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Overview

PRISM Plastics is a high-precision plastic products manufacturing company, which heavily invests in technology and equipment and believes in precisely controlled processes. These processes are organizationally thin and lean, which helps the company to keep costs down and produce quality products as demand consistently increases.

Each of their three facilities—the Chesterfield Facility, the Port Huron Facility, and The Harlingen Texas facility—is under 30 thousand square feet, which they believe allows them to focus on and respond to customer needs, but also allows each factory to focus on the type of products customer’s are looking for.

Another factor that makes PRISM Plastics such a unique manufacturing company is their use of Controlled Process. They believe that controlled processes leads to process control. According to PRISM Plastics’ CEO, “We control our process from the initial quote through accounts receivable, and everything in between. This includes production monitoring, inventory, accounting, preventative maintenance, and program management, quoting and shipping. We deploy the best practices in all of our systems and facilities, which equates to elimination of waste and variation.”

This production model carried over to the company’s Chesterfield, Missouri facility, which was established in 2012 and is the third PRISM plant established. The plant features state of the art automated molding equipment in a clean climate controlled facility. Shortly after construction of their Chesterfield facility, production managers invested in an electric press (also known as an EMT), which is the machine they use to manufacture their plastic products using an injection molding process. The machine consists of two main parts, an injection unit and a clamping unit, making it an essential step in the manufacturing process.

This type of electric machine technology reduces operation costs by cutting energy consumption and eliminating environmental concerns surrounding hydraulic press machinery. Electric presses are quieter, faster, and have excellent accuracy, however, they are very expensive.

Once the electric press machine was installed in their new facility, engineers and production workers began to notice a hole in the production process: they needed  a simple, cost-effective lift solution to safely remove molded components from the top of the electric press machine and to take on other material handling tasks throughout the 30 thousand square-foot facility.

Solution

Considering the expense of the new facility and its production machinery, engineers from PRISM Plastics knew they needed a system that would be cost-effective, portable, and versatile to meet the demands of their lean manufacturing process. They eventually reached out to Mt. Clemens Crane and Service, a local Spanco distributor, who visited their plant to help further assess their needs. The distributor recommended a Spanco A Series Gantry Crane with adjustable height and span for flexibility and to meet the demands of multiple parts of their production process. The gantry crane is cost-effective and ergonomic, and it can be easily moved under load with one worker.

The company purchased a 3-ton A Series Gantry Crane, which they use throughout their facility—as needed. The crane’s adjustability allows workers to use it in a variety of workstations, and its manual design coincides with their environmental concerns and clean manufacturing practices. The gantry does, however, include a 15-foot long box track festooning system, which powers the hoist for safe lifting and ease of use.

Impact

Workers at the new facility are pleased with the gantry crane's maneuverability and overall versatility. The crane provides a variety of functions in their facility, but the electric press machine is the most essential application. Lifting and transporting products is easy and effective, and workers are able to perform routine maintenance on the machine without interfering with other parts of their production process. The system has empowered workers to move products and materials safely and effectively without imposing on their environmental performance and enhancing their industry/public service and technological innovation.

In fact, in 2015, Plastic News named PRISM Plastics as one of four finalists for the Plastics News 2014 Processor of the Year Award. Specifically, the company has been noted for its superior quality, excellent revenue growth, and laser focus to produce high volume, tight tolerance parts using a clean, lean manufacturing process that embraces innovative technology with a minimalist approach. According to PRISM Vice President Gerry Phillips, "It's a testiment to our unique approach--the PRISM way--and the extra effort our employees put in every day to meet exacting standards for our customers." As far as their technical innovation, employee relations, and environmental performance is concerned, integrating their new Spanco A Series Gantry Crane is also a testiment to their careful assessment and use of quality products, which help them to implement safer practices and the type of flexibility required to meet the highest standards possible for an award-winning company.