In a recent case study, Essentra Components, a global market leader in plastic injection moulded, vinyl dip moulded and metal components, evaluated a KraussMaffei KM50/180CX injection moulding machine specified with APC Plus.
Essentra Components operates in 29 countries worldwide, with 14 manufacturing facilities and 34 distribution centres. Their Global Centre of Manufacturing Excellence is based in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, and oversees the production of over 45,000 standard items.
Essentra’s extensive product range features caps and plugs, cable management systems, flange protection, handles and grips, and PCB and electronics hardware. Injection moulding is a key manufacturing activity and has been at the company’s core throughout its 65-year history.
With the capability to manufacture around 80 million plastic items per week, the company has a strong focus on efficiency and product quality. This has resulted in ongoing investment in the latest injection moulding equipment and Industry 4.0 relevant digital technology across manufacturing facilities and supply chains.
As part of their divisional machine replacement strategy, over the last 6-months, the Kidlington site has been trialling a KraussMaffei KM50/180CX injection moulding machine. This fifty-tonne, energy-efficient model boasts a compact, lubricant-free, cantilever clamping unit that provides unparalleled access to the moulding area.
Machine specification includes an integrated servo-driven SPX10 sprue picker, a high-speed telescopic unit that sits within the machine guard and minimises space and head-room requirements.
Of particular interest to Essentra was the inclusion of KraussMaffei (KM)’s ground-breaking APC Plus process control module. Developed by KM’s in-house Digital Products Division, this product claims to significantly reduce process downtime and production scrap rates.
The APC Plus system moves already competent mould shops towards actual zero-defect production. It achieves this by automatically compensating for external influences on part quality, such as changes in ambient temperature and humidity, or material batch variations such as differing MFI’s.
During the evaluation process, the company completed over 30 tool trials, in each case monitoring cycle time, energy consumption, OEE and production scrap rates. For purposes of comparison, duplicate tests took place on a similar tonnage hydraulic machine previously supplied by KraussMaffei.
Divisional Process Development Manager, Chris Butler, disclosed that the results of the extensive trials surpassed all of his expectations.
“What we were expecting versus what we documented during the trials was exceptional,” explained Chris, who has taken charge of a vast project to analyse the condition and sustainability of the company’s combined fleet of 490 moulding machines spread across 13 countries.
“We have collated all the raw data needed to push forward with our investment strategy of replacing legacy machines with machinery that has inbuilt energy saving and efficiency features.”
This evidence all bodes well for the moulder’s future sustainability and production capacity developments, as KraussMaffei New Machines Sales Manager, Simon Hirst, expanded on:
“The machine options we can now offer to our customers can provide significant gains for them in terms of energy-saving and improved process control. New digital products, such as our flagship APC Plus (Adaptive Process Control), provide confidence when technical skill levels are limited and can maximise uptime, reduce scrap levels and even optimise the amount of raw material used. In essence, APC gives you 100% control of your process, and once optimised, makes true 0% defect production a real possibility.“
“Examples of other optional technical machine enhancements include variable speed drive technology, Blue Power energy pack, and even the replacement of all major hydraulic components with fully electric drives.”
Building on the success of the machine evaluation, Simon looks forward to an ongoing working relationship with Essentra:
“It has been a real pleasure to work with the technical and procurement teams at Essentra, and we look forward to further demonstrating our technologies and applications.
“As well as significantly improving profitability through improved performance and control of the process, our products also have a positive environmental impact. Consuming less energy and plastic raw material is increasingly important to our industry, and KraussMaffei is at the forefront of emerging digital technologies that offer real and significant gains.”