EPPM SPOKE WITH CHRIS CRITTENDEN, SALES DIRECTOR, MAGUIRE EUROPE, TO DISCOVER HOW THE SOLUTION HELPS IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
How important is it for materials handling machinery manufacturers such as Maguire to maintain a presence at major trade fairs like Fakuma?
I would say it is crucial. Nowadays with so much going on online – having a real human side to the business is really important. In general, our experience of exhibitions over the last few years is that the type of people going to an exhibition are much more engaged. They’re coming to us with a problem, or wanting to solve a particular issue in their plant, so the sort of discussions and meetings we have are really progressive. Years ago, a trade fair was a little bit of a holiday; nowadays, the level is going up and up and you see that in everyone who is involved in these shows. They’re there for specific reasons such as building knowledge and improving their business. It’s crucial to be part of it and the quality of a show defines that.
How much interest does materials handling machinery generate at a live event when compared, for example, to an injection moulding machine?
Materials handling is just as important to the manufacturing process as any injection moulding or extrusion machine. The whole process is only as strong as its weakest link, and materials handling control in general – blending, conveying, drying, etc. – needs to be right. If not, it’s like putting a band aid on a broken leg. If you have control of your materials, as prices go up or down, you can do something about it. If you’re doing everything in an analogue or manual way, it’s hard to respond to those changes. A great example is in blow moulding where you would traditionally always see blends of three materials such as regrind, HD and masterbatch; increasingly nowadays, you see a standard of five or six materials where they’re looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency across the board in all areas of production.
How important is it for materials handling specialists to embrace digitization and industry 4.0?
Again, this is pretty crucial. Nowadays, with more and more efficiency and integration of plant management systems, people want to see what’s happening in production. Depending on your process, 60-70% of your annual cost of operation is in materials. If you couple that with the drive towards circular economy and recycling, digitization is crucial as long as you can acquire that data in a way that’s easy to see. Digitization, from a general point of view, is massive. I think, going forward, it will show metrics concerning how different plants and systems are operating, and from that things should just become easier and easier in a process, giving them time to focus on what is new.
What is it that converters require most in vacuum drying technology and how does Maguire help improve productivity and quality?
Where people are looking at dryers, they’re looking for performance consistency. The Maguire dryer is based on our unique vacuum technology for the plastics industry, and what vacuum drying brings compared to desiccant, for example, is a much faster process – typically one-sixth of the time it takes to dry compared to older systems – and up to 90 per cent energy reduction. From the point of view of productivity and quality, we have a very digitized process, so we’re monitoring, at every stage of the process, through digital temperature gauges, vacuum probes, digital sensors, load cells – we’re watching live as the material goes through. At any time, if we don’t hit one of our key parameters, the system will automatically stop and alert the operator. This is recorded too so the manufacturer will have a log of all that data. That isn’t the same with traditional desiccant systems, which only measure how dry the process air is. With our system, we’re using vacuum to remove the moisture, so we are monitoring by vacuum. If our system doesn’t reach the critical level to remove moisture, it immediately stops. It’s a much more integrated digital process.
And with that data-driven production process, manufacturers are looking to increase sustainability too?
Yes by virtue of using up to 90 per cent less energy, which results in a much smaller carbon footprint. That adds up over a year in a group of machines. Drying time is much more efficient and you can begin production processes much faster. Polycarbonate, for example, can take up to three hours to dry, but with a vacuum dryer you can start within half an hour.
How does Maguire’s Ultra range of vacuum dryers assist converters in improving process control operations?
The thing to highlight here is because we monitor every part of the process on the touchscreen, you can see exactly what’s happening. This enables us to write various routines within the software and enable people to automatically start-up on Monday morning at six o’clock so that the system will be ready by seven o’clock. We can shut down an empty a dryer on Friday at five o’clock so the system can see the rate at which the material is consumed. Thus, we are able to shut down the loader and empty the heating hopper and the vacuum chamber so the process is completely finished. Another thing we can do is dynamic drying, wherein we can increase or decrease the amount of material available according to what the demand is. All these things allow us to improve a process in a much quicker and more responsive way.
How does the smart control technology enable an improved performance from the machinery operator?
We’re trying to make it so that anybody can run the machinery in a fairly simple way. The main thing is when purchasing people come to us, they’re motivated by the energy savings and other green credentials. From the operator’s point of view, they’re motivated by speed – say they switch from an ABS to a nylon, for example, you can wait 6-8 hours for a nylon to be ready. With a Maguire vacuum dryer, it could be an hour, so it’s very quick and very simple for them to be able to switch from job to job. We’re getting back to in-person trade fairs.
Where can potential customers expect to see Maguire?
We have a lot of distributors globally, so we’ll be at Plast Eurasia in Istanbul in December, and many other regional and global events going into 2022 – either directly or with our partners on their booths. Likewise, we are increasingly supporting specialist sector shows like Caps and Closures or Wire. Manufacturers of these parts utilize Maguire materials handling technology and we’re pleased to be able to join them at these events.
Source: Interplas Insights