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Rethinking Blow Molding Machines For Maximum Flexibility & Value

Kautex is redesigning its packaging machines with a modular concept to offer blow molders the widest range of choice in drive systems and cost-effectiveness.
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Kautex’s new Skyreef platform for packaging machines offers a new controller and a choice of hydraulic, hybrid and all-electric drives in a modular format.

 

Kautex’s new Skyreef platform for packaging machines offers a new controller and a choice of hydraulic, hybrid and all-electric drives in a modular format.

About a year ago, Kautex Maschinenbau announced a shift in its major focus from automotive to packaging (Apr.’20 Starting Up). Now, the company is realigning its packaging machinery portfolio according to a philosophy that addresses a market trend toward specialization with a plan to de-specialize its machines.

That apparent paradox is addressed in the following manifesto for its new program: “In a fast-changing world, our customer requirements are becoming much more differentiated and our extrusion blow molding machines need to be even more versatile. Instead of highly specialized individual solutions, the company is now focusing more on standardization, modular concepts, and platform-based strategies.”

Hybrid machines are a new value proposition in the blow molding market.

Kautex’s solution is a new concept it is calling Skyreef. It’s based on combining the best features of the firm’s KCC hydraulic machines and KBB all-electrics into three modular versions that offer molders a choice of machine power options:

 •  Skyreef—hydraulic;

 •  Skyreef Green—all-electric;

 •  Skyreef Blue—hybrid.

According to Paulo Gomes, global director of strategic business marketing, the “Blue” version is a new “value” proposition in the blow molding marketplace, which offers molders optimum cost-effectiveness. “Blue” machines combine an electric extruder from the KBB series—which Gomes says customers consider to be “one of the the best in the market”—together with electric shuttle movement, parison calibration and blow-pin motions, plus hydraulic clamping. He notes that much of the North American market still favors hydraulic machines over all-electrics, which are perceived as more familiar to plant personnel, easier to maintain, and more “forgiving” in mold installation and setup. The last is especially important, Gomes says, to molders with an installed base of molds designed for hydraulic machines. Hydraulic clamps, he adds, also offer the advantage of fast pressure buildup. In his view, “There’s no need for a molder to jump 100% from hydraulics to electrics” when hybrids offer a compatible and more affordable alternative.

New Features and Options

The Skyreef platform applies mainly to continuous-extrusion shuttle machines for HDPE consumer packaging up to 30-liter jerrycan size. Some accumulator-head machines may be brought into the program if a market need emerges, says Gomes. All three versions—hydraulic, electric and hybrid—are available now. Gomes says the hydraulic machines will not undergo dramatic changes from the designs customers know and like—mainly restyling and changes to the safety gates to improve accessibility to the interior of the machine. They will also benefit from improved motion control with fast but smoother ramping up and down, thanks to a brand-new BC 6 controller.

The BC 6 will be common to all Skyreef models. It boasts a bigger multi-touch screen (24 in.) with higher resolution, along with increased accuracy and faster control, due in part to a new control bus that helps manage multiple axes with a greater number of data points to monitor and adjust. OPC-UA communication protocol for Industry 4.0 is a standard option.

Skyreef Green all-electrics also have some new options and a revised shuttle and clamping system, which eventually will be available for the Blue hybrids as well.

The first Skyreef installation will occur this summer at a North American customer. Gomes says, “Skyreef is the first new product to emerge from a healthy pipeline of innovations that we have in the works.”

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