Among the ways Engel seeks to support its customers is by offering customised training in areas that can yield measurable results, in terms of efficiency, costs or both. One such area is mould changeovers. A survey conducted by Engel among its customers revealed the massive time-saving potential that mould set-up holds. Fully 73 percent of the responding injection moulding processors stated that more than an hour was needed for change overs - and more than half of the respondents needed to set up moulds at least once a day.
But according to Mario Wilke, consultant and trainer at the Engel headquarters in Austria, with the right measures, machine downtime caused by mould changes can be reduced by 50 to 80 percent. Such measures, he said, include the use of magnetic clamping platens and quick couplings, intelligent assistance systems, an automated set-up process, and training offers that support the optimisation of the product change strategy.
Engel offers three different courses, each tailored to the different requirements of the processors, the conditions in the company and the know-how of the production staff.
The Basics, Advanced and Expert packages differ in terms of the depth of knowledge taught and the mould change methods covered. In all three courses, Engel collaborates with Stäubli and other partner companies. The Basics course is taught at the Engel training centre, but the two more advanced courses take place on site at the processor's facility. Use of a set-up wizard is introduced in the Expert course.
“In view of the shortage of skilled workers, wizard-based mould set-up is increasingly shifting into the processors' focus,“ said Wilke. “Standardised menu-driven mould changes not only save time, but also reduce the risk of errors.“
The setup wizard is a kind of checklist that interactively guides the machine operator through the individual steps required for the mould change. To the extent possible, the setup wizard handles the program steps automatically. Manual steps need to be confirmed on the control unit. This allows less experienced employees to set up moulds safely and without errors. For experienced mould set-up teams, the setup wizard further boosts efficiency.
An advantage to providing training on site is the availability of the know-how and in-depth understanding of injection moulding of the trainers providing the training.
“This sets us apart from many other seminar providers on the market who do not focus on the injection moulding industry,“ as Wilke emphasises. “We make sure that our customers leverage the injection moulding production cell to the max – and with as little overhead as possible.“
The new product change optimisation courses are offered in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, but are available in other countries on request.