Welcome to our first Newsletter of 2018!
The hot topic this year at meetings and conferences around the Rotomoulding world is Automation. There is interest in this topic for several reasons. In many areas of the world we are experiencing times of high employment so finding and retaining good employees is becoming more and more difficult. So different levels of automation are being considered and introduced to make the employees be more productive. Well-engineered machines and robots can operate 24/7 without refreshment breaks or annual holidays, both in part moulding and finishing operations. They can make the working environment more pleasant and safer for employees. They can increase productivity of all assets including employees.
Removing the human element from many of the tasks within our process and introducing robots and automation helps with the consistency and the quality of the finished product. Introducing comprehensive control systems reduces variability and makes new design features and new materials accessible to our process. Fully automated traditional machines making that staple of our industry, multi-layer water tanks, are successfully operating around the world producing competitive high quality tanks.
The advent of DTH (direct tool heating) combined with robotic and ‘Smart’ machines opens a wide range of possibilities in the design of new products using multiple materials and being able to deliberately vary thicknesses throughout the moulding, changes the perception of the Rotational moulding process.
The gradual introduction of these systems is slowly changing the wider view of Rotational moulding from a ‘Black Art’ producing low volume low tech products to a scientific manufacturing process capable of producing small batch production, or if required many thousands of consistent complex products per day.
This ability to fully control the process and introduce previously unimagined consistency and quality is awakening many OEM’s to the possibilities of the process. The technology of being able to control moulding machines from remote locations will become available soon reducing, if not eliminating, the need for employees to understand the technology. This will open up the possibility of OEM’s moving the rotomoulding ‘in house’ without having to master the vagaries of the ‘Black Art’ previously associated with the process.
These advances in our process can pose both an opportunity and a threat to traditional moulding companies. Moulders need to keep up to date with the advances and have a program to introduce them to their operations where they offer significant advantage. If the moulders cannot offer these new techniques to their customers, those customers will undoubtable look at investing in manufacturing themselves.
ARMO is working with its affiliates around the world to educate the market on what the rotomoulding process can produce. ARMO again through its affiliates organise seminars, conferences, and exhibitions to allow moulders to understand and engage in these advances. The major opportunity to learn and network this year will be at the ARMO conference and exhibition in Hamburg 16-18th September where all this technology will be on show along with presentations on the impact it can make on the market.
I look forward to meeting you there and learning how automation can help moulders and advance the rotomoulding process.