Professional technical trade moulder D&G Moulding has ramped up productivity by over 40 per cent and lowered energy consumption by over 75 per cent with its latest machine investment – a 75-ton all-electric IntElect from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag.
Specialising in manufacturing premium automotive, aerospace, industrial marine and medical components in a variety of materials, the Alton-based moulding firm prides itself on running a lean, resilient, high-volume production operation. Like many, the cost of living crisis and energy price uncertainty was weighing heavily on the company’s mind. Eager to take steps to protect and future proof their business, Managing Director David Ivey commenced an extensive due diligence exercise reviewing the energy efficiency of different European injection moulding machines.
Narrowing the choice of a machine replacement to supersede a reliable, yet 22-year-old unsupported hydraulic machine, David’s final investment decision was influenced by industry colleagues. “More than anything, I valued their impartial feedback. Some people were equipment suppliers. Others had installed IntElect machines in their production operations. There was resounding affirmation that this all-electric machine delivered on all aspects of precision moulding and energy efficiency,” reflects David. D&G’s founder was equally interested in having access to local service support and technical backup.
Theoretical energy comparisons followed by a tool trial at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s Academy in Daventry gave David a ballpark 75 percent reduction in energy use when benchmarked against the hydraulic machine being retired. “As an SME, investing in a new machine is a big commitment. But when spares are no longer being produced for existing machinery, you do reach a tipping point when ongoing maintenance and the potential downtime can undermine productivity and future viability.”
Even with all the facts at his fingertips, David still needed robust production data to provide assurance and a detailed OEE and cost-benefit analysis. The Daventry tool trial provided this. Instantly, it revealed that running the same eight-cavity tool on an IntElect 75-ton was consuming approximately a quarter of the energy compared to their outgoing hydraulic. Additionally, as a result of the IntElect’s parallel movements, cycle times were on average 15 percent faster.
In a live production setting, the results have proven to be even more impressive. D&G’s skilled operative and tool setter Graeme has observed 20 second cycle times reduce to 12.5 seconds, boosting productivity by up to 40 percent and increasing D&G’s production capacity. “We are manufacturing around eight different components on the IntElect currently. On average, dry cycle time savings are around 20 percent,” exclaims Graeme. As a direct result of these findings, the Alton-business is already weighing up the benefits of adding a larger tonnage (130 or 180) all-electric machine to its fleet.
“On top of the energy savings, these productivity enhancements means that we can reliably commit to fulfil orders even faster for our customers,” adds David.
Having served D&G for over two decades, David is eager not to knock his hydraulic workhorse. However, the escalating energy costs meant that as a forward looking company, all-electric was the way to go.
Equipped with activeRemote, David can now also access technical backup at the push of a button. With just four machines, having one out of action for a day or more is his worst nightmare.
“Having this remote diagnostics feature, which enables the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag support team to dial into the machine and resolve queries, has been especially useful for our setters when getting familiar with the IntElect’s new features and controls. I especially appreciate knowing that this feature is separate from the rest of our manufacturing system. It is a secure connection, which gives me confidence,” emphasises David.
On top of post-installation training, David also values having access to Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s IOM3-accredited training at the Daventry Academy. One D&G team member has already been signed up to the three-day Toolsetting Technology course. Another will shortly complete the three-day Advanced Injection Moulding (AIM) course. Both courses feature formal assessments and provide SMEs like D&G with the practical skills that can be implemented back in the workplace to optimise moulding cycles, further improve OEE and increase productivity.
As a tier two supplier to the premium automotive market, dimensional moulding stability is critical. “Although polypropylene is a relatively stable material to mould, the IntElect’s direct drives provide precision and control over the injection pressure. This is essential for mouldability and component quality,” states David.
The IntElect machine, equipped with activeFlowBalance has again proved its worth when moulding high-end engineering materials. David explains: “Shot-to-shot, the repeatability of the IntElect is excellent. But when combined with activeFlowBalance on multi-cavity tools, equal melt pressure is automatically applied in each cavity ensuring repeatable part quality. This feature means that our machine setters aren’t having to constantly reset complex injection profiles.”
It’s this level of precision moulding and component quality that is driving OEMs back to sourcing parts from the UK, believes David. D&G is already in discussion with another local company that’s seeking to reshore high-volume moulding work from China to Hampshire. “Until recently, SMEs like ourselves have been competing with locations where labour costs are the lowest. However, given that most moulding tasks can be automated or, like D&G, can run uninterrupted for eight hours throughout the night on our new IntElect, labour costs has effectively become a moot point.”
Summing up the greatest challenge for all trade, technical and specialist moulders, David ends: “Today’s reality is the cost of power is now the only real consideration. Especially with regard to future resilience. It’s why D&G has started the journey with Sumitomo (SHI) Demag to all-electric. The results speak for themselves.”
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