It pays to lend a helping hand to clients and suppliers when the economy is down.
In tough times, understanding how to use partnerships and technology to provide customer solutions can mean the difference between growing your business and being stuck in a rut. Integrity Plastics Inc. of Denver, PA, a successful custom injection molder for about 20 years, differentiates itself by helping customers find answers to difficult molding applications. The company operates 36 presses from 28-400 tons and employs 50.
These two examples of MeltFlipper technology demonstrate the solution Integrity presented to its customer in need of tool help. Flash resulting from tool wear was quickly fixed, keeping the mold in operation.
Integrity's state-of-the-art building houses 36 presses, including four tiebarless Engel machines in a Class 100,000 cleanroom, which also has assembly using robots and other automation.
Rick Wilson, Integrity’s engineering manager and general manager, says partnerships are key to success in the custom molding business. “Technology partnering is what we do better that just about anybody,” he says. “We have a lot of technology that we apply to our customers’ molding applications to help them find solutions.”
A successful quick fix
In one instance, a long-time customer of Integrity’s was having a problem with a program being run by a different molder. The customer had valued Integrity’s approach to tackling molding challenges through a team approach. “With demand for efficiency pressing down on the customer, their existing eight-cavity mold for PVC medical parts was underperforming,” says Wilson. “They challenged us to come up with at least a 20% improvement using this mold.”
Wilson has known John Beaumont for many years, and was familiar with Beaumont Technologies Inc.’s (Erie, PA) MeltFlipper melt-rotation technology. Getting BTI involved in the project was a natural. Integrity took on the customer’s challenge at its own expense and began working with BTI, which offers expertise in process technology and mold troubleshooting.
When Integrity got the customer’s mold in-house, its engineers determined that tool wear was causing flashing at the tip of the inner cavities and the small process window was being lost. The urgency to keep the mold in operation meant there was no time to repair it. Instead, Integrity applied BTI’s MeltFlipper technology as a possible solution.
“In this case, timing was especially critical, particularly when this customer wanted more productivity out of this eight-cavity mold,” says Wilson. “However, we were confident we were making a well-qualified gamble when we took on this challenge, given the solutions BTI offered.”
Specifically, the MeltFlipper technology helped Integrity:
• solve filling imbalances caused by shear
• widen the process window
• increase productivity from the existing mold to achieve the desired 20% level
• postpone some maintenance costs.
“We know that time and timing are of the essence when it comes to helping our customers resolve a crisis situation,” says Wilson. “Time because we diagnosed the problem quickly, and timing because we were familiar with the offerings from Beaumont. Because of this ongoing partnership, we were able to quickly come up with a low-cost solution where everyone benefited.” Integrity now has about eight molds that use MeltFlipper technology.
Let’s work together
Integrity promotes the idea of partnerships with its customers. Wilson explains that the company invites customers to its facility to train alongside its employees, using the A. Routsis training system. “One of our customers commented to us after the training, ‘It’s really opened my eyes to what you guys actually do. I understand now how difficult molding is,’” says Wilson. “I then went to their plant to a training session on welding technology from Branson.”
Wilson adds that no one at Integrity is afraid to try new things. “Most of us are degreed in plastics engineering, but we will turn to the guys who offer a niche material or processing technology or equipment. It’s all about getting a solution to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Wilson says that Integrity’s suppliers often provide education on the benefits of their materials or technology to help Integrity land the program. “Our customers aren’t typically familiar with this [MeltFlipper] technology, so when we tell them it costs X dollars, they might not understand the benefits,” he says. “But the Beaumont people are great at explaining the technology and the benefits. It helps us sell the technology to our customer.
“It’s all part of the partnership,” Wilson continues. “The smarter your customers are, the easier they are to deal with. The more we can educate our customers, the better the relationship. In turn, they educate us. We know each other’s business on an intimate level. It’s important to have that relationship. If you don’t have that, it’s tough to grow your business in this economic climate.”—[email protected]
Click here for more details on Integrity's tool evaluation.