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Injecting new technology into a small shop

August 1, 2001

1 Min Read
Injecting new technology into a small shop

Editor's note: Each year at the SPE Antec Conference IMM and SPE's Injection Molding Div. sponsor a Best Injection Molding Paper. This year's winners are Andreas Franz and Walter Michaeli of the Institute for Plastics Processing, in Aachen, Germany. Following is a summary of the paper, "Introducing New Injection Molding Technologies Into Small and Medium-sized Enterprises." For a copy, go to www.4spe.org and click on "publications." 

Small- and medium-sized molding facilities are in an awkward Catch-22: They often want to grow, and wish to invest in new technology to do so. But such investment requires a devotion of human resources and time that many molders of this size can't afford. 

Franz and Michaeli suggest an organized, systematic approach for selecting and implementing new technology that helps make up for limited resources. Their technology introduction has four phases (Table 1): 

1. Search. Usually triggered by a problem or customer request, this is the collection of information on the technology. Sources include trade shows, suppliers, universities, consultants, and the media. 

2. Selection. Choosing a technology supplier is critical. A team approach is recommended, with members from production, development, purchasing, sales, and quality control. The team should consider and rank the technology's applicability, cost, quality, maintenance, and capabilities. Precise selection criteria are key. 

3. Implementation. Determine how the technology or equipment fits into the current workflow and assess the impact. This includes tooling, material handling, automation, and machinery placement. 

4. Utilization. This includes process optimization, training, and the development of working plans. 

Finally, Franz and Michaeli recommend top-to-bottom employee participation "in the arrangement and improvement of the processes on the shop floor." 

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Table 1. The four phases of technology integration.

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