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6.08.2015 Production news

Factory evolution: the plastic injection moulding shop

At the moment VENTS is worldwide acknowledged ventilation leader. The company employs about 2,500 persons and has 16 state-of-the-art production shops – each one enough to build a separate factory around. However, in the mid-90s our company could only dream of today’s scale with a few hundred staff and a modest 3-shop production facility.

Over the course of 15 years VENTS has come a long way evolving from a combination of business units into a community of like-minded individuals. The company’s leading positions are squarely based on the winning combination of developing highly automated production and restless innovation. This article continues the «VENTS: Behind the Scenes» series telling the story behind the founding and evolution of the plastic injection moulding shop (PIMS).

Inception

The plastic injection moulding shop which produces a wide range of components for household fans, ventilation grilles, diffusers and much more rolled out its first batch in early 90s. Back in the days it was manned by a staff of 30 and had only 7 thermoplastic processing machines and a few dozen injection moulds. Over the course of a few years the shop was massively reorganized: the production moved to a much larger facility and received a host of high-tech equipment upgrades which gradually replaced all the obsolete units.

Today the PIMS takes up 4,500 m2 of space and operates 24/7 employing about 230 highly skilled professionals. There are about 100 thermoplastic processing machines which use 10 kinds of raw polymers from leading suppliers worldwide to guarantee the outstanding performance and admirable aesthetics of VENTS products.

The numbers alone speak to the sheer scale of the transformations. However, our main goal is to unfold the mystery of the company’s inner works and provide an insight into what really makes VENTS a ventilation equipment leader.

Harnessing the tricky plastic

The shop runs round the clock seven days a week. All the fabrication steps are automated to the maximum and follow a carefully designed algorithm. The birth of each item begins with raw material preparation, loading the thermoplastic processing machine and then finally removing the ready piece once it has cooled down. Each moulder is in charge of two machines and normally takes care of item processing and machine maintenance operations as well as communication with support functions during the shift. The responsibility for each process is assigned to a dedicated shop floor worker. For example, the moulders are responsible for the quality of fabricated parts while the service engineers promptly fix any malfunctions to minimise downtime and production rejects.

Pride and glory

We have had a chance to discuss the PIMS equipment evolution with Sergey Povkh – the shop manager who has been in charge of the facility for more than 15 years. His guiding principle applied to both work and everyday life is «Think, tell, act and control».

«The capacity utilisation grows every year while our products become more and more complex. This requires a sustainable equipment upgrading policy as well as continuous perfection of our technology processes and professional development of our staff. Our range of equipment currently includes more than 700 pressure moulds and some 100 new-generation thermoplastic processing machines capable of producing parts of various complexity as well as 40 loading machines, high-performance thermostats and chillers. Besides facilitating the tasks at hand these efforts are aimed at speeding up all the processes many-fold and improving the production efficiency and the quality of our finished products».

 

Sky is the limit

About a year ago the entire VENTS facility including the PIMS actively joined a Lean Production scheme pioneered by Toyota. A dedicated action group identifies all kinds in waste at all steps of the fabrication process, analyses them and makes the appropriate efforts to eliminate them at the origin. Such practice leads to a significant optimisation of the work flow, prevents production rejects, minimises downtime, reduces material waste and ensures a more balanced load of the human resources.

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