Feeding Economics

The real costs and savings of any capital expenditure can take many forms and are often difficult to discern at the outset. This section helps you identify the true costs and realistic savings opportunities you can expect from your investment so you can make a fair and rational purchase decision.

As with any essential system or piece of equipment involved in plastics processing, a feeding system directly and continually contributes to the economic value added in processing. Along with whatever primary equipment used to form or shape the end product, whether pellet, part or profile, a feed system is involved to proportion recipe components and/or supply the formulation to the further processing equipment.

Just as when purchasing an extruder or any other major system or piece of equipment, making the feeding system purchase decision requires committing to a cost/benefit stream that begins with initial purchase but continues throughout the system’s service life.

Feeding system purchase, installation and start-up costs can be estimated and compared amongst candidate suppliers. However, future cost/benefit streams are always difficult to anticipate, quantify and compare. Because of this difficulty, lifecycle costs and benefits are frequently given only casual consideration or are discounted and ignored altogether. For many processors this uncertainty frustrates attempts at even the most basic ‘total cost of ownership’ analysis. And too often the unfortunate result is a decision made on the ‘thin ice of price’ without due account of its uncertain economic implications.

Here are some typical factors associated with feeding system performance that contribute to its ongoing cost/benefit stream: 

  • The compliance of formulations to their specified recipe proportions
  • The short- and long-term uniformity of the end product
  • The flexibility to accommodate the full range of materials intended to be handled
  • The speed and efficiency with which material changeovers can be executed
  • The simplicity or complexity of the operator interface
  • The ease or difficulty of cleaning, maintenance and troubleshooting operations
  • The degree of system reliability
  • The quality of supplier and service support