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Is It Time For Injection Molding Machine Makers to Standardize Controls?

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27. September 2016

If you looked at four machines from four different suppliers, you’ll find four different sets of icons and terminologies, all in different layouts.

 

Anytime Microsoft Office releases an update, my productivity drops and my muttering rises as I struggle to find key functions that I formerly could have clicked through to in seconds. That said, I know Office, and although even small changes seem huge at first, eventually that underlying familiarity helps me navigate the program and find what I need. In fact, a couple days after the update, I probably couldn’t tell you what the old layout even was.

 

Similarly, I’ve worked on Mac’s for the duration of my computing life. I can muddle through on a PC, but I won’t work as quickly; I won’t be able to exploit all its capabilities; and I might even screw some stuff up.

 

The average injection molder typically has a mix of various machines from various vendors, running disparate controls. For a process tech, it’s like working on a Mac running Office 95 one minute and then switching to a PC with Windows Vista the next. Every time they step up to a new machine, they need to take a few seconds (or more) to recalibrate. The difference between the shop floor and the office, however, is running the chance saving in the wrong file format versus ruining a mold.

 

This challenge for molders became clear to me in reading Robert Gattshall’s next feature for Plastics Technology. In our October issue, Gattshall, who is the engineering manager at Henkel’s Richmond, Mo. facility and who previously tackled how and why Scientific Molding can go awry, looks at how a lack of standardization in machine controls, for everything from key icons to basic terminology, poses a day-to-day challenge for injection molders.

 

Be sure to check it out and share any control conundrums (or workarounds) in comments. 

 

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