CuBE creates smarter, more productive plant with IIoT

Ready-to-eat meals are more popular than ever, but what about their ecological impact? Canadian manufacturer CuBE Packaging Solutions is committed to addressing that question with its sustainable containers: consumers re-use them

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Ready-to-eat meals are more popular than ever—but what about their ecological impact? Canadian manufacturer CuBE Packaging Solutions is committed to addressing that question with its sustainable containers: consumers re-use them, on average, 11 times before they’re recycled.

It’s a great idea, and the market is responding—but this growing demand was putting pressure on CuBE’s production capacity. CuBE therefore assembled a team of HPE partners to digitize its factory. With IIoT, real-time insight on machines and operations boosts the company’s throughput and quality, and equips CuBE to realize its role in the world’s sustainable future.

  • Trend: Catering to wide-range demands

    Ready-to-eat meals are great business for packaging manufacturers—but what about their ecological impact?

    Whether food is carried out from a restaurant, ordered through an app, picked up at the grocery store, or delivered by a meal prep service, more people are eating in.

     

    This opens up a great opportunity for packaging manufacturers. When food is “to-go”, containers are a must.

     

    But consumers also understand the importance of sustainability. They’re concerned about too much plastic ending up in landfills and waterways, and about the ecological impact of packaging—throwaway packaging in particular—on energy use. As a result, new and stricter recycling and re-use regulations are being enacted. Consumers, investors, and companies alike aspire to reduce environmental impact.

     

    This involves all links in the food supply chain, packaging included.

     

    Other shifts in the food market keep packaging providers on their toes. Faced with ongoing, stiff competition, grocery stores and restaurateurs know the importance of branding “to-go” offerings.

     

    Food container manufacturers must respond to this widening range of needs, while delivering their products at the right time and right cost to help their customers’ businesses grow.

  • At a glance: Added value for a sophisticated market

    Canadian manufacturer CuBE produces high-quality, fully re-usable containers.

    CuBE Packaging, located in Canada’s Greater Toronto Area, launched in 2007 to introduce high-quality, environmentally-conscious and ethically-manufactured products to the global marketplace. Its premium, re-usable and smarter container solutions are designed to have a second life. They are leak resistant and stackable. Consumers can safely dishwash, freeze and microwave them.

     

    From lone diners to family portions, CuBE caters to clients with brand customization, air-tight seal, and ultra-clear lids. All of its containers are manufactured in a Safe Quality Food (SQF) certified facility.

  • Business challange: The pressure of rising demand

    In manufacturing, expansion is easier said than done—and downtime is never an option.

    Demand is booming for sustainable, innovative food packaging containers.

     

    To keep up with the demand, CuBE added 8 new, state- of-the-art injection molding machines, doubling its capacity.

     

    However, expanding manufacturing lines is only part of the solution. To maximize ROI and bottom-line business value, CuBE must also boost the productivity and throughput of its manufacturing processes.

     

    Another consideration is risk. Adding new machinery affects countless processes and variables. From machine control, to resource and throughput management, to quality assurance, all elements are interlocked. CuBE must manage these variables to avoid introducing issues that might affect output, as well as to coordinate maintenance across the plant.

     

    CuBE must do more than simply add molding machines: it must also enable the intelligence, tools, and visibility needed to optimize operations—without introducing risk or slowing the pace of growth.

  • IT challenge: Making sense of all those movingparts

    CuBE set out to transform its manufacturing process using Industrial IoT (IIoT) to monitor and enhance production.

    Temperature, speed, weight, and thickness: these and other factors influence the plastic injection process.

     

    If captured and analyzed, they can also inform and enhance productivity, quality, and throughput.

     

    But in traditional manufacturing, machines are focused on proper execution of manufacturing tasks, not collecting data for production optimization. CuBE needed to overcome this limitation: it needed a way to pull real-time information from injection molders that had been designed as closed-system machines.

     

    A critical hurdle that CuBE had to overcome was communication among the different injection molders. The machines were acquired at different phases of CuBE’s growth, and were purchased from different vendors; each has its own controls and protocols.

     

    Beyond the machines, CuBE identified other issues relating to interoperability and the need to integrate OT (operations technology) and IT processes.

     

    From air and cooling, to network connectivity, to the ERP system, pieces were disaggregated. CuBE needed the right technology and partners to bring it all together.

  • Solution: IIoT teamwork

    CuBE assembled HPE and partners PCM, PTC, and Callisto to bring intelligence to its plant.

    It took a close, coordinated partnership from multiple vendors to build, integrate, and implement CuBE’s new IIoT platform.

     

    First, CuBE worked with PCM, Inc., its services provider, to update two critical core platforms: its Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP and its MRP (materials requirement planning) systems. The company selected HPE Synergy and HPE Nimble Storage for these platforms; servers are virtualized under VMware.

     

    CuBE then turned its attention to its plant, implementing two PTC solutions. Kepware Industrial Connectivity platform enables the connectivity to molding machines for real-time visibility. ThingWorx IoT platform provides condition monitoring for operational performance and overall equipment efficiency (OEE). This allows CuBE to visualize equipment data and analytics within a dashboard on the current state of production including downtime, uptime, speed, and targets.

     

    Callisto Integration configured these platforms to pull data off CuBE’s legacy and new production systems, connecting factory equipment to the software and the data center. Solutions run on HPE Synergy, which collects and analyzes 3-400 GB of data daily.

     

    The team implemented a secure Aruba wired and wireless network in the factory to gather data from the systems across the plant.

  • Results: Boosting capacity to produce thefood storage solutions of the future

    Data and analytics, OT and IT integration: CuBE is well-positioned to maximize its value to customers and the planet.

    With its new IIoT framework in place, CuBE has the tools it needs to gain keen, granular insight into its manufacturing processes—and perhaps more importantly, that insight is now in real-time. CuBE can identify and address issues before they cause downtime, affect quality, or impact throughput.

     

    Greater visibility also enables CuBE to maximize the plant’s horsepower, finding processes that can be modified to drive higher efficiency and coordinate downtime.

     

    These operational gains benefit CuBE as a business, helping it to keep pace with demand while maximizing ROI and net profits—which in turn helps ensure the company can continue to invest in growth.

     

    But the ultimate beneficiary is the rest of the world. With its boosted capacity, more grocers, restaurateurs, and other food industry providers will have access to CuBE’s premium re-usable and recyclable packaging. And that will help us all attain a more sustainable future.

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