Using Automation to Reduce Plastic Injection Molding Costs and Increase Efficiency
Automation can help maximize the safety, efficiency, and quality of a manufacturing process for the manufacturing company itself — as well as for their customers. Plastic Injection molders that specialize in delicate parts made to precise specifications have a lot to gain from the constant advancements in automation technologies, especially when it comes to increasing productivity while keeping costs to a minimum.
Automated elements are most commonly used to extract a part from a machine, trim the runner, place it on the conveyor, and/or transport the part for final inspection and packaging. These essential portions of the manufacturing process are an ideal place to cut both time and cost while maintaining maximum safety and efficiency.
Partnering with a plastic injection molding company that uses automation has benefits that pass along to you. Here are the two most impactful ways you see direct positive effects from a provider that uses automated processes.
Benefit 1: Efficient use of labor pool
The human element is essential in any manufacturing process, but busy work creates frustrated workers and sluggish production lines. Some of the more menial or tedious processes can be run more efficiently using fully automated machinery, eliminating the need for operators altogether.
Custom injection molding requires expert labor, which is often in short supply. With team members being difficult to find, plastic injection molding manufacturers have to protect their expert workforce and use team members to their fullest potential.
As professionals concerned with both their own workforce and meeting the needs of their customers, plastic injection molding companies need to be cautious of the strain that repetitive, non-value-added work puts on their employees. From repetitive-stress injuries to mental fatigue, tedious and routine portions of the manufacturing process can wear on workers.
Using automation such as 3-axis robots provides an opportunity to eliminate the non-value-added labor activity, allowing human workers to focus on tasks that make maximum use of their skillset. Furthermore, it helps with employee longevity, meaning the employees are more likely to stick around if they’re using their skillset and not putting effort toward tedious, non-value-added tasks. Partnering with a company with low employee turnover makes for better relationship building, trust and reliability.
In non-automated manufacturing processes, one operator must be assigned per press. This operator is responsible for extracting, trimming, and moving the parts, but spends much of their time simply waiting for the next step in the process.
A manufacturing process that makes effective use of automation, however, allows a single operator to run multiple presses at once, creating more parts with less waiting around. The automated machinery streamlines the process, letting the operator use their expertise and human judgement to focus on inspection and packaging, rather than rote transportation and placement.
What’s all that mean to you? It means the plastic injection molding company is spending less on labor costs associated with non-value-add tasks (like waiting around) and those savings are passed on to you.
Benefit 2: Decrease in material waste
To err is human, but it’s also costly. Fast-moving or tired workers can easily make mistakes, damaging parts that must then be thrown out. Such errors create scrap piles of wasted materials, which equate to wasted time and money. In an industry where customer satisfaction is key, and small errors mean big delays, every little bit of wasted material takes away from the long-term goals of both the manufacturer and the customer.
Automated machines can repeat the same operation time and time again without the risk of fatigue or error. Instead of scrap piles of wasted materials, you get precise parts every time. This added bonus of automation reduces waste, allowing material cost savings to directly benefit the customer.
Because automated systems don’t tire or make mistakes, these processes always run quickly and efficiently. This application decreases the need to hire extra staff for non-value-added tasks, freeing up funds and team members for value-added tasks that help customize products and build relationships with clients.
Automation can and should be tailored to value-added assembly and custom projects. Custom injection molding manufacturers should always prioritize the needs of the customer, and when automation is effectively implemented in the manufacturing process, savings in both time and money are passed on to the customer.
Doing so effectively while maintaining high product quality requires specialized automation engineers who can determine the most productive uses of automation for manufacturing a given part. A focus on effective and affordable automation is an important part of the White Glove Service offered by Thogus as we work to reduce handling, scrap, labor, and cost while increasing uptime for all clients. Our experienced automation engineers customize each client’s process to ensure on-time delivery and maximum quality, always.
Contact our team to learn more about our processes, including how we automate for efficiency and pass the benefits along to our customers.