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Milacron bringing more machine production to the United States

Author: Date:2011-5-28 1:55:16

BATAVIA, OHIO (May 27, 1 p.m. ET) -- Riding the economic recovery, Milacron LLC is hiring at its U.S. assembly factory in Batavia and machining plant in nearby Mount Orab, Ohio.

Milacron now employs more than 700 people in southwestern Ohio, Dave Lawrence said in an interview May 26 at the company’s open house. Milacron -- like the overall plastics machinery market --has recovered from the recession. Milacron started to see business pick up in late 2009, continuing through 2010 and this year.

Milacron, the only U.S.-owned broad-line manufacturer of primary plastics equipment, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2009. Company officials say Milacron has a strong balance sheet and a solid future.

“Since we came out of bankruptcy, we brought back about 140 people between this plant and Mount Orab. Now we’re still looking for people,” Lawrence said. The company is hiring people with technical skills for machine assembly, as well as machinists for Mount Orab, he said.

“We’re brought back everybody that was laid off prior to the bankruptcy, if they would come back,” Lawrence said. He added that some people who had taken other jobs came back to the machinery maker.

Now the challenge is continuing to ramp up employment and working out issues from an extended supply chain that has stretched out lead times, said Lawrence, president of worldwide plastics machinery for injection and extrusion and mold technologies.

“We’re doing all we can to mitigate that. We know why it’s happening. Orders are up. We’re trying to add more capacity and our supply stream’s taxed,” he said.

Lawrence said Milacron, which also has plants in Germany, China and India, plans to bring more machine production to the United States.

“We have the ability to compete on a global basis, and as we move forward, we’re going to be manufacturing more equipment here. That will help us improve lead times, which are a problem right now,” he said.

Milacron held the three-day open house in Batavia May 24-26. Attendees toured the assembly plant and heard presentations from Milacron officials and representatives of Cool Polymers Inc., CBW Automation, RJG Inc. and Equipment Finance Group LLC.

Milacron officials discussed innovations on several injection press lines, including an energy efficient version of the two-platen Maxima machine and all-electric PowerPak, aimed at thin-wall packaging and medical markets.

The MS, for Maxima Servo, comes with servo drive-technology instead of a standard induction pump, and an internal gear pump to replace the electro-hydraulic pump. The controller is designed to get the most energy efficiency out of the machine. Milacron is bringing the technology to large-tonnage, two-platen presses.

The internal gear pump turns only when motion is required, cutting energy consumption, said Ronald Hertzer, director of global product development and consolidation. The servo-drive system only delivers hydraulic oil as needed for machine functions, so the oil stays cooler.

Hertzer said the technology saves 85 percent of energy that is otherwise wasted, most of it from heat coming from the hydraulic reservoir.

“The heat that you’re not taking out is like a double savings because you create the energy, then you have to take it out,” Hertzer said.

Eric Thompson, electric platform product manager, discussed new features on the PowerPak machine, including something called “eject bump” and new feature giving easy access to the entire mold, through a fold-down platform that automatically locks a safety stop to keep the gate open.

Milacron has a patent pending on “eject bump,” an option that gives a high eject force option for some molded parts, such as strip caps.

Thompson said PowerPak presses are designed for thin-wall containers; lids, caps and closures, cutlery, pails and buckets, medical parts such as petri dishes and syringes, consumer goods and PET preforms.

New York-based Avenue Capital Group owns Milacron.