PPC Moulding Services: At The Cutting Edge of Industry 4.0
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June 6, 2018, was indeed a special day. The legislative council of the Australian parliament had convened to cognize the current state of affairs in varied areas of administration. And when it came to the realm of advanced manufacturing, the day belonged to Grahame Aston, a medical device manufacturing industry veteran and managing director of PPC Moulding Services (PPCMS). The parliament recognized Aston and PPCMS for being pioneers in advanced manufacturing and setting a new benchmark in quality, productivity, and worker health and safety (WH&S).
PPCMS, however, is not a success story that happened overnight. Starting with a handful of talented manufacturing professionals, Aston’s strong vision and leadership has kept PPCMS ticking through the contours of the evolving manufacturing landscape. The journey began in 2007 when Aston acquired Moulding Services to establish PPCMS, a precision-based plastic injection molding company for medical component manufacturing that has battled the cross-currents to emerge as an end-to-end manufacturing firm in the Industry 4.0 era.
Today, as a 500-employee company, PPCMS operates fully equipped production facilities based out of Australia and Malaysia, spanning 9,000 square meters. With best-in-class technologies, intelligent processes, and an adaptable business model embedded in its DNA, the company holds a formidable position in the industry. As robotic process automation (RPA) and IoT permeate the manufacturing and injection molding domains, Aston quips, “It won’t be long before a robot will call the shots in driving our business forward.”
The Smart Factory
“We are living in an exciting time. The world has entered a phase where the idea of ‘everything smart’ rules the roost,” he adds. In line with this trend, Industry 4.0 is all about maximizing asset performance and overall productivity by enabling a modular and scalable infrastructure and production processes. In lockstep with time, PPCMS has armed itself with the latest and the greatest technologies in robotics and automation. High quality—underscored by technological excellence, reliability, and compliance—is palpable in more than a million parts manufactured every week at PPCMS. The company maintains a team of skilled workforce and collaborates with other technology companies in the industry to execute every project to perfection.
PPCMS’ manufacturing prowess encompasses smart production services that pave the way for predictive maintenance as well as effective condition monitoring, planning, and traceability of parts under production. With a marked adaptive process control and automated production, the machinery used by PPCMS in its modernized production environments yields high efficiency, flexibility, and transparency. The integrated data exchange between machines, robots, processes, control systems, and IT in the production environment ensures swift interaction between several components and systems. In addition, the smart machines integrate with different hardware and software components offered by various solution vendors with ease for greater process control and reliability. Thus, complex manufacturing and quality control requirements can be handled quickly and effectively.
In lockstep with time, PPCMS has armed itself with the latest and the greatest technologies in robotics and automation
Besides, detailed documentation, faster analysis, and remote redressal of faults lead to better results.
“Each of our 75 injection molding machines has intelligence and quality monitoring ability built in to analyze its performance, condition, and quality of the parts produced,” says Stephen Donohue, general manager at PPCMS. “The data from every machine is relayed to software specific to injection molding machines, through which the operators can monitor the production environment and take informed actions in real time for better outcomes.” As many of the machines are equipped with dedicated robots, clients stand to gain significantly through enhanced automation. Operating 24 hours, six days a week, the company is backed by quality control at the machine level, so the defects are addressed proactively by machines during production. To improve the operations and increase the production of medical devices by several thousand units per week across its locations, PPCMS has partnered with Scott Automation & Robotics. Scott Automation’s robotics solutions not only automate PPCMS’ plasma treatment process for small plastic medical device parts but also reduce the WH&S issues and inconsistencies introduced by a manual approach. This ability in the injection molding side reduces cost and improves efficiency.
A Turnkey Manufacturer
Since its inception, PPCMS has invested consistently in expanding its capabilities and aligning with the evolving needs of clients. Because PPCMS gives its clients the ironclad guarantee that it augments the end-to-end manufacturing efficiency and throughput, while cost and time remain under tight control, firms from diverse industries place their trust in the manufacturing services provider. With a strong understanding of ISO 13485:2016 standards, PPCMS has emerged as the go-to partner for medical device manufacturing and related services. PPCMS’ forte is its ability to help clients bring ideas from concept to shelf. Its unrivaled knowledge of advanced manufacturing, rich hands-on experience, and thorough understanding of the nuances of medical device production play a big role in drawing high-quality yield in every step of manufacturing and beyond. With full-service manufacturing and packaging capabilities, PPCMS collaborates closely with clients to help them with comprehensive turnkey project execution, from design through distribution.
At the outset of a project, PPCMS’ design team brainstorms ideas with clients, reviews, and assesses the design requirements before production. The company has an in-house design manager who can assist clients in designing a product based on a concept. Once the design requirements are defined and documented, PPCMS swiftly moves into the tooling phase to ensure the production goals are effectively met.
While scouting for the tool, PPCMS makes it a point to have the right materials, components, and machinery—including fixtures, gauges, dies, molds, and cutting patterns—onboard for production. “The outcome of the tooling process directly impacts the production quality and overall cost of a project,” stresses Aston. “Just like part design best practices, tooling design best practices should be in place to reduce the chances of part failure and other manufacturing errors.” PPCMS leverages its strong supply chain partner network to source tools from different regions of the globe, including Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Team PPCMS attends tool trials worldwide to gain complete knowledge before leveraging them for production. As the company manages the entire tooling process, clients steer clear of the tools management overhead. PPCMS takes a nuanced approach to material selection. Besides thermosets and thermoplastics, the company has unrivaled expertise in silicone overmolding. In case there is a hairline gap of 0.15 mm, PPCMS can reduce it to 0.005mm.
As a Six Sigma certified company, PPCMS has several quality assurance experts for medical device manufacturing and other types of production processes. A team at PPCMS documents the processes and tools used in the production journey to reduce the iterations before the final production. The company prototypes the designs and validates those in-house. On the testing front, the team reviews CAD drawings and technical specifications, defines manufacturing requirements for process developments, incorporates information from various business sources, and conducts production process validation and analysis.
Once the products are fully tested, “They undergo a series of secondary operations ranging from ultrasonic welding, printing, laser marking, packaging, through distribution to the end user,” says Aston.
Taking the Legacy Forward
At the heart of PPCMS’ excellence is its entrepreneurial spirit and a family culture that fosters a conducive work environment, which has led to high employee retention rates both in Australia and Malaysia. Teams at PPCMS actively participate in advanced manufacturing technology, AI, and RPA events in Germany and other parts of the world, including China and Austria. The agenda is to imbibe the latest and the greatest innovations into the production environment to put innovative ideas into execution.
"The data from every machine is relayed to software specific to injection molding machines, through which the operators can monitor the production environment and take informed actions in real time for better outcomes"
A legacy of quality and steadfast growth over the years has seen PPCMS attain a leading position in the Australian market. Besides investing heavily in its injection molding machines, PPCMS plans to increase its efficiency and shorten the lead time for prototyping. Continuing with the innovation theme, the company aims to foray into using carbon fibers in polymers. PPCMS is resolute to carry its legacy forward to ensure whatever they build is best-in-class!
Description "PPCMS is a world-class manufacturer that has state-of-the-art injection molding machines driven by advanced automation to deliver the highest quality components. As a 500-employee company, PPCMS operates fully equipped production facilities based out of Australia and Malaysia, spanning 9,000 square meters. With best-in-class technologies, intelligent processes, and an adaptable business model embedded in its DNA, the company holds a formidable position in the industry. As robotic process automation (RPA) and IoT permeate the manufacturing and injection molding domains, PPCMS believes that automation will play a central role in business decision making in future
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