CINCINNATI — As its controls retrofit business continues to grow, Cincinnati Process Technologies is hiring more field service engineers, and company leaders want to offer off-the-shelf systems for standard injection press jobs, to speed up service.
“One of the major issues with customers is the amount of time that the machine's down, for us to come in and do a retrofit,” said Dane Bales, CPT sales engineer. Often the press has already been not running when the customer calls CPT — adding to the sense of urgency.
Bales teamed up with Jim O'Bryan — both are veterans of Milacron LLC — to start Cincinnati Process Technologies in 2009. Six of the 12 employees are field service engineers.
The company has retained a recruiter to find candidates.
“We're just slammed with retrofits,” said O'Bryan, CPT's applications engineer. He said CPT has engineering talent. “Our big thing is we can go in, we can get it done quickly. It works great when we're done. And the customers love it. We can program right there on site. We can create circuits right there on site,” O'Bryan said.
Bales said retrofitting machinery at the customer's factory really boils down to getting enough qualified people. CPT can retrofit a standard 500-ton injection press in a week, he said. More complicated, special machines — a mainstay of CPT's business — take longer.
CPT does controls retrofits on standard injection presses, on very large-tonnage machines, structural foam machines and vertical presses.
In addition to controls retrofits, CPT engineers can upgrade hydraulic systems, valves, transducers and get an older machine to run closed-loop. CPT also sells screws and barrels, cylinders, pumps and motors. The company's makes energy-saving products, such as the Energy Spy which monitors a factory's total energy use, and SyncroSpeed, a retrofit motor speed control.
CPT's retrofit customer base centers on larger-tonnage machines. Most processors replace smaller machines, rather than spend money to modernize them, Bales said. So the company focuses on the Midwest and Southeast, areas with plenty of older large machines.
Bales has relocated from Cincinnati to South Carolina — a center of large-tonnage machines at suppliers to transplant automotive factories. To replace Bales' position in Cincinnati, the company hired Bob Willenborg. He covers Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
CPT also is a distributor of injection presses from Asian Plastic Machinery Co. Ltd., and WETEC robots. Both brands are made in Taiwan. Bales said that Asian Plastic Machinery officials have taken advantage of CPT's understanding of the U.S. market, for its export machines. For example, the presses now have a Bernecker + Rainer controller, a brand widely used on plastics machines.
“They're willing to listen. They're willing to make changes. We don't have to spend a lot of time convincing them,” Bales said.
Bales said that at NPE 2015, WETEC robots ran in-mold labeling demonstrations at several machinery booths.
But retrofitting older machines is the main business as Cincinnati Process Technologies.
“That's where we're most active, in controls,” Bales said.
CPT has done retrofits on some giant machines — including the behemoth Husky with 8,800 tons of clamping force, run by Macro Plastics Inc. at its plant in Shelbyville, Ky. Macro Plastics bought the factory, and the huge machine from Buckhorn Inc. about five years ago. The company makes shipping containers.
CPT reworked the control system for the 8,800-tonner, which has eight tie bars, three of which retract for mold changes, a plunger/shot pot injection unit fed by a reciprocating screw extruder, and a side-entry, seven-axis robot. O'Bryan called the big Husky “the largest and most complex control system” the company has ever done.
Bales said Macro officials in Shelbyville recommended CPT to their colleagues in the Macro plant in Union Gap, Wash. Bales said CPT is doing a controls retrofit on a 6,000-ton Italtech injection press for the Washington plant.
“These are specialty projects that involve much more than making the machine go back and forth. And it's our engineering capabilities, our engineering expertise, that allow us to take on these projects,” Bales said.
Another unusual project was a 6,000-ton, low-pressure molding machine making 15-foot-long septic tank halves at Infiltrator Water Technologies LLC's plant in Winchester, Ky. CPT designed a control system around a B&R Panel PC, with a 15-inch touchscreen. CPT's expertise in hydraulics helped them get the job.
In structural foam, CPT completed a controls retrofit for a Buckhorn Uniloy Milacron structural foam molding machine. CPT installed an integrated process control and sequential valve gating system that gave the aging press better fills, shorter cycle times and more than a 20 percent clamp tonnage reduction, the company said.
“Every one of these stories are highly customized, specialty, one-of-a-kind projects, which we've received repeat business from every one of those customers,” Bales said.