Molders With Many Short Production Runs Are Latest To Benefit From Dryer That Takes Minutes, Not Hours, To Pre-Dry Resin
At UK Plant of Auto Lighting Producer Koito, Running Frequent Small-Lot Orders Was ‘Untenable’ until Company Switched to Maguire® LPD™ Vacuum Dryers
FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, October 18, 2005 - Injection molders attending Fakuma will discover a new resource for operations where fast changeover from one job to another is the key to profitability, it was announced today by Maguire Europe. On display at the company’s exhibit (Hall B3, Stand 9207) is the LPD™ vacuum dryer, whose capability to properly dry resin in only 40 minutes enables molders with many small orders to eliminate much of the downtime entailed with conventional dryers, which typically need four hours to pre-dry a resin batch.
Maguire is highlighting the emerging importance of the LPD dryer in lean-manufacturing operations like that of the UK-based Koito Europe Limited, a subsidiary of Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd., a global producer of automotive lighting. As advantages for handling short production runs, this company cites not only the short drying cycle of the LPD dryer but its capability of accommodating color changes “on the fly”—that is, without stopping production.
“Compared with hot air and desiccant dryers, the LPD vacuum dryer requires only 20% of the energy and one-sixth of the time to properly pre-dry resin,” said Paul Edmondson, general manager of Maguire Europe. “This dramatically shorter cycle speeds the preparation of resin for each production run and reduces the number of dryers needed to handle many small orders. In addition, the unique mechanical design of the LPD dryer permits changes in color to be made without interrupting the flow of resin to the molding process.”
Koito Says LPD™ Dryer Made Previously ‘Untenable’ Short Runs Possible
Koito’s successful use of the LPD dryer took place at its main European plant, in Droitwich, Worcestershire, UK. The company manufactures molded automotive headlamp components there and has sought to combine the concept of kanban (maintaining a smooth, rapid workflow as part of a just-in-time strategy) with the need to handle small production runs profitably. The company deployed two LPD dryers on a trial basis from Summit Systems Ltd., Maguire Europe’s representative in the UK, and has since ordered six more of the dryers from Summit.
“Kanban means we carry out a substantial number of tool changes each day,” said Koito’s chief molding engineer Mike Bullock. “We’re frequently called upon to make small batches, often as few as 200 items, in different colors and in materials as varied as acrylics, polycarbonates, and ABS. With standard dryers, the drying times for these materials are at least four hours, which is untenable for such small runs. The waiting and downtime make them financially unattractive.”
The situation changed dramatically with installation of the LPD dryers. “The new Maguire dryers have reduced drying times and downtimes to a fraction of what they were,” Bullock said. “They’ve made us far more nimble, as we can now respond to demand, even for very small batches, far more quickly while staying profitable and maintaining quality.”
Bullock also cited 75% less energy consumption in comparison with conventional dryers, a smaller “footprint” on the plant floor, and less maintenance. “The five-year warranty that came with the LPD dryers gave us considerable peace of mind,” he added.
Summit technical sales engineer Jason Culleton noted that his company provided on-site training in the use of the dryers and ran a development program to determine optimum drying times for the resins used by Koito. “One of the capabilities of the LPD dryer that we wanted Koito to take full advantage of was on-the-fly material changes,” Culleton said.
While the use of vacuum to literally pull moisture from within resin pellets is the key to the energy efficiency and short cycle of the LPD dryer, what makes possible on-the-fly changeovers are its small batch size and its system of three separate indexing stations for heating, vacuum drying, and providing resin for the processing machine, respectively. The system transforms a batch drying process into an effectively continuous one that keeps pace with the molding machine and, because the resin canisters deployed at the indexing stations are removable and interchangeable, permits one color to be loaded into the system while another is still being fed to the processing machine.
KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. is an international manufacturer of automotive and aircraft lighting equipment, with a head office in Tokyo and twelve manufacturing facilities in eight countries. Visit www.koito.co.jp.
SUMMIT SYSTEMS LTD. represents Maguire in the United Kingdom. It is located at Vanguard, Tame Park, Tamworth, Staffordshire B77 5DY. Tel: 44-1827-265-800
Fax: 44-1827-265-801. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact: Mike Jordan, Managing Director.
MAGUIRE EUROPE supports a network of distributors throughout Europe, as well as in Africa and the Middle East, with sales and technical support, customer service, and an extensive inventory of Maguire® equipment systems and parts. Maguire Italy, a Padova-based Maguire Europe business unit serving customers through sales agents in five regions of Italy, can be contacted by telephone at 39-049-970-5429 and by email at Robert@Maguire-Europe.com. Maguire Europe is headquartered at Vanguard, Tame Park, Tamworth, Staffordshire B77 5DY, United Kingdom. Tel: 44-1827-265-850. Fax: -855. Email: Paul@maguire-europe.com.
MAGUIRE PRODUCTS, INC., headquartered in Aston, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., is the world’s largest supplier of gravimetric blenders and liquid color pumps and also manufactures loading systems, granulators, dryers, auger feeders, and related equipment and software. Its customers include injection, blow, and rotational molders, extrusion processors, and compounders. Founded in 1977, Maguire operates five manufacturing facilities in Aston and Smithfield, Rhode Island, U.S.A. The company maintains a network of distributors in the Americas and overseas and has two sales and service subsidiaries: Maguire Europe, which supports customers throughout Europe and operates a distribution center in Tamworth, Staffordshire, United Kingdom; and Singapore-based Maguire Asia, serves customers throughout South Asia and the Pacific Rim. Visit the Maguire Products web site: www.maguire.com