GW Plastics Inc. (Bethel, VT) provides design, injection molding and component assembly services to manufacturers in a variety of industries, including those in the automotive, medical, industrial equipment and consumer electronics sectors. With a wide range of customers and facilities around the world-including the United States, Mexico and China-it is crucial that the company be able to make manufacturing changeovers quickly and accurately.
One aspect of GW Plastics' production lines that has presented problems in the past- causing protracted reconfiguration delays and exorbitant replacement costs-has been the company's conveyor systems. Fixed-length metal conveyors, in particular, have been difficult to reconfigure, ultimately affecting return on investment.
"Most of our projects have a 3- to 4-year lifespan," says Matt Barta, manufacturing engineering manager at the company's Tucson, AZ, facility. "We have a lot of money invested in our automation cells, so we try to buy equipment that can be reconfigured for other applications. That includes our conveyor systems. Even though the equipment wasn't purchased for a future application, being able to reconfigure it means it won't be pushed into a corner when we retool. We can reconfigure them quickly and easily, and that gives us a much higher return on investment."
To help solve this problem, GW Plastics' Tucson plant implemented a DynaCon modular plastic system from Dynamic Conveyor Corp. (Muskegon, MI). Part of a line of light- and medium-duty modular conveyors, this system quickly adapts to product changeovers, increases or decreases in production, and line conversions.
Because of its modular design, the conveyor can be configured in many shapes and sizes, enabling companies to standardize a system by simply snapping selected modules in place. Accessories and replacement parts can be used interchangeably. Modules such as S-turns, cooling tunnels, water baths, programmable box filling and variable-speed drives enable critical control of production flow for manufacturers.
Recently, the DynaCon conveyor was installed as part of a new multicell insert molding and assembly system capable of manufacturing as many as 1.7 million plastic automotive fuel pumps annually.
"These cells are very high-tech and very automated," says Barta. "There are numerous operations taking place to build the fuel pumps, including plastic and metal components. This requires the integration of several robotics and feeding systems. A modular conveyor system is the final piece of the automation."
For more on conveyors, call 800-640-6850, visit www.dynamicconveyor.com or eInquiry 6.
AIA: Conveyor Expedites Production Changeovers
June 1, 2006