Orlando, Fla. — Bekum America Corp. introduced an electric version of an extrusion blow molder built with a focus on speed and price for the consumer packaging industry at NPE2018.
Called the Eblow 407DL, the double-shuttle, long-stroke machine has a newly developed integrated quick mold change system based on magnetic clamping plates as well as updated three-layer spiral flow head technology, which the company says optimizes the use of recycled material.
The model also includes Bekum's patented C-clamp design, which separates clamping actions from alignment control to achieve platen parallelism of less than 0.1 millimeter over the full stroke.
The clamping force was limited to 22.4 tons on the Eblow 407DL to offer a competitive cost-output ratio and to improve cycle time and energy savings, according the company.
Built in Williamston, Mich., where Bekum America is based, the machine is quieter and uses 20-25 percent less energy on average than its hydraulic counterpart, Gary Carr, vice president of sales, said.
Tool-free mold changes of 30 minutes are possible, he added.
"We're able to change the mold and blow station in 15 minutes per clamp, and there's two on this machine," Carr said. "The equivalent machine with quick-change systems in years' past would take about two hours for the double-sided machine. In fairness, we're comparing a half hour to two hours, which is significant."
For three-layer bottles, the spiral flow head upgrade improves loading of the middle layer of post-consumer recycled high density polyethylene and allows for precise wall distribution, Carr said.
"Personal care represents one of our strongest market segments and that's all about quality," he added. "If you're buying a shampoo or lotion and paying $10 or $20, the package has to be comparable. It has to speak quality and have a good feel in the hand unlike a lightweight bottled water."
At NPE2018, Bekum customers were talking more about investing in future growth than past shows, thanks in part to reduced corporate tax rates and accelerated depreciation, Carr said.
"That's been an observable change. In the last 10 years, those decisions may have been more tied to a particular piece of business. When it was in hand, then they would move forward with the purchase, and then there was always tremendous delivery pressures. That's reversed out somewhat," Carr said. "Our customers are planning more. They're projecting their business future needs. We're talking about 2019 strategies and having meetings on some bigger programs that are even beyond that."
Carr said he thinks the trend will continue for a few years.
"We're looking at opportunities with groups that have big fleets of older Bekum machines that will start phased-in replacement programs," he added.
A subsidiary of Bekum Maschinenfabriken GmbH, which will mark its 60th anniversary next year, the company has installed about 18,000 machines worldwide. About half remain in use.
"What we're doing as a machinery manufacturer is concentrating on output per unit floor space," Carr said. "Plant space is always at a premium and facilities have finite capacity and room.
Our customers are always maximizing the output in that floor space. We built a machine that's in this case 16 cavities in a very modest footprint," Carr added.