By: Michael Lauzon
January 24, 2014
Reshoring of a consumer product spurred custom injection molder MME group Inc. to relocate its satellite plant.
MME is making all the plastic parts for HurryCane, an ergonomic, advanced walking cane, and assembling the canes. The project for Martfive LLC of Minneapolis, Minn., convinced MME to move its North St. Paul, plant to a location in Maplewood, Minn.
"We were awarded a large project and wanted to find the right space for it," explained Bob Guertin, MME's director of business development, in a telephone interview. The new facility, at 20,000 square feet, is larger and has a better work-flow setup than the previous one in North St. Paul. Inventory management and assembly operations have been optimized in the plant, a previously existing facility acquired by MME.
HurryCane had been made offshore but now is 100 percent U.S.-made. Martfive calls it "the all-terrain cane" because its base comprises three short feet that promote balance at any cane angle. The base pivots for better stability and the cane folds up into about a third of its working size to make storage easier. Guertin said MME was heavily involved in HurryCane's redesign for the U.S.-made version.
"The MME group Maplewood plant is operating three shifts a day," stated MME group President Bob Archambault, in a news release.
MME recently invested heavily in upgrades and machinery additions in Maplewood and at its 50,000-square-foot headquarters plant in Vadnais Heights, Minn., although Guertin did not disclose the budget for the programs.
It has installed three vertical storage carousels to organize its mold tooling and test and assembly fixtures. In Vadnais Heights it installed a new 180-ton Sumitomo Demag injection press that came onstream at the beginning of 2014, boosting MME's total press count to 27 with clamping forces ranging from 10-550 tons. Also in Vadnais Heights, MME repositioned large tooling racks and several injection presses to improve work flow and free up room for assembly. The company also cleaned the facility from top to bottom and resurfaced the floor with epoxy coating.
The improvements make the two plants "clean, bright and employee-friendly," Guertin said.
MME's capabilities range from design, to tool building, molding and assembly. It includes a clean room for medical molding. The firm molds a wide range of engineering and commodity resins, including liquid silicone rubber, elastomers and fluoropolymers.