When you’re in the initial stages of implementing a new product or process, you most likely have concerns surrounding your existing machinery. Can it can control the process as tightly as needed for the new product, and what is the life expectancy of the machine? Ultimately, you have three choices – keep your existing machine and hope for the best, purchase a new machine, or upgrade what you have. If the mechanics of your current machine are solid, you can extend the life by upgrading the controls and, if needed, the hydraulics. In many cases an upgrade is a favorable consideration because it can dramatically reduce the capital expense when compared to buying a new machine, minimize the downtime and costs associated with moving the existing machine out and moving the new machine in, and extend the life of your equipment.

At the core of our business, the goal at 2R Automation is to help customers grow by figuring out the best solution for the problem at hand. There are times when a new machine is inevitable, but oftentimes by simply upgrading their plastic injection molding and structural foam machines we can save time and expense, all while implementing new processes. Providing machine upgrade proposals to support a new tool, product or process and then implementing the right solution is at the heart of what we do. Every company has its own unique set of challenges and growing pains, but at the end of the day, new business is exciting and expanding your processing capabilities is a growth differentiator in the market. What works for one business may not work for another and that’s why it’s imperative to provide a solution that will successfully extend the life of the existing machinery, reduce costs, and minimize downtime.

To demonstrate the breadth of our capabilities, we’ve listed examples of processing upgrades and injection molding machine solutions that we’ve implemented to support our customers’ new business initiatives.

Reduce Short Shots with an Individual Nozzle Valve Controller for Structural Foam Machines
An older machine only controlled the shot with a bank of nozzles, making it difficult to completely fill some parts. We added controls and hydraulic valves to allow the sequencing of nozzles to make filling a part easier, thus, reducing short shots to create a more uniform part weight.

Verify Repeatable Processes by Data Collection of Actual Injection and Cycle Data
Injection molders can verify how repeatable their machines are by tracking cycle data over many shots. By adding a PLC with high-speed analog inputs, we could collect Injection Start Position, End Position, Time, and Peak Pressures, then calculate the minimum, maximum, and average for each piece of data as well as data for the last 10-20 cycles. This way processing personnel could see how well the machine was operating and, if there were unacceptable variations, they could use the data to help diagnose the root cause.

Reduce Defective Parts through Parametric Acceptance of Part Quality
When defective parts were getting past quality control and inspection, our customer added an additional layer of quality control by doing a Design Of Experiment to determine the minimum and maximum values for each critical production parameter, then evaluating each part manufactured against that quality window. Once a part was deemed good or bad by the quality window, it could be removed from the process flow and diverted to an inspection area or ground and put back into the material system.

Eliminating Bottlenecks with Cycle Matching
When two side-by-side machines were making parts for an assembly and one machine stopped, the other machine created a bottleneck of excess parts. Cycle for cycle coordination of manufacturing was implemented by incorporating machine to machine communication. The option could be enabled or disabled, but in the end, it eliminated the excess part bottleneck issue.

Valve Gate Controller for Injection Flow
When a customer’s injection molding machine was not capable of controlling valve gates, we integrated a valve gate sequencer system for controlling injection flow.

Gas Injection Implementation
When a surface quality or part weight required the injection of high-pressure gas, we designed and installed a specialized controller to implement the necessary high-pressure gas injection.

There’s no doubt that plastic injection molding and structural foam machines have amazing capabilities, but if yours doesn’t have all the functionality required for your new tool, product, or work cell, then you’re not taking full advantage of your time or budget. If you have questions about an upcoming machine upgrade, 2R Automation is here to help. Contact us today to discuss other injection molding machine solutions, and to talk about how we can expand your machine and process capabilities to successfully grow your business.

Read more about when to upgrade your plastic injection molding machine, and upgrading obsolete controllers and components to eliminate downtime.