Technology Steering Transformation in Plastic Manufacturing
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Technology Steering Transformation in Plastic Manufacturing

By John Christiano, Vice President of Extrusion Technology Davis-Standard, LLC

John Christiano, Vice President of Extrusion Technology Davis-Standard, LLC

In the light of your experience, what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening in the Plastic Tech space?

A significant trend taking place on production lines with single screw extruders is a demand for greater performance density from primary equipment. This translates into a smaller equipment footprint on the factory floor with capabilities for achieving outputs equivalent to those of a larger system. Coinciding with this is the continued effort to strengthen efficiencies throughout the process. Reduced power requirements and material waste equate to an improved bottom line while also supporting environmentally sound manufacturing practices.

Control systems are also undergoing a digital transformation. The benefits provided by the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are significant. Greater connectivity and accessibility via hand-held devices are advantageous for troubleshooting and long-term data collection. The resulting analytics support predictive and preventative maintenance to help processors avoid unplanned downtime while improving processes.

Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership providers from the lot?

Developing partnerships with key suppliers is essential for survival in today’s complex manufacturing environment. We work closely with potential partners and evaluate new technology jointly through the use of Proof of Concept (PoC) projects. These are frequently conducted on equipment in our R&D Technical Center in Pawcatuck, Conn., where we can closely monitor programs to improve equipment performance or test new materials.

What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?

Developing technical capabilities of our engineering teams to meet the demand of customers is a priority as is evaluating potential projects that provide an advantage. Our goal is to be the market leader in providing solutions that help customers better compete in today’s marketplace. We now have a brand that better speaks to that leadership. Our new tag line – Where Your Ideas Take Shape – reflects this. We have been on an upward trajectory on a global scale, and now is the time for our brand to embody what we have become, and still intend to become. We believe this can be achieved with technology that is tailored to customer needs as well as better ideas and holistic solutions. Our support services are central to this offering and our people are our most valuable asset. They are the heartbeat of the company; central to our approach and success.

How do you see the evolution of the Plastic Tech arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

There is considerable downward pressure on single-use disposable plastic items as well as high-performance packaging materials. We anticipate a continued push to improve recycling programs and for those recycled materials to be re-fabricated into useful items. Some of the current applications will be replaced by more durable items that can be reused. We also see the trend of further globalization of corporations involved in the production of high-performance polymer processing systems to continue. Industry consolidation is a part of this.

What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

Make sure you understand the core technology your company or organization provides to the industry. Stay tuned to technology trends in your market segment by getting involved in professional organizations and attending industry conferences. Contribute individually by writing a paper or giving a technical presentation. Most importantly, commit yourself to be a lifelong learner because what is valid today in our industry may not be valid tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to stretch the limits and see what’s possible.

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