Excerpt taken from an article in Plastics Technology. Read the full article at: http://www.ptonline.com/articles/molders-message-to-foreign-competitors-bring-it-on
An inspired combination of automation, ISO certification, use of certified resins, and strict adherence to a rigorous set of time-honed manufacturing standards are among the chief factors giving the Rodon Group, a 54-year-old custom molding operation in Hatfield, Pa., the confidence to boast that it can beat the pants off of Chinese part pricing, and Mexican pricing, too.
And it’s not an idle boast. The company captured a project for molding impact PS fruit skewers away from a custom molder in mainland China. Rodon runs the products faster, better, and cheaper here in mainland America, using six manufacturing cells with 64-cavity molds built in-house, in presses equipped with servo-powered robots.
As another example, Rodon molds toys—the famous K’NEX line of construction toys—at a lower cost than was quoted in China.
Its aggressively competitive business practices reportedly have enabled Rodon (rodongroup.com) to achieve a remarkable 99.92% Product Quality Acceptance Rate from its customers last year. These practices include turnkey project management, providing customers with a lifetime tooling guarantee, a zero-defect manufacturing model, and ISO and OSHA certification."
Eliminating supply-chain risks through JIT delivery, adherence to challenging lead times, and providing same-day order changes are among the company’s other standard practices.
The Rodon Group also provides open payment terms and tool financing programs for qualified customers, as well as complete adherence to non-disclosure agreements. And the absence of language and time-zone barriers also helps customers reduce risks incurred from shopping for parts offshore. Pricing in U.S. dollars also eliminates currency conversion costs and risks for domestic customers.
Lowell Allen, Rodon’s senior v.p. of manufacturing, says business is quite good for the company these days—so good that it has recently hired people for its production, QC, and tooling departments.
Rodon has invested substantially over the past decade in upgrading both its primary and secondary manufacturing machine capacity, another factor contributing to its success as a world-class competitor.
STANDARIZATION IS S.O.P.
According to Allen, standardization on particular equipment suppliers is standard operating procedure at Rodon Group. The biggest benefits are the ease of parts supply and better service. The company has 110 presses from 40 to 400 tons, all of them from Nissei (nisseiamerica.com). It also standardizes on robots from Star Automation (starautomation.com) and hot-air dryers from Matsui (matsuiamerica.com). Each manufacturing cell also is equipped with a silent-running, low-speed granulator, either from Matsui or a screenless model from SRS Corp. (srscorp.com).
Among Rodon’s more recent acquisitions are three of Nissei’s latest FNX Series hybrid presses. “They’re very energy efficient, and they’re quiet,” Allen says. “They’re equipped with what I believe to be a truly revolutionary servo-driven hydraulic pump.” The Hybrid System used on Nissei’s FNX presses uses an electric servomotor to drive the hydraulic pump. The servo and pump provide power only when it’s required and stop when power’s not required. As a result, the energy consumption is reportedly up to 55% lower than with Nissei’s straight hydraulic machines. Hydraulic oil temperature also remains lower, thereby reducing cooling-water requirements and reducing cooling tower expenses and maintenance costs.
Allen adds that the FNX machines are a great fit in a custom molding operation like Rodon’s, since they can handle a variety of molding jobs requiring hydraulic power—ones requiring considerable ejection force, high nozzle-touch force, and large shot capacity, for instance—with virtually the same energy efficiency as an all-electric.