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Rawlplug’s chemicals. This is how you implement a MASTER PLAN

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There is no room for coincidence here. The consistent and systemic development of the Chemicals Production Department can be perceived as a model example of the implementation of Rawlplug’s development strategy. Similar processes now cover all areas of the production activity conducted at our HQ.

Last year, Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department welcomed the arrival of another new machine: the fully automated NAP-03 BIS, filling 175, 300 and 600 ml film packs. As the name itself suggests, it is a twin of the NAP-03 which has been operated in Wrocław since 2018. Why are these two Rawlplug’s machines mirror reflections of each other? How do they affect the production of Rawlplug’s flagship chemical anchors? And why is it already clear that they will work perfectly with the other, both current and future, pieces of the entire process and technology puzzle?

There is but a single answer: the MASTER PLAN

In order to fully understand the rationale behind the changes and investments at the Chemicals Production Department, one should first recall some watershed moments witnessed in this area over the past five or six years. 

Chemical solutions represent the youngest, yet extremely dynamically growing branch of our portfolio of fixings. The infrastructure of the hall, which housed the main part of our production plant until recently, ceased to be sufficient. The market had grown a lot, and the demand for our anchors was growing at a very high rate. As we consistently increased our efficiency, built capacity, and optimised processes in line with the Master Plan for Rawlplug’s Wrocław plant, we realised that we needed changes – and not only in terms of the equipment resources, but also with regard to the automation of technological processes. And so we began to implement them, step by step.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department (pictured below)

The modern facilities of Rawlplug's chemistry department impressed scientists, including those attending the International Metrology Conference, who toured the Wroclaw headquarters.
The modern facilities of Rawlplug's chemistry department impressed scientists, including those attending the International Metrology Conference, who toured the Wroclaw headquarters.

Stage I: comprehensive machinery replacement

The bottleneck was primarily attributable to the mixing units, which really needed to be replaced with more efficient machines, capable of controlling the mixing process parameters, prepared for integration with further subunits and systems, and efficient enough to meet the rapidly growing market demand. 

This is why the Chemicals Production Department received:

  • a new hydraulic press,
  • and two identical dissolvers (with a working capacity of 1,000 l) of high shearing force, designed for high-viscosity mixtures, 

only to be followed by:

  • the first fully automatic film pack filling machine in the stock, enabling full control of component dosage, pack length and weight (built-in dynamic weighing system), namely the NAP-03 mentioned above. 
Rawlplug Chemistry Department's new hall.
Rawlplug Chemistry Department's new hall.
Our collaboration with a leading European manufacturer has enabled us to achieve the assumed levels of efficiency and productivity on a monthly basis as well as to minimise the number of by-products.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

  • The NAP-01new machine, also designed along with Rawlplug’s partner and operated at the Wrocław HQ since 2019, has substituted for the cartridge filling machines: NAP-01 and NAP-02. What it has contributed to the new equipment stock is fully automatic production: from charging buffer feeders with components (pistons, cartridges) to affixing a label with the pre-printed expiry date and batch number on each individual cartridge. The NAP-01new also features two weighing stations, which makes the machine highly accurate, and which is of paramount importance in terms of compliance with the applicable quality requirements and standards. This state-of-the-art unit is equipped with vision systems (cameras) that verify piston positions and make selections in fractions of seconds. The low waste rates (1–2%) and accurate dosing translate into a lower technical cost of the final product. The fact that the NAP-01new guarantees reduced waste volumes is also extremely important with respect to the company-wide environmental strategy.
Our automated machine is very efficient; it can work in nine reference settings, but we are not using all of them at the moment. The redundancy will surely come in handy in the future, as the Department continues to grow.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

Among other things, two dissolvers for high-viscosity mixtures were purchased for Rawlplug's chemistry department.
Among other things, two dissolvers for high-viscosity mixtures were purchased for Rawlplug's chemistry department.

Stage II: new production hall

More than a year ago, the Chemicals Production Department was moved to another building, where the other two production departments: Assembly and Plastics, previously reorganised, had already been running their operations. 

Owing to the fact that – in line with the original concept – all the departments supporting one another, i.e. Chemicals Production, Tool Shop, Maintenance, Printing, Quality, MSP, and R&D, are now situated in a direct vicinity, the flow of information and communication between us has improved even more, and the support itself is now instantaneous.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

Before the reorganisation, the entire hall had been renovated and prepared specifically for that purpose. The work included:

  • wall finishing, 
  • replacing skylights,
  • reinforcing floors,
  • embedding the presses into the floor slab (for improved operator ergonomics),
  • completely new electrical, lighting, and fire protection systems,
  • ventilation suited for chemical production and meeting the ATEX directive requirements.
The latter has been engineered specifically for our needs. We consider constant temperature and the capacity to keep under strict control crucial. We cannot allow considerable deviations on account of our semi-finished products – both the compounds and the hardening agent – as well as our technologies and product processing.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

Stage III: continued automation

Last year, as part of the comprehensive process automation at the Chemicals Production Department, we launched a system for the storage and transport of resin in buffer tanks and sand in a silo. The investment took us three years to complete. The solutions deployed under the project provided the dissolvers with fully automated control of:

  • dosing of raw materials from buffer tanks/silo,
  • mixing time and speed,
  • and vacuum generation process.

A third system, integrated at the same time, extended the capabilities of the mixing units in control of both the resin and sand storage and transport system as well as the mixing process with a capacity to control the operation of the ventilation system’s exhausts at each stage of the mixture production.

Stage IV: partial migration of processes

All the changes taking place at the Chemicals Production Department over the past few years are closely interlinked. The replacement of the machinery stock in Wrocław was combined with the transfer of some processes to Asia.

The market was growing dynamically, and the Asian one was and still is our good partner. Given the high demand for our anchors, we decided to re-allocate some of our equipment resources and start production in Thailand. Thanks to this logistic endeavour, we were able to avoid high transport charges, among other issues.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

Thailand performed so well that – despite initial problems – we managed to launch the production of anchors in glass capsules there, and so now they are manufactured by Rawlplug exclusively in Asia (which we wrote about recently). 

Stage V: outcomes and follow-up

Rawlplug’s plans arising from the growing demand for bonded anchors are even more ambitious. In their pursuit, we are supported not only by our qualified personnel and the machinery purchased over the recent years, but also by the consistent automation of the processes implemented at the Wrocław site, providing grounds for the functioning of a truly modern company. 

Considering our standing in 2018 and 2019, and where we are now, we have witnessed three- to fourfold growth. Previously, our production capacity was limited to 3,500 pieces per shift, while we can now release approx. 14–14.5 thousand charges, and with the waste reduced to mere 2–3 per cent. We have advanced to a whole new level.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

What’s in store for us? Quite a lot. Only in the nearest future, Rawlplug’s Production Department awaits:

  • commissioning of a battery-powered trolley with a drum grab, which will unburden operators and accelerate the processes of component changeover under the presses,
  • systematic departure from manual weighing in favour of automated transport and dosing of raw materials,
  • continued automation of the previously manual packaging processes for finished products,
  • implementation of two new labelling machines, enabling further automation and integration of individual packaging operations
At the same time, we do not neglect ecology. As the need be, our colleagues of the R&D Department modify the recipes of our mixtures with the environment in mind, while they are constantly looking for even more eco-friendly substitutes. We know that this problem is just as important to us as it is to many of our customers.

Anna Jarzycka-Walczak

Manager of Rawlplug’s Chemicals Production Department

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