Friedrichshafen, Germany — Dutch toolmaker Brink BV is preparing for continued growth in automation demand to address labor shortages.
The mold maker and automation supplier showed off new sensor capabilities and a platform it refers to as "the Brink dashboard" at Fakuma 2023.
Overall, the year has been good for the Harskamp-based company, which was founded in 1963. Brink operates out of seven facilities in the Netherlands with 300-plus employees who serve customers in more than 70 countries.
The company is focused on thin-wall packaging at Fakuma with in-mold labeling, or IML.
2023 has been a good year for the company, Maarten Vos, international sales manager, said at the trade show.
"Our mold-making business has been steady this year, and we're seeing big growth in the automation sector to address the lack of labor," Vos said.
At Fakuma, Brink was part of a demonstration that produced thin-wall flowerpots in less than three seconds on an injection molding machine built by Stork.
"That mold has new developments," Vos said. "We've got some digital sensors inside the mold measuring the opening of the mold. It's all in line with controlling the process, seeing what's happening. We're making it more digital to be able to control the parameters — not with a feeling, but with facts and numbers."
The company highlighted its vision camera controls and box-filling automation to meet the needs of plastics processors that have been facing problems filling open positions.
"With automation, we're moving forward and forward in the direction that no personnel is needed anymore," Vos said. "We're connecting our system with the injection molding machine so personnel don't have to set it up. It can be done automatically."
Brink also is taking more orders for controls and dashboards that connect to production.
"That's why we introduced 'the green dashboard' so customers can see the performance of their automation systems, their injection molding machines and their molds," Vos said. "They can see if there's a need for service and if there are any problems or reason why the system isn't running, why it stopped."
The dashboard can be equipped with cameras to provide video information.
"The cameras show with video what's happening at the certain time a robot stops while also monitoring the system's overall performance," Vos said.
With industry partner Arburg, a Brink mold and automation system was used to demonstrate injection compression molding with IML.
"Normally you inject in a really thin mold so you need a high-pressure, fast-speed injection," Vos said.
"Now you just open the mold a little bit — several tenths of a millimeter — and inject. Eighty percent of the complete product is filled, and then we close the mold," Vos said. "Then, you compress the material, and the last material flows to the top and the wall thickness will be thin."
Having a thicker wall during injection and then compressing it could save energy, Vos added.
"It's a well-known technique already that's getting attention in the thin-walled packaging industry. The benefit is you can go lighter in many ways with a standard material," he said.
Vos described Brink as a mold-making company — single-face, multicavity and stack — with the ability to support full automation solutions, including palletizing.
In Denver, Brink USA is almost ready to open to support and service molds in North America.
"We've got a location, some skilled employees and the machines are coming in," Vos said, adding that the facility will open in December.