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My Three Cents: What's one of the best moves you've made in your production area?

February 1, 2006

3 Min Read
My Three Cents: What's one of the best moves you've made in your production area?

Jens Duerr, VP and principal
Duerr Inc., Union, NJ
Business: Injection molding
Markets: Electronics, medical, machines, cosmetics

It has to be the central material handling system we installed when our new plant was built in 2000. We see results in yield, profits, repeatability, cleanliness, and more.

Our “floor people” used to be responsible for the material at each machine. If one got distracted while mixing regrind, the wand would find a pocket of regrind in a gaylord and everything would go out of whack. A half hour of production got lost easily, possibly worse on the night shift.

None of that happens anymore. We have three fewer floor people per shift. There’s one person per shift in a materials control area, and about half the time he’s prepping material in the warehouse or checking a mixer on the floor. Not only is he less stressed, he is more efficient than three people were.

It’s hard to have an exact ROI for the central system—it was bundled with the new plant costs—but there’s no doubt it improved operations dramatically and paid for itself many times over.

Fernand Vandaele, managing director
QCMS-Quadrant Creative Moulding & Systems, Tielt, Belgium
Business: Injection molding/moldmaking
Markets: Automotive, medical, E/E, industrial machinery

We converted one factory into two. Our factory had become too small to either add machines or add automation around current IMs. We needed to expand, but we decided no addition could happen without cost reduction and improved quality and productivity, including decreasing total labor cost.

We moved some work to our plant in Hungary and decided to make the Tielt facility into an A factory and a B factory. A is for Automatic: long runs, emphasis on robotics, automatic control, and autonomous lean production. B means Batch: smaller-series production, emphasis on Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) and skilled tool setup specialists.

Most IMs were in position by the end of 2005 and the automation systems will be complete by mid-2006. For better planning and control, the two factories are equipped with a new Barcocim online ERP system with reporting customized per machine and groups of machines.

Anthony Gelardi, president
Sagoma Plastics, Biddeford, ME
Business: Injection molding
Markets: Optical disk packaging,toys, electronics

Crystal styrene is the material of choice for a number of consumer products we manufacture for the CD and DVD market. Color graphics are placed behind the crystal styrene parts without any loss of clarity.

The major issue with crystal styrene is that it is easily scratched.

Alternative materials that are not as prone to scratching have been evaluated but rejected because they do not match the clarity.

In a discussion with Paul Gelardi, president of E-Media, he suggested using a new inline system that applies a thin coating of UV hard coat immediately after the robot takes the part out of the mold.

With this inline process we can continue to use crystal styrene and eliminate handling scratches. We plan to add more hard-coat modules to other products we manufacture in GPS, ABS, K-Resin, and polycarbonate.

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