Kent-based Reduction Engineering Inc. has built itself into a global player in pelletizing equipment for compounders by purchasing the Scheer pelletizing business in Germany a year ago, and earlier acquiring Conair Group Inc.'s line of pelletizers and handling U.S. manufacturing, sales and service for Econ GmbH of Austria.
The biggest international move came in November 2008, when Reduction bought the pelletizer business of C.F. Scheer & CIE GmbH + Co. KG.
The overall company is now called Reduction Engineering Scheer Inc. Buying Scheer gave Reduction pelletizer manufacturing in Stuttgart, Germany, and at the Kent headquarters.
Robert Sly, president of Reduction Engineering Scheer, said officials are working on a hybrid design that incorporates strong points of Reduction and Scheer pelletizers.
We're going to morph some of our technology together, he said. The first examples could be shown at the K trade show in Germany in 2010.
Sly said existing product lines of pelletizers will remain. Pelletizers which chop strands of resin into finished pellets
The last two years have been busy for the company. Reduction invested about $6 million to build a new headquarters plant at a Kent industrial park, and add an automated paint line to an existing building nearby.
A major part of the 85,000-square-foot headquarters is a 10,000-square-foot laboratory giving Reduction, for the first time, a dedicated space for extrusion into pelletizing lines. The Scheer plant in Stuttgart has the same-size laboratory.
All the pelletizers made by Reduction Engineering Scheer can be wheeled into the laboratory, giving customers access to the full line of strand and underwater pelletizers, and auxiliary equipment.
The laboratory gives Reduction a big advantage over competing pelletizer makers for compounding, according to John Sly, regional sales manager and son of the president. Customers can come to Kent to run material trials or to run their exact pelletizing equipment before it's shipped out.
John Sly used Reduction's 800 Series strand pelletizer as an example. Reduction can build a standard pelletizer in about two weeks, but the company also can manufacture fully customized lines based on dimensions and the material the pelletizer will be running.
If a customer's interested in the 800 Series, I will take a portion of their material, run it through my water-bath system, air knife, extruder, the whole thing, and physically feed their strand into the particular pelletizer they're looking at, he said during a tour of the lab. Or if I quote an 800 Series, we can do a demonstration with their material, watch everything work.
Reduction Engineering began supplying rotors for Conair pelletizers in 2000, and took over assembly two years later. In 2006, Reduction bought the Conair line of strand and water-slide pelletizers, moving production to Kent. Reduction continues to make the Conair equipment if customers request it.
Sly said the company asked Conair customers for suggestions on how to improve the pelletizer. The result was the 800 Series. One of the changes was simple a rounded sound-hood cover that makes the 800 look like a high-end barbeque grill.
The coffee incident
The Conair cover was flat, and one time a shop worker set a cup of hydraulic fluid on top of it. Later, another person opened the lid and accidentally dumped the oil all over a pellet classifier and the pellets got blown into a resin silo. You can't balance a cup of anything including coffee on the cover of the 800.
Other improvements included a discharge chute that slides out for easier inspection and cleanout. It literally is like opening the drawer underneath your desk, Sly said. An open design underneath the pelletizer provides more flexibility for handling the pellets.
The Scheer line includes pelletizers with the E4 designation. On those units, the rotor is cantilevered, meaning there is only a set of bearings on only one side of the rotor and the feed sides, instead of both sides.
This is a finely tuned pelletizer, Sly said.
The cantilever design gives full access to the cutting chamber, without the need to take apart bearing assemblies, and reduces the cost of the unit, he said.
Reduction Engineering also assembles Econ underwater pelletizers. One Econ innovation, a die plate that is thermally isolated from the heated die body, ensures that melt strings stay at stable temperature across all nozzles, according to Sly.
A huge limiting factor in technology of underwater pelletizing was that, as soon as the water would hit the die plate, you would freeze off the holes, thus not pushing any material through and making pellets, Sly said.
Other Econ products include a spin dryer, a vibration drying system and screen changers.
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