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June 20, 2002

7 Min Read
A 3300-tonner, installed in 48 hours


Van Dorn Demag delivered and completed all of the heavy installation work for this 3500-ton Caliber press at Guardian's facility in Evansville, IN in just 48 hours.

Guardian's Automotive Products Group (APG) availed itself of Van Dorn Demag's BLT2 onsite machine installation service for a big 3300-ton Caliber press it bought for its Evansville, IN facility last summer. There was one small problem, though. It was unlawful for VDD to endanger any of Guardian's employees when moving the big machine components into place, particularly when lifting heavy subassemblies with an overhead crane.

The solution was simple. VDD came in at 7:00 am on a Saturday. By 8:00 am Monday, Guardian had its new 3300-ton Caliber waiting for it. All of the heavy installation labor was accomplished in 48 hours. And the first test shots were fired in about 10 days.

Guardian's APG is one of the world's largest Tier One automotive suppliers. It is the only company that manufactures both glass and exterior trim products. Guardian does the whole exterior of vehicles—everything but the body panels. With more than a dozen manufacturing sites around the world, Guardian's APG is one of three business units of the privately held Guardian Industries Corp., a global firm based in Auburn Hills, MI. Together with its other business units, the Guardian companies operate more than 80 facilities in 20 countries.


Using a hybrid electro-hydraulic QMC system of its own design, Guardian intends to perform lean changeovers in less than 30 minutes, even on molds weighing more than 30 tons.

Guardian's APG also has the distinction of being the first molder to order BLT2 takeouts from VDD. The first one may have gone into the Guardian plant in Morehead, KY—sources are unsure whether Morehead or Evansville was first. Regardless, with the success of its weekend delivery and with an aggressive machine replacement program in action, Evansville has more Caliber BLT2s on order.

Lean Renovation
David Bacon is a lean-thinking plastics industry vet who came on board as Guardian Evansville's plant manager two years ago. Since that time, he has overseen the lean transformation of the 452,000-sq-ft ISO 9000/QS 9000/ISO 14001 Evansville facility, which started 37 years ago as the Windsor Plastics custom molding plant. A 1956 model-year 1100-ton Natco still runs in one area of the plant, but it may not be there much longer.

In less than two years' time, Guardian Evansville has brought in 15 new machines, 500 tons and up. It operates 32 horizontal and vertical molding machines in total, from 250 to 3300 tons, and seven more are on order. The plant employs about 745 (about 200 in injection molding), has almost 1000 active molds up to 66,000 lb, does about 300 mold changes/month, and runs a variety of ETPs, 24/7, moving 42 trucks full of parts every day to customers like GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Freightliner, and International.

Chrome electroplating is another Guardian Evansville specialty. In fact, Guardian Industries sources say the Evansville plating line is one of the largest that chrome plates plastics in the world. Eighteen months ago Bacon and his electroplating team oversaw the construction of this fully automated, state-of-the-art chrome plating line at the Evansville plant.


Guardian believes standardization reduces the waste involved in retraining and in stocking spares. Una-Dyn materials conditioning systems are used in its big machine bay.

Believe it or not, construction of the plating line was done at the same time the plant was putting up a brand-new, 30,000-sq-ft molding bay for its big Caliber molding machines—home of the BLT2 3300-tonner. Bacon is a big believer in standardization as a means of eliminating the waste involved in such things as stocking spares and retraining. That becomes evident the moment you walk into the Caliber bay.

Caliber Central
Called the C-bay, the fully air-conditioned room houses eight Calibers from 1100 to 3300 tons. Each press is equipped with a blender from Maguire Products Inc. (Aston, PA) and an articulating-arm parts removal robot, either from Fanuc Robotics North America Inc. (Rochester Hills, MI) or from ABB Flexible Automation (New Berlin, WI). Bacon says these types of robots are needed because they are versatile enough to remove big, complex molded parts from big, complex molds. Guardian Evansville outsources all of its tooling.

The central drying and materials handling system is in a room off the mezzanine surrounding the shop floor. Secluding the materials conditioning and conveying system helps keep the noise in the bay at a minimum. This system is from Universal Dynamics (Woodbridge, VA). The chillers are up on the mezzanine, too, saving floor space. A 40-ton crane spans the length of the shop floor, which has a 40-ft ceiling.


Articulating-arm robots are used on Guardian's eight Calibers. They have the freedom of motion to remove big, complex parts from big, complex molds.

Guardian Evansville is presently standardized on hot runner systems from Plastics Engineering & Technical Services (Auburn Hills, MI) and hot runner controllers from American MSI Corp. (Moorpark, CA). One of the big molds that runs on the 3300-tonner has sequential valve gating on 23 gates run by the machine's Pathfinder 5000 controller.

The company's goal is to perform changeovers of this big mold and others in less than 30 minutes. The QMC system Guardian Evansville uses has custom-built electromagnetic platens from Tecnomagnete Inc. (Troy, MI) and electrical, water, and hydraulic hookups from StaŸbli Corp. (Duncan, SC). Mold preheating speeds along the changeovers. Bacon says fully automated parts handling and press-side assembly systems make molding on the 3300-ton Caliber cell a true shoot-and-ship process. There's a truck-loading bay right in back of the machine for the lean deliveries of parts as fast as the lean delivery and installation was for the press itself.


Molded in precolored ASA, a GMT 610 truck grille cover molded on the 3300-ton Caliber is snapfit in this assembly fixture onto a prefinished grille molded and electroplated in-house.

The BLT2 program at a glance
Once upon a time, Van Dorn Demag just shipped its large-tonnage machines. Its customers were responsible for contracting the riggers, for the installation, reassembly, debugging, and verification. That's after the big press got there, of course—there was also the long wait for the big iron to arrive. That's how it was way back in the 20th century.

Today VDD can have a big press delivered, built onsite, and running—complete with testing, calibration, and QA inspection—in just three to four weeks from shipment, 10 to 12 weeks from receipt of the machine order, depending on the options specified. What's more, VDD brings in its own specialists, including a certified and fully trained installation contractor.

Next, VDD's project manager and sales rep go into the customer's facility for an initial project review and site inspection. They examine logistics and administrative concerns and develop an understanding of the expected requirements for delivery and installation, including whether or not the customer has a big enough door for the big press to fit through.

Caliber two-platen presses (2750 tons and up) are key to VDD's BLT2 program. They are modular machines built from four major components: clamp base, movable platen, stationary platen, and injection base. To smooth the reassembly process at the customer's facility, the machine is prebuilt at VDD's facility, pretested, and verified before being shipped in five trucks—one for each major component and another for the supplies.

About a dozen big machines have been installed using the BLT2 program since its inception less than three years ago. The goal of the BLT2 program is simple: to make deliveries and installations go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Contact information
Guardian Industries Corp.
Auburn Hills, MI
Gayle Joseph
(248) 340-2109

Van Dorn Demag Corp.
Strongsville, OH
(440) 876-8960

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