Reduction Engineering Inc. has taken over full assembly of Conair strand pelletizers, strengthening a 2-year-old partnership that began with Reduction making Accu-Grind rotors for the Conair machines.
``Since the rotor is the single-largest component in a pelletizer, it only makes logical sense to combine the two manufacturing operations,'' Robert Sly, president of Reduction Engineering, said in a Jan. 30 interview at company headquarters in Kent.
Pittsburgh-based Conair Group Inc. and Reduction Engineering remain separate companies. But to customers, they will appear as a single entity, the ``Conair pelletizer team.'' Both companies will share marketing, product development and customer service.
Employees from Conair and Reduction Engineering will sell a full line of Conair-brand pelletizers worldwide. Conair claims to hold the largest share of the North American market for strand pelletizers.
Sly called the manufacturing agreement ``a natural progression'' for both companies. Sly founded Accu-Grind Industrial Knife Co. in 1992 to resharpen and repair knives. The following year, Reduction Engineering was born as a sister company, when the firm started making pulverizers.
With expertise in rotors, company leaders thought about manufacturing a line of pelletizers. But Sly said it would have taken a decade to establish a machinery presence, so it didn't make sense to start from scratch.
``We know how to make rotors. That's what we do best,'' Sly said. ``We also recognized early on that Conair was a leader in pelletizers.''
The firms got together about two years ago, as Reduction Engineering began to supply all of Conair's rotors, handling service and resharpening used rotors. Reduction also built a limited number of smaller pelletizers, while Conair continued to build pelletizers at its factory in Franklin, Pa., where the company makes a range of auxiliary equipment.
Now all Conair pelletizers will be assembled at Reduction Engineering's 30,000-square-foot plant in Kent. Conair's 25,000-square-foot technical center at its Pittsburgh headquarters will be used for process development and customer trials.
Reduction Engineering also operates regional service centers for the Accu-Grind rotors in Oxford, Mass., and Charlotte, N.C. Sly said regional centers can repair rotors quickly - a key requirement of big materials customers.
Reduction Engineering had 2001 sales of $14 million, Sly said. The company has 68 employees at the three locations. Sly said the company has added about a dozen workers companywide since bringing the pelletizer assembly work to Kent. Six of those are Conair employees who moved over to work for Reduction Engineering, including 20-year pelletizer expert Chris Case, who is sales manager.
As one of the largest U.S. auxiliary equipment makers, Conair brings a well-known brand name to Reduction Engineering. Reduction, in turn, brings a focus on the more-customized pelletizing equipment and on pulverizers. Reduction marketing manager Greg Shook said that ``pellets-to-powder'' coverage enabled Reduction Engineering to win an order from a rotomolder for an entire material system, including resin silos, a pelletizing line and a pulverizer.
Reduction Engineering also announced it has developed a new welding process to ``wrap'' rotors with a blanket of Stellite, a cobalt-based alloy hard-facing material. Standard on all new Conair strand pelletizers, and available as a retrofit on existing machines, the Wraptor-brand rotors stay sharp 20-30 percent longer than rotors made using conventional techniques, the company claims.
Up to one-quarter of an inch of Stellite is welded onto the stainless steel, before the blades, also called cutting teeth, are machined into the rotor by a computer numerically controlled grinder.
In traditional machining, a grinder cuts the teeth first, and then the hard-surfacing material is hand-welded onto each blade.
Because Stellite deeply penetrates the base steel, the rotor can be resharpened more times that conventional rotors, giving longer useful life, the firm said.
In other news, for rotors that use bolt-on and wedge-lock blades, Reduction Engineering is now using a proprietary carbide material for the blades. Blades stay sharp up to 50 percent longer than traditional blades, and they are also less prone to crack or chip, the company claims.