CHICAGO (July 28, 4:15 p.m. EDT) — John P. Downie has begun the task of organizing Harbor Group´s plastics auxiliary equipment businesses "into three, four or five groups," he said in a pre-NPE interview in Chicago.
Downie joined the organization May 15 as executive vice president of sales and marketing for a yet-to-be-named corporate entity overseeing AEC Inc., Sterling Inc., Cumberland Engineering Corp. and Wabash MPI. For now, his office is based at AEC in Wood Dale, Ill.
The groups will "serve the marketplace comprehensively with some degree of differentiation or specialization to which areas each of the groups do serve," he said. "That game plan is a major piece of my responsibility in joining the company."
He intends to avoid overlap.
"That would be counterproductive," Downie said.
Within a few months, he said, the company will have a stronger sense of how to differentiate the materials-handling, water-processing, granulation and robotics product lines.
"We will have strongly focused acquisition objectives on which kind of things become important to the growth of the company (and) not just buying more of what we already have.
"There will be a generic similarity, but hopefully a market and product differentiation that is meaningful," he said.
He compared his organization plan to General Motors Corp. targeting different market segments for its Pontiac, Buick, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile lines.
The auxiliary equipment units will have product managers responsible for anticipating industry needs and developing lines for different market niches and the several brand names.
The organization´s factories focus on water-oriented products in Milwaukee; water products and materials handling in Wood Dale; materials handling, particularly blenders, in Fenton, Mich.; granulation, shred, scrap and reclaim processes in South Attleboro, Mass.; robotics and automation in Windsor, Conn.; and special presses for the thermoset industry in Wabash, Ind.
The goal "is to bring a focus and intensity rather than let them become blended as if they were all the same thing," Downie said.
Institutional investors in holding company Harbor Group of St. Louis "are looking for stable long-term opportunities in traditional businesses ... as opposed to the high-tech crowd and the dot-com start-up crowd," he said. The aim is to "take a group of companies and really create market share along with applying good management."
Harbor Group acquired Cumberland in September.
At the show, AEC Inc. included a lower-level equipment control room with operating software, a mezzanine area and a demonstration water column. AEC´s Whitlock, HydReclaim, Application Engineering and Nelmor auxiliary lines introduced a variety of "what´s next" new products.
* AEC/Automaton Engineering showed a three-axis linear drive technology that almost doubles robot acceleration. The technology has been in development since 1996 with robotic system supplier Sytrama srl of Milan, Italy. AEC has made a significant equity investment in Sytrama.
* AEC/Automation Engineering exhibited an upgraded state-of-the-art controller for its Excel Series sprue pickers. The lightweight hand-held pendant controller had a liquid crystal display with prompts for programming sequences.
* Conveying-drying specialist AEC/Whitlock launched its next-generation control unit VT 7-50 for networking conveying equipment at large installations. The standard panel, which costs about $8,000, can control conveying to 100 hopper locations and up to 14 pumps. The unit is expandable. By October, the system will have an optional remote notification and Web browser interface.
AEC/Whitlock also showed its VT2-12 conveying control for small injection molding and extrusion facilities or cells up to 12 stations.
* AEC/HydReclaim, the blending and scrap-reclaim group, exhibited a compact miniblender and a mini additive feeder for precise metering of material at low throughputs for small molding or extrusion applications.
* Process heating-cooling group AEC/Application Engineering showed an upright TrueTemp series water-temperature-control unit that costs about $2,230. The unit is useful with pumps up to 10 horsepower and provides precise temperature control up to 250Ã¸ F.
Also new from Application Engineering is a compact TrueTemp oil temperature controller for applications up to 550Ã¸ F. The system is useful for thermoset, thermoplastic rubber, screw-and-barrel high-temperature control and extrusion applications.
* Size-reduction group AEC/Nelmor exhibited its newly labeled Eclipse sprue and runner cutter with an ultralow speed. The slow rotation system, in effect, mills rather than cuts material — useful for automated beside-the-press size reduction.
Meanwhile, Sterling Inc.´s Sterlco, Ball & Jewell and Sterltech divisions also introduced auxiliary equipment at NPE.
* Sterling focused on chillers, temperature controllers, granulators and robots as individual units or integrated auxiliary systems.
Sterlco expanded its line of Royal Series temperature-control units by introducing an upright Model 2012, designed for processes up to 250Ã¸ F. A midsized Model 2016M unit is designed for processes up to 550Ã¸ F. Both meet restrictive electrical code requirements and the 70-79 wiring standards of the National Fire Protection Agency.
* Ball & Jewell introduced Explorer screenless granulators in expanding its line of size-reduction equipment. The granulator operates at an ultralow speed for reduction of sprues with minimum dust, and has a clamshell-cutting chamber, swing-down hopper door, removable segmented changers and capability for cutter removal without rotor disassembly.
* Separately, Sterltech introduced new SA Series linear-drive robots for injection molding machines with clamping forces of 150-750 tons.