Essentra Components’ investment plan to maximise quality and productivity
Essentra Components has embarked on a multi-million pound long-term investment programme to upgrade its hydraulic injection moulding machine portfolio to become electric by the end of 2031.
The company is working with a small number of key equipment suppliers with global support networks to replace 180 machines that have been operating for 15 years or more (and currently heading towards the end of their working lives). The replacement machines will be both all-electric and hybrid electric, the latter using Vireo servo drive technologies.
Major reduction in energy
The transition will result in an estimated 33% reduction of energy consumed, cycle to cycle, and a 25% uplift in cycle time gain, tool-to-tool.
The predicted process and productivity improvements will effectively enable three electric machines to do the work of four hydraulic models, reducing the overall footprint, Essentra Components reports. The increased capacity is complemented by the guaranteed repeatability that electric machines can deliver, ensuring even greater product quality.
Chris Butler, the company’s global process development manager, says there are clear customer advantages. “Although electric machines demand a substantial initial capital outlay, these costs are more than balanced by the increased capacity and reduced energy costs, which makes for exciting news for both our business and customers alike.
More reliable, longer lasting
“Electric machines are more reliable and last longer than their hydraulic counterparts, with a cost of ownership calculated over a 20-plus year life cycle, as opposed to fifteen. They also deliver significantly greater productive hours per annum. With this performance, and greater automation, we can support even greater efficiencies for our customers.”
He adds that standardising equipment brings additional advantages: “Standardisation simplifies our training requirement and also leads to better spare parts availability, which in turn converts to even more uptime for the machines installed. As well as the machines, we are also reviewing our tooling and re-tooling processes and increasing cavitation for higher yields, enabling us to take on unusual projects that might previously have been considered out of scope.”
Advances in technology
Essentra trialled its first electric machine more than a decade ago, but recent advances in technology and a drive towards a more sustainable future have coincided to make a renewed focus on an electric vision a priority.
The new technology will allow for accelerated turnaround times for new lines and faster cycling times, whereas zero standard deviation on electric machines leads to greater accuracy and fewer rejected parts, all of which are essential to attracting and retaining key customers.
Butler says the programme is part of Essentra’s journey towards a more sustainable future: “All major manufacturers will be all-electric within the next decade,” he states. “Our customers are always looking to do more with less, and electric machines not only give our customers a better-quality product, but they also help them meet their own sustainability agendas.”
Replacement and training
Some 32 machines have been identified for immediate replacement in the next 12 months across various sites in the UK, North America, South America and Thailand. Full training packages for Essentra teams and 24/7 support for all new machines (including remote diagnostics) is being provided.