A plastics industry supplier of liquid colorants and additives has invested $2.8 million to achieve full-scale production in a new plant. The company also recently launched its sealed Pump-in-a-Drum system.
Riverdale Color Manufacturing Inc. relocated production 30 miles to Perth Amboy, N.J., from the Brooklyn borough of New York in July and gained space to make sealed barrels of material in addition to regular colorant blending.
With the system, a processor connects a dedicated barrel or two of liquid colorant to a gravimetric blender mounted over the throat of an injection molding press. The color is dispensed by weight. When a blender is unavailable, a standard Riverdale cam-drive controller is used to dispense the color by liquid volume.
The customer molds the color plastic parts and returns the empty 30-gallon barrel, still sealed with a pump inside, for a refill. The design helps to prevent spills.
Riverdale converted large users in Indiana and North Carolina last year. The two customers usually blend the colorant with polypropylene or high density polyethylene. Pump-in-a-Drum accounts for about 15 percent of annualized sales of $6 million.
``We had been working on ways to make liquid easier to use, and we developed a pump inside the drum to contain it,'' President Chuck Irish said by telephone. ``No one else has a diaphragm pump confined and shipped back and forth.''
The system meters color through a sealed tubing assembly and can change from an empty to a full barrel automatically. Riverdale takes responsibility for pump maintenance, tubing replacement and color-handling logistics. ``The processor never sees a drop of colorant,'' he said.
Riverdale Color estimates that a processor running 10 lines with the Pump-in-a-Drum system can save more than $75,000 per year vs. conventional liquid-color handling.
A total system - including liquid colors, the drum apparatus and a blender - can save more than $450,000 for a processor coloring 5 million pounds of resin per year, according to the firm. Riverdale distributes Maguire Products Inc. blenders, but the system also can use other blenders.
``Coloring with liquids is far less expensive per unit of finished product than with concentrates [and] generally requires only about one-quarter the storage space,'' Irish said.
Previously, Riverdale occupied 20,000 square feet in its Brooklyn home of 34 years but ran out of space. The firm acquired and renovated 60,000 square feet, largely using a $2.5 million tax-exempt bond that New Jersey's economic development authority issued in late 2000.
New production equipment and modifications cost $500,000 and renovations $250,000.
In Perth Amboy, Riverdale employs 32, including 21 persons who followed the business from Brooklyn. The firm operates nine 15-ton Boy injection molding presses in a test laboratory.
The new location absorbed a Scotch Plains, N.J., sales and marketing office that employed three.
Separately, Riverdale established a satellite site in Monterrey, Mexico, initially as a warehouse employing two. Irish intends to have the 4,000-square- foot location become a refilling station for Pump-in-a-Drum business and, eventually, to blend colorants and additives there.
Riverdale has supplied customers in Mexico for several years and also exports to South America, Central America and Europe.
Irish and two other owners purchased Riverdale's business, inventory and assets from Grestco Dyes and Chemicals in 1985. Riverdale was a dry-color operation initially and converted to the use of liquid colorants in 1972.