Electric injection moulding machines can combat rising energy costs for packaging manufacturers, but Europe lags behind countries such as Japan, according to Sumitomo (SHI) Demag.
Hydraulic machines are a common injection moulding machine in Europe. But Nigel Flowers, managing director, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, told FoodProductionDaily.com electric versions offer precision, consistent results and reduce waste. The machines use 50%-60% less energy than hydraulics, he adds.
“It does vary case by case,” Flowers said. “But that’s significant, particularly as energy costs continue to rise.
“Typically we can make a cycle time saving – not every case, as there are external influences – but because you have independent drives, you can overlap functions.
“There are less moving parts, which improves reliability. An interesting side effect is that they are very quiet - it’s not something you can quantify, but you get a nicer production environment.”
Flowers said the use of electric machines varies throughout the world.
“They’ve been using electric machines in Japan for a lot longer than Europe. In Japan, nine out of 10 machines are electrics. There are lots of complicated reasons for this – even down to issues like insurance. In the US it’s fifty-fifty. In Europe, we’ve been quite a slow adopter; it’s going the right way, but not as fast as other markets.”
Guala Closures UK invests in electric
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has equipped Guala Closures UK with its IntElect electric injection moulding machines. Guala designs the moulds for its caps, which are used on the Sumitomo machines.
Guala installed its two electric machines at its Kirkintilloch manufacturing centre in 2011, which was followed by nine more. “Guala has, over the last few years, switched to an investment in electric technology,” Flowers said. “They’ve moved from all hydraulic to a 50-50 split.”
Stevie Houston, manufacturing manager, Guala Closures UK, said, “Over the last four years, output of closures has increased by 12% and our overall equipment efficiency (OEE) rating has seen a 5% increase. This has consistently made us one of the group’s top performing plants since 2009.
“In addition, the technology we’ve adopted has made a real impact on our quality targets, with a 40% reduction in scrap.”
Guala is designing increasingly complex caps and closures in an effort to combat counterfeiters – a particular problem for prestigious brands. The company produces non-refillable pourers, including valve systems and tamper-evident systems.
Electric machines provide the precision and repeatability needed for these more complicated closures, Flowers added.