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BinMaster maker becomes its own customer

Garner Industries Inc., the maker of the well-known BinMaster level sensing device for bins, tanks and silos, also is a custom injection molder. And Garner has installed its first resin silos. Guess what they're equipped with?


This month, Best Practices takes you to Lincoln, Neb., where Garner put out a testimonial with this headline: "Managing Resin Inventory: It takes one to know one."

Garner runs 29 injection molding machines with clamping forces ranging from 35 to 500 tons — Niigata and Toyo machines — in a 75,000-square-foot plant. But Garner had been using gaylords to store resin at its in-site and off-site warehouses.

Then, late last year, the company added three smooth-wall steel silos. Resin is pneumatically conveyed from the silos to large surge bins inside the factory that feed three new 500-ton molding presses. The silos have a very deep cone to help the free flow of resin pellets out to the factory.

Thanks to the BinMaster-equipped silos, Dan Hurtz, plastic manager at Garner Industries, can view inventory levels on his computer in his office — or anywhere, thanks to the BinView application, using level readings sent to a cloud-based database.

"Real-time management of expensive resin helps ensure a continuous supply of raw materials for our operation that runs 24/7," Hurtz said. It also gives customers more visibility, and through a secure system.

And the silo-irony is not lost on Doug Hartzell, BinMaster engineering manager.

"BinMaster's been making point level indicators for almost 60 years. We were also one of the first companies to introduce integrated inventory management sensors and software," Hartzell said. "BinMaster has been installing inventory systems at plastics molders and resin manufacturers for decades. It was time to take our own system for a spin."

BinMaster certainly knows silos. All kinds of silos, for everything from milled ore and talc, wood biomass, flour and — being from Nebraska — crop seeds.

Plastics is an important market. Eliminating gaylords allows plastic processors to buy resin in bulk and have it delivered by truck or rail. And the silos allow a processor to monitor inventory using automatic counts instead of physical counts. Of course, silos also reduce the amount of handling that is required with gaylord containers.

Garner Industries Inc. Hurtz

In Lincoln, the first step was to equip each silo with a BinMaster VR-21 vibrating rod, for low-level control. The units automatically send an alert when resin levels get low, signaling the resin buyer to replenish the inventory. Those point controls are mounted about halfway up the hopper section of the silos.

For high-level control, each silo also has a BinMaster VR-41 extended vibrating rod, roof-mounted in a 1½-inch coupling. The rigid extension drops down 4 feet to compensate for the angle of repose of the material and capacity of the silo as it gets emptied and filled up. That prevents overfilling.

The system sounds an external horn to alert a truck driver if too high of a level is detected during the filling process.

Each surge bin also has a VR-21, used to alert when the bin is getting empty, and needs additional resin from the silos.

For inventory management, each silo has a BinMaster 3DLevelScanner mounted on top. The non-contact scanner uses acoustics-based technology to measure and map multiple points on the material surface of the resin in the silo, detecting cone-up or cone-down and other surface variations. Then it processes the data to determine inventory volume that takes into account surface variations. The unit reports a percentage full based on a weighted average of the measurements.

One silo also is outfitted with a SmartBob II level sensor, a traditional weight and cable-based system that works like an automated tape measure and eliminates climbing the silos to take a measurement.

(As the machinery-beat reporter, I write new product items at Plastics News, and SmartBob is one of my all-time favorite product names.)

Garner Industries is an interesting company. It was founded in 1953. Garner bought a small local injection molding operation in 1993, kicking off the move into molding.

The molding operation specializes in small- to medium-sized parts, although the three new 500-ton Toyo presses should help it mold larger ones. The previous largest machine was a 385-ton press.

And Garner Industries is a complete plastics processor: The company makes its own molds and has CNC machining and wire-EDM services.

Its markets include consumer goods, hand tools and hardware, automotive parts, communications and telecom, and electronics. Garner's website has case studies of a valve assembly — when the company became the single-source supplier for a valve assembly of 16 plastic and metal parts, which had been supplied by eight vendors. Another single-source job was machining metal parts, overmolding, polishing/plating and assembly of hand grips and foot pegs for a maker of custom motorcycles.

That kind of all-in-one service, metal and plastic, differentiates Garner from regular custom molders. It also helps the company manufacture BinMaster products.

As Garner Industries knows, resin costs are a major part of the total part cost. Using its own products, the company can get a look inside its silos — and do complete reports of material usage.

» Publication Date: 14/06/2017

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [605658].

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