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Athena opens lights-out work cell

Issue: May 2017

Athena Automation has established a lights-out injection molding work cell for making preforms, and it says visitors are welcome to see it.

Set up for a local blow molder earlier this year at Athena’s Vaughan, Ontario, plant, the demonstration site boasts a 150-ton PET machine that has a P85/ E85 injection unit and features auto startup and shutdown. The setup also has HMI-integrated
 auxiliary equipment, including a dehumidifier and resin dryer, as well as a special system to handle preforms as they’re made.

Athena Automation welcomes visitors to see its lights-out work cell.

A conveyor carries the empty boxes 
to the machine, then moves them on once they’re full. Currently, the boxes of finished preforms are removed by forklift. “The system has a 10-hour bulk box buffer, allowing fully unattended operation. The goal is to extend that time by using automated guided vehicles,” marketing manager Aron Szasz Gabor said.

Mold changes are handled by technicians. The molds incorporate split-gate technology, which allows the cavity plate to be removed before the hot runner has completely cooled. According to Athena, the target is a mold change time of less than 1 hour.

Besides lowering labor costs, Athena says the setup optimizes uptime and reduces maintenance and energy consumption.

Visitors wishing to view the system may contact Rob Sicilia, business manager PET, at 905-265-0277 ext. 2055.