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September 8, 1998

6 Min Read
IMM Field Test:  Buying used vs. buying new

Does a new injection molding machine really pay off with the kind of performance that makes it a better buy than a more affordable used machine? In May 1998, we launched our first IMM Field Test to help answer this question. Montrose Molders, a custom molder in New Jersey that has always purchased used presses, has been running molds producing the same medical devices in two 300-ton molding machines, one new and one used. The used machine is a 1982 model year Cincinnati Milacron hydraulic, originally purchased by this custom molder for about $15,000. The new machine, which costs at least 10 times more, was contributed solely for the purposes of this IMM Field Test by Nissei. Here's a summary of what's happened so far:

  • May: The new Nissei model FN 6000 machine arrived on May 25. The folks at Montrose Molders frankly admitted the NC9300T Nissei process controller is quite a step up from the relay logic controllers they're used to. Plans called for using the same processing parameters on the older machine and to run the test mold in the new one. They were anxious to see how well the Nissei could run the injection profiles.

    June: Montrose Molders' production manager and first shift foreman attended classes at Nissei's regional technical facility to get up to speed on running the new machine. Meanwhile, the company began warming-up the Nissei for the IMM Field Test by running a simple napkin holder mold. "We can't afford the slightest 'blip' running the medical device mold," said Montrose Molders' Kelly Wilson. "We've got to keep it where it is until we feel confident we can run it right on the Nissei."July: On July 6, before the official launch of the IMM Field Test, the Cincinnati machine running the test mold went down. "It was a valve, a relay, or something like that. It's just an inherent problem in a used machine," Wilson acknowledged. Personnel put the test mold into the Nissei and started it up all on their own that very day. The Nissei stopped only once during that first week because of an accidental opening of the operator door. The Cinci machine had been running the mold at around 35 seconds. The Nissei ran it at around 30 seconds, digging Montrose Molders out of a potential production hole while they got the Cinci back up and running.August: Nissei technicians wired the two machines running the test molds to monitor and analyze energy consumption. Energy efficiency is high on the list of things Montrose Molders will be examining. That's because it pays out up to $45,000/month in electric bills. Montrose Molders will be looking to produce better parts, faster, at a lower cost per kilowatt hour. Uptime and maintenance also will be very closely examined.

All at Montrose Molders are impressed with the performance of the new machine. They tried pushing the outside of the envelope, running the test mold on the new machine at 27 seconds. It worked, but the mold did have some flashing problems and the operator trimming the parts found it hard to keep up with the faster press. They've held the new machine's cycle at 30.

"For the life of me, I can't get the Cinci machine down to where the Nissei is," Wilson confesses. "The new machine is easy to control, and it's very friendly. It's nice to just walk up to it, hit a button, and find out where you're at. I found my bottom line on this mold on the new machine. I was never able to do that on the used one."

Before concluding, a clarification is in order. In announcing the IMM Field Test, it was erroneously reported that Nissei technicians would be monitoring and analyzing the comparative economies and performance of the two machines over the six months of testing. In fact, although Nissei specialists will be equipping the machines, the only results IMM is interested in reporting are from the tests being carried out by the custom molder hosting the IMM Field Test. Their industrial park neighbor and electrical contractor, Power Solutions, will be assisting them.

More about Montrose Molders

Montrose Molders (South Plainfield, NJ) is a family business in every sense of the word. The Wilson family has owned and operated the business for three generations, and it extends its family to include its employees and its customers. The company traces its roots back to Jim Wilson of M&W Machinery, who designed and built one of the first horizontal injection molding machines for pressing vinyl LP records. His son, Bill Wilson Sr., a moldmaker, first started what has grown to become Montrose Molders as a tool shop in 1964. Though he is still very active in the business, he has turned the day-to-day running of Montrose Molders over to his four sons.

Kurt Wilson, former nose tackle for the University of South Carolina's Gamecocks, is production manager. Carter Wilson is assembly manager, designing systems and overseeing the 60 or so employees. Bill Wilson Jr., the toolshop foreman, runs sister company Continental Precision Corp., which designs and builds custom and proprietary molds. Finally, J. Kelly Wilson is general manager. He coordinates the activities of each division in the company and the project management programs with customers. In addition, Kelly also takes care of sales and marketing with the help of a former schoolmate, Todd Nicolay, who is Montrose Molders' sales manager.

Kelly tells us neither he nor his brothers ever thought they'd be in the molding business. "We always came to work, though. It was the only way we ever got to see Dad," he jokes. Though each of them had hands-on training growing up with the plant, most did not have any special education in engineering, injection molding, or moldmaking. The exception is Bill Jr., who put in a year-and-a-half apprenticeship at a local tool shop after 15 years at Montrose Molders.

After Kelly graduated from college with a management degree, his dad asked him for help on a project. Kelly turned it into a real moneymaker in a short amount of time. Despite good offers of employment from the suit-and-tie world, he decided to stay and help build Montrose Molders. Bill Jr. soon joined him. Carter came on board, channeling his creativity into starting the company's assembly and packaging operations. Kurt was teaching phys-ed at a ritzy private school down South where he also was the football coach, but he wasn't making a whole lot of money. "Kurt's gone from being a coach to being a coach," Kelly says. "He's a real motivator with a lot of charisma. Both our employees and our customers enjoy talking to him."

If there are any problems, Bill Wilson Sr. and his sons sit down and solve them together. "It's a 24-hour business, and we all put in the hours," says Kelly. They believe having each division run by a family member ensures the tradition of quality that has earned Montrose Molders its reputation for serving its regional customer base well. That's because, in a way, the family name goes on every mold it builds and every part it molds.

Contact information
Montrose Molders Corp.
South Plainfield, NJ
J. Kelly Wilson
Phone: (908) 754-3030
Fax: (908) 561-5989

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