Plastic Dip Moulding System Retrofit
Retrofitting for efficiency and reliability in moulding operations
The Challenge: Upgrading Ageing Equipment for Enhanced Production
At Adbro Controls, we pride ourselves on being a leading system integrator with the ability to undertake turnkey projects across a range of engineering sectors. Our challenge in this case was to revitalise an ageing plastic hot dip moulding system for global essential components and solutions leader, Essentra Components UK. Their factory in Kiddlington had been facing issues with this ageing system, which produced over 5 million components per annum.
Due to the equipment’s age, operation and reliability had been compromised, impacting production rates. The moulding system was only functional 62% of the time, making it challenging for operators to maintain the expected output. The aim was clear: to restore the system’s efficiency and output, a thorough plastic dip moulding system retrofit was required.
It wasn’t just the control work that needed to be upgraded. Other engineering aspects also required attention. Rather than distributing the work among multiple suppliers, Essentra trusted us to leverage our broad-based expertise and undertake the entire project. This decision was aimed at avoiding potential delays and logistic complexities.
The Solution: A Comprehensive, Multi-Disciplinary Retrofit
Adbro Controls’ response to the challenge was a multi-pronged one. Beyond designing and installing a new control system for the plastic hot dip moulding equipment, we also took up the task of managing the procurement of the 2-stage pre-dip pre-heat ovens, and the 2-stage post-dip curing ovens.
Leveraging our mechanical engineering prowess, we refurbished various parts of the hot dip tooling equipment. This included:
- An 8 tool position rotary indexing turntable
- A 3 Axis Servo driven dipping tool
- 4 interchangeable tank dipping options
- A tool water dip cooling tank
- An operator dip mould blow of station
Over the years, safety regulations evolve, and it is paramount for businesses to stay updated and adapt their systems accordingly. Our team identified and upgraded several safety elements in the system to comply with the latest safety standards.
The control system went through a complete overhaul, and a brand new control panel was set up. Our team rewrote the PLC and HMI software for the new system while ensuring it retained the user interface of the old one. This approach allowed the operators to transition to the new system smoothly and benefit from the improvements in the control sequence.
We ensured the entire retrofitting project, including the installation and commissioning of the new system, was executed within a predetermined time frame that aligned with Essentra’s production schedule.
The Results: Significant Performance Boost and Energy Savings
The plastic dip moulding system retrofit led to a dramatic improvement in Essentra’s production capacity. The reliability of the system was no longer a concern, allowing it to operate 24/7. The system’s uptime shot up to 92%, marking a 50% increase in throughput.
Apart from improved operational performance, the retrofit also translated into significant energy savings. The energy usage of the hot dip moulding equipment reduced by 34%, which translates into annual savings of over £50,000. With increased throughput, the cost per component also dropped, adding to the cost-effectiveness of the project.
The total expenditure for the system upgrade and mechanical retrofit was less than a third of the cost of implementing an entirely new system and equipment. This outcome reaffirms that a well-executed upgrade can be a highly economical and effective solution.
In addition to the economic benefits, the upgraded system also delivered quality improvements. The precision of moulding and the finish of the products significantly improved. Moreover, the noise and fume outputs decreased considerably, making for a safer and more comfortable working environment for the operators.