EXTREME ENGINEERING

04/05/2017
Plastics in Packaging

Wide header per press review piovan

As vibes go, those around Piovan’s factory in Venice, Italy are extremely positive. Open-plan offices, light and airy production floors and communal dining (and coffee drinking) are par for the course at a company which has established itself as a central figure in the supply of auxiliary plastics equipment during the past 53 years.

The company’s history dates back further than 1964, but that year is synonymous with the foundation of the current version of Piovan as a supplier of industrial processing equipment.

“The father of our current president set up the company after realising that everything around the injection moulding machine was missing,” explained Sara Masiero, communications manager for Piovan. “Granulators came first, and then all types of auxiliary equipment. The first line of chillers was launched in 1972. In January 2015, Aquatech started operations as a natural evolution of Piovan’s existing chiller department.”

Fast forward to 2017 and Piovan now has seven production facilities, 26 branches worldwide and operates business units specialising in specific technologies: Piovan, Una-Dyn (drying and dehumidifying technology), FDM in Germany (feeding, dosing and mixing equipment), Penta (larger systems for handling powder, PVC and food), and Aquatech.

The cross-fertilisation of different equipment types is extremely beneficial in an increasingly challenging industry, where “everything is becoming more extreme”, says chief technical officer Davide Cappellini. “Take rigid bottles, for example,” adds Cappellini. “These are getting thinner and thinner and keeping the process stable is a challenge. So you have to make equipment smarter know what to do with the data you collect.”

Naturally this is where Industry 4.0 comes into play as it represents the merging of technologies. “Intuitive machines are wanted by our customers,” added Cappellini, who joined Piovan 18 months ago from broadcasting, robotics and imaging equipment supplier the Vitec Group. “When you have more than 50,000 customers, you experience a huge variety in demand, from experienced customers who play with machine parameters to those who want simple machines.” Piovan launched Winfactory 4.0 late last year, which provides an interface between its own machines and that of other manufacturers. It uses OPC-UA (Open Platform Communication – Unified Architecture), which Cappellini calls “the new standard” as it is the protocol selected by Industry 4.0 before issuing the Smart Factory specifications; supervision software for the digital factory, if you like.

Says Cappellini: “It is modular software with the energy module being our latest. Our machines are known for their energy efficiency and we can collect complete factory information, not just electrical. Energy metering systems often just focus on kilowatts per hour, but how do you know if that's good?

 

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