Tech Group facility tries electric press
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Tech Group Inc. plant in Grand Rapids is trying an electric injection molding machine for the first time.
The plant is using an Arburg Inc. machine with 88 tons of clamping force on a nine-month trial basis. The machine has special features including an integrated hydraulic core pull and hydraulic injector, with hydraulic nozzle contact force for special applications.
``We [at the Grand Rapids plant] use mostly Arburgs because of their versatility. We are a low-volume, high-mix shop with a lot of changeovers,'' said Kurt Knoertzer, automation engineer.
He said 99 percent of the facility's output is in disposable medical products and it is conducting a cost justification to compare the electric machine with the hydraulic machines that it already uses. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Tech Group has all-electric machines elsewhere.
The 40,000-square-foot Grand Rapids facility has 66 employees and runs 26 machines with clamping forces of 28-143 tons.
Encore relocating HQ to nearby township
BELLEVUE, OHIO - Encore Plastics Corp. is planning to move its headquarters from Bellevue to nearby Margaretta Township.
Chief Executive Officer Timothy Rathbun said the firm is ``about a year away from moving'' to the 3-acre area of land about 12 miles from Bellevue.
The cost of the purchase was not immediately available. A Web site for Greater Erie County Marketing Group Inc., which is advertising the property, lists an asking price of as much as $45,000 per acre.
``We've been growing at about 35 percent a year for the last four years,'' Rathbun said. ``We've done renovation after renovation to eek out every last square foot.''
Rathbun did not reveal specific sales for the company, which provides painting supplies such as buckets and trays.
He said the purchased site will permit construction of a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot facility, some of which could be leased out. The current, 4,000-square-foot headquarters employs 15. Two more workers will be hired at the headquarters location in August, Rathbun said.
The headquarters relocation is the latest in a series of transactions for Encore. In October, the company consolidated paint-accessory production into a 192,000-square-foot plant in Cambridge, Ohio. It also announced intentions to invest $2 million during the ensuing 18 months to buy more injection molding and thermoforming equipment for its facilities in Byesville, Ohio, and Remer, Minn.
Imports hinder Aussie packaging industry
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - The A$3.5 billion (US$2.32 billion) Australian plastics packaging industry faces upheaval during the next two years with competition from rising imports, says Sydney-based research firm BIS Shrapnel Pty. Ltd.
BIS' ``Plastics Packaging in Australia 2003-2005'' report found the flexibles sector suffered from a 17 percent increase in imports during the last three years, despite a low Australian dollar exchange rate. It predicted import volumes could increase further with the improved exchange rate against U.S. currency.
There are at least 200 companies in the Australian flexibles market but only a few have annual sales of more than A$40 million (US$26.5 million), while most have sales of less than A$10 million (US$6.63 million).
``Given the market environment, only those converters and distributors who have a technological and/or commercial advantage will profit,'' the report said.
``Specialist converters, such as Melbourne-based Cryovac Pty. Ltd., have a distinct market advantage, as do those which have trading arrangements with strong brands such as Sydney-based 3M Australia Pty. Ltd. and Melbourne-based Amcor Ltd.''
The trend was repeated in the rigid plastics packaging sector with larger converters growing faster than the market as a whole.
BIS found the top three suppliers, Melbourne-based Visypack Pty. Ltd., Melbourne-based ACI Plastics Packaging Australia and Sydney-based HuhtamÃ¤ki Holdings Pty. Ltd., accounted for 58 percent of the total market.
Plastics packaging accounts for 40 percent of Australia's total packaging in value. BIS predicted 3 percent growth in the rigid sector over the next two years and fractionally less for flexibles.
Mars 2000 finishes expansion project
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Mars 2000 Inc. has finished integrating thermoforming and transparent packaging fabrication equipment into its facilities in Providence and Cranston, R.I.
Finished in April, the expansion cost the firm, which does business as Mars Plastics, about $1.5 million, said owner Jason Krikorian. Five thermoforming machines were added to its 30,000-square-foot facility in Cranston, while a combined seven PVC/acetate lines were added to the 80,000-square-foot site in Providence.
Krikorian said customers had told him they wanted one vendor that could manufacture not only boxes and sleeves, but do vacuum forming and injection molding as well.
``They just wanted to have one vendor to call instead of three,'' he said.
Mars Plastics, which focuses on the toy, housewares and industrial component industries, operates 22 injection presses with clamping forces of 55-700 tons in Providence.
With the expansion, the firm also will be doing work in the cosmetic, jewelry, stationary and box markets.
Foam system shrinks Joyce transport costs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Australia's largest foam producer, Joyce Corp. Ltd., has adopted new North American-developed foam compression technology to reduce transport costs between its Sydney and Melbourne operations.
Joyce is Australia's largest manufacturer of flexible PU foam and claims 38 percent of the market.
Following consolidation of Joyce's Melbourne and Sydney foam operations, which began last year after it successfully emerged out of bankruptcy, foam will be manufactured in Sydney, compressed, then transported 542 miles to Melbourne and decompressed.
Frank Van Gogh, chief operating officer, said a large mechanical vice made by U.S. Web Converting Machinery Corp. in Bloomsburg, Pa., will be used to compress blocks of foam in plastic bags. The air then is sucked out, and the bag is heat-sealed, so the foam is half its normal size.
On arrival in Melbourne, the decompression process only requires opening the plastic bag to reinflate the foam.
Van Gogh said the foam then will be cut to customers' requirements for products such as furniture fillings.
In May, Joyce moved into a new logistics center, foam conversion facility and sales office in Melbourne. It currently is running at 30 percent capacity and will open officially in July.