Vertical Carousels Make Mold Maker Leaner

Oct. 18, 2010
Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company announced it has improved its parts inventory process by purchasing two vertical carousel storage units. This move was the latest in a string of technology investments the short-run molder has made to increase efficiency and hold down costs.

The two Hänel Rotomat System units, acquired shortly following the addition of a new 720-ton injection molding machine and a laser inspection system, have helped Donnelly streamline the staging process, protect customer parts used as acceptable samples and make better use of facility floor space compared to the traditional pegboard model of sample part storage.

As a short-run molder, Donnelly has an inventory of more than 3,000 molds and 4,000 corresponding sample parts and performs 40 to 50 mold changeovers each day. This makes staging and starting up a job quickly and accurately even more important to Donnelly than the typical injection molder.

As Donnelly has continued to grow, the industry-standard pegboard storage system became a floor space and workflow challenge. Through a routine Lean exercise at Donnelly, employees recognized the inefficiencies of the traditional process and identified the Rotomat System as a way to take advantage of unused vertical plant space and improve the change-over process. Donnelly has since reduced floor space assigned to sample part storage by two-thirds and shaved an average of three minutes off of the staging process for each mold.

"While these increased efficiencies are important to our internal processes and part tracking system," said Ron Kirscht, president of Donnelly, "the ultimate benefit of improvements such as this is seen in the fact that we have been able to continue to grow and prosper with our short-run molding and related services."

The addition of this new technology came with a redesign of the staging area, which consolidated manuals, a computer/printer work station and the storage units into a single area for speed and simplicity in staging job change-overs. Parts are kept cleaner, safer, ensuring they remain viable sample parts for future production runs.