SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The thermoforming industry has grown up using individual vacuum pumps on each machine for vacuum forming, but companies should consider centralized pumps — a concept just like the commonly used central air compressors, according to an official of a pump manufacturer.
Maintaining individual vacuum pumps, and fixing them when they break down, is a major expense, especially for larger companies with lots of thermoforming machines, said Bill Gerlach, sales manager of Brabazon Pump, Compressor and Vacuum, in Richfield, Wis.
“You have all these individual pumps that require maintenance,” of changing oil, filters and labor costs to maintain them, Gerlach said,
For a 24/7 operation, the payback for a central vacuum system could be as short as one year, he said,
Gerlach and David Morgese, of Foxmor Group Inc. in Wheaton, Ill., presented the technology at the Thermoforming Conference.
Morgese said “fear of the unknown,” of having all their vacuum eggs in just one basket, have kept thermoformers from considering central systems. “If that one pump goes down, what happens then?” he said.
Another big question: Is a new central vacuum system cost-justified?
Gerlach and Morgese said they are, but each company needs to have an individual assessment. Sometimes using three half-sized pumps makes sense — and gives peace of mind, Gerlach said. Two vacuum pumps meet demand, and the third is available as a backup when one of them is down for maintenance.
You could also leave existing individual pumps in place. Or you could sell them — Morgese said used vacuum pumps are always in demand.