With nearly 16,000 plastic manufacturing facilities in the United States, and 4,000 in Canada, each operating a multitude of machines, the investment in capital equipment for plastic injection, extrusion and blow molding is immense. So, too, are the demands for timely and cost effective repair and/or replacement of component parts to keep the equipment in good working order.
Given the vast array of mechanical, hydraulic and electronic parts involved, the seemingly straightforward task of maintaining the equipment is often more of a logistical nightmare that involves farming out components to a variety of specialty repair shops with variable capabilities, quality, pricing and turnaround time.
Fortunately, the repair services industry is responding by broadening its capabilities to provide more of a one-stop-shop service for plastic molders, often with facilities strategically located near major manufacturers or manufacturing regions.
Although the equipment today varies in form and function, the basic process of plastics molding often involves components common to other industries. For example, in plastic injection molding, heating elements, servo motors, gear boxes, brake assemblies, actuators, and hydraulic devices play a critical role in filling, clamping, and ejection control operations.
In addition there are sophisticated electronic elements, such as PLC controllers to HMI control panels that are designed to display real-time status information and alarm monitoring while also recording critical data for analysis.
For high volume production, high speed linear 3-axis servo gantries and robots, sprue pickers, and side entry robots, may be used for operations such as part removal, stacking, sorting, packaging, part handling and inspection.
Given the variety and complexity of machine components, repair or replacement often involves farming out specific components to specialty repair shops. For example, a hydraulic component repair shop does not have the capability to also repair motors, a motor repair shop cannot replace power supplies, I/O, memory or communication cards in sophisticated PLC systems and robotic equipment must also be repaired at a dedicated facility.
However, where these services can converge are with larger international repair service companies such as K+S Services, that are equipped to offer an array of repair services under one roof.
K+S can offer repair and replacement services for plastic injection, blow molding and extrusion equipment. This includes the repair or replacement of components, including major manufacturer brands for the mechanical (servo motors, gear boxes and gear reducers, brake assemblies, vacuum pumps and blowers, air/fluid pumps, ballscrews) to the hydraulic (pumps, motors, cylinders, rotary actuators, servo valves).
In addition, the company can handle electronic components including replacement of controller cards for power supply, I/O, communication and memory, as well as HMI control panels.
Proximity of repairs
K+S Services has opened new locations in close proximity to existing major plants, as well as geographic regions that attract and support US-based manufacturing.
The company now operates eleven facilities globally, including the U., Mexico, Canada, and Europe. The repair facilities are fully equipped and functioning shops with managers, technicians and spare parts at each location.
Using K+S’ smart total asset management program, customers can be assigned a full-time, on-site account manager to serve as a one-stop facilitator and manager of all repairable assets within a specific plant. This includes tracking all repairs, expediting when required, shipping or delivering to and from the nearby repair facility, maintaining database integrity, streamlining and stabilizing procedures, generating reports and keeping the customer informed.
This story uses material from K+S, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.