Automation Supplement

Case Study – MBI Plastics Selects 3-AXIS Robot

By Kim Carrera

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Saint-Joseph de Beauce, Que.-based injection molder MBI Plastic Inc. recently implemented a new automation solution at its 30,000 square foot facility to address concerns about overall reliability and efficiency.

MBI is a custom molder that specializes in engineering thermoplastic material. The company also does gas assist, hot stamping, pad printing, overmolding, ultrasonic welding and several other secondary operations at its facility. The facility houses 20 injection-molding machines.

With the help of Harmo Sab Automation, the work cell was reconfigured to extract molded parts using a pick-and-place robot.

Before January 2007, molded parts were being extracted and dropped onto a conveyor belt by operators. "However, plant manager Eric Veilleux notes that the reject rate was increasing, the overall quality of the parts did not meet MBI's standards.”

"Having the job completed manually became a problem because when the parts would eject from the mold they would fall down on the conveyor, and sometimes they would scratch or even break," explained Veilleux.

The custom molder wanted to reduce its part reject rate, and also minimize the overall production cycle time. "The cycle time was longer, and the overall quality of the production wasn't always reliable," said Veilleux.

MBI decided to implement a HRX 500 robot into its production process, and Veilleux says the move towards greater automation has made a significant improvement.

"The reliability, part quality and constant cycle time are so much better now," he noted. "With the help of the [Harmo Sab] robot, the reject rate decreased approximately 10 per cent."

The robot is capable of taking parts from the mold and depositing them onto the conveyor, making the cycle time more dependable.

The robot has helped minimize the number of random scratches on parts, and MBI saves approximately five to 10 seconds per cycle for all semi-automatic mode.

MBI went with Harmo Sab because of the user-friendliness and extensive background knowledge available about the robot through the company's representatives.

"We chose this particular model because the controller of the robot is very user-friendly, and the capacity of SAB Automation to make the installation and the quality of the service after the sale was well-organized," said Veilleux.

The quality of the part comes first for MBI, and the 3-axis robot has helped the company produce high-quality molded products more reliably and efficiently. Veilleux insists that quality is important for bringing customers back.

For instance, “we do a lot of electronic enclosures, where aesthetic is very important,” noted Veilleux.

Harmo Sab (Toronto, Ont.) 416-628-1436

MBI Plastics (Quebec, Canada) 418-397-8088