After 20 something years in the plastics industry working for one of the larger extruder manufacturers in the world I am beginning to wonder when replacing critical parts like Barrels and Screws, do we look any further than the price?

In an alarming number of cases probably not is my conclusion, and in a world where we are happy to change our mobile phone in a heartbeat, snap up the latest web based technology for the office, we plod on relentlessly with our worn and outdated equipment bemoaning the fact that product X is becoming increasingly less profitable and the quality is beginning to suffer. Surprise Surprise.

Finally when it all falls over, the machine either stops pumping plastic from the end or we have finally run out screw speed to compensate for the wear we have in the system, we do something about it reluctantly.

(Sorry injection guys this may well disappear down an extrusion biased route but bear with me).

So what do we do? Surely we must look at the experts first to give us guidance on what has changed and where we can move our technology onto. Surely we must consider the overall cost of ownership of a replacement part balancing its pricing and offsetting this against the improvements in processing speed, product quality and reliability – to name but a few factors.

No – it appears the first and only relevant question we have is ‘how much is it and when can I have it because my Works Manager is foaming at the mouth and the Chief account is beginning to clutch his chest because nothing is leaving the factory’. (I know that is two questions – poetic license I suppose).

So we have established that this piece of equipment, that had we maintained it and improved the technology on board it, would have delivered increased profits and higher quality products far outstripping the initial price a life time ago now has heart stopping capabilities.

Surely then we must place our business with someone who understands what we are trying to achieve in plastics processing, someone who can provide support if we get into trouble and be there for us advancing our technology etc.

No – it appears what we must do is place our business with someone who has no plastics processing knowledge at all other than that gained from the school of hard knocks, and even better if we can find someone in the furthest far flung point in the globe to do it that doesn’t speak English but at least has an English sounding name, superb. Let’s up the stakes even further still, let’s find someone who can only just barely copy what we got already on his knackered screw cutting machine which is delivered with Burrs you can shave with and a straightness akin to a longbow. Finally let’s put our personal reputation on the line and put our companies processing technology back another X years until we need another replacement, but heh at least it’s cheap.

So in the short term, the Works Manager and the Chief Accountant may have calmed down but your production rate still sucks, the quality isn’t really any better, your competitors are gaining ground but at least it was cheap – Well no it wasn’t! It was probably much more expensive than you care to dream and you missed the opportunity to make your business more profitable – sell that to the Management team.

DS Brookes is a wholly owned subsidiary of Davis-Standard, who manufacture extrusion machines, we have a battalion of Technicians, Process Guru’s, Screw Designers, Service People who know what you need in terms of barrels and extrusion screws. We know what is right for your application, how to care for them and how to calculate how much more money you will make by deploying them.

Are we the cheapest? – Yes I think so but not on initial price however in my opinion we do represent the lowest cost of ownership and our Technology is transferable to most makes of machines.

Mark Woodgate – DS Brookes Ltd on behalf of PlastikCity

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