PPE manufacturing has accelerated dramatically because of the COVID-19 epidemic. This has left many companies scrambling to reduce labor and material costs, increase productivity and throughput, and improve product quality.

A manufacturer of polyester medical face masks faced something serious themselves —the new market realities of intense price pressures from both the competition and managed care providers. Despite significant cost-cutting measures, the scale of their operations, with over 50 machines spread across multiple locations, prevented extensive upgrades of their production lines due to costs.

Web Industries collaborated with the company to evaluate their existing production process, including a thorough cost analysis that included labor, benefits, overhead, machine depreciation, and space allocation.

After studying the challenge, a 4-point solution was agreed upon to solve the manufacturing problems:

  1. Spools Instead of Pancakes Rolls: Replacing pancake rolls with spooled material achieved immediate throughput increase. Spools only needed to be changed once every two hours instead of once every ten minutes, reducing the overall number of splices, splice-based machine downtime and splice-based waste product.
  2. New Unwind Machinery: Production lines were built to use narrow pancake rolls, so Web Industries’ engineering team assisted in designing unwind stands that allowed spools to feed into the existing manufacturing equipment.
  3. Standard Components: Standard components were used wherever possible to reduce the amount and type of equipment that had to be purchased and to keep capital costs under control.
  4. Providing Spooled Material: To support the updated manufacturing process, Web Industries’ precision converting services provided slit and spooled material custom-formatted for maximum efficiency.

Healthy results helped the company recover fast — thanks to a strong engineering partnership, Web Industries’ spooling technology and a suite of products, services and suppliers.

Together they produced:

  • Nearly $1 million of annual labor savings
  • Increased material yield by 10 million linear yards per year
  • Number of splices per production run reduced by a factor of 20
  • Splice-based downtime reduced significantly
  • Improved production uptime
  • Reduced overall waste

All of this was accomplished with an investment of approximately $1 million, less than 5% of the cost to convert the entire production line to new equipment.

The advantages of spooling. A closer look.

Web Industries provides outsourced flexible material converting, including “slitting and spooling.” Spooling uses a special winding process to place narrow width material on a high-capacity spool instead of a relatively low capacity planetary or “pancake” roll. A spool can often hold ten times the capacity of a pancake roll, which greatly reduces the amount of splicing, roll swaps, and machine downtime needed during long production runs.

This makes consumer product manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective.

For more information, visit www.webindustries.com

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