Technological breakthroughs, all aimed at establishing the “Factory of the Future”, centered on the use of digital technology to bring about enhanced productivity, efficiency and sustainability. Plastics industry, yet having a history of 160 years, also goes smart with cutting-edge technologies for greater efficiency and cost reduction in the era of Industry 4.0.
Digitalization made manufacturing systems smarter
Through digitalization, manufacturing systems for plastics industry have become much more intelligent as they can now autonomously operate, diagnose technical problems and safety issues, monitor real-time production data, and ensure high product quality. The adoption of smart manufacturing process in all aspects of production – from product design, actual production, supply chain, distribution and sales, and delivery – has made it possible for companies to withstand current and future challenges.
The advantages of a smart manufacturing operation became apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic when disruptions in economic activities occurred in countries around the world. There were two options for manufacturers during the pandemic: to suspend or close their operations and experience huge losses; or restructure their operations and adjust to changing times. Many companies modified their operations to produce urgently needed products during the pandemic, while others have embarked on a journey towards smart manufacturing process, a more realistic option, to sustain and ensure their uninterrupted operation.
Global smart manufacturing market to hit US$787.85 billion in 2030
There is no denying that realization of smart manufacturing is the way to survive tough market competitions and business environment. As a result, the demand for smart manufacturing products has spurred. The global smart manufacturing market size, valued at US$259.63 billion in 2021, is estimated to hit US$787.85 billion in 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% during the forecast period, based on Grand View Research report.
The report attributes the market expansion for smart manufacturing products to the implementation of Industry 4.0 which resulted in increased demand for automation and software-based processes. It also emphasized that smart technologies have been providing real-analysis and synchronization, thus paving the way for costs reduction and operational efficiency.
Plastics and rubber industries gear up for smart manufacturing adoption
While the automotive and information technology industries were noted for their leading role in industrial automation, other industries have also started to upgrade their operations thereby increasing the requirement for smart devices, software, automation equipment, robots/cobot and other products. The plastics and rubber industries have recognized the advantages posed by smart manufacturing in terms of overall costs reduction, remote monitoring and diagnostics of plant operations, reduced manpower intervention and minimal machine downtime that a growing number of companies in these industries are now setting up smart factories.
It has been apparent that among the various industries, demand for smart manufacturing technologies in plastics and rubber manufacturing has been consistently high to boost competitiveness. The plastics and rubber industries have been quick to adopt and are now rapidly transitioning to this goal through digitalization, with augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud technology being utilized to meet production challenges. While investments into smart manufacturing solutions are relatively high, increased availability of 5G connectivity and innovative solutions have been instrumental in spreading this revolutionary breakthrough to the rest of the plastics and rubber industries, as well as related industries worldwide.
Digitalization has been increasingly applied particularly in plastics production processes, such as injection molding where production optimization is achieved through digitally integrated smart machines that guarantee improved precision and efficiency, large volume production, reduced machine downtime, real-time monitoring and quick response to technical issues. In plastics extrusion process, smart production has enabled the optimization of energy consumption while ensuring high product quality at reduced material wastage. Thus, there is growing need for advanced machinery and auxiliary equipment, sensors, process control software and other products to transform a plastics production facility into a smart manufacturing plant.
Asia sees advantages of going smart to overcome future challenges
The growth momentum for smart manufacturing in Asia’s plastics and rubber industries is attributed to the implementation of Industry 4.0 strategy in many countries to convert traditional production into more advanced set-up where connectivity of physical and digitized data enables predictive analytics that can contribute to real-time monitoring and more efficient plant operations.
Companies in Asia are noted to have been more receptive to smart manufacturing usage, according to the 2022 State of Smart Manufacturing Report released by Rockwell Automation, which reveals that adoption of smart manufacturing has accelerated by 50% globally in 2021, a period when the world was battling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The report further showed that the pandemic adversely affected Asia’s manufacturing sector with challenges faced in terms of skilled worker shortages, competition and supply chain disruptions. In this survey of 300 manufacturers, 93% of Asia Pacific organizations view smart manufacturing as “extremely” or “very” important for future success. Thus, the adoption of smart manufacturing solutions in industries, such as plastics and rubber manufacturing, is considered important to prosper and stay competitive.
