Covestro, Haier to digitalize appliance production

Polymer supplier Covestro is teaming up with the Haier Group, a major global brand for household appliances, to set up a joint laboratory in Qingdao, China, for the digitalization of appliance production. Specifically, the laboratory will develop digital solutions for using polyurethanes in appliance production.

Polyurethane (PU) rigid foam is the material of choice globally for efficient refrigerator insulation. To insulate a refrigerator, a precisely dosed amount of polyurethane raw materials is injected into the outer cavity and fills it up completely during foam formation. Both this material and the related foaming process are crucial for the refrigerator industry.

Digitalization of the complex PU insulation foam fabrication process is expected to improve foam quality and reduce manufacturing costs.

Fully-automated, smart production depends primarily on a precise characterization of the polyurethane components, which is reportedly a complex task. With the development of digital solutions, Covestro hopes to open up new avenues for helping household appliance manufacturers overcome these challenges.

In the new Haier – Covestro Digitalization Joint Laboratory, both partners want to develop innovative solutions for data collection and analysis, monitoring foam quality and process workflows and continuously optimizing processes. These measures will continuously improve the polyurethane foaming and manufacturing process, improve foam quality and reduce manufacturing costs.

“With this collaboration, Covestro benefits from its comprehensive experience with polyurethane and foam technologies, while Haier brings in its expertise in industrial automation and the analysis of large volumes of data,” explains Dr. Ulrich Liman, global head of research and development in the Polyurethanes segment at Covestro.

Development work will utilize Haier’s COSMOPlat industrial internet platform. Haier says COSMOPlat is “as an open multilateral interactive co-creation and sharing eco-platform that lets users participate in the entire manufacturing process.” Dr. Michael Schmidt, head of Innovation Asia Pacific at Covestro, leading the R&D team, and John Dou, Vice president of Commercial Operation China, Polyurethanes segment at Covestro, leading the sales team, expect that this innovative cooperation model will further increase synergies between the two companies.

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