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March 19, 2009

The "Green" Molding Machine - Take the money and RUN!

So, you say you do INJECTION MOLDING, right?  and from time to time, you've had to defend what you are doing to some gang of environmentlists who'd like to see you shut down because you do plastic, and plastic is EVIL, right? On the one hand, I've had that argument at least a couple times a year since 1968, and if you ever want copies of the speeches I've given at various zoning commission hearings, county and state legislatures, etc. just call me................ I especially enjoy the point in each session where I volunteer to get out my "plastic detector" to see how much plastic each protesting green power person is wearing or carrying, or get them to admit they did not arrive at the meeting on horseback. Even better if you mold polyolefins, and you get to ask them just how deep in petroleum byproduct the whole earth would be if all the waste from making gas and oil had NOT been made into plastic?

On the other hand, getting inside the heads of some of these folks can be very enlightening at times, and can also bring some green to your bottom line, if you pay attention and act on your new knowledge. For example, how many of you in New Jersey have heard of "Smart Start"?  Do you know that the State will fund up to 80% of the cost of new equipment that saves energy? Do you know that ANY molding machine can be retrofitted with improved controls and barrel heaters that qualify for the State rebate program? Anyone from Wisconsin reading this? Similar program is in place there, too.

Here's the REALLY GOOD AND GREEN part of this deal. If you do the retrofit on, say a 500 ton injection machine with around a 75 - 125 ounce barrel, you might spend about $8,000.00 on the conversion. If you're a Joisey boy, the State will give back $6,400.00 under the Smart Start program, so your press upgrade will actually cost you $1,600.00 out of pocket. Or will it, really?

Punchline to the above is this: The upgrade will cut your operating cost for injection unit heating by at least 30%, or the vendor takes it all back and gives you a refund. That converted 500 ton press, at NJ utility rates, would save you about $12,000.00 a year off your electric bill if it runs 24/5/250 per year. (Of course you DO have a KWH meter on that machine, so you know exactly how many dollars that 30% is going to be worth to you, right?) So your out of pocket cost for a better performing, more accurate temperature control setup on your press would be a negative $10,400.00 cost, or in other words, your Company MAKES A PROFIT OF $10,400.00 per each machine converted. Of course next year you only MAKE an extra $12,000.00 per press, because you paid off all the costs in the first year.

Oh, yeah, the other thing is you get to put out press releases about being an environmentally responsibe Company, talk about the reduced burden on the power grid thanks to you, and your reduced Corporate Carbon Footprint, and yadayadayadah.....Did I mention you get to fly the "ECO-HERO" flag out front?  Nice pale green, with a big picture of a cute frog on it? Seriously, this is real, it's being done all around the country, and if you are doing any round the clock high volume processing and NOT looking into these "Green Machine" conversions, then you are just being a Dodo, and we all know what happened to them.

Here's a clue: If you go out on the press floor, stand near one of your injection machines, and get a nice warm feeling from the heat coming off the barrel, you're a Dodo, and that machine is spending up to $20,000.00 a year of your PROFITS to keep the plant warm, and fighting your air conditioning all summer while putting your workers at risk of burns or heat stroke.

Did I mention the other Dodoism, where your press controls are 5 to 8 years old, and your temperature variance from setpoint is more than +/- 15 Degrees F, which means you are almost never molding your parts to the correct processing temperatures, so you get shear stress at the low end of the variance, and overheat/flash at the high end?

Injection molding is still nearly as much art as science, but unless your "artists" on the press floor have the best science backing them up, then you are going to be losing ground against the other folks out there who are actually paying attention. Had an energy survey done yet? Know what each press on your floor costs to run per day/week/month/year?  Does your scheduler know which machines cost least to run each job? Do you know you can retro in a KWH meter on a press for less than $300.00, so you'll know what your real costs are? The devil is in the details, and some of us are actually having a pretty good time bringing the green revolution to our industry. This is a train everybody needs to jump on fast.

After all, how many jobs of yours went overseas to save the client 20% or even 10% with shipping, and could have been saved if you had only taken the opportunity and changed your presses from space heaters back to eco-friendly cheaper running more efficient more profitable INJECTION MOLDING MACHINES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've yammered on enough, I guess. The potential to turn your own Green Machines program into badly needed profits is real. Anybody interested? Get in touch, and I'll be happy to point you to the programs and some of the pioneer vendors who can help.

After all, how many penny apiece plastic parts do you have to mold to get a $20,000.00 bottom line profit?

At 10% NET, that would be 25 Million penny parts. Just so you know. Been There, Done that, got the raggedy T-Shirt to prove it.  Think (folding) GREEN!

Remember the latest buzzwords you need to carbon-offset the critics:

Sustainabilty      Ecologically Friendly      Reduced Corporate Carbon Footprint    GREEN

Geen Team Projects    Environmentally Sound    DiminishedPower Grid Stress

I can keep this up all day. Point is, this stuff resonates with about 50% of the population, so pay attention, and work to benefit from the awareness that you can develop, listening to the "enemy"


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