BOLE Machinery has been selected as a Plastics Industry Awards 2021 finalist in the hotly contested Supplier Partnership – Prime Machinery category for an entry focused on a technical project undertaken at Flowtech Precision Mouldings.

Flowtech Precision Mouldings was founded in 1996 by Andrew Willmott and now supplies a diverse range of automotive components globally. The need to provide quality parts on time is therefore paramount, requiring a partnership with a trusted and reliable machinery supplier.

The initial decision to use BOLE machinery UK was not only based on their equipment’s highly competitive price point. BOLE was already supplying some of the largest automotive part manufacturers globally, so come with a proven track record.

In 2019 the installation of a 550-tonne BOLE machine quickly demonstrated their equipment’s reliability, accuracy, productivity, and energy efficiency. Consequently, BOLE UK was approached to help Flowtech develop a new production cell to meet the demands of a new contract they had secured.

The new production cell would replace two older machines located in separate areas of the mould shop. BOLE was tasked with achieving a number of goals and targets.

  • The new project required the simultaneous production and packaging of two structural automotive parts, so the new cell needed to reduce the amount of associated manpower
  • Existing production would also need to be accommodated, including components with significantly higher shot weights. This raised concerns about material degradation when producing the lighter automotive parts, an issue currently causing material wastage
  • To accommodate increased production volumes, cycle times would need to be reduced
  • In line with Flowtech’s environmental policy, the energy consumption of the cell would have to be significantly lower than that of the two older machines. These savings would also make a significant contribution to a return on the company’s investment.

Over the next 6-months, BOLE Machinery and Flowtech worked together to develop a new concept that would meet all of the above requirements. BOLE’s automation partner, Sepro, was also heavily involved with the project.

The solution involved two 1400-tonne DK series machines, linked by a single piece automation track mounted with two 3-axis robots depositing finished parts onto a centrally located conveyor. The DK series of twin-platen machines is extremely compact, and the injection unit supplied has options for four screw diameters.  The ability to quickly swap plasticising units allows residence times to be controlled and reduces material wastage during barrel purging.

This concept had never been delivered on this large scale before and would be the first of its kind in the UK.

BOLE consequently secured an order for the new production cell and have successfully achieved all of the targets set by Flowtech.

  • £78,000 reduction in annual energy consumption
  • Cycle time reduction of 14 seconds
  • Material saving of 25%
  • 66% reduction in labour cost
  • Enhanced manufacturing flexibility enabling various products to be produced without material degradation
  • Machine repeatability and monitoring software have minimised the non-conformity of products

As well as secure BOLE the positive publicity associated with becoming a PIA finalist, this ambitious project has demonstrated the company’s ability to provide a complete technical solution that can meet or exceed a customer’s requirements, despite offering a significant saving against the investment levels needed when buying from other machinery OEM’s.

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