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New life for old machines, new business for Van Dorn Demag

Strongsville, OH—A reinvented Van Dorn Demag held a grand reopening for its Strongsville, OH facility, showing off a new tech center and a business revived by machine rebuilds. "Over the last couple of years, we went from a manufacturing focus to a focus on after sales," John F. Martich III, Van Dorn Demag chief operating officer (COO) told PlasticsToday. "What [our open house] means for us is showing broad capabilities represented in one facility.

Strongsville, OH—A reinvented Van Dorn Demag held a grand reopening for its Strongsville, OH facility, showing off a new tech center and a business revived by machine rebuilds. "Over the last couple of years, we went from a manufacturing focus to a focus on after sales," John F. Martich III, Van Dorn Demag chief operating officer (COO) told PlasticsToday. "What [our open house] means for us is showing broad capabilities represented in one facility. It really demonstrates a strengthening of the commitment to legacy customers and new customers."

Acquired by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in 2008 and then combined with that company's injection molding machine business, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has spent the last four years plus sorting out its global footprint, including the legacy North American sites for Van Dorn in Strongsville, OH and Sumitomo in Norcross, GA.

Van Dorn Demag open house April 2013
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag's April 10 Strongsville, OH open house showcased seven injection molding machines in its new 8250-sq-ft tech center.

On April 10, the company hosted an open house at the Strongsville plant marking a completion of the integration process while also showcasing a new 8250-sq-ft tech center, which featured seven injection molding machines, as well as 234,000 sq ft of space for storing spare parts, a rebuild area, and machine stock, which was eliminated in Georgia. Martich said that almost 120 individuals from more than 60 companies RSVPed for the event, which included vendor partners like Sepro, Yushin, Universal Dynamics, Spirallogic, and more.

Reinvented in the recession
Martich, who will mark 27 years in the Strongsville building this year and who was named COO of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag's North American operations in July 2012, noted with pride the fact that his business navigated the 2008-2009 downturn with zero layoffs. In fact, it has added 17 staff over the last two-and-a-half years. The Ohio facility now employs 57, with 23 in Georgia.

With variations of the old Van Dorn machines going back to the 1940s and multiple brands since then, including Van Dorn, Demag Ergotech, Newbury, Sumitomo, and Van Dorn Demag, the company boasts one of the largest installed machine bases in the world; aging presses that need to be serviced and are often geographically close to Strongsville.

"If you looked at a map of our legacy fleet," Martich said, "we're probably within a three-hour drive of the vast majority of our installed machines."

(Re)building a new business
Officially launched at NPE2012, the aftersales business has already rebuilt 24 machines "end-to-end" according to Steven Ross, aftersales and service representative. Ross noted that a rebuilt press costs roughly 60% of the equivalent of a new machine. The company can turn around smaller machines in 8-10 weeks, with up to 14 needed for larger presses, depending on what the customers want, Ross said.

Rebuilt Van Dorn injection molding machine
Old and new, in the foreground a rebuilt Van Dorn, behind it, one waiting to be retooled.
Van Dorn Demag is on pace to exceed its own forecasts for 2013, with the potential for 30 total rebuilds, according to Ross. In addition to full machines, Ross said Strongsville averages two injection unit rebuilds/week, having completed 98 last year. It also has 300 of its VDU retrofit machine controllers installed on legacy equipment, and is on pace to complete around 80 installations this year.

At the open house, the company displayed a 1997 Van Dorn 700 HP large platen; a model that Ross said was one of Van Dorn's most popular machines and sizes in its day. Rusting in areas with chipped paint and exposed wiring, Ross noted the 16-yr-old machine had seen better days. "Looks pretty rough," Ross said, "she was really abused."

Directly across from the weathered machine sat a rebuilt 700 HP, offering visitors a dramatic before and after of what rebuilt can mean. This particular press would ship back to the customer in several days, according to Ross, marking the fourth machine that had been rebuilt for it.

The program has been a hit with customers and given the company a vital source of new revenue from old equipment. Company representatives estimated that there are as many as 20,000 legacy Van Dorn machines in North America, with as many as 13,000 still running, for now, anyways.

"We said to ourselves, 'O.K. let's start to slow the curve with VDU control upgrades and rebuilds,'" Ross said. "Let's keep people from scrapping machines." Once completed, Ross said rebuilds get the machines back to "OEM spec", which means new life. "There's no reason this machine can't run for another 20 years," Ross said, gesturing to another rebuild project. "This [machine] is a 1999."

The company has taken on rebuilds of other makes as well, with older Cincinnati Milacron and Engel machines on the floor during the open house waiting to be serviced. Where those machines sat in a facility that opened in the 1970s had been vacant for a time before being subleased out when Strongsvilled stopped making machines. Today, the same engineers that built the presses in the 1990s can rebuild them today in the same space.

"We had the engineers on staff," Ross said. "Now we put the guys to use; the guys who built machines originally."

Van Dorn Demag trade-in options

  • Used equipment is taken on a dollar assessment; this amount is applied to a parts and/or training credit
  • Used equipment is taken on a dollar assessment; this amount is applied towards a new Sumitomo (SHI) Demag machine as a down payment credit
  • Used equipment is taken on a dollar assessment; this amount is applied towards rebuilding services on other legacy machinery with a customer

Van Dorn Demag machine rebuild options

Below a list of options available for a complete end-to-end rebuild through Van Dorn Demag's aftersales division. "From this list we will work closely with the customer to manage their expectations, perhaps more or less would be required per these expectations and that's all 100% possible," Ross said. "Prior to the machines arrival in Strongsville I want the customer to be comfortable with what he/she is investing and completely understands what we will be providing."

  • Option 1: VDU Control with new OP, modules, and power supply
  • Option 2: Rebuilt injection unit replacing seals and bearings, reconditioning injection piston, cylinder tube to OEM spec
    • 2a: Replace front end components and pre-wire assembly. New FEP installed per customer's specific application requirements. Heaterbands, thermocouples, and all necessary components replaced and tested
  • Option 3: Rebuilt linkage (toggle) all pins and bushings replaced or rebuilt ram cylinder and packing. Platens re-machined and leveled to ensure clamp accuracy and protection of the machine and the tooling inside
  • Option 4: Rebuild/replace all pumps and machine filtration
  • Option 5: Proportional and directional valve replacement or reconditioning
  • Option 6: Replacement of wire harnesses, re-run all necessary electrical wires through the machine base
  • Option 7: Safety and functionality check and re-check, to adhere to all necessary ANSI and OSHA criterion
  • Option 8: Clean and paint to OEM spec or customer's custom preference
  • Option 9: Re-commission, testing of the machine to verify performance and accuracy prior to shipment
  • Option 10: Miscellaneous, options can be updated, added, changed, or deleted as per the customers' requirements.  All work performed in Strongsville, OH
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