Injection Molding Manufacturer
Increasing Parts Per Shift With Real-time Feedback
Injection molding is a manufacturing process where raw material for production is broken down in a heated barrel, mixed, and finally injected into a mold where it cools and hardens, taking on the desired shape. Our client operates an injection molding plant containing 11 molding presses that run 3 shifts a day, 5 days a week. After years of refining their process, the manufacturer was running at a known, consistent and acceptable rate.
As is the case with any production-based operation; parts per hour, or parts per shift is a critical indicator of productivity and efficiency.
Our client wanted to determine if the average number of parts produced per shift could be increased if their operators had access to real-time feedback with metrics and visualization that were relevant to them.
To accomplish this, we needed to find a way to eliminate variables and anomalies that fell outside of the operators’ control.
FreePoint’s non-invasive machine connection system was used to collect the data empirically. FreePoint’s “WatchLive” module was used to store the data and provide the operator with relevant feedback and the “Narrative” module was used for the reporting and analysis functions.
To eliminate variables outside of the operators’ control, only days where the operator is able to run the entire shift uninterrupted were used in our analyses. We then removed any shift data in the monthly summary that had less than 240 pieces produced on the assumption that it wasn’t a full shift without interruptions, giving the operator the benefit of the doubt.
For the most consistently scheduled and operated press, total cycles increased by 5 ½ to 6 units per shift, or 16 to 18 units per day as a direct result of data visualization screens being installed.
There were also small improvements in all functional areas: 3.1 second faster mold time, .5 second faster average unload time, and fewer stoppages between 115 and 300 seconds.
In this plant, five and a half additional parts per shift per press equates to 60 addition parts per shift, or 180 additional parts per day.
In this case study, the financial benefit paid for the entire cost of the project in 10 days, proving that even in well running processes, live operator feedback with meaningful metrics matter.