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Don’t Let Your New Strategy Succumb to Your Old Culture

By: Tony Deligio 29. October 2014

U.S. Army Col. Fred Gellert shared that insight and others in a presentation that distilled some key leadership principles from his coursework as an instructor at the U.S. Army War College, where he is the director of force management studies. Speaking at SPI’s Equipment and Moldmakers Leadership Summit (Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 26-28), Gellert asked attendees to think about the environment into which they introduce a new strategic vision for a company.

 

“Culture eats strategy for lunch every time,” Gellert said. “You can have the best plans and the best strategy, but if the culture of the organization isn't right, none of that is going to matter over the long term because the existing culture will slowly erode away what you're trying to do.”

 

Companies interested in changing their culture, particularly as a means to support a new strategy, should consider what Gellert called embedding mechanisms and reinforcing mechanisms. The former involves who and what you promote in your leadership role, while the latter deals with processes that support those goals.

 

“Embedding is the most important,” Gellert noted. “What culture are you putting into the organization?” It’s also important to understand that cultures within a company aren’t typically monolithic, with potential sub cultures impacting strategy in different ways. How does manufacturing interact with sales and sales interact with accounting, for example. Do they represent distinct cultures within the greater company? “Do the manufacturing guys think like the sales people or like the budget people,” Gellert asked. “How connected are they as an organization?”

 

The title of the presentation was “Leading and Managing Change in a VUCA World,” wherein VUCA, which was coined in the military, stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. With his students, Gellert stresses the ongoing battle that is management, a concept that can be difficult to understand.

 

“The solutions of today, cause the problems of tomorrow,” Gellert said. “When we solve something today, almost invariably it sets us up for the problems of tomorrow. Managers want to knock down the target, they want to solve the problem, but the complexity of this is tough.”

 

Assessing those problems requires intelligence and data gathering, which poses its own obstacles. “Ambiguity….we get all kinds of intelligence, but what does it mean; what connects to what; what is the right interpretation; and what direction should we head to go in?”

 

Gellert simplified the concept of strategic intelligence into three keys; get the information, make the correct interpretation, and, most importantly, believe the information. “History is replete with examples where we had the information but didn't believe the interpretation,” Gellert said.

 

Finally, Gellert told attendees to push their companies to not only be proactive to their environment but take a hand in creating an environment that supports your goals.

 

“Shaping the environment is at least as important as responding to it,” Gellert said. “Try to put some focus into how you get ahead of things,” he explained, adding that companies should ask what parts of their organization don’t have to be as worried about today and can try to look forward. “When the future is unclear, invest in leader development, intelligence and a reserve.”

Integrated Multi-Process Cells Hum at Fakuma Show

By: Matthew H. Naitove 29. October 2014

Some of the most dazzling exhibits at recent plastics exhibitions have demonstrated intimate pairings of injection molding with other processes in an integrated cell. The Fakuma 2014 show last week in Friedrichshafen, Germany, was no exception. It showed how machinery OEMs are pulling out the stops to show that virtually anything can be integrated with injection molding.

KraussMaffei (U.S. office in Florence, Ky.) caught my attention (and that of a crowd of other visitors) with a two-shot molding cell in which a first shot of polycarbonate was overmolded with metal—yes, pure zinc metal. The technology was developed by German molder and moldmaker Krallmann Group, which also built the small metal-injection unit on the side of the press. That unit melts a billet of zinc at 250 C and injects it through a special hot runner. Shot capacity is up to 30 g (at a density of 7.5 g/cc). In this case, only 3.5 g of metal was injected to show the capability of adding conductive paths or electrical contacts to a plastic part (photo above).

Arburg (U.S. office in Newington, Conn.) operated a cell in which a bead foam molding press was integrated with an injection machine, using a six-axis robot to transfer foam components to the injection mold and to demold finished parts. The part was a socket consisting of a circular EPP foam part and a solid PP threaded component that was molded inside the foam I.D. According to Arburg, it’s not possible to achieve a permanent bond between the bead foam and solid PP without this overmolding process, which is called Particle-Foam Composite Injection Molding (PCIM). The photo above shows the part and how it can be incorporated into larger bead-foam components, represented in this case by an EPP board.

 

Although less exotic, close coupling of a laser printer to an injection machine is not something you see every day. Boy Machines (U.S. office in Exton, Pa.) ran a cell in which laser printing was performed side by side with the injection press molding an ABS “business card.” The laser printer was integrated with the machine controls, where the print program was selected.

