Plastic totes and tray orders have picked up to the point where manufacturer Georg Utz Inc. has added machines, silos and material feed systems to its relatively new facility in Edinburgh, Ind.
The 80,000-square-foot factory opened in spring 2009 to serve a variety of North American end markets, including the U.S. Postal Service, with material-handling containers made of polypropylene, high density polyethylene and ABS.
Demand for both specialty products and a wider range of sizes for standard products, particularly for automotive, pharmaceutical and distribution customers, is driving the growth spurt for the subsidiary of Georg Utz Holding AG of Switzerland.
“In many cases, our specialty products are used directly for automation,” General Manager Mike Chiado said in a telephone interview. “We add function beyond just transporting the part. We add some value to our customers' production process by aiding in their manufacturing with a tray that works with their automation.”
For example, at pharmaceutical plants, Georg Utz's specialty trays are part of the assembly process of medical devices.
“We do very high-tolerance, functional trays that are used to pick and place parts robotically because people can't handle products in this sector,” Chiado said.
To increase tote-and-tray production, the company bought a new Maac four-station rotary thermoforming machine and a 1,000-ton Engel injection press with an eco-drive system for energy efficiency. Storage silos for pellets, direct lines to the machines, hoppers and blenders also were installed.
“It's a substantial investment,” Chiado said. “This is an interesting time for us with managing growth. We just launched this facility five years ago and we're already adding capacity to support the growth curve. That's a good sign.”
Georg Utz Inc. was founded in 2003 and had a thermoforming operation in rented space until its $15 million Edinburgh facility was built with new capabilities for injection molding. When construction started, a former general manager said their plans called for four Engel machines with 650 to 3,500 tons of clamping force and at least four thermoforming machines.
Chiado declined comment on the number of machines now operating at the manufacturing plant. However, he did say the company went with the new Engel machine to produce rigid returnable containers because it only uses energy during the production phase. The equipment remains idle for the cooling period and other cycle times.
“You're not running your motors and pumps all the time,” Chiado said. “You only use energy when you need it. One of our main core values is sustainability so efficiency is important.”
One of the advantages of the four-stage Maac machine is that it splits the heating cycle over two stations and can make more parts per hour, Chiado also said.
Utz Group is a global supplier of plastic storage and transport containers and pallets with facilities in France, Germany, England, Poland, Russia, and China in addition to Switzerland and the United States.