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R&B makes expansion plans

Saline, MI—Less than a year after its sister moldmaking operation announced an expansion, R&B Plastics Machinery LLC laid out plans to expand its manufacturing space and add a tech center and a lunch room to its Saline, MI facility.

laid out plans to expand its manufacturing space and add a tech center and a lunch room to its Saline, MI facility. Caroyln Reed, R&B's sales and marketing specialist, and Lawrence Weber, director of mechanical engineering, told PlasticsToday that a growing packaging market, driven by an ongoing push for new sizes, styles, and shapes, as well as continued strength in medical business and a resurgent automotive sector, are forcing the expansion for the supplier of blowmolding machines, trimmer systems, feedscrews, and, for the last three years, private lable single-screw extruders.

Reed said the increased business has also shifted the company into a hiring mode, which has it looking to add more field service technicians after recently bringing on a mechanical engineer and a new electrical specialist, as well as Davis-Standard veteran, Frank Kennedy. Kennedy will work for R&B as its sales manager of blowmolding products and MAX single-screw extruders.

When PlasticsToday visited, R&B had 10 extruders in various stages of assembly and shipping going through its shop, with more on backlog or going through the order process. In addition to new machines on its floor, the company had multiple rebuild jobs going, including several Mills wheel-style blowmolding machines from the 1980s. Stripping the units to their frame, R&B repaints the machine in its in-house paint shop, undertakes a mechanical update, and starts over on the electrical.

"We try to retain the bones of the machine," Reed says, noting that the company, which entered the plastics market in 1980, has always had rebuild business. "Rebuilds help even out the peaks and valleys when our customers can't make capital investments or can't get the money to make a capital investment."

Across the production hall from the machine assembly area is another big driver of business for R&B, its custom screw business, headed by recently recognized Plastics Hall of Fame member, Tim Womer, who joined R&B as its chief process consultant in March of 2011. At that time, the company announced that it would launch its own line of MAX Impact feed screws to complement its machinery lines. "Extruders come down to one thing, the screw," Weber said.

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