Machinery firms Engel Machinery Inc. and Frigel North America Inc. are doing their part to help processors recover from recent economic setbacks.
Officials with both firms spoke at MAPP's Plastics Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, held Oct. 29-30 in Indianapolis.
Engel's Stephan Braig outlined several asset base cost drivers that processors need to understand.
These areas included depreciation, electricity, throughput, yields, maintenance, changeover/set-up time, and floor space requirements.
The purchase price of your assets mainly impacts your cash flow, Braig said. The performance metrics of your assets drives your production cost and profitability.
When automating, Braig recommended that processors deploy flexible automation if they are contract molding.
A ratio of one operator for 10 machines can be used if there's little or no value-added post-molding work involved. If some of that type of work is involved, the ratio can be increased to three operators for 10 machines, he said.
Braig added that under certain conditions it makes more sense for a processor to buy a used injection molding machine instead of a new one. But he cautioned that the energy savings associated with buying new is usually worth the higher price.
Sometimes, it does make sense to buy a used if you have a need for only 6-12 months, said Braig, who serves as president and CEO of the York, Pa.-based maker of injection molding machines. But be careful you're not creating an organization full of those types of assets.
Although a 10-year-old molding machine typically can be bought for around $40,000 vs. $120,000 for an average new machine or $200,000 for a leading new machine, the used machine will have lower throughput and yields and higher energy costs, Braig said.
He further advised only using automation on projects that have at least three-year lifetimes or less if a company has three-shift operations. Use automation only when it makes sense not for its own sake, Braig said.
East Dundee, Ill.-based temperature equipment maker Frigel has introduced a closed-loop dry cooling system that consumes up to 20 times less energy than a standard chiller and uses up to 20 times less water and chemicals than a tower system, said Lou Zavala, national sales manager.
With energy costs rising, electricity needs to be measured on a more granular level, Zavala said.
New products for Engel include its Variotherm system, which can heat mold surfaces without extending cycle time, and X-Melt technology for extra-thin-wall parts and micro-molding.
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