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Rotomolding can learn from Cirque du Soleil

By: James Snodgrass

October 5, 2012

LYON, FRANCE (Oct. 5, 10:10 a.m. ET) — Roll up, roll up, rotational molding is the greatest show on earth. Or so it could be, according to Reading, Pa.-based consultant Paul Nugent.

Addressing the delegates at this week’s Alliance of Rotational Moulding Organisations (Armo) 2012 conference in Lyon, Nugent said that rotational molders “have some fantastic products, but sometimes don’t represent ourselves very well.”

In his address, titled “Rotomoulding Fantastique”, Nugent said: “We have an image problem. The typical products you see are simple products: tubs, barrels.” He concedes that simple parts, executed well are okay, but that the industry needs an injection of pizzazz.

“Cirque du Soleil are so overwhelming and immersive,” Nugent said. “Is it a traditional circus? Yes and no. The skills and acts are the same as the traditional circuses I saw as a child.

“Cirque du Soleil perform the same basic acts presented superbly well. They present them in a superb fashion. We have to change the way we present ourselves.”

Nugent listed rotomolding products that had the requisite “wow” factor. He cited Yeti Coolers ­— who had taken a traditional rotomolding product and come to dominate the U.S. market by presenting a rugged, outdoors image — and Meese Orbitron Dunne, which had reinvented the laundry cart.

Though it is not all about image, he suggested: “Execution is just as important, so we need to focus on technique. Rotomolding is a fairly basic process. It’s perfect for a lot of applications, for entrepreneurs, for low volume production.

“But what about high volume, high tech? What do we need? We need process control on every part. As an industry we’re not as sophisticated as injection molding. We need improved mold quality.

“We need an improvement in cycle times…but there’s a physical limit to how fast you can heat polymers…we need better overall throughput.”

As if to reinforce this circus theme, guests at the conference’s gala supper on Monday night were treated to a dinner show of circus performers dressed in the fashions of the Bourbon court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette while stilt-walking, juggling and performing acrobatics.