Kent, Ohio — Automation and temperature control are keys to modern rotational molding machinery, according to a Rotoline USA Manager Alain St. Pierre.
Rotoline USA exhibited at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Rotational Molding conference in Cleveland, and the company hosted attendees for lunch and a tour on June 8.
St. Pierre led the tour of the 38,000-square-foot plant in Kent, which opened in late 2013 by Brazilian rotational molding machinery manufacturer Rotoline Industrial Equipment Ltda.
The operation now has six employees, including rotomolding veteran St. Pierre, recently hired sales head Mike Pierron, and Jovan Calhoun, who handles everything from parts and service to installation of machines at customer plants.
Major components of the rotomolding machines are shipped to the Kent operation from Brazil. In Kent, Rotoline USA handles assembly and controls, and sources some components from U.S. suppliers. The Kent facility usually houses about six machines, St. Pierre said. Three machines were in various stages of assembly during the rotomolding conference tour.
Rotoline had sold machines to the United States and Canada for years before it started the U.S. operation. St. Pierre said about 120 Rotolines have been installed in the two countries.
Attendees watched a video showing large-volume rotomolding of rooftop water tanks — a big market in Brazil. The high-volume tank machines featured automated mold opening and closing, and a dosing system that automatically moves a chute in place to deliver the correct amount of powder into the mold, then retracts away from the molding area.
St. Pierre said the automation can be retrofitted on existing machines, including any brand of rotomolder.
Rotomolding is known as a labor-intensive process, but that is changing. “We're headed toward automation,” he said. “We're moving more and more to automation.”
Another feature of Rotoline machines is the RWTC, or Rotoline Wireless Temperature Controller, which monitors internal temperature control of the mold during the entire production cycle, from heating in the oven through cool-down. The cycle time is controlled by temperature, which he said is more accurate than simply measuring the molding cycle by time.
RWTC — which is now standard and integrated on all Rotoline machines — runs through the machine controller. St. Pierre said the technology “takes out “takes out the human factor. You don't have to add a minute or take out a minute. It's automatic.”
Rotoline makes shuttle, carousel, rock-and-roll and laboratory-sized machines.