Comprehensive analysis of the existing range of moulds was the first step in the restructuring project. Part sizes, shot volumes, mould sizes and opening strokes all had to be recorded and categorised. The aim was to identify a standard, universally deployable machine type and introduce sufficient numbers of the right machine. The machine pool would allow the manufacturer to achieve maximum product flexibility without needing to worry about specific machine/mould combinations. After evaluating all the technical data for the moulds, a compromise in the shape of just two machine types, with clamping forces of 900 and 1200 kN, was found.
Production capacity was distributed to support two machine pools, comprising 11 machines from the Engel victory series with tie bar-less, type 500/90 clamping units, and 3 Type 500/120 machines; thanks to their identical technical resources, the two pools supported flexible production assignments. But this
was not sufficient in itself. To be able to leverage free capacities without technical barriers in each machine class, it was necessary to standardise machine/mould interfaces throughout. The basis of this standardisation was to equip all the machines with Engel’s proprietary high speed mounting system.
For the injection moulds, standardisation meant retrofitting adapter platens and matching tensioning bolts. With respect to media connections, Bals also opted for standardisation, but not for fully-automated coupling. The aim was to give the machine operator maximum support.
Central media terminals and labelling of all media lines help to avoid errors and reduce the installation time. On top of this, conventional sprue cones and runners still exist, and need to be removed by sprue pickers – all machines are fitted with “Speed Pickers” manufactured by Engel. As sprue is separated from the moulded parts, free-fall demoulding is possible. - Six to ten mould changes in an 8 hour shift are business as usual for us. Short-term production orders no longer seriously faze us, compared to previously because our fast and trouble-free retooling processes bind far less human resources - says the production manager looking back. The ‘flexible’ department manufactures
most of the connector components.
This department is supplemented by a custom production shop which manufactures the 2-component moulded parts for patented cable pull relief products. It goes without saying that a full range of sizes is served here, too.
Specialties and enormous variety, and thus genuine customer and task-orientation characterise Bals's production. - Our cooperation with Engel has already borne fruit. Thanks to rationalization effects we have been able to increase our production capacity and turn the Freiwalde Plant into a competence centre for high-voltage connectors inside our company. This has helped us create further jobs and further improve our competitiveness. All told, we can look back on a successful project - says Product Manager Sondermann summing up.
Mastering product versatility with Engel injection moulding machines