China has taken a leading role as reflected in the rapid growth of plastics and rubber producing enterprises with smart manufacturing operation as part of its “Made in China 2025” that aims to encourage technology innovations and transition of industries towards automation, IIoT and smart manufacturing. Korea has entered the fourth industrial revolution era with its goal to set up 30,000 smart factories in 2022, not to mention Japanese companies have been applying smart manufacturing technologies in their production facilities around the world. India has also been encouraging the deployment of smart manufacturing technologies as part of its Industry 4.0 plans under Make in India (MII) initiative, with many of those engaged in plastics and rubber production pouring investments into smart manufacturing solutions.
Southeast Asian countries are not far behind – with the plastics and rubber industries in this region starting to optimize production processes through digital technologies. Singapore is accelerating its move towards smart manufacturing with cutting-edge manufacturing solutions, AI, IoT as drivers to achieve this goal. Thailand has embarked on its own version – Thailand 4.0 – with increased investments in 5G technologies and smart factories through IoT, AI and other more advanced technologies in its key industries such as automotive, plastics, and electrical/electronics. Smart manufacturing has started to gain acceptance in Vietnam as it aims to embark on modernization by 2030 and become an innovation hub in Asia for smart manufacturing products and services. In the Philippine, a government-initiated SMART program aims to digitize the country’s industrial sector – among them, food and beverage packaging, household products, etc., which are the major consumers of plastic and rubber materials.
Smart manufacturing solutions showcase under one roof at CHINAPLAS 2023
As the plastics and rubber industries in the region face the prospects of rising manpower and energy costs, high raw material prices and potential disruptions in supply chain, smart manufacturing is the key for companies to overcome current and future challenges.
At CHINAPLAS 2023, Asia’s No. 1 plastics and rubber trade fair, more than 3,900 exhibitors are set to show off their innovative technologies and materials for a smart manufacturing operation. The 18 theme zones covering every aspect of plastics and rubber production also include a zone on smart manufacturing solutions. Not only international big names like Siemens, Keba, B&R, Beckhoff, Baumaueller, Staubli, Motan-Colortronic, Gimatic, ENGEL, SHI, Demag, Fanuc, Wittmann Battenfeld, etc., but also plenty of leading Chinese suppliers like Innovance, Haitian, Chen Hsong, Yizumi, LK Machinery, Borch, etc., are about to showcase full array of smart manufacturing solutions and machines at the theme zone. For concurrent events, a special topic under the Hot Tech Webinars on Industry 4.0 Factory of the Future has been arranged with industry specialists sharing their expertise.
The Online pre-registration to CHINAPLAS 2023 is open till April 11, 2023, 17:00 (GMT +8:00). Visitors can enjoy an early bird discount at RMB 50 or USD 7.5 (Original Price: RMB 80) for a four-day pass. Pre-registered visitors shall receive their Visitor e-Badge or e-Confirmation Letter in advance for fast entry. For more information about the exhibition, please visit www.chinaplasonline.com.
CHINAPLAS 2023, recognized as Asia’s No.1 flagship event for plastics and rubber industries, will take place from April 17-20 2023 in Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center (SWECC), Shenzhen, PR China. There shall be more than 3,900 renowned exhibitors and 9 country/region pavilions from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Taiwan region. The 18 theme zones shall cover injection molding solutions, extrusion machinery, 3D technologies, recycling technology, smart manufacturing solutions, bioplastics, composites and high-performance materials, thermoplastic elastomers & rubber, etc.
To cope with the fast-changing global sourcing conditions, overseas buyers are also now able to connect with thousands of materials and machines suppliers all year round via CPS+ eMarketplace, a specialized online sourcing & business matching platform serving global buyers looking for plastic and rubber materials, machinery, semi-finished products and services from all over the world. Global buyers may view product information, get quotation and communicate their sourcing needs on the platform for precise and quality business matching anytime and anywhere.
For more information, please visit: www.chinaplasonline.com
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