Digital transformation in glass industry exceeds expectations

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At Guangdong Huaxing Glass, almost four million tons of container glass is produced annually, making the company the largest hollow glass manufacturer all over Asia

With its 15 factories and an annual production capacity of almost four million tons of container glass, Guangdong Huaxing Glass is Asia’s largest hollow glass manufacturer. On the way to its digital transformation the company benefits from Siemens' Digital Enterprise know-how and the holistic approach of Digital Enterprise Services

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Huaxing Glass Digitalization Project Phase I

Guangdong Huaxing Glass produces glass containers that are mainly used in the domestic food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries. It is able to produce glass containers in weights from 25 to 2,000 grams with capacities from 20 to 5,000 milliliters in all shapes and quantities. The color palette extends from ultra-white and clear compositions to emerald-green and tawny-brown, with more than 3,000 possible container designs.

Versatile competence and a holistic approach

For the digital transformation, Guangdong Huaxing Glass has chosen Siemens as its partner and thus benefits from the holistic Digitalization Consulting approach. “Our teams combine industry-specific knowledge ranging from raw materials to the finished product with our expertise that extends to the field, automation, process, and corporate management levels and includes the specific associated IT requirements,” says Heinz-Josef Lennartz, responsible Account Manager in Vertical Glass & Solar at Siemens. Add to this a thoroughly tested technology portfolio specific to the glass industry and Siemens’ international experience, including an on-site presence. 

Faster, better and more sustainable

In on-site workshops answers to extremely basic questions such as digitalization goals, quality goals, economic factors, and motivations were answered. At the very top of the list was the desire to significantly boost productivity across all production sites by about nine percent.

In this context, experts also refer to the pack-to-melt ratio. This is the ratio of manufactured melted glass at the hot end to pallets of packed goods at the cold end. Bottles with small scratches have generally ended up as scrap. Better cullet management would be able to reduce this scrap.

Besides this the frequent change of capacities from order to order had negative effects on quality, productivity and energy consumption. Uniform application rates, on the other hand, would counteract this.

Digital transformation roadmap

Therefore, another important component of the analysis was the systematic examination of all processes as well as the entire IT and OT infrastructure in the factories, including horizontal and vertical integration. During inventory, Siemens worked with the customer to consistently identify all optimization potentials so that recommendations for action could be documented in an implementation roadmap

On-site consulting

The tangible result of about two months of on-site consulting was a product-neutral automation and digitalization roadmap with a five-year plan and return-on-investment calculations.

“One important aspect of the implementation process that has already been started is that we are providing targeted training for all 10,000 employees at the 15 locations and to prepare them for the digitalization projects that are still pending”, explains Heinz-Josef Lennartz.

Guangdong Huaxing Glass CEO Li ShenHua is in full agreement. “What Siemens has achieved in recent months makes a lot of sense. In addition to their professional expertise, what’s been most important for me is the extremely open relationship on our path to success, which is far from over! Above all, I’d like the team to continue meeting in person. Digitalization has its justifications, but it’s no substitute for personal contact.”

 

February 2022