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Plastics Today, September 2015

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Manufacturing technologies plasticstoday.coM global plastics report 2015 19 tricity and the rise of mass production. Electronics and information technology fueled the third industrial revolution. Now, sensor technology, leading to high levels of machine-to-machine communi- cation, the development of cyber-phys- ical systems and human-machine inter- faces, is ushering in the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Integrating the physical and virtual worlds Industry 4.0 has its origins in Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse, and it envisions a future of manufacturing in which smart factories use information and communication technologies to digi- tize processes, resulting in better quality, lower costs and more efficiency. At the basis of this industrial digitization are so-called cyber-physical systems, which integrate the physical and virtual worlds. In a production environment, this means integrating operating technology with information technology, something that is accomplished by using embedded systems to monitor and control physical processes. Connecting all these sensor systems in networks to computing sys- tems results in the emergence of what today is called the Internet of Things (IoT), in which enormous amounts of data are collected, analyzed and com- municated. Intelligence is no longer cen- tralized in one place, but is distributed across the entire system, to be accessed by machines, devices and users. In manufacturing, this means, among other things, that machines and products can now communicate with each other and independently control each other, a development that will ultimately to lead to a decentralized, self-organized smart factory in which production processes, enabled by cyber-physical systems, oper- ate flexibly and intelligently. To manufacturers and processors in the plastics industry, especially those falling within the category of small and medium-sized companies whose main preoccupation tends to be the day-to- day concerns of running a business, taking the first steps in the direction of smart manufacturing may be a daunting prospect. Yet Industry 4.0 is closer than many in the industry realize or suspect. The driving forces behind Industry 4.0 in the plastics processing industry are the manufacturers of machinery. Plastics processing systems are equipped with an increasing amount of automation technology—for example, sensor systems that function as autonomous intelligence units—that is intended to enable them to communicate and process data by themselves; or in other words, to become smart. These intelligent machines, in combination with the far-reaching possi- bilities for machine-to-machine commu- nication, are leading to more automated processes, self-monitoring, and results in real time. Is that necessary? According to Ste- fan Engleder, CTO at Austrian injec- tion molding machine manufacturer Engel, the answer is yes. The reasoning is simple: Molders are facing multiple challenges in the future that need to be The Most Energy-Efficient Dryers ...regardless of the material The Plastics Drying and Blending Experts Many manufacturers claim their dryers provide superior energy efficiency, but these claims are based on optimal materials and conditions. When it comes to drying a variety of materials under challenging conditions, no one even comes close to the energy efficiency of revolutionary DRI-AIR ® Turbo-Dry ™ Technology: Faster drying, higher throughput Complete drying (dewpoints to -80˚) Unmatched energy savings Made in USA Find out how much you can save! (860) 627- 5110 www.dri-air.com PET NYLON PEEK PETG LCP ACRYLIC PBT TPE TPO POLYURETHANE TPU

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