Innovation keeps Astrapak at the forefront in all aspects of their business and with full support from the staff at the factories; ground-breaking tool design that increases efficiencies is what sets the company apart.
Plastop KZN Plant Manager Anesh Mohanlall and Technical Manager Zamani Chonco have used their innovative prowess to apply an innovative injection method that makes cycle-time shorter. Developed over the past two years, the new system is now working well after a lot of commitment, sweat and ingenuity in not only developing the system, but in seeing the project through to success.
The innovative concept began with a set of moulds, which had been consistently causing problems in production whereby they couldn't get the efficiencies up due to the mould design. The moulds were bought from an American company and the original design was not conducive to efficient production.
“We took the learnings from that and made adjustments to the preforms to give us a faster cycle time, reduce our leaking nozzles and improve our quality,” said Mohanlall. “Seamus Tucker, ex Technical Director at Astrapak, suggested the possibility of developing a hot runner system. We approached our customer to have the mould and hot runner made locally with the collaboration of Spec Tool and Die.”
The pilot project took a year to complete and Mohanlall and Chonco spent a further seven weeks commissioning the mould.
The result of their commitment to the project has seen a reduction in cycle time by 25% and improvement on cavitation by 25%, providing a 50% total saving on capacity.
With the new mould design, only half the machines are required to meet the demand to what would have been required with the old conventional injection system.
Getting the project to run optimally did not come without its challenges, and the perseverance of Mohanlall and Chonco in the research and development has ensured that the entire process runs smoothly.
As with any pilot project, Mohanlall explained that there were some issues that required attention in order for the system to run optimally. “The teething problems have improved drastically. Our customer has procured additional moulds with the new design, and we are running an efficiency greater than 90%.”
Zamani has felt the immediate effects of the time saving during production. “Over and above the production capacity improvements, it is easier to get the machine up and running now, whereas in the past it was taking longer and the process was unstable.”
Plastop KZN’s OTIF+Q (On Time and In Full + Quality) scoring has increased dramatically, and the factory has managed to fill their safety level agreements much faster and have since not had any supply constraints.
Plastop KZN General Manager, Xavier Duperron, is proud of his team and their ingenuity in seeing the project through the ups and downs until fruition, and commended Mohanlall and Chonco on their significant contribution. “The challenges around the mould design were important. Considering the extent of the research and trials that were done and their dedication to make it work means a lot to the company. It is an extraordinary achievement.”