PCI switches gears to build prototype molds

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: March 12, 2014 2:19 pm ET
Updated: March 12, 2014 2:25 pm ET

Image By: The Gallery Studios Ryan Duffey, vice president of Plastic Components Inc., said the company had to change its mindset when it began making prototype tools.

Related to this story

Topics Injection Molding, Molds/Tooling, Plastics News Executive Forum, Injection molds

WESLEY CHAPEL, FLA. — Plastic Components Inc. has earned its reputation as an automated molder of high-volume parts. So it was a big change when PCI officials decided to break into prototype molds.

Vice President Ryan Duffey outlined the challenge at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Wesley Chapel. PCI opened the Engineering Resource Center last fall, at a building next to its headquarters in a Germantown, Wis., industrial park.

“We had to change our mindset,” Duffey said. “We had started out high-volume, high-volume, high-volume, and then we changed to say, ‘Well we want to do prototyping as well.’ Those are two very different sides of the spectrum, and we lost a lot of money at the start.”

PCI had surveyed its customers, asking if they wanted the molder to offer any additional services. The poll listed things like two-shot molding and micromolding. But Duffey said the “pretty unanimous” response was prototyping and short-run molding.

PCI was running a five-person tool room set up for repairing and maintaining its core high-volume molds sourced from outside mold suppliers. They had not built a tool, and here Duffey was asking them to build two molds, in three weeks.

“We forced our way through those two prototype parts,” and met the tight deadline, he said. Then the customer wanted more. PCI’s sales force sold other prototype jobs.

“Very quickly we realized we had a problem. Simply put, we received more tooling orders than we could produce,” he said.

Soon PCI started to miss delivery dates, so Duffey started paying overtime to the tool shop, and outsourced some work to outside mold makers. The foray into prototyping was losing money.

Officials at PCI, a $20 million molder, decided to go for it.

“We were either going to have to get out or go all in. So we made the decision to go all in. That required a significant investment in both machinery and technology,” Duffey said.

They bought more metalworking equipment. But it did not fit in the existing tool shop. Then the 15,000-square-foot building right next door became available. PCI also got some good advice from Progressive Components International Corp. and Harbour Results Inc.

But technology is one thing. People are another. PCI’s veteran toolmakers were accustomed to doing preventative maintenance of long-running molds. Some of them resisted the major move to prototyping. Three of the five left PCI. The company eventually found two to replace them.

Finding people “has been a huge challenge for us,” he said.

Still, PCI built more than 100 prototype molds in 2013. So far this year, Duffey said the company has made 16 more.

The next investment could be injection molding machines for the Engineering Resource Center. Duffey said that when PCI  gets the short-run molding work on its prototype molds, technicians have to break into production in the headquarters building, set up for high-volume jobs. It can be disruptive.

The Engineering Resource Center is the latest expansion at PCI. In 2011, the company opened a lights-out, fully automated molding plant in another building at its industrial park


Comments

PCI switches gears to build prototype molds

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: March 12, 2014 2:19 pm ET
Updated: March 12, 2014 2:25 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Plastics News Now: Polystyrene helps spur honey production

December 18, 2014 6:00 am ET

Bee farmers are crediting polystyrene with an increase in honey production, plastic toymakers lament shipping delays and plastic bag ban backers are...    More

Image

Indian auto parts maker set to buy assets in Germany, Mexico

December 18, 2014 10:35 am ET

Indian auto parts maker Samvardhana Motherson Gropup is buying the assets of insolvent German plastics car parts producer Scherer & Trier (S&T).    More

Image

Bubbles add some flair to 'Plain Jane' PET bottles

December 17, 2014 1:05 pm ET

Ron Puvak and the folks over at Plastic Technologies Inc. see big things coming from some very tiny bubbles.    More

Image

Quick-Start manifolds designed to complement Rheo-Pro hot runners.

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

MHS Mold Hotrunner Solutions of Georgetown, Ontario, has introduced the pre-engineered Quick-Start line of hot runner manifolds, designed to...    More

Image

Shipping slowdowns add to season's stress

December 16, 2014 4:02 pm ET

Toy companies know what they want for Christmas: an end to crippling shipping delays at West Coast ports.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events