Journal Published Online: 19 October 2020
Volume 4, Issue 1

Smart Services for Polymer Processing Auxiliary Equipment: An Industrial Case Study



In this industrial case study, we present the development and use of a smart services platform for polymer processing auxiliary equipment. Auxiliary equipment is crucial for efficient operation of polymer molding machinery, such as injection molding, blow molding, and extrusion systems. The main objective of auxiliary equipment is the delivery of polymer raw material in pellet or shredded form with controlled temperature, moisture content, and materials blend. The development of the new smart services platform includes hardware and software components and enables the remote monitoring of an industrial dryer/hopper. We studied the temperature data collected over one year of live production and identified three distinct event patterns: start-up procedure, conveying issue, and cleaning cycle. Each event exhibits a unique temperature distribution profile represented by the 16 features of the data set. The three events that our study identified are important for the efficient and effective operation of the dryer/hopper and by extension for the overall polymers manufacturing process. Identifying the start-up procedure correctly is crucial to schedule production and feed quality material to the next process step (e.g., injection molding). Similarly, identifying a possible conveying issue early allows for operations to be restored before the dryer/hopper runs below the critical materials threshold where the whole process has to be stopped to prevent feeding moist material to the following process. Finally, cleaning cycle detection provides insights on the state and performance of the equipment to the maintenance team. Overall, the detection and remote monitoring of these events enable a better operational performance of the equipment and a foundation for advanced smart services, such as predictive maintenance. The results of this study have an impact on the whole polymers processing industry where the majority of downstream processes, including extrusion and injection molding, are using dryer/hopper auxiliary equipment for continuous feed of material in the correct state.

Author Information

Lenz, Juergen
Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
Swerdlow, Samuel
Maven Machines, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Landers, Alan
The Conair Group, PA, USA
Shaffer, Richard
The Conair Group, PA, USA
Geller, Avishai
Maven Machines, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Wuest, Thorsten
Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
Pages: 18
Price: Free
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Stock #: SSMS20200032
ISSN: 2520-6478
DOI: 10.1520/SSMS20200032