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Injection Molding Process Control

If you are going to implement proper process control, buying and installing the equipment is just the start. The challenge is this: You must have personnel who know what they are looking at. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of qualified people out there. Secondly, you need to develop the means to correlate the data from the monitoring system to the data your end customer cares about.

Process monitoring is not a silver bullet. If it is to pay off, it requires process discipline and a systematic approach. I have used several of the systems mentioned above and some that were designed for specific applications. If there was process discipline and a systematic approach to interpreting and acting on the data, the payback was quick and dramatic. If those elements did not exist, the project was looked on as a waste of time and money.

Information is only valid, and only has value if it can be interpreted and applied.

From my past experience, the greatest challenge is the lack of training on the usage of advance tools available to the operation (such a CPK analysis, melt temp, cavity pressure or any other data acquisition). While working for a leading company in the field of PET injection molding, I saw first hand the end results in providing advance data acquisition/process analysis system without proper training. The end result is "you" (the customer) having spent a lot of money on a option/system and having very little if any return.

There is no doubt that actual cavity pressure sensor and in melt temp can greatly improve the process and extend injection mold life cycle. With CPK acquisition and today advance in servo valves/controls, you can actually anticipate system failure, if you know how to interpret the data correctly!

First: Because the injection molding process is considered to be abstruse. You normally can not see what is happening inside an injection mold, you only see the end result. You have to qualify the right candidates for advance training, usually a simple test evaluation should identify the right candidates, and allow you to get the best return possible on training.

Second: On-going training as to be provide and continuously re-enforced. It is not a onetime shot and expected to be sustainable.

There are many plants which invested heavily into great systems and yet they are underutilized. There are too many factors involved as to why this is to go into at this time but I believe the root cause starts from the top management. If the plant manager has a good technological understanding of injection molding and hires people who understand and believe in scientific molding principles, process monitoring and control methods, and proper training then the systems themselves become a necessary and invaluable part of the operation.

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