Rapid Granulator says it is making a major investment in machining equipment at its headquarters in Bredaryd, Sweden. The installation of three “high-precision, highly automated machining centers” will entail a total investment of €4.5 million ($5.3 million) and will provide the company with extra capacity to produce what it calls “core components to very tight tolerances while improving overall process flow.”
A new “done-in-one” turning and milling machine was installed in April 2017, followed by a horizontal machining center in June. A third machine is scheduled to go into operation before the end of 2017. The machining centers are fully integrated with an FMS (flexible manufacturing system) center, involving automatic rail-guided vehicles that have the capability of running without any operator intervention.
Components produced on the new equipment will be used in granulators that Rapid produces in Bredaryd and at its United States facility near Pittsburgh.
“In the future, we will be able to produce tolerance-critical components in much bigger numbers and in larger sizes in-house than before,” says Rapid’s CEO Bengt Rimark. “Machining for us is a core technology. We need to maintain very high accuracy and precision, so it is very important that we have complete control over production of the principal components in the cutter housings.”
“We are very happy that our new owner, Lifco, has the vision to build for the future,” Rimark continues. “Lifco has a long-term interest in Rapid. It analyzed what was necessary to take us to the next level and came to the conclusion that the bottleneck was in our machining centers. Hence this investment.”
In recent months, Lifco also has paid for a major expansion of test facilities in Bredaryd and has brought back in-house all production of Rapid’s granulators for the North American market in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
The new machining centers in Bredaryd will produce the key machine components for all Rapid granulators. These have a direct influence on the granule quality generated in the cutting process, according to Rimark. “You have to convert your scrap material into high quality regrind, so you can feed it back into the production process again without affecting the production process negatively. Your regrind will then get the same value as your virgin raw material, generating huge savings,” he comments.
Rimark also emphasizes the importance of granulators being able to operate continuously for long periods at a time. “The granulator is often the most profit-generating piece of equipment in a plastics processing factory; that is why return on investment can be as short as three or four months.”
Rapid Granulator, founded in 1942, says it has more than 100,000 machines or systems installed on five continents used for the granulation of plastic scrap and the recycling of postconsumer and postindustrial scrap.