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Q&A: Innovation that serves customers

Heidi Amsler

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Werner Amsler Equipment Inc. is known in Canada as an innovator for his work in all-electric blow molding machines and was honored with the 2010 Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) Plastics Innovator Award, which he identifies as the most significant award that he has received in his career. Given to those whose technological advancements have contributed to the expansion of the Canadian plastics industry, the award recognized Amsler’s 2009 “innovative technologies including a fully automatic loading system for wide mouth preforms up to 89mm, a new flexible PET machine series that allows for adjustable cavitations on PET blow machines, and a modular semi-automatic palletizer that provides fully automatic operation through the purchase of additional modules.” Amsler constantly uses customer feedback to make improvements to the company’s equipment. More recent innovations include options such as preferential heating, hot fill and a neck orientation system that uses standard preforms. The company recently also developed and delivered a customized single-cavity lab machine. When the company was founded, Amsler was the first to introduce a fully electric reheat stretch-blow molding machine. He has a penchant for simplicity, reliability and customer service. Amsler recently spoke with PMM correspondent Lisa Jo Lupo.

How and why did you get into the plastics industry?

Amsler :  I was trained as a toolmaker in Switzerland, among other things, and my first job in the plastics industry was in 1970 as a toolmaker in a company which still exists — Plastipak in Richmond Hill. I worked as a toolmaker for a few years, then progressed up to plant manager in the blow molding division. Then I was recruited by a German company, Bekum, back home to head their Canadian service department for the machinery that is sold over here.

In 1980, my brother and I started a company called Swissplas in the molding industry. We made plastic bottles, and ended up with 15 lines when I sold the company to Monarch Plastics in 1988. So that was a successful venture.

Why did you sell this company, then decide to found Amsler?

Amsler : The company was doing very well, so I wanted to take the profits out of it and start a consulting company in the plastics industry. During our consulting phase, the question was always asked by customers, “Where do I find a good reheat stretch-blow molding machine?” There wasn’t really anything around other than equipment that wasn’t suitable for this market or machines that were really substandard. So in 1994, I decided to start the business we’re in now.

We started immediately with fully electric machinery because, even at that time, we were thinking forward to energy conservation and, of course, low maintenance, so hydraulic systems automatically were out of the picture. That’s why we did fully electric machines right from the beginning.

It sounds like you were a pioneer from the start. What other innovations did you introduce?

Amsler : We were the first to be fully electric and the first to introduce central cooling systems for the ovens. The fully electric was a big step. We also had significantly fewer parts than anyone else. We just wanted to be simple, reliable, quick — all the qualities that are needed in custom blow molding. We also built the machines for very quick changeover. For the plastic blow molding industry, changeovers of a few minutes would be great, but we wanted to get away from the half-day changeovers everybody else had, and we were very successful with that. Our approach is to make sure we’re always ahead of everybody else.

The trend of using all-electric machines for blow molding really only has taken hold over the last year or so. What were you seeing in the industry that made you want to take this step in 1994?

Amsler : I wanted to provide a machine that was energy efficient and simpler to maintain. At the time, hydraulic systems had a bad reputation for wasting energy. Fifty percent of the supplied energy was wasted into heat, which then had to be removed with a chiller. The chiller itself was also inefficient in operation. In addition to the energy lost, the hydraulic systems will leak sooner or later and will thus require a lot of maintenance. Furthermore, the Amsler equipment would be producing bottles for food applications, so oil is not welcome in this environment. There also is an environmental hazard. Hydraulic oil is toxic and needs to be disposed of properly, which is expensive. The Amsler machine design was based on 40 percent less energy consumption and 50 percent less maintenance. [It also allowed for] almost total removal of oil contamination sources on the machinery when compared to hydraulic systems that were available at the time.

Knowing the challenges of entrepreneurship, what have you done to help new and small businesses in the plastics industry?

