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December 8, 1998

2 Min Read
Keeping up with technology in a down economy

The Pacific Northwest is not enjoying the best of times. It has been estimated that Hewlett-Packard's decision to move work out of the area has resulted in $50 million in lost business for others, including many plastics molders. Vision Plastics Inc. (Wilsonville, OR) is just one of several molders in the area to feel the hit. However, in spite of the slowdown in the industry, Vision's president Ron Stevens believes there is no time like the present to prepare for the future.

"Business is down because of H-P's leaving and slowing in other business sectors," explains Stevens, "but if you don't invest in new technology now, you'll never be able to compete down the road."

Although Vision has reduced its investment in new equipment, spending on new technology is still an important factor for them. "If it will give us a competitive edge and help us produce a quality product, it's important."

New Machines

Some of the recent additions to Vision's 35-press (Toshiba and JSW, 40 to 610 tons) plant include a 95-ton, all-electric press from JSW. Stevens is high on the all-electrics and believes they are the wave of the future. "We've seen several advantages, such as faster cycles and more consistent processing."

Vision also has four Okuma all-electric rotary presses. For one automotive application, Vision connected two 50-ton rotary presses together with an indexing table. A Wittmann robotic system operates both presses to maintain those cycle times Stevens mentioned.

"Keeping up with the new technology is crucial," says John Normandin, sales manager for Vision. "It comes back to being able to supply a quality part. We've taken our defective parts per million down considerably and want to reduce it even further."

Normandin adds that Vision's business philosophy helps him in the sales and marketing arena. "What I'm emphasizing to customers is that we're here to stay, and the proof is we're continually investing in emerging technology."

Normandin says the cost to operate the all-electrics is also lower. He estimates the cost to operate the new JSW is about half that of a conventional press.

New Systems

Vision also has Shot-Scope machine monitoring systems from Branden Technologies. One is currently being installed on the new JSW, something Normandin believes will improve quality ratios even more.

About 75 percent of Vision's presses are equipped with robots or sprue pickers. Stevens adds that the advantage there isn't necessarily faster cycle times. "The total count isn't that much different, but the percentage of good parts is much higher. Robots give an operator time to perform other tasks."

Vision will continue its effort to be a better molder. "Even during bad times, you have to find ways to be more competitive and produce a quality part."

Contact information
Vision Plastics Inc.
Wilsonville, OR
John Normandin
Phone: (503) 685-9000
Fax: (503) 685-9254

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