Posted by Jill Worth | 07 / 24 / 13 2 Comments

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Reducing your company's overall operating costs by 12% is a dream for many plastics processors, but Lowell Allen, senior vice-president at The Rodon Group, and his team have spent the past few years making it their reality. He kindly joined us for a "chat" during the industry's first-ever Virtual Event titled Continuous Improvement in Injection Molding. 

As Allen recalled, in order to identify where money can be saved in your molding operation (from an energy standpoint), one must first identify what processes are continuously running. "If you are a 24/7 molder, as we are, with 106 molding machines, it's best to prioritize each continuously running process. Of course, none of us have an unlimited budget, so it's important to investigate those areas that can be changed for a mimimal investment and with the shortest payback time," he explained.

What runs continuously? At The Rodon Group, it is:

  • Molding machines
  • Cooling tower and pumps
  • Lighting
  • Air compressors
  • Granulators.

The Rodon Group facility

What energy-saving efforts has Rodon made?

According to Allen, his company the Nissei FNX Series of molding machines for their hybrid technology. "We have full-hydraulic machines as well as all-electrics. We like the accuracy and energy-efficiency of the all-electrics but found them lacking in a few areas, namely ejection advance force and nozzle-forward force. We like the full hydraulics for their robustness and durability. What we found and really like are the Nissei servo-driven hydraulic machines," he explained. These have the power of a full hydraulic with virtually the same energy efficiency of an all-electric, while using 40% less hydraulic oil than a full hydraulic, he added.

An attendee on the chat asked, "Which machine has a lower operating cost over a ten-year period (hybrid or all electric)? The reason we ask is because of ball screw wear and servo motor life. We are a closure molder." According to Allen, his company has looked at that a lot and feels that over a 10-yr period the cost of replacement of ball screws on all-electrics outweighs the cost in the differential of electricity on a hybrid.

A huge win for Rodon was its recent upgrade of its cooling towers to a maintenance-free fiberglass shell-cooling tower, which consumes almost 50% less energy and has 40% more cooling capacity. "We had 170-ton capacity steel-box cooling towers and the new ones are 240-ton capacity. This also means they cycle less often, and we have found they waste less water. We also were able to sell our old units to a scrap-metal recycler," he said.

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Created on 07/25/11 at 10:35:58

Topics: Plastic Injection Molding Costs, Sustainability in Manufacturing