Wonder Molded Products Inc. is boosting productivity by replacing aging injection presses with new models. The Crystal Lake, Ill., firm spent about $800,000 to install seven new presses and auxiliary equipment early this month and plans to invest another $1.2 million over the next three years. The machines replace seven old presses Wonder Molded sold at lower-than-expected prices be-cause ``the market is flooded with used equipment,'' said Chad Miller, vice president of sales and marketing.
Wonder Molded bought three Toshiba and four Niigata presses with clamping forces ranging from 35-310 tons.
Its new auxiliary equipment includes robots, sprue pickers, grinders and a material handling system. It has 25 presses, some as old as 20 years. The firm recently improved sales support services and is adding about 2,500 square feet of office space at the 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.
Miller said by telephone that the firm has not chosen equipment suppliers for its second upgrading phase. It plans to buy five more presses from 35-250 tons by early 1998. Phase three, about a year later, will include five 90- to 310-ton presses.
President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Dickman said in a news release that production needs occupied more than 95 percent of molding capacity and that older machines kept breaking down, interfering with deliveries and employee morale. The company decided not to go with more used machines but instead chose new presses that promise better reliability and control.
``The new technology allows the average molding technician to do more with less, which allows us to become more efficient, with higher quality standards plant wide,'' said Gordon Tourtellott, Wonder Molded's plant manager.
Miller said lawn and garden components, hardware and point-of-purchase display products are Wonder Molded's major markets. It began operating in 1969 strictly to mold recreational vehicle and mobile home parts. It has diversified since then but still molds accessory hardware for the vehicles and homes.
Officials said sales have been growing 20 percent a year. The company listed its sales at $6 million in Plastics News' 1996 injection molders survey. Miller said his firm molds high density polyethylene, high impact polystyrene, polypropylene and a range of engineering materials like glass-filled nylon.