By Shell Polymers on Aug 09, 2021
Even when planned, downtime for polymer testing and maintenance negatively affects production. Typically, technical teams from a supplier would travel to a converter’s facility and run trials on their lines. To do that, production lines need to be shut down, and that leads to a ripple effect – from production to transport.
There is value in converters using their machines for running resin trials, but there are also negative impacts that come with that choice. To fully understand the cost of a polymer trial, let’s look at what goes into one and what benefits an alternate approach could bring.
Loss of Production Time
Running a polymer trial in your production facility will always mean shutting down at least one line. Hypothetically, let’s say Converter Z has three injection molding machines that can create 125,000 bottle caps per hour when running at full capacity. Now, let’s assume that Converter Z wants to run a trial to see if a material change would benefit their business.
To experiment using the traditional method of polymer testing, Converter Z has to shut down one of three machines. This reduces production capacity by a third for as many hours as it takes to conduct trials on that machine. A typical estimate would be eight hours of downtime during that trial. Those 8 hours would ultimately cost the converter 125,000 caps per hour or 1M caps over the full 8 hours of downtime, assuming nothing unexpected occurs.
In a competitive space like injection molding, losing that time and production to organize trials that may or may not benefit the business is a costly gamble. In fact, material changes that could be beneficial to converters are often delayed due to an inability to schedule trial time. It’s easy to understand why businesses can’t take the downtime risk when trials lead to a full day of downtime and a considerable loss in production. Despite that, the impact of an on-site trial goes even deeper.
Every product that a manufacturer produces represents potential profit. Whether it’s pennies or dollars, these values add up over time based on how fast each unit is produced. In our hypothetical situation, we already know that Converter Z can create one million caps in eight hours. If each bottle cap represents a potential of $0.001 of profit, then one million caps has $1000 of potential profit.
For Converter Z, shutting down just one injection molding machine for polymer testing would cost them $1000 every eight hours. While a single trial might not seem too costly, they can quickly add up to significant revenue loss. When we’re talking about an industry that is expected to reach $478.72B by 2025 and register a CAGR of 5.7% 1, there is less and less room for these kinds of expensive trials.
Increased Labor Costs
Now let’s take a look at the cost of labor involved in an on-site trial. When all machines are running as intended, production levels go up while labor costs stay the same. Employees will be focused on production, which increases their efficiency and the businesses’ profit.
An on-site trial immediately takes employee attention away from production. These employees are also working alongside suppliers to understand the results of the trial and operate the equipment during the tests. When this happens, the labor costs of employees are not being offset by the production of new products, which can hurt the bottom line.
Polymer Testing with Shell Polymers
On-site trials have their benefits but, as exemplified by Converter Z, they have their downsides as well. So what’s the alternative? For converters looking to run safe, efficient trials without incurring additional costs and machine downtime, there is the off-site trial option. The ability to run resin trials off-site can be invaluable for plastics converters, saving them both time and money. Shell Polymers is developing an applications hall that is stocked with state-of-the-art industrial scale machines that converters of all sizes can use to run trials. Plus, our team of Polymer Pros and Pioneers will be working alongside you to troubleshoot as trials are conducted.
Our applications hall will have commercial-scale equipment with a state-of-the-art multi-layer extrusion blow molding shuttle machine that can accommodate molds of multiple sizes. This will enable converters to continue running their own lines 24/7 without needing to shut them down for trials. Customers can conduct in-depth trials at Shell Polymers and glean technical insights from our experts, helping them improve operational performance and troubleshoot issues without any loss of productivity. Shell Polymers’ customers get the benefit of working with top-tier machinery that matches their own, leading to trial results they can trust without needing to shut down any of their lines.
Plus, our testing capabilities go beyond the status quo. Not only will we be able to produce parts for converters to evaluate, but we can also provide a variety of analytical data points. This data will help converters see more detailed benefits and sacrifices when they compare a new resin to an incumbent resin.
Learn more about how to Overcome Production Challenges for Plastics Converters with these Output-Boosting Expert Tips
By doing business with a forward-thinking supplier like Shell Polymers, customers get access to the physical lab space, state-of-the-art equipment, and intelligence to test and troubleshoot pellets to ensure smooth implementation.