Young teams develop sustainable and digital solutions for OPTIMA - in 48 hours

A total of 18 young professionals from various institutions in Baden-Württemberg have registered for Optima at the Makeathon. (Source: Optima)

Optima took part at the 4th Packaging Valley Makeathon with two teams. They developed a child-resistant closure for sustainable can packaging and a smart sorting system using robotics and AI.

On November 21 and 22, Optima took part in the 4th Packaging Valley Makeathon with 18 young people. At the event, in which teams work on a task in a limited time, the participants were able to choose between two topics. The Consumer business unit was looking for a sustainable, resealable packaging solution with a childproof lock. In the Pharma business unit, the aim was to use robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to enable smart sorting. The teams consisted largely of students as well as technicians, trainees and a doctoral student of institutions from Baden-Württemberg.

9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning: 18 excited young faces look at the large screen in the event room at Optima. A slide on it reads "Welcome to the Packaging Valley Makeathon". After a short welcome round, the group is divided into two teams. Each team has an expert from Optima who presents the respective topic. The aim is to develop new solutions for real challenges in the area of sustainability and digitalization at Optima.

By participating, the young people also have the opportunity to gain their first practical experience in special machine construction. They get to know the project work at a technology leader and live out their enthusiasm for technology. In the best case scenario, they will feel so comfortable at Optima during the 48 hours that their interest in starting a career is awakened.

A Makeathon shows technology enthusiasts how a project works in fast-forward. "In mechanical engineering, customers rarely want the same solution twice. The customer usually wants something new, for which there is a delivery date but no solution yet," explains Rainer Stetter, founder of ITQ GmbH, which organizes the Makeathon together with Packaging Valley. "This is exactly how a Makeathon works, only much faster, like in a time-lapse."

Makeathon participants consumer Team

The consumer team developed a child-resistant closure for sustainable, resealable can packaging in 48 hours. (Source: Optima)

Makeathon participants at Optima training center

Smart sorting of objects in pharmaceutical filling lines with the use of robotics and AI was the result of the pharmaceutical team. (Source: Optima)

Challenge accepted: developing a solution in 48 hours

Using the example of a sustainable, resealable can, the consumer team was tasked with developing a child proof lock. The challenge: The can should still be able to be opened by senior citizens and not contain any plastic materials. The team developed a solution within the given timeframe: A snap lock that snaps into the lid and the body of the can and closes it. By pressing the body of the can, the snap lock is released from the connection to the lid and can be opened.

Thinking about the future with robotics, automation and AI

At Pharma, the participants are tasked with developing a digital solution that can recognize and sort objects. The helpers provided are robotics and AI. After 48 hours, the team presents its solution: self-constructed gripper fingers for a robot to sort an unsorted sequence of letters. An AI-based camera system is used to recognize the letters and determine coordinates. A specially developed algorithm puts the letters in the correct order. A digital twin was created to test the planned path, the robot's "route" to the letters, in advance. This avoids collisions. The robot's gripper fingers and the letters come from the 3D printer.

"A great opportunity to learn a lot"

Daniel Dietzsch, mechatronics student at Aalen University and participant in the consumer team, was already familiar with Optima. "I got to know Optima at the Smart Green Island Makeathon on Gran Canaria in spring. It was therefore easy for me to choose a company this time." After the two days in Schwäbisch Hall, he was delighted: "It's fascinating what a team can achieve in such a short space of time and how strangers grow together."

Participant Juliane Diehm, a doctoral student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is partly involved in automation in her field of bioengineering. "I was able to learn all the more about it now. Optima showed us pharmaceutical plants, gave us an insight into the big picture, but also explained the individual systems and processes in detail. It is definitely worth taking part and a great opportunity to learn a lot."

The next Makeathon is already in planning. The 7th Smart Green Island Makeathon will take place on Gran Canaria from February 28 to March 2, 2024. Optima will also be there again.

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Denise Fiedler and Julia Völker
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Denise Fiedler and Julia Völker
Team Group Communication
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Denise Fiedler and Julia Völker
Denise Fiedler and Julia Völker
Team Group Communication
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