Booming demand for its patented vacuum resin dryers is driving expansion at Maguire Products Inc. The company has invested $1 million to buy a building and add 7,500 square feet of production space at its Aston, Pa., headquarters.
The project will boost capacity of its LPD-brand dryers by a third, according to B. Patrick Smith, vice president of marketing and sales.
The vacuum drying technology has applications well beyond plastics, including foodstuffs, and it ``will easily double the size of the company within five years,'' Smith said by telephone. Privately held Maguire currently has annual sales of about $30 million.
The company has sold 800 of the LPD units since introducing the line at NPE 2000, and the largest current model offers a throughput capacity of 200 pounds of resin per hour. But Smith said Maguire already has operating prototypes of a 1,000-pound-per-hour model, and those should be running at four beta sites around the country by year's end. The 200-pound model carries a price tag of $18,000, while the new, larger dryer should be commercially available by second quarter 2005 and cost $35,000.
Maguire will make the 1,000-pound LPD dryers at its 40,000-square-foot Smithfield, R.I., facility, where it now builds granulators and has some excess capacity, as well as high ceilings and overhead cranes.
Smith claims a current customer - a large maker of PET bottles that he declined to identify - has determined it can save $1 million per plant per year by switching to Maguire's vacuum drying technology, largely in energy savings. Next up for Maguire: a 500-pound-per-hour model, by the end of 2005, and then a mega-unit that can process 2,000 pounds an hour, in 2006, Smith said.
Maguire claims its LPD dryers require only one-sixth of the time and 20 percent of the energy to dry resin properly, and that the technology substantially reduces heat history and cold-startup time.
It actually was last year when the firm bought a fourth building in the same Aston industrial park as its headquarters operations, but it had been using the 20,000-square-foot facility largely for storage until recently. Now the firm is moving manufacturing of some loaders and feeders into the new building, to free space in the existing building for making more dryers. The company also recently added a second story to that building.
Wood-plastic composites offer another big growth area for the auxiliary equipment maker - both in vacuum drying and in gravimetric blenders, according to Smith. Wood flour needs to be heated to 400-500Ã¸ F to be dried using a dessicant dryer, but only to about 200Ã¸ F using the vacuum drying technology, which greatly lowers the risk of explosion.
Additionally, Maguire introduced at the recent K show in Dusseldorf, Germany, a supersize gravimetric blender designed to be used with difficult-to-handle bulk powders such as additives and wood flour. The MaxiBatch Weigh Scale Blender is rated for processing 8,000 pounds per hour and has a batch size of 66 pounds - 60 percent and 67 percent greater, respectively, than the largest Maguire had offered previously in this series.
The firm also has started to offer its precision loss-in-weight hoppers in tandem with its existing LineMaster extrusion yield control technology and weigh scale blenders to provide split-second feedback of material-consumption data. Smith said Maguire has four such systems installed in the United States, and it shipped its fifth to a customer in North Carolina the day before Thanksgiving.