Industry 4.0 illustrated – Resource efficiency through digitalisation

Digital and fully-automated processes boost resource efficiency for companies in the manufacturing sector. VDI ZRE’s new video uses Blechwarenfabrik Limburg to show how this works.

There, several management systems are used to digitalise production, while a business intelligence system is deployed to network these systems together, coordinate them and control them.

For example, a production planning system (PPS) directs production processes via a manufacturing execution system (MES), and an energy management system (EMS) analyses and regulates energy flows, compressed air and cooling water. All the data is collected by a business intelligence system (BI). If, say, the BI determines that more compressed air is being used for a certain number of tins, it will alert a technician to this. The technician can look for leaks straight away and fix them immediately, thereby saving energy.

The factory’s roof is home to more than 2,500 solar panels, which provide a third of the electricity required by the factory. What’s so special about this? The warehouse management system (WMS) automatically controls the flow of goods within the warehouse on the basis of the electricity available. This means that energy-intensive stock movements are carried out when the factory’s own photovoltaic equipment is producing particularly large quantities of electricity.

Furthermore, heat generated during production is used for heating and producing hot water.

All in all, this cuts the company’s expenditure on materials and energy by half a million euros a year. It also prevents more than 2,600 tons of greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalent) from being emitted, thereby making a successful contribution to protecting the planet.

Recycling plastics – Resource efficiency with an optimized sorting method

In Germany alone, two and a half million tons of plastic packaging land in the yellow trash can.*  Since the various plastics are very difficult to separate from one another, most of the material is utilized for energy.

The new film from VDI Resource Efficiency Center, Recycling plastics – Resource efficiency with an optimized sorting method depicts an improved sorting and processing method for valuable plastics, bringing the plastics life cycle full circle.

MEILO, a company in Gernsheim located in southern Hesse, sorts plastic trash from the yellow barrels in 30 repetitive sorting processes until the maximal purity of variety has been attained. Plastics are first separated according to size and then subjected to an air separator. In the following step, a near infrared scanner scans the plastics on the conveyor belt as they pass, communicating to a compressed air jet at the end of the conveyor belt which plastics are recyclable. Finally, the compressed air jet blows these material aside. Thus, varying plastics are sorted by an up to 98% purity of variety. In addition to the three major valuable plastics, HPDE, PP and PET, four other well-recyclable plastic varieties are gleaned from the river of trash.

At Systec Plastics GmbH in Eisfeld, Thuringia, the plastics sorted by MEILO GmbH are further processed to produce a premium commodity for the plastics industry. Here, plastics are shredded and cleansed. Repeated circuits beneath a near LED scanner sort the plastic flakes according to color before they are melted and once more filtered. The 99% pure granules are then filled into containers and transported.

Werner & Mertz GmbH, manufacturing laundry detergents and cleaning supplies, uses Systec Plastics GmbH granules to produce their packaging bottles. The granules are easily processed in Werner & Mertz GmbH’s standard production plants in Mainz. Their HDPE bottles and PP twist-off lids are made of 100% recycled plastics from the yellow trash can. Their PET bottles are composed of 20% recycled PET from yellow trash cans and 80% recycled
plastic from deposit bottles.

The plastic life cycle comes full circle, the raw materials are recovered.

Further information on MEILO Gesellschaft zur Rückgewinnung sortierter Werkstoffe (Corporation for the recovery of sorted raw materials) mbH & Co.
KG: http://www.meilo-gernsheim.de

Further information on Systec Plastics GmbH:
https://www.gruener-punkt.de

Further information on Werner & Mertz GmbH:
https://werner-mertz.de

* For a better understanding: German households pre-sort their garbage into four separate trash cans; yellow for plastics, brown for compost; blue for paper and black for non-recyclables.


Comprehensive resource efficiency information:
Web: https://www.resource-germany.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VDI_ZRE
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Ressource-deutschlandDe

Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety