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Cost Savings Opportunities for Blown Film Producers

22 Apr 2015
The Blown film segment is one of the largest industry sectors within the overall Plastics industry and there has been a tremendous amount of technological improvements introduced in recent years. However, no business can rest on its laurels and there is an increasing level of challenges facing Blown Film producers. TSM have identified a number of key areas which allow for cost and energy saving opportunities when working with blown film materials and plastics.

The Blown film segment is one of the largest industry sectors within the overall Plastics industry and there has been a tremendous amount of technological improvements introduced in recent years. However, no business can rest on its laurels and there is an increasing level of challenges facing Blown Film producers.

The sharp rise in competition is an obvious cause of concern, but so too is the steady increase in energy costs - with nothing to suggest a decrease any time soon.  Against this backdrop, it’s more and more important than ever that blown film manufacturers, in particular, manage their costs aggressively and efficiently. And with a view to helping you, TSM have identified a number of key areas which allow for cost and energy saving opportunities when working with blown film materials and plastics.

Energy Cost Management 

With energy representing such a high cost to the plastics industry – second only to materials – anything that helps rein in costs is to be welcomed. With that in mind, we’ve produced these helpful tips on cutting the 30% of your energy bill that’s discretionary – with a lot less effort than you might think.

  • Use of energy efficient components such as variable speed drives and energy efficient motors are an obvious starting point.

  • Be aggressive in attacking the big energy-burning processes, such as compressed air, vacuum, pump and fan equipment, along with process heating applications. 

  • Outside of energy used as part of processing, the ‘Big Two’ energy outlays are lighting and HVAC, so be particularly vigilant around these two areas.

  • Always ensure that motors are only on when needed and that heat is recovered from extrusion processes.

Just how much energy can I save?

Save 60% of process heating costs by insulating the exterior barrel and dies on the extruder.

Save 50% of lighting costs through use of energy efficient lighting, when compared to the traditional high discharge types.

Save 40% in costs by improving the supply and reducing demand in compressed air systems.

Save 20% to 50% through Variable Speed Drive (VSD) applications.

Save 10% to 25% of annual cooling costs by optimizing process cooling.

Harness Automation for Cost Savings

When investing in new technology or upgrading existing technology, here are a few helpful tips on minimizing costs.
  • Gravimetric Blending: Gravimetric weighing of each component allows only the exact amount of material required to be dispensed. Look out for systems that offer active mixing capabilities as this has a tremendous impact on the final product. Immediate benefits are achievable and Gravimetric blending is an easy win in terms of cost savings.

  • Control Algorithms: Having the correct control algorithms in place allows producers to fine-tune systems for particular use of materials.

  • Automatic Gauge Control: This offers efficiencies in terms of uniform profile across the sheet. Down gauging opportunities can lower costs by allowing production of the same quality product while using less raw materials.

  • Internal Bubble Cooling (IBC): IBC corrects lower sizing to maximise outer air cooling. This, in turn, improves bubble stability and is achieved by allowing the air to be chilled at the lowest temperature the system can handle. Many plastics manufacturers currently do not use IBC, but it’s worth considering as a retrofit as it saves energy and lowers costs.

Keep a Close Eye on Materials Cost

A shift towards using lower cost materials is a notable trend in the industry at the moment. In addition to using virgin materials, the plastics industry has now moved towards using more recycled materials for cost saving and environmental impact issues. Other cheaper forms of materials are also sought after - such as powders and liquids. 

Improvements in control of tracking, monitoring, reporting and collection of data will ensure better management of these materials. This data can then be analysed and optimised for further cost saving opportunities.

For more information on cost saving opportunities for your business contact us today.