Smart solutions for a sustainable industry

The challenge persists: while the plastics industry is experiencing disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, industry leaders are looking for solutions to make progress more sustainable. There are currently many challenges for the industry’s entrepreneurs, and one of them is to align with new trends.

Sustainability. More and more production companies are rethinking how they can reduce losses, whether we are talking about the efficiency of energy-saving injection molding machines, the creation of products from 100% recycled materials, the increasing use of renewable energy or hybrid sources in production units or material waste reduction. But how do you produce sustainably, but also qualitatively, so that your products retain their physical and mechanical properties?

Digitization. Digital technologies are indispensable in industrial production, where digitization can interconnect and optimize equipment, systems, and production processes. Yes, Industry 4.0 is still at the beginning in Romania, but more and more entrepreneurs – 74%, according to the study “Digitalization in industrial companies in Romania” – say that digitization (technologies, robotics, cloud services, smart services, Big Data) is the main way to increase company’s efficiency. How do we get the most out of digitization?

Automation. It is one of the trends that will continue in 2022. The use of software in the production process leads to faster cycles, with less downtime and more efficient maintenance. However, the next step is to switch to smart software in the process of analyzing the mold’s flow, to predict how the mold will be filled (a very useful process in the design phase). Technology may seem expensive, but the technical and economic benefits far outweigh these costs. How do we get to the next level?

Bioplastic. There is more and more talk about the benefits of bioplastic (a plastic derived from corn, sugar cane, seaweed, or even shrimp shells) in molds’ manufacture and injection molding. It is even estimated that the market will grow by 25% until 2023, globally. But here too there are limits: the materials are biodegradable, but not completely free of pollution, which means high costs of harvesting, refining, and transport. In addition, for strength, bioplastic is often combined with non-recyclable polymers, becoming a hybrid product – if it isn’t stored properly, decomposition can take 100 years. What smart solutions do we use?

Composite materials. The last two years have shown that plastic plays an important role in modern life, as a result, new types of materials will appear to meet future needs. Statistics show that the future industry (automotive and aerospace) will increase the demand for composite plastics in the next ten years – more durable, stronger, lighter, and safer. And two other sectors are starting to turn more and more to composite materials: the military industry and the medical industry. Are we ready to honor orders?

Lightweight materials. Both manufacturers and consumers want products as light as possible – and we are not just talking about the automotive and aerospace sectors, but also the medical devices sector (stents, joints, etc.). How many product teams are considering including weight in production design plans for 2022? 

All these questions represent the Smart Solutions for a Sustainable Industry Concept directions,
which we propose to address together at EXPO PLAST 2022.

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