Plastics Technology

MAY 2012

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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close up extrusion New Player, Familiar Name In Downstream Extrusion Equipment There's a new supplier of downstream extru- sion equipment for pipe, profiles, and tub- ing—one whose management roots in this particular slice of the machinery business aren't really new at all. And with that comes a fresh, processor-driven point of view in designing equipment aimed at solving real needs of users of this machinery. Baltimore-based Novatec Inc. rolled out the Bessemer Series of cooling tanks, pullers and cutters at NPE2012 last month in Or- lando, Fla. At first blush, the new line may seem like an odd fit for a company whose worldwide reputation is in drying and materials- conveying systems. But look a bit closer: A year in the making, Novatec's entry into extrusion downstream equipment is the brain- child of Conrad Bessemer, its president and CEO. Before coming to Novatec in May 2006, Bessemer worked for a handful of down- stream-extrusion suppliers, including Versa Machinery, G.F. Goodman & Son, and Conair. While at Conair, Bessemer led the 1988 acquisition of Gatto Machinery, which was the predominant manufacturer of downstream extrusion pullers, cutters, and tanks. "This equipment has not changed dramatically in decades," Bessemer says. "Certainly there have been incremental improve- ments, but processors today are essentially cooling, pulling, and cutting product the same way they have for years. There is still too much 'art' involved, with operators turning knobs, and not enough science. What we are striving for is to offer equipment that helps make the process more repeatable and recipe driven." Nowhere is this effort more evident than in the area of controls, Bessemer notes. "Even today, in what has become a 'wireless' world, if an operator is at the cutter making a change, or at the puller adjusting line speed, he has to make a mad dash of 100 ft or more to the cooling tanks to make the adjustment there," he says. The overriding philosophy behind the Bessemer Series is to treat cooling tanks, pullers, and cutters as a system, as opposed to discrete components operating independently. To that end, each machine is equipped with a Siemens PLC-based, touch- screen controller, all of which are linked—something Novatec maintains is an industry first. This allows, for instance, cutter controls to be accessed from the tank, or the temperature of the water in the tank to be manipulated from the puller. The system can also be operated wirelessly. And it can be networked with High-resolution Siemens PLC controllers are standard with all Novatec cooling tanks, pullers, and cutters. Shown above is a cutter controller panel in the run mode. At a touch of a button, operators can access control parameters for tanks and pullers. sister company Maguire Products' LineMaster gravimetric con- trol system for complete extrusion line control. "Recipe-driven process setups drive repeatability and can be structured for all products," Bessemer explains. "This lessens the need for 'expert' knowledge on the part of the operator, as the menus are coordinated between smart, connected downstream compo- nents. And since the equipment is truly a system instead of discrete components, this means less tinkering and tweaking by operators." These and other enhancements were initiated based on input from a beta group of profile processors. "From the start we tapped into end users to find out what they always wanted and never had," Bessemer says. "What are their problems, their pain points? What can we do to improve control and accuracy? "The technology regarding the software for this equipment is exactly what we have already done for our core business, with touchscreens, intuitive software, and process-driven recipes," Bessemer states. "We've doubled our dryer market share as a result of that approach and we expect the same results here." NPE ROLLOUT At NPE, Novatec introduced its first downstream offerings. Its High-Intensity Spray Tank features all-stainless-steel compo- nents and construction. It offers pneumatically activated top PLASTICS TECHNOLOGY MAY 2012 13

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