McHENRY, ILL. (Aug. 8, 2:15 p.m. ET) — Custom injection molder Fabrik Molded Plastics Inc. is finding new ways to use every bit of space that it has. The company has developed in the last three months an exclusive 4,000 square foot area devoted to automation development and they it also is in the process of adding seven all-electric Arburg molding machines.
“We have to make sure we utilized each square foot in the best way,” said President Keith Wagner, in a telephone interview.
He said the company has experienced strong growth in recent years, especially in the automotive and consumer lighting sectors. Among the items it makes are clear and reflective LED lenses.
Wagner said Fabrik expects about $34 million in sales this year and that automotive has grown to about 50 percent of its business. It also does work for medical, consumer, industrial and electronic applications.
He noted that about 50 percent of its work is exported, primarily to Mexico, and that to meet its demand it has had to carefully boost its production capabilities at its current 120,000-square-foot facility.
Wagner said the company knocked down some office space to create the automation department within the facility, and that it can handle “anything from the end of the arm to a full blown parts and assembly,”
With a separate department to handle automation, Wagner noted that it gives it an edge in quoting projects.
“We can go from concept to fully integrated automation and cells,” he said.
He noted that to increase manufacturing space, Fabrik has had to build in piping and boost its electrical capacity in areas that had been warehouse or office space.
“We're growing within our walls and we're putting machines where they've never been,” he said.
Fabrik has started adding seven all-electric injection molding machines over a seven-month time frame. A few are arriving in the late August, with the final press to be installed in late September. They range in size from 100-350 tons. Some are replacing older machines.
The new equipment is in an area that can accommodate about 10 machines.
Wagner admits that the machinery area is filling up and that he is considering expansion alternatives, including a second plant closer to some of its customers. Overall, Fabrik has 300 employees and when the new machines are installed, will have 68 presses, ranging up to 600 tons. Last year, it installed a 310 ton Engel press that can handle 60 plus cavities for its closure business. Most of its presses are Engel.
Fabrik was founded by Seth Wagner in 1980 and he continues to retain ownership of the company run by his son.
The company is also concerned about finding trained workers. Wagner said that it has worked with four interns in the last couple years from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and is looking to further develop programs with other local schools and universities.