The successful implementation is primarily due to the optimal performance and competence of our members of staff who have worked and cooperated as one team, right from the design, to procurement and production to sales and logistics.” The question, why LEGO has placed an order of such magnitude with one single manufacturer, is answered by Henrik Priess Sorensen, senior director at LEGO: “We have worked with motan now for the last 10 years or so and were able to rely on motan’s competence and reliability with other projects. But also further criteria, such as technology, full automation, energy efficiency as well as operational and industrial safety within the production process were essential factors in our decision making process. If nothing else, this manufacturer of ancillary equipment is fully geared towards achieving such volumes.”
In June 2010, the LEGO Group ordered ancillary equipment for its injection moulding operation in Mexico. Here, the Danish company mainly manufactures the well-loved toy building blocks for its markets in North, Middle and South America.
The volume of the motan-colortronic order – a centralised raw materials handling system with storage, drying, conveying, dosing and mixing – starts with 24 external silos on load cells (total capacity 1,320 m³), right to the material feeding zones at the 700 injection moulding machines with clamping forces of between 400 and 1,500 kN. Between these two points there are material feed lines with a length exceeding 100 km. Luxor dryers, positioned in two rows of eight and comprising 104 drying bins, process the raw material (ABS, PP, PC, PE, PA, among others).
Altogether 48 Metrolink central distribution stations deliver the material to the target positions; and 1,500 Metro material vacuum loaders as well as initially 500 Gravicolor dosing and mixing stations ensure that the material flow guarantees sustainably economical and failure-free injection moulding. A CONTROLnet process management system controls and monitors the entire raw material handling centrally.
Detlev Schmidt, sales director at motan-colortronic gmbh, responsible for this project since 2009, remembers: “If you see this massive facility fully functional, in the two halls of approximately 100 x 150 m each – a little larger than a football pitch – you ask yourself how this could possibly have been achieved, particularly in such a short period of time.“ A stainless steel material feed pipe bundle system of some 100 km had to be newly designed, using 3D CAD feasibility simulation technology.
Curves, radii, differences in height as well as the coordination of the pipe delivery and its installation posed a considerable challenge for supervisor Raphael Zepada and his twenty strong expert assembly team. The Gravicolor dosing and mixing stations were also redesigned to suit the fast material and colour changes. The mobile gravimetric equipment is situated adjacent to the processing machines and thus guarantees effective and fast changes for the next material and colour batch.
The 1000th Gravicolor dosing and mixing system