On the Mark #19

New tire marks for EVs unveiled, automation tips for metal fabricators, and new bio-based packaging options emerge

On the mark #19 graphic with tire.

Catching up on interesting news and innovations in production, packaging and more 

Where the rubber meets the road in special tire marking for EVs

Tires designed for use in electric vehicles (EV) must meet some unique requirements compared to ordinary vehicle tires, including having the strength to withstand the high torque output of electric motors, the ability to carry the added vehicle weight due to electric batteries, a low-noise aspect that complements the quieter EV engine and contribute to the overall efficiency required to accommodate longer driving ranges.

With so many tires in the market, proper tire marking is one way to ensure that EVs have the right kind of tires – whether as original equipment in new vehicles or as owner tire replacements – for both energy efficiency and durability. Case in point, in response to the rising demand for tires that are optimized for use in EVs, tire manufacturer Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. announced that beginning in the second half of 2023 the company will be using a proprietary “E+” mark (albeit one molded into the tire, not printed) on all of its tires designed for EV passenger cars, trucks and buses.

“In addition to displaying this new “E+” mark on the sidewall of Yokohama tires that incorporate these technologies to meet the special needs of electrified vehicles, the “E+” mark will be prominently displayed in tire catalogs and websites so that customers will be able to understand that a tire is suitable for use on electrified vehicles and facilitate their tire selection.” Source: rubberworld.com.

Metal fabrication industry embraces Industry 4.0 automation

The roll-forming industry is increasingly embracing the benefits of Industry 4.0 automation – from AI to machine controls and software that improve data collection and support the integration of shop-floor systems with business and enterprise systems. While many small- to mid-size shops still operate with a hodgepodge of systems that lack automation and back-office integration, huge advancements in technology are making it easier for companies of all sizes to embrace some of these powerful capabilities for better control, visibility and business velocity.

Systems in use in the metal fabrication and roll-forming industry include a variety of controllers for different aspects of production and product marking, back-office or enterprise software to help manage business activities, and the integration software that connects the two and enables more centralized control over production. Integration of these functions through automation can significantly reduce costly errors compared to having instructions carried down to the shop floor and manually keyed into machine controllers.

This is particularly important for areas like coil tracking and validation, where each coil can be assigned and tagged with a unique code that can be tracked with a hand-held scanner to verify the gauge, width, color, and other parameters such as where/when/how a coil was manufactured. This enhanced tracking supports order validation, inventory tracking, employee production, machine efficiency/production, proactive maintenance, and barcode tracking for shipping and supply chain traceability among other benefits. Source: rollformingmagazine.com.

Bio-based and compostable packages are gathering momentum

Major food and consumer products manufacturers are putting energy behind the development of biodegradable, compostable packaging as well as novel bio-based plastic substitutes. While the lack of available composting sites for these materials in many markets is hindering widespread adoption, brands like Frito-Lay, Lumene and Zerna Café are finding unique ways to package their products that are both environmentally conscious and enticing for consumers.

If you went to the 2023 Coachella Music Festival and got the munchies, the Lay’s, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos, and Ruffles you consumed came in bags made from plant-based materials, such as corn starch and sugar cane, that can decompose within 180 days in a commercial composting facility.

Moisturizer jars from Finnish beauty brand Lumene are now being made from bio-based materials and adorned with self-adhesive labels made with Forest Film, claimed to be the first film label material made with wood-based biomaterials. The company estimates these materials will reduce fossil-based plastics use by more than 60 metric tons and cut its carbon footprint by 1.5 million jars every year.

And in what may be one of the most unique uses of bio-based packaging to hit the shelves anywhere, Zerna Café is now using compostable packaging made of Lagenaria, a type of dried squash. Note, this isn’t just squash-based packaging material – the package actually is the dried squash – a made-by-nature, highly resilient material that adapts well to different environmental conditions (handy, since the products are shipped from Uzbekiastan). The squash, which is sealed with a cork-like stopper, decomposes within a year (as opposed to up to 400 years for a plastic bag). Source: packworld.com.

Risk assessment for machine makers and EU CE Mark requirements

End-user safety for packaging and processing machinery is paramount. According to PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2023 report, “The Impact of Global and Local Standards on OEMs and Suppliers,” compliance with risk assessment requirements is imperative for identifying potential risks, enabling mitigation and creating safer machines.

“Risk assessment is a multi-step process, which includes identifying hazards, assessing initial risk, reducing risk, assessing residual risk, achieving acceptable risk, validation risk reduction measures, and documenting the process, as outlined in ANSI/PMMI B155.1 – Safety Requirements for Packaging and Processing Machinery. Software programs can help standardize and accelerate the process.”

In order to sell equipment in the European Union, a formal risk assessment must be done to achieve the CE Mark standard – widely recognized by ANSI, OSHA, and equipment buyers as the standard for equipment standards across multiple industries. In addition to meeting CE Marking requirements and reducing liability, this type of formal risk assessment also helps machinery and component suppliers make key decisions about where to focus their investments in the design of safer machines. Source: oemmagazine.org

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