A well-known hotel/resort chain was seeking to enter the solar energy field with their target of providing solar heated water for their resorts and potentially establishing a spin-off retail entity to market solar water heating systems to the public.
Interesting new research found that a significant potential product might be produced from polycarbonate plastic if a product with a complex cross-sectional design could be proven high volume production worthy.
Initial research was conducted within an existing plastics manufacturing operation, anticipating that proof of capability would expand into full production by the commercial manufacturer. However, only small pieces of the intended product could be produced, some suitable for laboratory testing, but all production volume attempts with the manufacturer failed. As a result, the manufacturer withdrew all support for the project. The challenge then was to develop not only the extrusion capability, but also product haul-off systems and the automation necessary to enable rapid startup, long production runs and controlled shutdowns.
In less than one year, a small production facility was built, equipment installed, and extensive research and development was completed. Startups of the production line were reduced from the original manufacturer’s weeks long efforts (with only short 2-3’ samples produced) to ramp to full production within 2 hours. Production runs more than 20,000 ft of fully functional product deliverable from the electronically controlled extrusion and haul off systems became the norm. Superior product profiles were consistently run over extended periods of time on a 24×7 basis.