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Case study: How Erema is using data to give plastics a second life

Erema claims its Recycling machines return used plastic products to the production cycle, helping customers develop a sustainable circular economy and reduce plastic waste. COPA-DATA’s zenon was deployed on the EREMA recycling machines with the aim of boosting efficiency in engineering and operations through data visualisation and visual control. Here’s how both companies worked together. × Untitled design - 1 Zero waste

Erema claims the new products must have the same high quality as the original products from which they are made, as they believe recycling only makes sense financially and environmentally if it saves energy, water, space, and cost. In short, recycling has to be resource efficient.

Making packaging from packaging 

There are more than 6,500 Erema systems in use around the world. According to the company, Erema customers produce more than 14 million tonnes of plastic pellets every year. Annually, they process 2.5 million tonnes of PET into food-grade rPET, which is then used to make beverage bottles and similar products. Erema claims customers value Erema systems because of their high level of innovation, their durability and reliability, their unwavering suitability for food, their safety, and energy efficiency.

Complexity and scalability

The machines and equipment from Erema have a modular structure, the company claims they can be combined into highly complex systems, when necessary. These range from pure material processing to turnkey solutions in which the melt is processed directly into the desired end products, such as bottles or films.

Erema uses programmable logic controllers (PLCs) from a European manufacturer to control the individual machines and subsystems. Erema  automation engineer Siegfried Blaslbauer said:   "Due to their complexity, a higher-level solution is required for controlling, operating, and monitoring the entire machine, In order to map the various system complexities, the solution must be easy to operate and scalable without onerous engineering effort."

Equipment visualization with zenon

Erema began using zenon for machine visualization in 1999. zenon was not the standard solution but was offered as an option. At that time, Siegfried Blaslbauer had worked at the recycling machine manufacturer for more than a decade. He cites zenon's ability to archive production and operating data as one of the reasons for introducing the zenon software platform:

“It was important for us to be able to use standard modules in engineering without adding complex programming and we wanted to be able to create visualization projects simply by setting parameters," explains the automation engineer. "As well as enabling this, zenon makes the task even easier with the option of mapping different machine configurations using recipes.”

One system for every requirement

The Erema automation engineers make use of the varied functionalities of the software platform, including batch tracking and energy monitoring. Siegfried Blaslbauer added:  “In addition to the simple integration of the PLC systems, one of the things that speaks in favor of zenon is that it makes it easy to use solutions from many industries, these integrated solution packages help us to make running our machines particularly operationally efficient and energy efficient.”

The automation specialists at Erema  rely on zenon's automation in their engineering. They use Smart Objects found in zenon libraries for creating screens, functions, and combinations. They can be called up anywhere in a zenon project and thus reused as often as necessary. Martin Kienbauer, head of Automation at EREMA added: "Engineering with zenon doesn’t replace thinking, but automation with Smart Objects has saved us a lot of time with the current generation of machines." 

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Publication date: 17/02/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31