Once the extrusion machines were moved, redesigned crosshead tooling was installed on them as part of the project. The new tooling eliminated the need to manually center the cable every time the process was started or stopped and cut changeover time from 80 minutes to 20 to 25 minutes. This was a substantial time saving because the changes are typically made several times per day.
“We also computerized the color blending operation,” Abbott added. “Now we weigh and measure the compound while it’s being used which lets us produce a more consistent color. The system also gives us accurate data on how much of each material is actually being used so we can make more consistent and economical purchases.”
One additional process change was made in the new extrusion system. The hot thermoplastic cable covering exiting the extrusion machine has to be cooled quickly to maintain quality. In the old building this was done with water pumped from a 2,000 gallon cistern under the floor.
Moving that system to the new building was not economically feasible, so a new above ground chiller and a pair of 60 gallon tanks were installed in the new extrusion line. This system operates on a closed loop so overall water usage has gone from 4,000 gallons daily with the open system to 160 gallons total for the closed system.
All of these improvements allowed the extrusion speed to be increased from 57 to 72 feet per minute with no sacrifice in cable quality. Overall, the move has produced a 15% improvement in throughput, better product quality and reduced material consumption using the same extruders employed in the pre-move system.
Planning and preparation really does make a difference. Moving the Trystar extrusion line to its new home in Faribault is a great example of just how much difference it can make.