Plastic Components Inc. picked Nov. 11 — that's 11-11-11 — to dedicate its new 15,000-square-foot molding plant for large-volume, long-running jobs, freeing up space for shorter-run molding at PCI's headquarters plant. The time: 11 a.m.
“Our goal is to run the plant lights-out, unattended,” PCI President Tom Duffey said. “Our goal is to run it as fully automated.”
PCI bought the vacant building, which is near its headquarters in the same industrial park.
During Duffey's speech, he demonstrated lights-out manufacturing. The only light came from the injection presses and control panels.
The plant initially will run four all-electric Toyo presses, each with a clamping force of 55 tons. The presses have extended tie-bar spacing so they can accommodate larger molds.
Ultimately, the building will be able to hold 20 injection molding machines of that same size. After that, if necessary, PCI can add on to the factory.
Duffey said PCI's sales will reach about $20 million this year, up from its 2008 total of $12.3 million.
About 18 months ago, management began looking at ways to expand production. The 42,500-square-foot headquarters factory, which houses 42 injection presses, had run out of room after four expansions there.
“We were very confident in the trajectory of our growth,” said Rick Riesterer, manager of business development.
The decision was made to start with a “clean sheet of paper” to design the ideal plant. They closed on the building in April. Then they began to lay out the factory.
For the new operation, PCI has standardized, using identical manufacturing cells of all-electric Toyos and Yushin parts-removal robots. The robots will deposit parts into boxes, which will be moved via an automated system to the shipping area.
PCI's tool shop will equip all molds for the new plant with cavity sensors tied to the RJG eDart system. The plant has an overhead crane for moving molds.
A mezzanine level above the four molding presses has a Wittmann materials-handling system and a Thermal Care AccuChiller. Wittmann loaders are on each press. Vice President Ryan Duffey said PCI will extend the mezzanine over additional presses for future expansion.
A camera mounted by each press allows technicians to monitor the molding area from remote locations, zooming in and out. The video will play continuously at the PCI headquarters building.
PCI also has invested in a CGI-brand inspection machine for the new building. The machine slices down plastic parts in thin layers, automatically scanning data from the cross sections into a computer. It compares the actual digitized image to the original computer-aided-design file of the part.