Improving Efficiency with Equipment

A large-feed hopper feeds batch directly into the extrusion screw.

During tough times, gaining efficiencies is key for manufacturers; unfortunately, efficiency is sometimes achieved through cutbacks. Although not optimal, cuts force an organization to analyze, re-evaluate and take prudent action. Eventually, these efficiencies make the company stronger, affording growth, prosperity, stability and security.

Even in a good economy, efficient operations are not only practical but advantageous; both the manufacturer and the equipment supplier benefit. Automation is the predominant means of increasing efficiency, and can even create new jobs within an organization.

Consider, for example, a butyl tapes manufacturer. This manufacturer has four lines, each of which has one extruder with a die head to produce eight strips; a take-up conveyor; a winding mechanism; and packaging. One extruder operator and two downstream operators work each line. Feeding these lines requires two mixers, each with two operators. When mixing is complete, the workers dump the batch onto a talc-coated floor, carve it into chunks (while coating it with talc), and stack the chunks onto a rack. A forklift driver takes the rack to the line, where the extruder operator feeds one or two chunks at a time while monitoring the die to ensure that all tapes are running true and within specifications.

In a typical eight-hour day, these 17 employees can produce approximately 24,000 lbs. of tape. Assuming an average wage of $8/hour, labor costs $1,088/day. This translates to 0.045¢/lb - a negligible amount until annual shipments of over six million pounds are factored in, which add up to 6,240,000 lbs./year.

Replacing the extruders with a type that takes product right from the mixer (see photo) would potentially eliminate the need for two mixer and two extruder operators. What's more, labor costs would be reduced: 13 employees making $8/hour translates to 0.035¢/lb. What’s more, the increase in throughput achieved through improved machine design, as well as incorporation of a die that produces 12 strips, generates another significant labor cost savings: 13 employees producing 36,000 lbs./day at .023¢/lb., yielding 9,360,000 lbs./year.

Roughly calculated, this means a four-year return on investment. If employee benefits, work-related injuries, energy savings, etc., are all factored in, the return is even greater.

A large-feed hopper all but eliminates the possibility of a hopper running empty, as a single load can be as much as 3,000 lbs. In addition, the equipment avoids time-consuming tasks such as stopping and starting, realigning tape with paper, and reloading the conveyor.

Other efficiencies gained in this process include continuity of size and viscosity. Tape is held to more precise tolerances with improved screw and die design, and through more extensive and effective temperature control. Thus, the line runs more independently and allows time for the operator to monitor - rather than adjust - the equipment.

Electronic technology enables myriad process control and data collection options. Examine what’s available and how it can assist in maintaining your degree of quality, and make sure it is within the limits of your intended staff.

Greater automation can also be achieved on the downstream side of the line; conveying and wind-up equipment is available that, in conjunction with electronics, may require only one operator.

Again, the end result is higher productivity and lower cost, a combination that provides a competitive edge in the marketplace. As market share increases, employees that have been displaced by the implementation of new technology and machinery can be reassigned to other key roles - possibly new lines installed to keep up with this newfound success.

For more information on equipment, visit


Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Adhesives & Sealants Industry Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASI April 2014 Photo Gallery

Our April 2014 issue is now available!


ExxonMobil Tackifier Expansion

Dwight Tozer, vice president of ExxonMobil’s Adhesion Industry business, discusses the company’s latest tackifier expansion project with Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

More Podcasts

Adhesives & Sealants Industry Magazine

ASI April 2015 cover

2015 April

Our April issue includes previews of the ASC Spring Convention and Expo and the European Coatings Congress and Show, as well as articles detailing end-use applications in transportation, raw materials and equipment. Check it out today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Better Jobs

Is the economy prompting you to consider leaving your job for a better one?
View Results Poll Archive


Handbook of Sealant Technology

The Handbook of Sealant Technology provides an in-depth examination of sealants, reviewing their historical developments and fundamentals, adhesion theories and properties, and today’s wide range of applications.

More Products

ASI 2014 Buyers GuideASI's Buyers' Guide

Annual purchasing resource for equipment used in the manufacture/formulation of adhesives, sealants, pressure sensitives, tapes and labels and for application of finished adhesives. 


facebook_40px twitter_40  youtube_40pxlinkedin_40 google+ icon ASI 30px

Clear Seas Research

With access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.