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'It will open molders' eyes...': computer data collection will create a whole new way of buying machines.

'It Will Open Molders' Eyes...'

Computer-based process-data-collection systems are a powerful new tool in the hands of plastics processors. One user of such a system describes it as like having x-ray vision to see what's going on inside the machine. Another custom molder has used computer graphs of machine performance to call a supplier's attention to defective components. That same firm has used the computer to carefully document the performance of a brand-new machine in order to establish a baseline from which to compare performance as the press ages. And a third molder is using a computer monitoring system to evaluate the performance of different types of open- and closed-loop controls on its injection machines.

One maker of computer monitoring systems believes they will prove invaluable as a means of qualifying new machines prior to purchase by means of a statistical "capability study" of machine variability. He says such systems "are going to open processors' eyes, so they will be able to know a good machine from a bad one. They will also be able to tell a good resin from a bad one, and they will know when their process runs well and when it doesn't."

One who agrees is James R. Humbert, v.p. of sales and marketing at Automatic Technologies, Inc., parent of Automatic Molded Plastics in South Bend, Ind., and Grant & Roth Plastics, Hillsboro, Ore. After having his eyes opened by a capability study of its existing machines, he's thinking of a new way of purchasing: "Show me your capability studies," he would say to prospective vendors. "A machine should be proven capable before we buy it. We shouldn't be worrying about gauging molded parts off the press--we should know the press is capable before that part even comes out."

Humbert is not alone there. Darrell Pufahl, general manager of Metro Molding, Inc. in Noblesville, Ind., is already a believer in machine capability studies and foresees that they will eventually play a role in Metro's machine selections: "I think that's how machines will be purchased in the future."

Next month, we'll present results of a capability study of several hundred injection machines actually in production, comparing machines made in the U.S., Asia and Europe, large and small machines, and new machines with old ones that have been retrofitted with new closed-loop controls. Those data should open some eyes!
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Publication:Plastics Technology
Article Type:editorial
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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