In an era of unpredictable material prices and routine supply chain challenges, it has never been more imperative to maximize resin usage in plastics processing. Re-entering regrind into production is one way to keep costs down and optimize material usage — and reduce the demand on natural resources.

At one of the locations of a global conveyor belting manufacturer, a percentage of their scrap, whether from issues with moisture, molding or dimensional stability, was eligible for recycling.

This portion that did get reused had to first go to an external cleaning service before it could go back into production by way of regrind — forcing them to add additional steps to the process and ship money out the door.

In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t a dire problem that risked deadlines or product quality. But it was a production inefficiency nonetheless.

Executive summary

  • Industry: Conveyor belt manufacturing
  • Year: 2019
  • Problem: Expensive third-party cleaning service to use regrind
  • Solution: New size reduction system with latest in grinding, air wash technology
  • Results: Efficiently using regrind, equipment already paid for itself

Low quality regrind and a cost-prohibitive cleaning service

When scrap material is recycled, it must still meet the high cleanliness standards essential for injection molding. A clean, uniform granulate, whether virgin or regrind, with minimal fines and dust is critical to efficient and profitable operation.

The small percentage this manufacturer did choose to regrind (typically higher cost materials, then used in less-than-critical applications) ran through on-site granulators. When operating properly, the resulting regrind should be free-flowing, cleanly cut, uniform in size and free of dust and fines. But due to the age of this equipment, the regrind came out dusty and inconsistent in particulate size — far from meeting their standards for conveyor belting production.

To prevent equipment issues down the line, they had to bring in a third-party service to clean the regrind. The service was costly — 17.5 cents per pound — plus it added another layer of vendor management and logistics coordination for the facility management team. This meant it actually ended up costing more to use regrind than to simply go with virgin material from the start.

The manufacturer was losing out on cost efficiencies and a sustainable recycling opportunity that sat right in front of them, but remained out of reach.

Until a conversation came up with their equipment supplier.

Collaborative problem solving and a new size reduction system

During a routine check-in with their Conair sales rep, the conversation inevitably turned to this issue of low quality regrind.

The manufacturer was checking the box of using recycled material and made it work with outsourced cleaning — but asked, “How could we clean this material on our own?”

To address this inefficiency, the Conair team proposed a new size reduction system with a throughput of up to 400 lbs/hr. This replaced the outdated granulators and eliminated the need for engaging with an outside material cleaning service.

The five new grinders each include the latest in grinding technology to produce a clean and consistent particulate, an air wash system to separate dust off the material and metal detection at two checkpoints. The material then is stored in large bins, ready to re-enter the production cycle.

Equipment pays for itself

Within a year of installing their new size reduction system, the conveyor belt manufacturer has benefited from the following results:

  • Saving money on raw material and cleaning costs…. They’re no longer paying to outsource their regrind cleaning, plus every pound of regrind material re-entered into the production cycle (the bulk of which is Acetal, PP and PE, which range in price from $.90 to $1.23/lb) means less money spent on purchasing virgin material.
  • …and the solution has already paid for itself. The savings in logistics, cleaning and improved efficiency led to this result — such a success that the manufacturer has already decided to replicate the solution at a second facility to further their efficiencies.
  • A boon to sustainability efforts. The usage of recycled materials means less strain on natural resources and a greater ability for this manufacturer to honor their sustainability commitments.

Is your equipment helping you reach peak efficiency?

Or are issues like outdated grinders, non-optimally sized blenders or inconsistent control interfaces getting in the way of success?

At Conair, we’re not only in the business of reliable equipment and responsive customer service; we build and install systems optimized for your operation and your bottom line. Start a conversation with a Conair representative today.