Sidel SA has signed a far-reaching agreement with leading vision-inspection systems supplier Pressco Technology Inc. that will lead to the advent of ``smarter'' blow molding machines for PET bottles.
The alliance, signed June 22 and effective July 1, does more than integrate Pressco's existing bottle-diagnostic systems with Sidel's machine controls.
The companies also will share product-development work to come up with new systems that actually spot problems and take corrective action before they become bigger issues.
The agreement joins the dominant global PET bottle machine suppler with the world's largest vision inspection company. Sidel, based in Le Havre, France, claims that half of all PET bottles globally are made on its equipment.
Sidel will use Solon, Ohio-based Pressco's inspection systems on all its future injection stretch machines, said Sidel senior Vice President Henri Attias.
``We want our customers to go to one source with an integrated system and not have to talk separately to each company,'' he said. ``We want to create a smart machine.''
The companies claim that no other PET bottle manufacturer has a similar, integrated system that can troubleshoot and correct a potential bottleneck during operation.
``Companies are doing process monitoring but not taking corrective action,'' said Thomas O'Brien, Pressco vice president of marketing and sales. ``We will go to the next step beyond what others are doing.''
In Europe and Asia, Sidel has an exclusive agreement with Pressco to sell the system to blow molders, Attias said. In North and Latin America, Pressco can still sell systems on its own to processors.
The need for better quality systems is especially acute now that PET bottle volumes have escalated, said Pressco President and Chief Executive Officer Don Cochran. At the Sidel booth at NPE 2003, the company was blowing 64,000 bottles per hour on one injection stretch machine.
``Without quality controls, you could end up with a warehouse full of junk from bottles that were blown,'' he said. ``That's a situation we're trying to guard against.''
Pressco engineers will train Sidel officials at its many global technical communications centers, including a recently expanded Sidel site in Shanghai, China, Attias said. Sidel officials will sit on Pressco's board of directors, and the equipment maker will invest in Pressco to establish a joint research-and- development program.
Pressco's system uses cameras mounted on blowing equipment to inspect both PET preforms and containers. Images detect defects and are correlated to actions for machine components.
The companies will gradually take steps to improve the system and offer more diagnostic tools that can be tied to machine controllers, O'Brien said.