Krones has introduced the fourth generation of Contiform. Its development involved special attention to environmental compatibility and to further improving efficiency and flexibility. The machine can also be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI).
Environmentally friendly, sustainable, and cost-effective operation — that was one of the paramount goals for the latest evolution of the Contiform. When it comes to stretch blow moulders, the greatest potential for improvement in these areas often lies in reducing energy consumption in preform heating and, of course, in lowering compressed air consumption in the blowing process.
Krones’ R&D team have shortened the distance between the heaters, made the heating space even more compact, and redesigned the heaters with parabolic reflectors. As a result, they have cut energy consumption by 11% compared to the previous generation.
The team has also achieved substantial savings on compressed air. Unlike the technology customary on the market to date, the new Air Wizard Triple air recycling system uses a three-stage compressed-air recycling process that can reduce compressed air consumption by as much as 20%.
However, the focus on sustainability has not been limited to the machine’s operation. It also includes the materials used in the installation process. As an example, the protective panels are made of recycled plastic.
Efficiency thanks to reduced downtimes
In order to further improve total cost of ownership (TCO), the fourth-generation Contiform uses a newly developed skip-and-run technology, which monitors the mould-hanger locking device and allows a blowing station that is not locked to pass along the main cam, for instance to eject a defective preform without triggering an emergency stop of the entire machine. This considerably reduces the scrap rate and eliminates the need for operator intervention.
Enhanced user friendliness
However, the improvements do not end with consumption and TCO. The new Contiform is more user-friendly featuring a large-screen interface with the latest touch technology and improved visualisation software. Assistant systems guide the operating personnel through the settings, even making automatic suggestions. That makes operating the machine more intuitive and more efficient.
Adding to that, Krones has developed Contiloop AI, an automatic process control system, which is used in the new Contiform: The combination of AI-based software and newly developed hardware makes it possible to detect even the slightest variations in material distribution in the production of PET containers and to automatically adjust key stretch-blow-moulding parameters in real time, thus ensuring that the bottle quality meets specifications. This factor is particularly important when working with rPET. Quality and composition are critical factors when processing preforms made of recycled material, as they can sometimes be uneven. Hence, any inconsistencies have to be offset in the blow moulding process, to ensure that every container meets the specified quality criteria.