calculation are smaller and the time input of quality management is also reduced because rejected and blocked film rolls have to be rechecked less frequently.

Conclusion

The results of this case study impressively demonstrate the added value that can be realized today through data-driven production optimization.

At ENLYZE, we are continuously working on further digital solutions for manufacturing and extrusion in particular. The showcased analysis of best-practice parameters is just the beginning. In the months following this case study, we have expanded our product offering to provide continuous analysis, verification, and specification of best-practice parameters as a fully digital and automated solution across industries.

💡 mk Plast is a medium-sized company from Monschau in the Eifel region and produces high-quality PE films on 7 blown film extrusion lines and 8 converting lines for the agricultural, automotive, and medical industries. mk Plast is an ENLYZE customer.
📎 ENLYZE was spun off from RWTH Aachen University as a tech company in 2017 and focuses on digitalization in continuous manufacturing. It uses its own edge device to read data from a wide variety of data sources. One of the core competencies lies in merging the data so that it can be processed for analysis.
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