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Taking time to kick tires, chat up customers

Issue: November 2017

Fall is not just for football and clambakes anymore. Machinery manufacturers are increasingly rolling out the red carpet to get processors in for a day of technical talk and to kick the tires on their latest equipment offerings.

If you buy processing or recycling machinery, it is an excellent opportunity to put your hands on the latest models and perhaps learn something that can help your business.

If you didn’t find time to attend an open house this year, plan to take advantage of the opportunity the next time you get invited. Here are a few things we saw and heard at open houses we visited this fall.

KraussMaffei Corp.

This open house in Florence, Ky., has become a mini trade show. The October event drew more than 700 participants who had the opportunity to see nine KraussMaffei injection molding machines, two Netstal injection presses, five KraussMaffei Berstorff extruders and five reaction process machines. Nearly everything was running.

.Ron Shinn, editor

KraussMaffei also had 60 tabletop exhibitors, many representing the equipment that was being demonstrated on the operating machines. There were also 36 technical papers presented in 30-minute sessions.

A year ago, this event drew about 400 attendees and featured 50 tabletop exhibits. The word must be spreading that this is a must-attend event.

Two of the company’s newest lines of injection presses were on display for the first time. The Netstal Elios 7500 on display, which was introduced at the K Show in 2016, was molding a 24 +24 lid system from StackTeck.

There also were six of KraussMaffei’s PX series all-electric presses running. This line was introduced at the K Show.

One extrusion company owner told me that in addition to seeing the latest equipment in action, he likes the event because it gives him an opportunity to talk to technicians as well as salespeople.

Ube Machinery Inc.

Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd., which acquired a major stake in the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Plastic Technology business in late 2016, showed how nicely the two product lines complement each other at its September open house in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Ube now offers all-electric molding machines from 720 tons to 3,850 tons, servo-hydraulic machines from 1,000 to 7,000 tons, two-platen presses from 1,200 tons to 3,300 tons and toggle machines from 1,000 tons to 2,900 tons.

Ube also was demonstrating its smart factory system that provides process monitoring, operations management, quality monitoring and failure prediction.

Some features from each product line are starting to show up on the other line. An Ube spokesman said the Ube and Mitsubishi service, spare parts, inventory control and training systems are currently being merged.

Arburg Inc.

At Arburg’s October open house in Elgin, Ill., about 125 people saw two injection molding cells showcasing its latest technology and heard technical sessions delivered by experts from the company and its partners, such as Kistler and MGS.

Several processors were exploring the use of cavity-pressure sensors to increase productivity in a molding facility, or the use of a rotating platen to mold multiple components.

The tech center was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Kautex Machines Inc.

Kautex Machines Inc. showed off its new facility in North Branch, N.J., to about 50 attendees in early September. Highlights of the demonstrations included Kautex’s multilayer lab machine, which is suitable for training and sampling, as well as the company’s virtual training system.

Chuck Flammer, VP of sales for North America, talked about the future of blow molding in the U.S. One point he made is that the blow molding industry has not yet seen much activity on Industry 4.0 integration — but that is changing. Machinery and downstream equipment now are incorporating sensors, while communications interfaces and custom algorithms let machines communicate and make decisions. The advance of simulation technology will allow blow molders to better anticipate potential processing and production issues, develop scenarios that decrease cycle times and lower part weight, and determine optimal tooling size in advance.

Erema North America

Erema, a world leader in recycling systems, staged its Discovery Day in Ipswich, Mass., in September and ran four complete recycling lines for about 150 attendees.

CEO Manfred Hackl, who traveled from Erema’s headquarters in Ansfeld, Austria, to attend the event, said the U.S. market for recycling equipment is strong.
Martin Baumann, Erema North America’s VP of sales, said the necessary recycling technology is already here. “We have got to get recycling out of the back row,” Baumann said. “The process can be highly automated and produce very good pellets.”

Much of the technical discussion centered on in-house recycling. This is a major focus for Erema in the U.S.

Ron Shinn, editor