WADSWORTH, Ohio—A trimmer, more efficient Goldsmith & Eggleton Inc. surged into 2021 in a better position than it found itself at the same time last year. That's primarily because of a major renovation of its primary research and development laboratory and the addition of a new raw materials handling line at its Wadsworth plant.
Owned by Orlando, Fla.-based Ravago Manufacturing Americas, G&E completed the installation of the new line in late 2020 as part of the company's modernization initiative following the renovation of its polymer lab at the firm's Wadsworth production plant and headquarters.
Installation of the line began in August 2020, although the planning and engineering process began more than a full year before that, according to Eric Davies, plant manager for Ravago’s Goldsmith & Eggleton operation in Wadsworth.
"COVID, of course, put some unanticipated challenges in our way," he said. "But once the installation began we were operational before the end of 2020."
The company delayed announcing the addition until late February when all tests on the line were finalized and the company had an opportunity to discuss the updated machinery with its customers.
Wadsworth-headquartered G&E's new raw materials handling line provides a high degree of automation to the process, eliminating much of the hand labor involved in material preparation common at a recycling and reprocessing facility, the company said in a press release. The company did not release the cost of the new line.
"This project was in the making for years and was partially built around a concept used by our plant in Belgium," Davies said. "The laboratory innovation, which was phase one of the project, was needed to support the growing demands of our customer base as well as bring our technology to as current a level as possible."
He said Ravago Manufacturing Americas "is all about continuous improvement, so there will be other projects down the road, but perhaps not of the magnitude of this one."
Expansion of the Wadsworth plant was not needed for the installation of the new machinery. The line was designed to fit into available space, Davies said.
"The most efficient design was to keep the new machinery in line with the mixer in order to enhance, not impede, the product flow," he said.
Additional personnel also were not needed. In fact, the company trimmed its work force because of the automated machinery addition. The firm did not release a layoff figure, but Davies said G&E did deploy people where it could.
"But, ultimately, the project resulted in a head count reduction," he said.
Davies said the machinery was needed to provide greater efficiencies in the preparation process and safety within the Wadsworth facility. After careful study and planning, the company designed and selected a line of machinery that best fit its needs.
"Recycling requires a lot of hand labor to sort and prepare the stock for reprocessing," he noted. "The (old) process involved a lot of manual lifting, twisting, turning and stacking rubber. We knew there were more efficient technologies available to us. It was just a matter of thinking outside the box and innovating during the design phase. Our sister company in Arendonk, Belgium, utilizes a very innovative process and we were able to incorporate some of their techniques in our design."
Ultimately the work force reduction and production efficiencies will help the company to be more competitive, Davies said, "and offer our customers better material solutions. Also, from an ergonomic standpoint, we have removed most of the physical labor component of our process so it's a safer environment for our employees in which to work. Now most of the lifting is done by tow motors or pneumatic hoists."
G&E's new raw materials handling line begins with an automated size reduction of feedstock before it is introduced into the reprocessing equipment, according to a company statement. The feedstock is conveyed into weight loss feeders controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC), which provides better product management to meet customer specifications.
The polymer is then conveyed through an internal mixer, the firm said, before being homogenized, de-watered and filtered. Finally, all material is moved to an automated, PLC controlled baler and bale wrapping station. The fundamental reprocessing technology remains unchanged, G&E said.