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Fast Changeovers Improve Heat Staking Productivity During Plastic Assembly Jobs

Productivity and efficiency are defining factors for the modern factory floor. With automation and data-centric digital manufacturing becoming increasingly commonplace, manufacturers are looking to eliminate downtime and boost quotas across the board.
When it comes to plastic assembly, manufacturers can choose from between a broad range of technologies that offer assembly solutions – infrared, thermal impulse, ultrasonic, hot plate, and laser plastic assembly machines are all frequent sights on factory floors.
While all of these assembly options generate value for certain applications, not all of them equally offer versatility during high-volume precision work. Lack of versatility can have a profound effect on productivity, especially in situations where a single machine is expected to do multiple jobs.

How Long Should A Changeover Last?

Depending on the type of assembly machine being used, changeovers between differing tool sets can last anywhere from several minutes to an hour or even more. For instance, in hot plate welding scenarios, not only does the machine need to pre-heat for anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes before use, but it also needs to cool down sufficiently for technicians to perform tool changes safely.
Evidently, in a busy workplace where every minute counts, that amount of technician downtime borders tolerability. A technician could lose a significant portion of the workday simply waiting for warm-up/cool-down periods to pass – especially in environments where toolset changes are frequent.
Performing a changeover on an infrared welding machine is a rapid process in theory, but in practice it often gets delayed by the need to change infrared platens along with the tooling kit specific to each order. Additionally, platens can suffer from residue build-up after high-volume projects, reducing overall quality and efficiency.
This drags down workplace performance – moreover, it does so in a way that’s often overlooked by supervising technicians. After all, the infrared device’s technical documentation states that each changeover should take no more than ten minutes – but leaves out the platen.
In a modern plastic assembly environment using top of the line heat staking equipment, a toolkit changeover should take no more than five minutes.

Why Does Heat Staking Offer The Best Changeover Times?

While heat staking represents a fantastic value for plastic assembly production lines, the quality of the machine is of great importance. Low quality machines can be just as difficult to changeover as a hot plate assembly machine.
High quality heat staking machines represent the best value for performing frequent changeovers through the ability to mix and match toolsets on the fly. Top shelf heat staking equipment is intuitive – technicians can navigate the device’s touch screen to change toolkits, release latches, and remove parts without spending valuable time trying to learn how. A well-designed machine makes these processes simple so that technicians don’t have to constantly consult documentation.
High quality heat staking equipment has built-in procedural protocols that make the changeover process faster and more efficient. For example, toolkit trays with magnet-latching mechanisms and sensors can take the guesswork out of replacing toolkits – upon taking out the initial tray, the machine senses when a new tray is present, and won’t let the technician advance until it is. It sounds simple, but its time-saving capacity on busy factor floors is enormous.
Perhaps the biggest time-saving advantage that high quality equipment offers is that technicians can swap out toolkits without realigning the machine. This saves a great deal of time and boosts machine productivity significantly.

Heat Staking For Speed And Reliability

Combined with the fast cycle times that heat staking processes offer, plastic assemblers in high-volume work environments have the most to gain by adopting the heat staking approach whenever faced with the possibility of multiple changeovers in a single day’s work.
While high quality heat staking equipment typically costs more, the reliability and longevity it offers more than compensates for its price in the long term. Compared to some advanced laser technologies under development, it’s a bargain.
Thermal Press builds world-class heat staking equipment for the plastic assembly industry. We deliver high-end machines to manufacturers who value reliability and long-term value.
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