Unmanned night-time production
Unmanned night time production - Austrian injection-molding company automates processes
Anyone involved in plastics injection molding knows that working with silicone is far from easy. During molding and demolding the material behaves according to its own rules, and consistently poses challenges for mold makers and plastic molding specialists. This makes it even more impressive that a silicone molding company is able to carry out half of its 24-hour production using fully automated processes. Austrian firm RICO Elastomere Projecting GmbH manufactures silicone parts during the night without any workers present.
A one-off in the industry
“As far as we know, there are no other companies in our industry using unmanned night shifts for production,” comments RICO’s Managing Director Markus Nuspl. The company produces several billion silicone and multi-component parts every year and has an in-house mold production department at its facility in Thalheim bei Wels.
The production equipment operates day and night, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. But from 6pm to 6am the lights are turned off on the shop floor, because the staff are at home while the injection molding machines continue running.
Process optimization and automation
To ensure that parts manufacturing is possible without staff during the night, and above all that it runs smoothly, RICO has carried out significant optimization and automation of its daytime processes. The company only uses precisely adjusted molds for volume production, and the parts are finished and/or packaged automatically immediately after molding. The whole production process is designed in such a way that the absence of personnel for 12 hours does not lead to any bottlenecks or problems on the conveyor belts or chutes. Handling systems, robots and sophisticated logistics systems ensure trouble-free production. All processes are monitored via a digital control console system, which can be checked 24-hours a day.
The same quality at night
The goal of injection-molding specialist RICO is to achieve the highest possible quality levels by producing perfect parts rather than depending on 100% inspection of finished components. And this zero-error policy applies during the night, too. “Unmanned night-time production is not possible without precise control over your processes and quality,” explains Markus Nuspl.
Efficient deployment of staff
You might assume that RICO’s high levels of automation involve staff reductions, but the opposite is actually the case. “Molds don’t build themselves and the machines have to be set up extremely precisely,” emphasizes Nuspl. Staff are deployed where they can carry out their preferred duties efficiently, in line with their specialist abilities. Night shifts are a thing of the past at RICO. This sets it apart from other silicone injection-molding companies and also makes it a very family-friendly workplace.