Fast and with efficient use of resources
The packaging specialist Franz Henke is using hybrid injection moulding machines from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag to increase its production efficiency
At Franz Henke GmbH & Co. KG, Lohne, efficiency has been right at the top of the agenda since the plastics processor reorganised itself one year ago. Production and resource efficiency are equally important in this respect – one reason why the company has since invested in 25 new injection moulding machines from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag.
Franz Henke is not satisfied with small quantities: Last year, 1.3 billion items left the plant in Lohne chiefly packaging for foodstuffs: The company from Germany's Oldenburger Münsterland region produces items such as ice cream containers, bowls for ready-made salads, containers for icing sugar, dessert tubs, etc. Many of these are created using the in-mould labelling process. And Franz Henke offers the appropriate lid for everything. The standard assortment covers all requirements for snap and push-fit lids in order to close and seal cardboard tube containers as well as tin cans. Automated insertion of cardboard or foils as well as snap caps with tamper-evident closure protected by utility model round off this packaging assortment for the foodstuffs industry.
The plastics processor has two other important activities running alongside: the Lonacap division produces protective elements, protective plugs, sleeves and caps for the technical sector. In brief: protective elements for everything that needs safeguarding against dirt, contamination or damage. Meanwhile, the Topfit division manufactures various products for gardening: pots, carriers, pallets or hanging baskets. These three divisions mean we have an even capacity utilisation in production throughout the entire year. This is because many items such as those for gardening and, of course, ice cream containers are products with definite seasonal peaks in demand," says CEO Jürgen Henke. "This mix is important for us in order to use our fleet of machines efficiently."
Fewer machines, but higher stroke rate
"The new injection moulding machines from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Have enabled us to reduce energy consumption in production significantly over the past three years. This was an important step on the path to certification of our energy management system according to EN ISO 50001, which we achieve in 2012," says Henke. Overall, he continues, the power drawn by the machines has dropped by 600 kW to the present 1500 kW – with increased performance capability.
"Above all, the new high-speed machines have enabled us to increase our stroke rate in production. This is currently paying off in many new projects," says Henke. For example, this includes production of a lid for the packaging of a large, internationally active baby food manufacturer, which is carried out on an El-Exis SP 350-3000.
"European manufacturers of baby food are currently recording enormous growth rates, especially in the Asian market. This is because the population there has lost confidence in domestic manufacturers following recent scandals. We are benefiting from this growth. This is because the lids are classified as critical by the manufacturer since they can come into contact with the baby food. That is why the manufacturer has placed its trust in our production," explains head of sales, André Bergmann. New processes have been introduced in quality assurance for this purpose, and an external laboratory regularly carries out tests on the items.
Based on information from the plant manager, Matthias Völker, the injection moulding machine is running very smoothly – and above all very efficiently: "We have optimised it for the article. By revising the mould, including its cooling system, we have been able to reduce cycle times by about 20% compared to the previous machine."
Franz Henke does not regard it as a problem either if even higher quantities would be required in future: Völker already has his sights set on moulds with more cavities, such as 48 mould cavities on two or three levels: "However, we would then need a machine with 7,000 or 7,500 kN clamping force in order to maintain efficiency."
However, the topic of resource efficiency is not done and dusted at Franz Henke by reducing energy consumption alone. The plastics processor has recently started testing the use of bio-based plastics – such as based on maize starch. "This represents a future arena for us by means of which we can set ourselves apart in the market," says Bergmann. There is demand for such packaging above all from manufacturers of organic foodstuffs, he continues.
Furthermore, following a test, Franz Henke ordered two electrical IntElect machines with 1,000 kN clamping force from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag. Henke: "This enables us to reduce energy consumption by another ten percent, more or less. Furthermore, it also means we have fewer problems relating to hygiene and cleanliness. At present, admittedly, we don't need a clean room, but customers such as manufacturers of baby food are increasingly expecting us to carry out our manufacturing under controlled conditions. Electric machines are ideal for this."