A Rare ‘Resurrection’ in Engineering Plastics

By: Matthew H. Naitove 27. October 2014

I’ve seen a number of interesting new plastics snuffed out in their first bloom of youth because they weren’t growing fast enough for impatient corporate parents, because they weren’t sufficiently differentiated from the competition, or perhaps the timing just wasn’t right. Right now, we’re seeing an exceedingly rare case on of one of them coming back from the dead.

 

Some of you may recall Carilon polyketone (PK), a semi-crystalline thermoplastic developed by Shell Chemical and commercialized in 1996. It was made from ethylene, carbon monoxide, and a dash of propylene. It offered promise as a new competitor for nylons, acetals, and polyesters. In its first few years, it attracted interest from compounders like LNP (now part of SABIC Innovative Plastics) and RTP Co. and a handful of applications emerged in injection and blow molding and extrusion. But it appeared that a giant oil company was not ideally suited to nurture a fledgling novelty like PK. Shell discontinued Carilon in 2000. It was unable to sell the business but did sell the polymerization technology and licensing rights to SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif.

 

So it was with a shiver of recognition that I learned recently that Lehvoss North America, Pawcatuck, Conn., and its German parent Lehmann & Voss are reintroducing Luvocom 70 series engineering compounds based on polyketone (PK) resin. These compounds are said to fill a gap separating nylon 6 and 66 and acetal from resins like PPS, PEI and PAEK. “The introduction is actually a re-launch,” says Michael Sandeen, sales and business development manager. “Luvocom 70 products had been available until the year 2000 but had to be canceled due to Shell Chemical’s discontinuation of Carilon PK polymer production.” With the polymer now available (produced by at least three companies in China and Korea), Lehvoss decided to resume development of these high-performance compounds.

 

PK reportedly offers good hydrolytic stability, low water absorption, low permeability, good weld-line strength, and good processability, with shorter cycle times than nylon 66 and acetal. “In many cases, PK is better than acetal and nylons,” says Sandeen. “It can replace even high-temperature polymers in tribological applications. It’s low wear rate offers excellent advantages for gear wheels and bearings.” And its high chemical resistance is said to suit PK to fuel filters and other fuel-system components.

 

Luvocom 70 currently comes in three grades: 70-9045 reinforced with carbon fibers; 70-9046 lubricated with PTFE; and 70-9113/BK formulated for low friction and wear. Detailed information is available here.

Expanded NPE3D Pavilion Announced By SPI

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. October 2014

It is no surprise that we heard from SPI earlier this week that there will be an expanded NPE3D pavilion at NPE2015, taking place March 23-27 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.  With 18 companies already on board to display technologies for 3D printing, show management has expanded this special section by eight more booths. Says Brad Williams, SPI’s director of sales and marketing, “From toolmakers to processors to brand owners, many in the plastics industry have a need to know about recent developments in 3D printing. NPE2015 will provide the marketplace an opportunity to discuss this technology, its current applications, and the future possibilities. A related NPE3D conference track with six presentations will be part of SPI’s Business of Plastics Conference co-located with the show.

 

Among the pavilion’s highlights will be the new Objet500 Connex1 multi-material 3D printer which will be demonstrated by Stratasys. This machine can product parts from three materials in a single production run. As such, users can create assemblies with components formed from three different materials, or components that contain both rigid and flexible materials. Stratasys will also highlight plastics it has developed for 3D printing. “Materials are the most important component in 3D printing. That’s why Stratasys continues to expand our portfolio of thermoplastics and photopolymers, including four color photopolymers,” says public affairs manager Joe Hiemenz.

The companies that have signed up to exhibit are:

  •  Advanced RP, Inc. 3D printers and printing services.
  •  B3D
  •  Burteck LLC. Injection moldmaking.
  •  Comdec Inc./SMI. Contract printing.
  •  Forecast 3D. 3D equipment, materials, services.
  •  Geometric Ltd. Engineering services and software.
  •  Global Precision Industries. Rapid manufacturing systems, prototyping, toolmaking.
  •  Guangzhou Seal Mould Co., Ltd. Rapid prototyping and toolmaking.
  •  Interpro. 3D printing, rapid manufacturing, prototyping, injection molding.
  •  JG&A Metrology Center. 3D internal part inspection services.
  •  Linear Mold & Engineering. Rapid manufacturing, prototyping and toolmaking.
  •  MHS—Mold Hotrunner Solutions. Molds, dies, tooling.
  •  Polyone Corp. Specialized polymer materials.
  •  Rapid Prototype & Manufacturing (RP&M). 3D printing, prototyping, rapid manufacturing.
  •  Redeye, by Stratasys. 3D printing, rapid manufacturing, prototyping, toolmaking.
  •  Shanghai Xiesheng Machinery Mfg. Co., Ltd. Extrusion systems.
  •  Stratasys. 3D printing equipment, materials, software.
  •  3M Advanced Materials Division. Engineered materials and additives.

