DELANO, Minn.—Sil-Pro L.L.C., which recently finished moving its tool shop, is adding to a clean room.
“We have just started expanding our clean room,” said Brian Higgins, vice president of sales and marketing for the Delano-based manufacturer of silicone and thermoplastic molded and extruded goods. “We are increasing our Class 10,000 clean room, primarily expanding the thermoplastic injection molding area.”
The company purchased three thermoplastic injection molding machines it will house in the expanded clean room.
Sil-Pro previously announced it would relocate its tool shop across the street to another building because it ran out of room in its original facility. Higgins said the company subleased 18,000 square feet in the new building because the tool shop was “kind of bursting at the seams.”
By moving the tooling operation, the firm was able install a new, $800,000, 5-axis machine with a robotic tool changer.
“We wouldn't have had space to house that 5-axis machine under this roof,” Higgins said. “By almost doubling the size of the tool shop, we were able to purchase that piece of equipment.”
The changes have helped other operations of the medical components manufacturer, according to Higgins.
By adding the extra building space, Sil-Pro has been able to increase production capabilities on two sides of its business.
No issues have arisen because the tool shop was relocated out of the firm's plant, Higgins said.
“Logistically it's not a problem, but I guess they are not quite as close as they used to be,” he said. “We have a golf cart now that shuttles the tools between facilities.”
More room means the firm can stock mold inserts in-house, as well as standardizing mold base platforms. This saves valuable processing time and reduced overall mold-building expenses, the company said.
Having a tool shop in-house might not be cheap, but for Higgins it's worth the cost.
“We want to make sure that it is engineered and developed and built the way we want it,” Higgins said. By being able to guarantee the product is done right the first time helps increase productivity as there is almost no lead time.
“Seven years ago we brought the tool shop in-house and started off with five guys and a couple machines,” he said. Today the department has a staff of 14.
“We have probably tripled the size in equipment in there,” he said. “We have basically had 25 percent year over year sales increase in number of tools and dollars of tools sold.”
With increased sales, expansions and general growth, the company has added personnel and is continually looking to boost the size of its work force.
“We have primarily been looking for additional folks in the engineering department, both process engineers and project engineers,” according to the executive.
“We have brought a few folks on recently and are looking to add additional folks in those areas,” he said.