Customers embrace calibration

Machines that perform close to factory-settings; greatly reduced chances of expensive machine failure; longer machine lifespan; oil inspections that avoid corrosion and contamination; better availability of repair engineers; and peace of mind for business continuity. Does that sound worth a few thousand pounds a year?

Demand for calibration grows

ARBURG’s annual calibration service is growing in popularity among customers. Over time, the operating values in an ARBURG, like any complex machine, can change and deteriorate. Calibrating an ARBURG machine means testing its physical performance against a benchmark standard for a brand new, optimally-performing machine. The machine is checked for pressure (at measuring points in the manifold block), speed, temperature, clamping distances, and values for the control circuit. Tests completed, a dashboard clearly shows the optimal values for those settings against the machine’s results – a red and green traffic light reveals the non-conformities. The customer and ARBURG can judge if the level warrants a quotation for a spare part or a higher-level diagnosis.

A calibration service can leave a moulding machine (nearly) “as good as new”, with full factory operational parameters restored. Several big advantages to the customer accrue. This preventative maintenance typically greatly reduces the risk of, sometimes catastrophic, machine failure, which is much higher with little or zero maintenance.  Future machine failure cannot be fully guaranteed, but customers say that calibrated machines have far less unplanned downtime.

Better maintained machines mean peace of mind. For example, where a weekend shift is essential, a failure on Friday afternoon can be a disaster if ARBURG or other service engineers are not available. Calibration reduces this likelihood. And an annual calibration and regular maintenance prolongs the machine’s life: ARBURG engineers report seeing been well-maintained 40-year-old machines still working in good order.

While customers can service their own machines and use third party companies, only ARBURG can do the calibration with the additional visual checks with the highest level of knowledge and training.

In the calibration service ARBURG can make several other visual and manual checks that are important to the smooth and safe running of the machine.

An oil management system is common; for some customers and applications it can be vital. “Oil will oxidise over time, which in turn will create acid, this will attack the seals in the mechanical equipment, causing leaks or potential failures. Long term varnishing can also arise, causing more issues in mechanical equipment such as values and pumps” says Alex Gall, Service Manager at ARBURG Ltd. “A poor oil management system (or lack of), can cause damage and potentially failure sooner than with a preventative maintenance programme.” Many customers are not aware of the risk of poor oil damage and the importance of an oil check service, ARBURG says.

Saving companies thousands in repairs: Preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance such as the calibration service, can save companies thousands of pounds. A typical intervention is spotting a motor issue and then servicing it, where failure and replacement can cost several thousand pounds – taking the machine offline while the part is delivered. In one case, a failure at one customer with little or no planned maintenance led to a £20,000 replacement of mould height equipment. ARBURG is certain that regular maintenance would have prevented the failure.

ARBURG wants to provide a total customer service, but this is simpler to deliver with maintained machines.

“If a machine fails with no notice, especially on a Friday and our engineers are not available, understandably it causes tension – both the customer and ARBURG are frustrated,” says Sales Director Nicolas Stein. “Well-maintained machines smooth the workload and means both we and the customer can plan better.”

Nicolas adds that while customers can service their own machines and hire third party companies, only ARBURG can do the calibration with the additional visual checks with the highest level of knowledge and training.

Can a regular calibration service improve productivity?

ARBURG in Germany is collecting data to demonstrate this. So far, there is only anecdotal evidence that it increases machine output efficiency.

But customers who have calibrated their machines for years report real benefits.

Sam Green, Managing Director of A K Industries, says “If we measured the benefits today versus 2013 – pre-doing calibration – there would be an improvement in unplanned downtime. Before we did calibration, if the setters put the tool in another machine, and the setting sheet had been created on the other one, they need to spend extra time tweaking it to make it work in that machine. It should just work because it should be identical, but it changes. So calibration will lead to a reduction in setup time.”

See this story about AK Industries’ experience with machine calibration since 2013.

Many large national and international customers that perform full, annual calibration tests have reported measurable benefits

ARBURG’s message is that regular, thorough calibration of machines as part of a preventative maintenance regime keeps the machines working optimally for longer, avoids leaks, breaks and failures, avoids last-minute costly callouts, and leads to a smoother running mould shop.