NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio—LMI Custom Mixing L.L.C. has invested more than $1 million in new technology to improve quality control in custom mixing products and services across its operations over the last five years.
"We wanted to enhance the quality and consistency of the product we're providing," said LMI's General Manager Jim Nixon.
"We felt the best way to do that was to focus around the inspection and quality of incoming raw materials and also to give us equipment that would help protect customers from contamination down the line after mixing."
The investment focused on controlling the variability of incoming raw materials on the front-end receiving of quality inspection and in the finishing operation before it gets packaged. LMI added extra test equipment and procedures to verify the incoming quality consistency of raw materials used to make its compounds and products.
Instruments were added to test the pellet hardness and fines level of incoming bulk carbon black. A viscometer and colorimeter were added to test bulk oils.
LMI also installed new analytical instruments—like digital microscopes, FTIR and DSC—in the quality control lab to confirm material consistency and identify potential contaminants.
Nixon said overall the quality of the material has improved since the new installations and that customer feedback has been positive.
"Even when you have a specification in place, it's very important to keep your suppliers honest because they can make a mistake as easily as you can," Nixon said. "We're using it to make sure the materials conforming are the proper quality that we agreed to with our supplier."
LMI added straining options for compounds on both mixing lines. Gear pump strainers are used to filter impurities found in the end product.
It also upgraded its pelletizing and batch-off systems so customers can receive either strained or unstrained product in slab, strip or granulated form.
Nixon said that LMI hopes to get its capacity up to 50 million pounds within the next five years.
The company is looking at future investments in its facility, expanding the plant and adding another mixing line within that timeframe. Its current capacity is 35 million pounds.