Amsler : We started a model that we run molds; that is, we let our customers run their molds on our machines in our place. That gets the small guys into the business. When they get started, they have enough money to get into the business and to buy molds which are relatively inexpensive, and they have connections in the industry to sell their bottles, but they don’t often have enough funds or knowledge to start their own operation. So we help them get started that way. It works well for us and for many of our present-day customers. We still use the model. It allows us to have a production showroom so our customers can come into our plant and our manufacturing center where we are building the machines, and they can see the machines running production or testing different materials or molds — they get a live demo of the equipment that they are going to purchase. Also, our machines are fully proven before we ship them; they have already run many days of production, not just test runs, which allows for a faster start-up on the other end.

Also, all the parts for our machines are standard off-the-shelf parts, available from any supplier. We don’t do custom parts, other than change parts for production, so that way, our customers aren’t tied to us for service and parts. They can go to other suppliers that are local to them. The availability of local parts anywhere in the world is really important. And, of course, the parts that are special to our machines we stock here. So we can respond quickly because we have everything in-house.

Why do you believe you succeeded in this business when others have failed?

Amsler : We are the only manufacturer of this type of equipment in North America. We did have competitors, big ones, that finally went by the wayside. We were successful, mainly, I believe, because we don’t just have one leg to stand on, we also have the blow-molding division. This is downplayed a lot by us because we don’t want to compete with our machinery customers. We don’t go out and quote blow molding business, we use the model I discussed earlier — running a blow molding operation with our customers’ molds. So that helps with cash flow, and it helps with improving the quality of the machinery.

We also have ancillary equipment. On our bottle-inspection unit, we can test for color; we can, of course, test for leaks; we can test for bottle dimension, wall thickness, metal contamination and correct neck finish. Some people just sell leak detection, but ours is really an inspection unit. We go even further downstream through another division, Amsler Packaging Technology, which focuses on liquid filling, labeling, packaging, all the way to palletizing. So we can provide everything from blow molding to palletizing — and that gives us another leg to stand on, so we have three legs.

When you are not working, what do you do for fun?

Amsler : I have a U.S. pilot’s license based on my Canadian pilot’s license. That’s one of my hobbies — I fly as much as I can, and I ski. I also have a model railroad — called a garden railroad — outside. It’s not big enough to sit on — not like the ones at the mall that people ride on; it’s 1-to-22 scale; a locomotive might be 3 feet long. The train goes through gardens and railway bridges.

What would you like to see as your industry epitaph? How do you want to be remembered?

Amsler : The motto right now is that Amsler provides quality equipment. I think that’s good and I just want to build on that.

Our Client Clariant Masterbatches North America On The News

Heidi Amsler

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Clariant, a global specialty chemicals producer headquartered in Muttenz, Switzerland, announced the availability of new blow molding tools that can help customers evaluate how Clariant color and additive masterbatches perform in real-world applications. The tooling is available for use on full-size production of blow molding machines located in the company’s technical center in Chicago.

The new single-cavity tool, which is intended for reheat stretch blow molding of clear or colored PET polyester resins, produces a 12-oz. (355-ml) round bottle with a long neck and curved sides. The design is intended to reflect current trends for liquor bottles, but can also be used to evaluate wine, soft drink and other food and beverage containers, as well.

“This new mold includes the details that customers told us they wanted in prototype tooling,” explained Peter Prusak, Head of Marketing, Clariant Masterbatches North America. “The tooling we’ve had in the past produced flask-shaped bottles, and the broad, flat panels were not as representative of the shapes that producers of liquor bottles and other beverage containers are looking for today.”

The tooling can be used to evaluate not only color, but also performance-enhancing additives and barrier properties, as well. Prusak says that the way plastic materials stretch to create a bottle’s shape can vary depending on the color and other ingredients in the compound. A resin/masterbatch combination that works well in one shape can develop cosmetic flaws or unacceptable physical properties in another. This is why it is so important to produce shapes that more accurately mimic the actual end-product containers.

In an interview with PlasticsToday, Prusak noted that purchasing tooling for customers to use in material tryouts is a “unique proposition” that has real value for the company’s customers. “A few customers came to us noting that we had tooling for personal care products, but [asked] what about food and beverage and heavy duty liquids?” he said. “We saw the need for this and nobody has anything out there specifically for food and beverage. That’s why we built the tooling for food and beverage and have an additional mold in the works that will be announced next month.”

