Artificial Intelligence may be defined as the ability for computers or computer-controlled equipment to autonomously make complicated decisions or adjustments that would normally require human intelligence or intervention.

To understand Conair’s approach to implementing Artificial Intelligence in auxiliary equipment, start where we did, with the problems that every processor faces: the labor shortage, the loss of experience, the difficulties with running 24/7 operations, the training burden, the maintenance and downtime problems, and the scrap and losses that result when inexperienced people make mistakes and processes don’t run properly.

We all know why problems occur: making plastics is complicated. Dozens of humans, equipment, and technical factors have to be managed, adjusted, sequenced, and controlled to enable efficient production.  But managing all those factors constantly requires exceptional skill, knowledge, and experience that are difficult for people to gain and expensive to pass on to others.

So, as many long-time experts retire from the plastics industry, how can processors enable newer or less-experienced processing personnel to perform tasks more consistently – more like experts?

One way is to incorporate artificial intelligence into the control of auxiliary equipment. At the foundation of Conair’s AI work are decades of experience – and mountains of data from thousands of trials – about what auxiliary equipment needs to do, when and how it should be adjusted, and how it can be made to run optimally in different situations.

Conair’s AI-driven auxiliary controls enable us to capture that “wisdom” and distill it into algorithms that are built into the programming of an intelligent control. Then, when the equipment is operating, real-time performance data from equipment sensors is fed to the control. The control uses its algorithms to evaluate and adjust equipment the way an expert would.

Thanks to computer processing power, AI-driven controls from Conair can process, calculate, and adjust many factors far more rapidly and precisely than any human expert. And, they can store optimal results in memory for use in the future. They don’t get tired. They don’t need a day off. The result is that AI-driven controls help ensure that equipment performance is continually optimized, even if operators aren’t very experienced.

Benefits of AI-Driven Controls

At Conair, we have aimed our AI work to date at two segments of auxiliary equipment – conveying and drying – where common errors and problems can have costly consequences. Conair calls our AI-driven controls “Optimizer,” because that is exactly what they do.

  • Conveying with Optimizer automatically fine-tunes conveying parameters to maximize throughput and eliminate problems (e.g., improper adjustments, slowdowns, clogs). It automatically adapts to different materials, bulk densities and conveying conditions, and even adapts system performance to cope with vacuum leaks or system changes. No operator time, intervention, or guesswork is involved. And, conveying problems and troubleshooting time are eliminated.
  • ResinWorks with Optimizer saves labor and energy in the drying process by automatically sensing and adjusting drying airflows into active drying hoppers based on changes in mass flow and temperature. Once material at the bottom of the hopper achieves the proper temperature, the Optimizer logic holds it steady, while incrementally adjusting airflow through the rest of the hopper to match the actual processing rates, incoming material condition, and material drying requirements. In addition to labor savings, ResinWorks with Optimizer delivers energy savings of 10-40 percent!

The Bottom Line

Conair’s AI-driven products assure processors of consistent results across operators, shifts, and production locations.  Our AI-driven controls enable available personnel to focus on making parts, not on making auxiliary equipment adjustments.  At the same time, they help reduce the need for training and reliance on human experience, while they continuously adapt and adjust performance to avoid problems and deliver optimal results.

See more about how Conair’s AI-driven solutions can work for your processes: