5S – An excellent place to work

At an excellent factory, everything is set up in the best possible way. It is clean everywhere and each work station is well organised. Are these things only possible after the factory has reached excellence, or are they preconditions for achieving it?

VMT Plastic is a busy place. Development projects, progress with regard to quality and the environment, training sessions, cooperation with students, investments, recruitment drives, moving production from one hall to another and much more. Much has happened within a short period of time, yet there is much more work to be done.

Our blow moulding production and a section of our finishing department have been successfully relocated to new facilities. This has provided us with an excellent opportunity to organise everything into their rightful places using labels and coloured tape to mark where each item is supposed to go, clean up and think about where the forklift would be best placed so that everyone has access to it.

We are now talking about the 5S method of the LEAN approach. The purpose of this method is to reduce variation that hinders operations, which means cutting back on factors that cause unnecessary expenses. The term 5S comes from the first letters of the original Japanese words Seiri, Seito, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, which represent the five stages of the method. In English the stages could be expressed as follows:

  • Sort – Remove unnecessary tools, materials and items from the workstation.
  • Set in order – Organise the required tools appropriately. Each tool’s proper place is clearly marked.
  • Shine – Clean and maintain your devices and machines.
  • Standardize – Establish the organisation and cleaning as a routine part of the work.
  • Sustain – Maintain the established practices.

 

We organised an info session about the stages of the 5S method for all of our employees on 27.1.2020. Everyone got the chance to see how the standardization of the work environment affects results with the help of a playful exercise. The purpose of the training session was to solidify and unify our idea of how to proceed with the method towards a more functional, effective and safe work environment – towards achieving an excellent workplace.

LEAN specialist, Ella Teivainen

A growing plastics factory

VMP Plastic has received reinforcements in the form of Eila Teivainen, a LEAN specialist-in-training. Her expertise in development and quality work is robust and, most important of all, she has a genuine passion for development.

– As a company, VMT has a positive attitude towards development, Teivainen says and praises the company that cooperates with her as part of her studies.

Teivainen began her LEAN training in the Department of Technology of the Häme University of Applied Sciences in November. She takes on the challenge of clarifying everyday operations at VMT and is especially adept at harnessing the knowhow, ideas and problem-solving abilities of our expert staff.

As an academic engineer who majored in material technology, she got right down to business immediately: after the first few weeks she had already held effective and fruitful workshops for staff members and engaged in vigorous conversation regarding development.

– Ella has started to take things forward at an especially brisk pace, says CEO Marja Mäkinen with admiration.

Larger facility for blow moulding and scaling up of injection moulding

There is no shortage of work or development targets for Teivainen. VMT is expanding its blow moulding production and relocating it to a larger facility by the end of the year. VMT’s injection moulding capacity will also be elevated to an entirely new level with the acquisition of a new Engel injection moulding machine.

– We are growing. Currently we are in the process of relocating our production to new premises that will triple the size of our production facilities. We have also made investments into machinery, says CEO Marja Mäkinen.

The new machines will enable a wider product selection.

– With an even more powerful machine stock we will be able to offer our customers a competitive edge by utilising the latest technology. Our investments also allow us to expand our product selection to cover many new types of products and raw materials, says Mäkinen to sum up the developments.

Thanks to the reorganisation of production, VMT will now have access to large indoor storage spaces that further improve the quality of the products as there is no longer a need to expose the products to the effects of weather during storage.

– A well planned layout ensures cost-effective production. With this change we are developing our workstations and making our material streams more efficient, says Teivainen.

Technical benefits and properties of blow moulding

What is plastic blow moulding?

Blow moulding is based on extrusion. In a blow moulding, a tube of warm plastic is lowered between the halves of a mould. The mould is closed, and air is led into the tube at a suitable pressure, moulding the plastic tube into the contours of the mould. The piece is then cooled down, the tube is cut, the mould is opened, and the piece is ready for finishing.

The process is quick, which makes a blow-moulded piece very competitive in terms of pricing. What makes blow moulding an excellent mass production method is its good repeatability and because it is very controllable to produce identical results between repetitions.

The benefits and properties of blow moulding

Blow moulded pieces are seamless, vessel-shaped or sinusoid, most often round. Blow moulded pieces can be very long or channel shaped. There are no real restrictions to shape. Different kinds of evasions or include several inserts, such as metal threading, hose clamps, support struts or fastener ears.

“Especially in machining and appliance industries, our clients struggle with cramped spaces in ever-shrinking machining spaces. With blow moulded pieces, we can utilize the tight spots, because the pieces can take many shapes and the thickness of the pieces is controllable.”

The blow moulding method enables equal and thin thickness in the pieces. In blow moulding, the thickness of the pieces can be determined in a very detailed manner, because the method ensures good viscosity. Thus, it is possible to optimize the weight of a piece, because the thickness does not need to be increased to reach required stiffness.

The thickness of the piece’s wall affects material expenditure and thus the price per unit of the pieces. Material choices also enable transparency, enabling for example seeing how full of liquid a piece is without opening it.

Production of dimensionally accurate plastic products is possible, because the range in blow moulding is easy to control.

” The range of two fastener ears at the opposite ends of a piece that is over a meter long can be kept under a millimetre.” 

Strong flat and thin pieces can also be blow moulded. The capsular structure ensures a stiff enough piece but is lighter than a solid structure.

The plastic used in blow moulding is chemical resistant and is thus safe in even challenging targets.

Blow moulding mould

The moulds for blow moulded pieces are very resilient and last almost forever. A yearly yield of 100 000 moulded pieces can be easily done with a single mould. Resilience and a long life are visible in the price of the moulds but is compensated quickly, if the volume of the moulded piece is expected to grow.

” Our oldest moulds are from 2003, and they are still in complete working order. We do basic maintenance and slight adjusts to our moulds from time to time. “

Blow moulding is an eco-positive method

Press release for the Subcontracting Trade Fair 2019

Blow moulding allows for the production of a technical product as a single piece, which results in savings in energy consumption and simplifies the customer’s assembly phase.

The use of plastics has positive impacts on the environment via energy and material savings

Life cycle analyses have demonstrated that in the right product groups plastics produce the smallest total impact on the environment when compared to other materials.

As a responsible partner we are ceaselessly developing our operations. We always strive to utilise materials effectively and save energy, which also cuts costs and thus also reflects positively on productivity.

We recycle material in our own production to avoid raw material waste and instead funnel the valuable material for reuse.

We strive to minimise our environmental impact with high-quality product design that optimises the need of materials and maximises the product’s service life and recyclability. We design the most functional and material-efficient solution for each purpose.

The positive environmental impacts are realised as savings in energy and materials as well as reductions in waste volume and energy needs in distribution and transportation. We use reusable packaging materials with many of our customers.

We are a partner with ISO9001 and ISO14001 certifications.

You are welcome to join us to discuss sustainable and eco-positive plastic solutions and forging a long-lasting partnership!
The Subcontracting Trade Fair 2019 is held in the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre on 24.–26.9.2019.

 

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