The Challenge

At Sussex Injection Molding, the material handling system had been the backbone of operations but faced significant challenges before recent modifications. Outdated controls components, inefficient numbering schemes, and bland interfaces were just a few of the hurdles impacting operations. These limitations not only affected efficiency but also led to frequent downtime and employee frustration. The existing system was a maze that hindered rather than supported the team’s efforts.

The Solution

Recognizing the need for change, Sussex IM embarked on a comprehensive overhaul of its material handling system, targeting specific goals and objectives. The primary focus was on reliability, ease of use, error reduction, increased throughput, efficiency improvements in energy and labor, customizability, ergonomics, and aesthetics. The ultimate aim was to drive significant savings without interrupting production.

The modifications were extensive, addressing various components and aspects of the system. Upgrades included the implementation of visibility at each dryer bin, insta lling SSR temperature control for a 15x tighter process control, monitoring of larger air dryers, local temperature controllers for redundancy, indicator lights for status confirmation, and a shift from 110VAC controls to 24VDC for improved energy efficiency and device life.

One of the critical decisions involved the selection of technology pathways for the upgrade. The team evaluated direct replacement, semi-direct replacement, and a totally new and independent control system. The breakthrough came with the discovery of Banner Snap Technology, enabling wireless communication, streamlined wiring, and reduced infrastructure costs.

Integration with the existing infrastructure was seamless, leveraging and repurposing available components wherever feasible. The modifications not only promised improved functionality but also a significant impact on the bottom line.

The Outcome

Post-implementation, Sussex IM experienced a wave of positive changes. Active participation and excitement among material handlers and technicians marked the beginning of a transformation. Training processes became simplified, downtime reduced, and tighter process control achieved. Additionally, there was an increase in visibility both locally and remotely, empowering more personnel to work on the system.

The success story behind these modifications wouldn’t have been possible without the remarkable teamwork and the direction of our Mechanical Engineer, Nick Rohrig, leading the charge, “It is very easy to build something from scratch, but to modify existing items on the fly and retrofit them without any downtime was pushing the boundaries. Maintenance, material handlers, technicians, the VP of Technical Services, and the administrative team played pivotal roles. Their commitment, proactive participation, and trust in innovation were instrumental in realizing this ambitious project. The ownership team took a big risk on me and trusted a major artery of the company to a young engineer. I cannot overstate my appreciation of that enough.”

The Future

Looking ahead, the modifications have paved the way for additional projects, such as automating more processes via software and custom machinery. The success and lessons learned from this overhaul signify the potential for further advancements and growth within Sussex IM.

The transformation of Sussex IM’s material handling system stands as a testament to the power of innovation, collaboration, and strategic decision-making. It’s a story of not just technological advancement but also a testament to the value of a dedicated team working in unison toward a common goal and living our Core Value of “We’ll Figure it Out.”