Intertech Plastics Inc. has done so well emphasizing technology and quality that it is doubling down on investments in these areas.
The Denver custom injection molder has drawn up a $2.1 million budget to upgrade and add capacity in 2018. The plan follows $1.7 million in investments made this year that fueled a sales surge and helped it garner an Innovation Award from the Manufacturers Association for Plastic Processors.
“Our investments are pushing quality control and repeatability,” said Intertech President Jim Kepler in a phone interview.
The investments are paying off. Intertech should see a 30 percent surge in sales in 2018, helping the family owned firm reach its $25 million sales target for the year, Kepler estimated.
Intertech is spending in several directions to upgrade and expand. Already highly automated, Intertech is adding Wittmann robots to further automate quality control during production. Four more all-electric injection presses will be added to its stable of 52 molding machines with clamps up to 1,500 tons.
Intertech's attention to detail is illustrated by its approach to water cooling systems. Kepler said his team picked an air-cooled chiller from Thermal Care of Niles, Ill., that promises a rapid payback and the ability to eliminate the conventional cooling tower. The new chiller allows precise control of water temperature and cleanliness, traits that please the firm's medical and industrial customers.
“The chiller will support our level of accuracy,” Kepler explained. “We look at all aspects of quality, not just the tool and [molding] machine.”
Intertech won its innovation award based on its setup of a medical molding cell that relied on integrated process control and automated quality inspection. Key to the quality plan are Keyence visual inspection systems that can spot micro defects and distortion in a molded part. The award impressed customers and led to new business, according to Kepler.
Kepler said his company is striving to put vision systems and automated quality compliance equipment on all of its machines and work cells, a big job that will take a few years.
Intertech also is investing in human resources. Operators are trained in automation and other technologies through sessions with RJG, Mold-Masters, Wittmann and other suppliers and training services. It has taken on six apprentices learning on the job along the lines of training methods in Switzerland.
Kepler said Intertech has squeezed out about $1 million in operating costs in the past year, making it competitive against global molders.
“By improving our operational efficiency and quality while reducing costs, we're able to help bring products that might typically be produced oversees back to the U.S.” Kepler claimed.
Intertech markets span medical, industrial and consumer products. It boosted its medical business in 2013 when it bought Image Molding Inc., also of Denver. About 120 employees run the two Denver factories with floor space totaling about 145,000 square feet.
The Ginsburg family owns Intertech. Noel Ginsburg, now chairman and CEO, has thrown his hat into the ring of politics. He plans to run for Colorado governor on the Democratic ticket in the 2018 gubernatorial race. Ginsburg founded Intertech in 1980 while he was in college.