 

Three Themes at Fakuma Show

By: Matthew H. Naitove 22. October 2014

 

Some people call it the “mini K show.” The Fakuma exhibition in Friedrichshafen, Germany, used to be considered a local plastics trade fair for Germany machinery exhibitors to reach an audience in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. But the show has grown continuously in importance, and Fakuma 2014 attracted nearly 46,000 visitors from 117 countries and 1772 exhibitors from 36 nations. It was my first time at Fakuma, where the press corps included editors from as far away as Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

It’s still predominantly an injection molding show, and that’s what I’ll focus on here. Among the new products introduced at Fakuma, three categories stood out because they were highlighted by multiple exhibitors. (In my business, if we see something three or more times, we’re tempted to call it a trend.)

 

1. Servo-hydraulics are the new standard. If you ask me, the future of hydraulics in injection molding—and I do think it has a future for a long while to come—is using pumps with variable-speed servo or frequency drives. When I offered that prediction, officials from Arburg agreed that “there is a clear trend toward servo hydraulics for energy savings and noise reduction.” Confirming that trend, several machine builders introduced presses with servo hydraulics standard instead of an option that used to cost around 10% additional but provided energy savings nearly equivalent to those of an all-electric machine. Examples:

 •  Wittmann Battenfeld (U.S. office in Torrington, Conn.) introduced the SmartPower series that will replace the conventional hydraulic HM series in sizes from 25 to 120 metric tons at no extra cost. They reportedly cost about 20% less than an all-electric for equivalent energy consumption.

 •  Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery (U.S. office in Strongsville, Ohio) brought out the System Servo series. They do cost a bit more than standard Systec models, but Sumitomo says 60-70% of those machines are being sold with servo pumps anyway.

 •  KraussMaffei (U.S. office in Florence, Ky.) has revised and upgraded its CX Series in smaller sizes (35 to 160 m.t.) with servohydraulics now standard. A company official said, candidly, that there is no increase in list price, but discounts might be less than before.

 •  Haitian of China (U.S. representative is Absolute Haitian in Worcester, Mass.) has new smaller models of its servo-hydraulic, two-platen Jupiter II series, starting at 450 m.t.

 •  Engel (U.S. office in York, Pa.) still offers servo hydraulics as an option, but it’s one that 70% of its hydraulic machine customers purchase.

 •  Boy Machines (U.S. office in Exton, Pa.) already makes servo hydraulics standard on all its machines except its very smallest XS model (10 m.t.). Boy sees no further advantage in—and therefore does not offer—all-electrics.

             Wittmann Battenfeld WS80 Engel e-pic

 

2. Sprue pickers go servo. Servo-powered sprue pickers were a hot button at Fakuma, promising more speed and precision than pneumatics with lower energy consumption.

 •  Wittmann Battenfeld introduced the WS80 servo picker with a rotary axis and two linear axes. It’s designed to operate within the machine guards.

 •  KraussMaffei showed off its new SPX10 servo picker, also with a rotary axis and telescoping vertical arm. It operates within the machine envelope.

 •  Engel introduced the servo-driven e-pic, which is distinctive for its horizontal traverse and toggle-type articulated vertical arm (similar to some Japanese designs I’ve seen) and a further telescoping action.

 •  While not new, Arburg (U.S. office in Newington, Conn.,) showed its two-year-old swiveling servo picker.

 •  Sepro (U.S. office in Pittsburgh) showed its S3 swiveling servo picker, which also appeared at Fakuma 2013 and K 2013.

 •  Boy operated its year-old swiveling sprue picker—a pneumatic model.

 

3. Mold cooling gets more attention. Injection machine suppliers are now addressing mold cooling as a process variable that has received far less attention than other sources of quality and productivity fluctuations.

 •  Engel introduced the e-flomo water manifold that automatically monitors water pressure and temperature and adjusts water-flow valves to compensate for filter clogging and system pressure variations.

 •  Wittmann Battenfeld showed its new ultrasonic flow monitor for Tempro plus D series TCUs that now operates at higher temperatures (160-180 C) and measures flow rates down to 0.5 liter/min with ± 5% accuracy. Also new is the Flowcon plus water regulator, which controls either temperature or flow rate for each individual water circuit. It’s aimed particularly at non-heated water (up to 100 C) and measures flow in a noncontact manner from 1 to 15 l/min. Wittmann says more than half of its mold-temperature controllers are now sold with a flow-regulation device.

 •  KraussMaffei operated an all-electric AX machine with a flow-monitoring system integrated into the MC6 machine controller to document the mold heat balancing for quality records.




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