Clariant worked with a few of its customers to design the mold, which is a typical aluminum two-stage blow mold. “We went with a two stage because if it works in a two stage it will work in a one stage, and we have the production equipment for that purpose,” Prusak said. Clariant can make products for both pellet and liquid masterbatch so that customers know how their product will look with a liquid color carrier.

When asked about plans for putting equipment and prototype molds in any of its other facilities, Prusak said that currently the capabilities are in Chicago because the company’s Color Works design center is there, making it a natural fit for the tech center. However, there is some consideration being given to installing something similar in the company’s Chino, CA, facility.

PET bottles, flasks and an HDPE cooler take top honors in blow molding

Heidi Amsler

CHICAGO — The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Blow Molding Division presented awards to packaging innovations like triangular bottles, flask containers for Jack Daniels, an industrial products line a game table and a giant ice cooler.Judges selected winners from 14 entries, at the SPE Blow Molding Conference, held Oct. 5-7 in Chicago. This was the second annual blow molded parts competition.
Here is a recap of the awards:

Packaging

First place: W. Amsler Equipment Inc. of Richmond Hill, Ontario, won for a set of four triangular-shaped PET bottles that nest together for efficient packaging. Retailers also save space. The bottles use recycled food-grade PET to replace PVC. 55oz spin trim Jar is created with the two-step PET stretch blow molding process. Two-step blow molding gives four times higher output per mold than the one-step process.

The blow molder is Salboro Bottle, using a mold from V.P. Tool & Mold.

Plastics News – W Amsler Equipment Adds CNC Capability

Heidi Amsler

Amsler Equipment is finalizing a contract with Mag-Plastic Machinery Inc., a competitor that stopped building blow molding machines several years ago. “We will be providing service for the Mag blow molders. And we will have a new service technician,” Heidi Amsler said. The technician, Don Nannie, had been a Mag service technician who is transitioning over to Amsler.Heidi Amsler said the service agreement covers the United States and Canada….

Canadian Plastics – Big Order Marks a Big Year for W Amsler Equipment

Heidi Amsler

The Beatles sang “It was 20 years ago today” back in the 60s, turning 20th anniversaries into big deals ever since.

Blow molding machine maker W. Amsler Equipment Inc. hit 20 this year, and promptly made the event a big deal of its own by landing one of its largest orders ever. Between September 2013 and March 2014, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based company delivered ……..

March 21, 2016 – Richmond Hill, ON – Amsler Equipment Inc. has refurbished, retrofitted, and delivered its first PET blow molder to Poliflex S.A. de C.V in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Poliflex S.A. de C.V. is a custom blow molder serving the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, beverage, household goods and food products industries. Founded in 1992, the company operates both injection-stretch molding and two-step blow molders to produce a wide variety of jars and bottles. Poliflex is currently updating their plant to meet ISO 22000 food safety standards.

Poliflex needed a modern single-cavity PET stretch blow molding machine to replace an older machine. Small footprint, machine performance, low tooling costs and easy supplier communication were important in selecting a replacement.

 

Amsler was able to supply a used single-cavity machine that was originally installed at a U.S.-based customer. The L12 had been outgrown and was traded in on a new three-cavity L32C. The L12, which was manufactured in 2007, was retrofitted with a preferential heating oven, which was a Poliflex requirement. The machine was completely refurbished and full warranty was provided by Amsler.

Poliflex was able to start up the machine and begin production in their plant themselves and it is currently running 4 days a week. The company is In the process of acquiring new molds and converting their existing molds to run on the Amsler L12.

This small fully-automatic single-cavity machine can make bottles from 50ml up to 2 liters in capacity with neck sizes from 18mm to 63mm. The L15 version of the machine, is available to make bottle sizes up to 5 liters. The options for these machines include neck orientation, hot-fill, and preferential heating.

