Proper maintenance of injection molding machinery will ensure longer life and reduce the risk of downtime, which can lead to lost productivity on the shop floor.
In most shops, machinery is the biggest investment, and maintenance is paramount. This allows you to stay ahead of potential problems and detect major issues before they arise. Regular preventive maintenance will ensure the injection molding press continues to operate effectively and efficiently.
Some machinery manufacturers offer maintenance packages that include a regular schedule of maintenance. With technicians at a premium, this can be a valuable service.
For hydraulic machines, the oil must be monitored. If a machine is short on oil, this can cause oil temperatures to increase. Operators must monitor oil levels, and watch for leaks, checking sites for early replacement of worn seals. Loose joints should be tightened. Oil quality also must be checked.
Filters should be cleaned once every three months to maintain a smooth flow of oil. The oil filter network also should be checked for damage.
Coolers should be cleaned once a year, or more frequently as needed, to ensure proper operation. Internal blockage of the cooler can impact the cooling efficiency.
For electric and hybrid machines, electrical parts should be checked on a regular basis. Electrical systems should be checked for lose or pinched wires, loose connections, proper ventilation and cooling, cleanliness around components, and proper wiring labeling. Machines should be cleaned at least yearly to guard against dust accumulation.
Maintenance personnel should know basic electric technology and electronics, enabling them to trace a problem to the root. This is often enough to maintain the injection molding machine.
To ensure efficient maintenance, injection molding presses can be networked into a central system that will communicate with a server to provide a company’s maintenance team notifications when any type of preventive maintenance, such as inspection, lubrication or other issues, is required based on pre-determined machine hour thresholds from a machine supplier. Companies also can track their screw and barrel performance over time within these systems.
A machine malfunction is not necessarily always caused by the equipment. Sometimes it is how a machine is set-up that can cause a malfunction. So it is important not only to train your maintenance personnel on how to maintain the machine, but also on the basic set-up procedures for your plant floor.
Machines today collect myriad data on pressures, temperatures and other factors. This collection of data makes the smart factory of the future one step closer to reality.
In the future, a machine could be programmed to track pressures and temperatures. If the tell-tale signs of a bad pump start to appear, the machine could order a pump, schedule a technician and avoid a potential breakdown that would result in lost time and production.