BALTIMORE -- Cardinal Plastics Inc., a subsidiary of Cardinal Distributing Co. Inc., has taken delivery of a new injection-molding machine. While manufacturing equipment normally doesn't draw industry attention, Cardinal's new Fanuc Roboshot is a state-of-the-art injection-molding system that promises big returns for the capsule maker and its bulk vending customers.
"This unit is significantly faster than older machines," said Cardinal Plastics president Jeff Oertel. "We'll be able to produce many more parts with more consistency." For bulk vending operators, this capability will translate into fewer rejects, better-fitting capsules and eggs, and faster order fulfillment.
Because the Roboshot molding machine is all electric, it uses less power than older plastic machines, up to 50% to 70% less electricity than older hydraulic systems, and requires a smaller cooling tower. Additionally, it doesn't employ oil, which makes it more environmentally friendly.
"They don't use hydraulics," explained Oertel, "so these machines almost never go down and never require maintenance. That's a real consideration when you have to produce on average 7.5 million components and capsules a week." Do the math on that, and Cardinal's output adds up to some 300 to 400 million parts a year.
"Fanuc makes great equipment, and we needed a new injection-molding machine," said Cardinal Distributing president Danny Paszkiewicz. The Roboshot is made by Germany's Fanuc Robomachine, a subsidiary of Japan's Fanuc Ltd., a pioneer in factory tooling automation.
"They made us a great offer on it, so we decided to buy a bigger machine than we normally need," Paszkiewicz told VT. "So now we have the extra capacity and technology. Parts can be made much, much cleaner and they're easier to snap together. Anybody who buys empty capsules from us will find them less difficult to put together. And if it's easier, it's going to be faster."
Because of the machine's molding precision, the plastic overhang that plagues some capsule production runs and the filling process -- known as "flash" -- is virtually eliminated. This is certainly good for vendors, but also welcome news for Cardinal's customers outside of bulk vending who require higher-precision components.
The machine, which weighs almost 18 tons, comes with a hefty price tag, double the cost of standard injection-molding machines. Sticker shock aside, the investment already seems to be paying off. The company has been getting calls from customers interested in bringing injection molding back to the United States from China. Rapid turnaround time and big savings on shipping make Cardinal highly competitive with overseas suppliers. Business is booming thanks to the company's investment.
If things go according to plan, Cardinal Plastics could be adding more Roboshot equipment in the coming years, making the company a force with which to be reckoned in the injection-molding arena in bulk vending and beyond.
Photo | WELCOME WAGON: Cardinal Plastics hires the Baltimore Rigging Co. to move its brand-new 18-ton Fanuc Roboshot injection-molding machine into its factory at 6801 Quad Ave. in Baltimore.
Photo | SYSTEM CHECKS: At left, Cardinal Plastics president Jeff Oertel (center) inspects new plastic injection-molding system with Bob Ward (left) and David Habeck of Milacron LLC, a plastics processing specialist. The Fanuc Roboshot S-2000i 300B electric machine can produce higher-quality capsules at faster speeds, and is said to one of the most environmentally friendly Injection-molding tools.
Photo | FIRST RUN: The 24/7 plastics-producing team (above) readies Cardinal's new injection-molding machine for its inaugural run. At right, senior machine operator Ann Mervis scrutinizes the first capsule production run on new Roboshot machine.