About W. Amsler Equipment Inc.:

W. Amsler Equipment Inc. is a privately-held Canadian company founded in 1994 by Werner Amsler. In addition to PET stretch blow molding machines, Amsler also supplies equipment for complete blow molding plants, and filling lines. These products include Bottle-Inspection Units (for leak testing, choked necks, wall-thickness control), Blow-Dome Spin-Off Trimmers, Air Compressors, Vacuum Conveyors, Blow Molds, Gaylord Dumpers, Mold Temperature-Control Units, and Process Chillers.

Amsler is the only North American manufacturer of all-electric linear PET stretch blow molders, 100% designed, built and serviced in North America.

More details are available at www.amslerequipment.net

About Poliflex S.A. de C.V.:

Poliflex is a custom blow molding company that was founded in 1992. Injection and PET stretch blow molding processes to produce a variety of PET bottle machine and Jars for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, house hold chemical and food industries.

More details are available at www.poliflexsa.com

5 Gallon Leak Testers – Up to 3000 bottles per hour.

Heidi Amsler

5gallonTest bottles for leaks at rates of up to 3,000 bottles per hour. Detect hole sizes as small as .010. Custom conveyor systems are available.

All units feature recipe storage, onscreen test results, self test feature, and quick adjust test head heights. Various test head sizes are available to accommodate a variety of container sizes.

Temperature testing is available to help detect bottles with ice. Chocked neck and wall thickness inspection is an option when the unit is inline with a blow molding machine

Table Top Leak Tester – Up to 800 bottles per hour. Setup in a lab for off-linetesting. Speeds are operator dependent.

table-top-leak-testercropped

 

Standard Leak tester up to 1,000 bottles per hour Includes 6.5 foot indexing conveyor. Setup inline with blow molder or filling equipment or use as a stand alone unit.

Flying Head leak tester – Up to 3,000 bottles per hour Includes 6.5 foot continuous conveyor. The leak testing head follows the bottle during the test.

 

Amsler Announces Expanded Leak Testing Capabilities at NPE 2012 (See Video Below)

Heidi Amsler

New Advancements Include High-Output Single-Head and Flying Head with Timing Screw
ORLANDO, Fla., April 1, 2012 – W. Amsler Equipment Inc., a leading manufacturer of all-electric, reheat stretch-blow molding machines and ancillary equipment based in Richmond Hill, Ont., Canada, has announced several new features and capabilities for its broad line of leak testers. Among the new products are a flying head leak tester with timing screw for difficult-to-process bottles and a high-output single-head unit. Amsler made the introductions at NPE 2012: The International Plastics Showcase, April 1-5, 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (Booth #583).

Amsler’s innovative flying head design, which provides high output, flexibility, and tool-free changeovers., now comes with a timing screw for easier bottle handling and more precise positioning on the conveyor. The unit uses a timing screw and pneumatic gating to orient and process more difficult bottles, particularly those that shingle. The five-head unit, which runs up to 250 bottles/min is for plastic containers up to 2 liters for beverage, personal-care, consumer goods, and other markets.

The flying head design is one of the fastest, most cost-effective, user-friendly, and compact solutions in the industry, ensuring maximum productivity and improved quality for processors and product manufacturers, according to President Werner Amsler.

Amsler also introduced a simple, single-head flying head leak tester with no gates or change parts. It is easy to operate and delivers 50% greater output than traditional single-head leak testers, according to the company. The single-head leak tester can be built onto an existing conveyor line without requiring modification to the existing line.

Amsler’s new leak testing features and capabilities are fully tested and commercially available.


About W. Amsler Equipment Inc.

W. Amsler Equipment Inc. is a privately-held Canadian company founded in 1994 by Werner Amsler. In addition to rotary and linear blow molding machines, W. Amsler also supplies auxiliary equipment for complete blow bolding plants, water treatment, and filling lines. Other products include bottle-inspection units, air compressors, process chillers, mold temperature-control units, blow-dome spin-off trimmers, gaylord dumpers, vacuum conveyors, and blow molds. The company has also partnered with companies to provide turnkey liquid filling equipment. More details are available at www.amslerequipment.net.

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