HUDSON, Ohio—Alttran, a Hudson-based custom mixer, is upgrading and adding new equipment for its compound development and quality control laboratory, including new MonTech instruments to be installed during October.
The upgrades, which have taken a significant investment, will improve Alttran's ability to analyze the quality of its product, Alttran President Dave Topliff said. In terms of equipment from MonTech, the investment is about $250,000.
"We're upgrading everything in our lab that we already have and adding new equipment," he said. "That's where our partnership with MonTech comes in. It's a big undertaking."
The new phase adds a variety of lab equipment, including moving die rheometers, Mooney viscometers and software needed to analyze collected data, according to a MonTech release.
The investment is part of a long-term plan to keep pace with growing demand, where new machines will allow Alttran employees to test and modify custom mixing batches much more quickly, he said.
"As we continue to grow, we have to make things happen at a faster pace. If we can get the equipment to give us information so we can make those decisions faster, that's more beneficial to us and our customers," Topliff said.
In terms of growth, Alttran has seen a growth rate of about 20 percent this year, and has been on an average growth rate of about 25 percent per year since its first full year in 2006, Topliff said.
"We've had years where it was even, but then other years we've grown 50 percent," he said.
The new equipment already is installed and operational, and the team is learning to use it effectively, Topliff said. One new job has been added for the upgrade so far, as Alttran needed an employee dedicated to understanding and applying data from the new equipment. Currently, the company employs about 40 people.
This upgrade follows a 2015 lab expansion that brought in a MonTech Rubber Process Analyzer 3000, which helps simulate customers' applications to determine how effective a custom batch of rubber will be, Topliff said.
"With that piece of equipment, we can simulate what they're doing and put the rubber in there and see how it reacts under those conditions," he said.
Alttran can test multiple lab batches against the same conditions to see which works best in different areas. The firm said this saves customers time in having to take a custom batch, testing it with their equipment and then returning for modifications.
"They can run through the diagnostics to see how it reacts before we even take it to our customers," Topliff said. "A large part of what we do is formulation development. One reason we're doing this is so we can help our customers solve their problems faster."
More upgrades and expansions are planned for the future, though Alttran will take some time with the new equipment first, Topliff said.
"It's one step at a time. We have to make sure everybody's trained well and knows what they're doing, and it all fits in exactly how we pictured it. Once that happens, we have plans for the next step," he said.