Managing editor Donald Loepp reported the following items from the Plastics Encounter trade show, held May 8-10 in Cincinnati.
Toolmaker stresses faster cycle times
In a way, Marland Mold Inc.'s strategy is simple: to teach customers the value of a second.
The Pittsfield, Mass.-based toolmaker is putting a big emphasis on making faster, longer-lasting molds. Recently, the firm created an in-house research and development council, which meets monthly, to brainstorm ways to improve on tool technology. The council includes the company president; the vice presidents of manufacturing, engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing; and all six engineers.
``The value of one second is phenomenal to an end user. That's the focus of the R&D council,'' said Jacob Cairns, vice president of sales. He gave an example: On a 16-cavity tool, shaving a second off of the cycle time can save a typical customer $443,673.
``With that savings, you're going to pay for the [higher cost of the] mold in six months. How can you not justify it?'' Cairns said.
How does Marland make its tools run so fast? The key is using unique cooling designs, said Andy Edlund, senior vice president of new business development.
Most of Marland's customers are packaging molders. Cairns said since most are caught in the traditional squeeze faced by processors - they serve larger customers and buy resin from large suppliers, with little leverage on either end - they understand the advantage of becoming more efficient.
``The big players are definitely realizing the value of a second,'' Cairns said.
AEC sells new robot 15 minutes into show
Bob Shingledecker, technical sales manager for automation at AEC Inc., had a big smile on his face May 8. It was the first day of the show, and he already had a buyer for a Sytrama-brand three-axis servorobot for part removal that AEC had at its exhibit.
``I had a purchase order 15 minutes after the show started,'' he said. The customer was an existing AEC customer, an automotive injection molder based in Ohio.
``Any time you automate a molding machine, you automatically bring value to that machine, whether it's a small picker or a large three- or four-axis robot,'' said Doc Breger, automation sales manager for the New Berlin, Wis.-based company. ``People are constantly looking for ways to improve their bottom line.''
Longtime executives purchase Ohio firm
Akron, Ohio-based recycled plastics broker Exchange Plastics Corp. has had a changing of the guard. President Dale Schiff and Executive Vice President Michael Temple have bought out former owner and Chief Executive Officer Mel Temple - Michael's dad - who has retired.
The company is focusing on its core business, trading commodity and engineering grade resins. The firm has a new office in Chihuahua, Mexico. Within the next year, the company may open two more offices.
``Molders are under a lot of price pressure. We're trying to open their eyes to the possibilities of using regrind,'' Schiff said.
Both Schiff and Temple have been with the company for more than 20 years.
Exhibiting easy part for Olan Plastics
Jim Long, president of injection molder Olan Plastics Inc., might have been the best-conditioned exhibitor at the Plastics Encounter trade show.
Long ran in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on May 6, finishing the 26-mile course in just a shade over five hours. A few days later, at the trade show, he was proudly wearing his race participant medal.
``It's kind of insane, to run 26 miles and then stand at the show for a week. My ankles are killing me,'' he said, joking. But he added that he felt good.
Long is a relative newcomer to the world of long-distance running. His daughter, who is now 24, motivated him to run a 5-kilometer race five years ago. ``At the time, it was incredible that I was going to run 3.1 miles without stopping,'' Long said. But now, after running in more 5K races, and a half-marathon last year, 44-year-old Long has a marathon under his belt.
But Long was not in Cincinnati just to run the race. His company's exhibit featured photos of the firm's 30,000-square-foot plant in Canal Winchester, Ohio, which opened in 2000.
Olan Plastics has eight presses, from 75-500 tons of clamping force. The company opened in 1980 - Jim's dad, Olan Long, is the owner. They started in a 400-square-foot garage in Columbus, and moved six months later to a 20,000-square-foot former warehouse.
``We knew that was not going to last us forever,'' so Jim Long set about designing his dream molding plant. The attractive building makes a good impression on new customers, and the additional space means Olan Plastics finally has room to take on some new work.
``We're looking for three or four new customers so we can start to expand,'' he said. The company specializes in design work, and customers include companies in the infant-care, recreational vehicle, lawn and garden, and fast-food sectors.
``We want to diversity, and this plant is designed to grow,'' Long said.