When we last interviewed Tyson Daniels, owner of Polymer Contours, Inc. in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in south Allentown, in March 2017 he set a bold goal: reaching $1 million in sales by the end of his fourth year in business.
In December 2017 Daniels made his company automated by purchasing two robots that allow two of his three machines to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week producing parts for his customers. His operation is now 60 percent automated, and as a result, he says he’s on track to reach his goal by the end of 2018, his fourth year in business.
The machines run through their cycle and as the mold opens the robot (sprue picker) grabs and expels the runner, or excess plastic, into a granulator that will feedback to the machine, while the finished parts fall onto a newly acquired conveyor belt that moves them into a shipping container, which will be delivered to the client once it’s full. The automated cells are a closed loop system that feeds both virgin material and reground material simultaneously, saving time by allowing any excess to immediately be put back into operation.
“The machines are also hardwired into an auto-dialing system that will call my cell phone if an alarm is triggered. We then set parameters within the specific production cycle and if something is off I know about it instantaneously. I then log into my camera system and immediately see which machine has an issue. This allows me to track their operation and alerts me if there is a problem; this way I can come in to reset the equipment and continue production,” explained Daniels. “These two robots have allowed my business to not only meet demand but to double my capacity. Now I can produce in six days what used to take a month to run. At this rate, I could double my productivity each year.”
And while many decry the role of automation in replacing workers, Daniels has actually increased the hours of his operators who now service the machines, program and set up new jobs to run, and replenishes the materials the machines use to make their plastic parts, from spools that hold solder to oxygen analyzer covers for the medical industry.
Daniels attributes many of his new customers to being referrals from existing customers, as well as a result of the work he’s done in building the company’s brand recognition.
“We do good work, never miss a delivery, and are always on time,” says Daniels. “We’re always proving ourselves and we’ve created a reputation for good quality, on-time delivery and competitive cost that proves our value. That has led to working with good customers who refer us to their colleagues at other companies as well as utilize our services to build their plastic product lines.”
As a member of the Manufacturers Association of Plastic Processors, Daniels began learning about scientific molding, which uses a series of tests and equations to perform experiments on machine processing to maximize output. He brought in an engineering consultant to teach him and his team about cycle time and how to reduce production time by increasing consistency and utilizing machine effectiveness through a scientific testing.
“We were able to reduce production time by 33 percent for one of our largest jobs, which meant reducing times from 18 seconds per shot to 12 seconds. That can save the company over $50,000 a year and reduce the time it takes to fill an order by an entire day. Time is money after all,” said Daniels.
What’s next for Polymer Contours?
“I’m hoping to purchase some new equipment that will aid in effectiveness when running higher grade engineering resins like glass filled materials by minimizing machine wear and machine downtime,” said Daniels.
“I’d also like to get into rapid prototyping using quick-change systems to deliver molded parts quicker and within the same timeframe of a 3D printed part. A molded part is a more accurate representation of a finished product and can be cost-effective using custom mold frames with interchangeable inserts. This will allow us to deliver a prototype that is very close, if not identical, to the finished product in under two weeks, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to prove a concept.”