Ontario’s MoldPro Machinery expands its wheelhouse
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The blow molding machine specialist is entering a new market as the North American sales representative for extrusion machine maker Mikrosan.
After almost 35 years in business, Burlington, Ont.-based blow molding machine specialist MoldPro Machinery & Systems is entering a new market as the North American sales representative for extrusion machine maker Mikrosan.
The partnership also brings together two firms from halfway across the world, as Mikrosan is headquartered near Istanbul.
Founded in 1989 by Bob and Bev Agnew – their son Sam currently serves as vice president – MoldPro probably knows the ins and outs of blow molding as well as any firm in Canada. The company specializes in extrusion blow molding and injection stretch blow molding machinery, providing technical support, service calls, spare parts, and repairs; offers machine control system upgrades, using its own internally-developed control system capable of connecting to a cloud server; designs, builds, and installs extrusion heads; and also supplies accessories such as welding knives, spear knives, hot knives, and blow pin stations and tooling.
“MoldPro has been upgrading blow molding machines controls for many years, and we’ve put new controls systems on almost all machines that have been manufactured in Europe and the U.S,” said Thomas Le Berre, head of MoldPro’s technical sales. “Currently over 80 extrusion shuttle machines, all over North America, are running on our system.” Control system upgrades are actually the biggest part of MoldPro’s business, Le Berre continued, followed by mechanical upgrades – for example, going from a pneumatic part take-out system to an electric servo-driven system. “For both, we have our own software; we do the programming internally, and we use hardware from B&R Industrial Automation,” he said. “We do the installation and after-sales support. The new control systems offer remote access control for the OEM to connect remotely and help troubleshoot, which makes after-sales service more critical than ever.”
During its decades in business, the MoldPro staff – which currently numbers eight workers, all in Ontario – have worked with hundreds of companies across Canada and the U.S., and they’ve seen some big changes in the sector along the way. “The rise of Industry 4.0 has been huge – we’ve seen a demand for some type of data collection centre to help the maintenance and process departments analyze and troubleshoot,” Le Berre said. “And almost all the new blow molding machines being built are fully electric, which helps with reliability and more precise systems – and no more hydraulic leaks, thankfully.”
But not every change has been for the best. “For shops like MoldPro that perform a lot of retrofits, supply issues caused by the pandemic remain an ongoing problem,” Le Berre said. “We’re adjusting by increasing our own inventory and have placed advanced orders for the next year. We’ve also added a few more vendors. Overall, some part deliveries are back to normal while others still have long lead times, and we expect it will be like this until 2024.”
Through it all, one constant for MoldPro is the question of when to recommend proceeding with a retrofit of an older machine versus the customer buying a new unit. Not surprisingly, the answer varies. “When the cost of the upgrade/rebuild comes close to half of the price of a new machine, we try to point out that maintenance costs will still be higher with the older equipment, power costs to run the machine will be significantly higher, and productivity will be lower,” Le Berre said. “If a machine needs to run at 90 to 100 per cent capacity, there’s no room for downtime, and a sale for a new machine will be justified; if that machine doesn’t require as much run time, the customer tends to go with an upgrade.”
From 1989 to 2006, MoldPro represented Italy’s Automa brand blow molding machines in Canada, and its new sales partnership with Mikrosan adds a new country – Türkiye – to the list. More importantly, it also expands MoldPro’s wheelhouse, since Mikrosan’s extrusion products range from single and multi-layer pipe extrusion lines to PVC profile extrusion lines to full-electric continuous extrusion shuttle machines for the packaging industry. Indeed, Mikrosan is a major exporter, having supplied more than 5,000 extrusion lines all around the world so far in more than 65 countries, for an export rate of between 60-70 per cent. “Pipe and profile extrusion are new markets for us, and we’re excited to be involved in them,” Le Berre said.