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Maintenance software tailored for injection molders.

A brand-new, easy-to-use computer program for PCs keeps track of maintenance schedules for each of your injection machines, maintenance histories for each machine, spare parts in inventory, and master lists of replacement part numbers and qualified vendors for all machine components. Those are just some of the functions of "Maintenance Professional for Injection Molding," available from Spirex Corp., Youngstown, Ohio.

Not only can this Windows-based tool help ensure that press maintenance is performed regularly, it also provides automatic records of maintenance performed for quarterly or annual review. Some custom molders are actually audited by their customers to see if regular preventive maintenance is being performed. "Maintenance Professional" can quickly generate reports to support these audits. Spirex adds that this package can help a molder prepare for ISO-9000 quality certification, which now includes requirements on preventive maintenance of machines.

"Maintenance Professional" is a product of Techware Designs, Inc., a sister firm of Spirex founded last year to create specialized programs for plastics processors. Spirex is its exclusive distributor in the plastics market. Future software modules will include an SPC package and maintenance for auxiliary equipment and for extrusion.


A key part of the software is the machine database, selectable with a click of the mouse from the main menu screen. The first display is the Machine Profile. By entering the I.D. number of the machine, you call up a table of all the major specs of the press, including a supplier service-center phone number and contact name. All these data fields will be filled in for all machines by Spirex from customer-supplied information before shipping the software to the customer. These and other data screens can be freely edited by the customer.

For more detailed information, you can proceed to the next screen and select menus for the plasticating unit, clamp unit, hydraulic components, and electrical components. If, for example, you chose the plasticating-unit menu, you could then call up data on the screw, valve, barrel, endcap/nozzle/tip, heater bands, and drive components. Selecting any one of these calls up a screen with a high-resolution technical drawing of the component, accompanied by specifications. The screw display, for instance, is accompanied by data on the part number, screw ID, L/D ratio, compression ratio, materials of construction, date installed, and "Applicable Resins for this Design." There are also more detailed screens where flight lengths and depths can be entered to define the exact geometry of the screw. Finally, an inspection screen can be used to record flight OD measurements after each inspection for wear.

The cylinder screen includes basic specs as well as drawings of different types of ends (bell and straight) and mounts (flange and thread), with a place to check off which applies to this part. Dimensional details for the end and mount are contained on a second screen.

Other components are treated similarly. From the electrical components menu, you can call up screens for fuses, contactors, relays, push-buttons, selector switches, transformers, starters, timers, and limit switches. The hydraulic components menu offers motors, pumps, servo valves, oil filters, pressure control, flow control, and directional control.

At present, all these detailed component specs must be entered by the user. But Spirex is talking to machine suppliers about having them supply floppy disks with all the component data, which could then be loaded automatically into "Maintenance Professional." Once the database is completed for any one machine, it can be quickly copied as a whole for any other machine that shares similar components, and the data can be edited, where necessary, to reflect any differences in components.


Besides the machine database, two other functions selectable from the program's main menu are the Master Components List and Inventory Control. The Master Components List allows you to search for any component (by part number, description or category) and determine how many of that component are either in inventory or in use on the shop floor (and on which machine). You can print out a complete list of every component on a given machine, or of all hydraulic or electrical machine components used in the entire plant.

For an item in inventory, the Inventory Control screen for that part shows the part number, category, description, crib location, machines (if any) currently using that part, cost, purchase order number, reorder quantity, inventory quantity, and whether the item is currently on order or out for repair. For any item, you can also call up a screen showing qualified vendors, addresses, phone/fax numbers, and contact names. Maintenance personnel can print out that screen and forward it to the purchasing department.


The maintenance scheduler is fully functional when you receive the software, although you will probably want to customize it further. Spirex has included all the typical maintenance checks. There are actually two categories of schedules: regular maintenance and safety items. The latter includes checks of safety interlocks and the like--"things that should be checked on each mold change, for example," says a Spirex official.

One way to look at the regular maintenance schedule is to print out a weekly schedule for each type of maintenance task. In Fig. 1 above, a lubrication schedule shows which machines need grease-system checks on each day of the week. Alternatively, you can call up a regular maintenance schedule for an individual machine showing all tasks to be performed. Tasks to be performed today appear in red, those that can wait until later on appear in blue. Any tasks that are overdue are highlighted in red. It may be handy to call up such a screen when a mold change is scheduled in order to take productive advantage of the machine's downtime.

In Fig. 2, you'll notice that each maintenance task has a place for the initials of the person performing the task, acknowledgement that the check was performed, the date, labor hours consumed, and comments. Later, you can easily call up a log of maintenance performed or maintenance histories of particular machines, and analyze the labor hours and cost expended.

"Maintenance Professional" runs on 386- and 486-type PCs. Price depends on number of machines--from $3995 for a 14-machine shop to $10,000 for over 100 machines.
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Title Annotation:Spirex Corp.'s 'Maintenance Professional for Injection Molding'
Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Feb 1, 1994
Previous Article:Machine-hour rates flat in 3rd quarter.
Next Article:Some details emerge on injection molding the new 'plastomers.' (Technology News: Polyolefins)

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