Mack Molding (Arlington, VT) was named a winner of Managing Automation Communications' 2011 Progressive Manufacturing 100 Award at the Manufacturing Leadership Summit held earlier this month in Palm Beach, FL. Mack was recognized for its efforts in redefining the company as a major North American manufacturer in the new millennium.
A decade ago, as many OEMs shifted to offshore manufacturing or sourcing, Mack crafted a new business model to expand its position as both a contract manufacturer for the medical market, as well as a custom plastic molder of super-large parts. With strides made on both of those fronts, Mack has concentrated of late on the third leg of the business model - big, bulky, complex products - that diversify its markets beyond medical and emphasizes its services beyond injection molding.
"This aspect of our business model drives us toward products that are too large to be manufactured efficiently overseas and too complex to be confidently and expediently managed from offshore locations," explains Jeff Somple, president, Mack Molding Northern Operations. Examples include a fully automated self-cleaning commercial milkshake blender, mail sorters and production mail systems, solar-powered municipal trash compactors and recycling systems, RFID inventory management systems, and insect control systems for lawn and garden care. In all instances, Mack's vertical integration of services, including product development, plastics injection molding, sheet metal fabrication, machining, and total product assembly are called into play.
Other winners included Caterpillar, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Ford, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and Nestle. "These companies have demonstrated an ability to rethink their businesses and apply advanced technologies in innovative ways that manufacturers everywhere would be well served to emulate," said David Brousell, a PM100 judge. "The PM100 winners this year are role models for the successful manufacturing company of today and in the future."
Another injection molder, Nyloncraft Inc. (Mishawaka, IN), has installed two new injection molding machines from manufacturer Engel (York, PA). The machines are the heart of a fully automated production cell for a set of automotive interior components, according to Jim Capiak, the molder's director of engineering.
Both of the duo 1650 two-platen machines were installed at the processor's facility in Jonesville, MI. Additional Engel presses will be delivered for use in set-up of a second manufacturing cell. Nyloncraft currently runs about 100 injection molding machines, in a clamp-force range from 80 to 3000 tons, with about 65% of Nyloncraft's applications in the automotive sector.
Each of the new Engel 1650 machines is equipped with a Motoman (West Carrollton, OH) articulating robot. The molding machines and robots comprise one manufacturing cell. One machine molds the front, the other the back, of the final part. The moldings are removed from the machines and placed on a conveyor. An operator places the parts in a fixture and they are then ultrasonically welded by a customized Branson (Danbury, CT) fixture. The parts are large (more than 10 lb per assembly) but with walls as thin as 2 mm. Injection-compression molding (coining) is used to realize the large-but-thin parts.
After release of each molded part, metal-stamped inserts are robotically positioned to prepare the cell for the next molding cycle. "With no operators required for the machines, we use only two employees for each cell, one to perform the welding operating and one to inspect the finished assembly," explains Capiak. The cells are run five days a week, 24 hrs a day, with the remaining time set aside for routine checking and maintenance.
The assembly is molded of a PP/PE natural color material supplied in truckload quantities. Nyloncraft stores the material in silo quantities, custom blends it in-house, and automatically feeds to the presses. The injection mold's design was a collaborative effort between Nyloncraft and the mold manufacturer, Commercial Tool & Die (Grand Rapids, MI).
The finished automotive interior component is for a vehicle that will be rolled out this summer.
On the other side of the globe, New York-based global materials consultancy Material ConneXion announced plans to expand its international operations with the launch of 10 locations throughout China by 2017. Material ConneXion's first office in China is scheduled to open in Beijing in October 2011, followed by locations in Shanghai in March 2012 and Guangzhou in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
Material ConneXion's move into China is made possible by a strategic partnership with Eegoo Cultural Industry Investment Co. Ltd., a Chinese China's industrial design firm and manufacturer of consumer goods.
"China is a vital and obvious next step for us," said George Beylerian, founder & CEO of Material ConneXion. China's government announced in its most recent five-year plan a desire to shift towards designing, developing and manufacturing goods for domestic consumption, rather than just manufacturing foreign-designed products for export. In addition to facilitating innovation domestically, Material ConneXion's move into China is a response to its international clients' desire for insight into Chinese materials and sourcing.
"Our extensive presence throughout China will dramatically increase our ability to help clients around the world source Chinese materials close to their manufacturing," said Michele Caniato, the company's president.
Material ConneXion's offices in China will offer the same services as its six other global locations: an materials library, consulting services-customized materials research and product development support-and a range of public programming, including exhibitions and conferences focused on materials innovation. Material ConneXion's expansion into China comes on the heels of opening its latest global office in Istanbul, Turkey. Headquartered in New York City, the company has additional locations in Milan, Cologne, Bangkok and Daegu, Korea.
In Bolton, Ontario, officials at Husky Injection Molding Systems announced the company has completed its acquisition of injection mold manufacturer KTW (Waidhofen, Austria). Husky will now offer KTW-branded closure molds as part of its turnkey systems.
"This acquisition allows us to more closely integrate KTW technologies into the industry's most advanced closure molding systems," said John Galt, Husky's president and CEO. Husky announced it planned to acquire KTW shortly before it too was acquired.