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What the Heck Is Total Cost Of Ownership of A Rubber Machinery?

“What the heck is total cost of ownership of a rubber machinery?”. If this question has popped up in your heads after reading  Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Limper’s interview, you are not alone.

Neither is this concept new.

Dr. Limper explains, in his interview, that the inability of a customer to see the ‘holistic perspective’ and evaluate machinery on ‘ownership cost’ basis is frustrating. This is because, most buyers select a rubber machinery on the ‘initial cost’.

“So what?” you may ask me.

And at this stage of our conversation, if I add that your ‘initial cost’ (basis which you made the strategic capital purchase) represents not more than 13-15% of your ownership cost!

TCO - Iceberg

Reference Image Only

Well, do I have your attention now?

Let me explain.

Simply put, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the total cost of your rubber machinery over the whole of its life. You can also complexly word it as ‘sum total of your purchase, ownership and post-ownership costs of your rubber machinery in a quantitative and qualitative manner’. (jargons?)

This means in your TCO calculations, all your obvious and hidden costs of ownership across the full life cycle of the rubber machinery has to be considered. There is often room for judgement and sometimes different opinions, in deciding what is the appropriate lifespan for you to analyse.

This is because some of your costs will be one-off, others will be recurring – so you need to know how many years you intend to use this machinery. For example, you could consider Depreciable Life (i.e the number of years in which the machinery is depreciated) or Economic Life (i.e the number of years in which the machinery returns more value to you than it costs to own, operate, and maintain) or Service Life (i.e. the number of years the machinery will actually be in service).

In some cases there may be some residual value in the machinery or parts. However, you will also have costs associated with its disposal.

Here’s a typical compilation of all costs associated with the purchase of your rubber machinery.

Purchasing Costs (includes but not limited to)

  • Market Research including business directory purchase
  • Consulting or specialist advice for machinery assessment and its appropriateness for your use
  • Supplier identification costs like administration costs, telephone calls to discuss, travel, accommodation costs for factory visit and negotiations, etc.
  • Purchase Price of the Machinery & its required accessories
  • Delivery Costs (freight) and insurance
  • Warranties
  • Installation, erection and commissioning costs
  • Trial run and Training
  • Licences for software and automation
  • Insurance costs

Operating Costs (includes but not limited to)

  • Consumables, ‘Wear & Tear’ Components
  • Regular Maintenance or Servicing (Self or Outsourced)
  • Spare Parts
  • Energy/Electricity Consumption Costs
  • Breakdowns & Repair Costs
  • Extended Warranties
  • Operator Costs
  • Cost of replacement service during a breakdown such as hiring (another) machinery or outsourcing the work.
  • Licence renewal/ software upgradation costs
  • Insurance renewal costs

Disposal Costs (includes but not limited to)

  • Decommissioning costs, involving technical specialists.
  • Transportation of the machinery away from the Plant
  • Disposal Fees of machinery and/or its parts as per your country laws
  • Data migration costs from existing control instrumentation and records
  • Other related cost of change of machinery after its life
  • Site clean-up costs

Resale Value: You should remember to add back any money received on the resale of your rubber machinery and its accessories.

Your formula for calculating the TCO thus becomes

TCO = Purchase Price + Regular Recurring Costs + Irregular One-off Costs + Disposal Costs – Income Generated – Revenue on Disposal/Resale Value. 

Do you get the ‘drift’ now?  

Do you agree with me that your decision to buy a rubber machinery only on the basis of initial purchase price could be a flawed strategy and need a rethink (…..if you are doing this, like the majority of other rubber machinery buyers!!).

Having outlined these thoughts, let me also caution you that the success of your evaluation depends on the type of the machinery you buy.

For example, you would not want to get into the same evaluation techniques when you buy a relatively simplistic (or one-off) machinery like bale cutter or sheet feeder as compared to a project investment of a mixing line or rubber mixing room.

Do let me know!

Summing up, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the total cost of your rubber machinery over the whole of its life and, I think, should be the most important criterion when you invest in projects and/or strategic capital purchases.


Contact me if you seek more details on this topic. Or if  you are looking for New or Used Rubber Machinery?

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There Is Lot of Innovation In The Rubber Machinery – Prof. Dr. Andreas Limper

There is a lot of innovation in the rubber machinery and its adaptation in the industry, says Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Limper, Member of the Board of Management, Harburg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau GmbH in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World.

Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Limper is a dynamic and well-respected business leader steering HF Mixing Group for over a decade now. A tall technical authority on rubber and polymers, acclaimed author of a few books on rubber, key-note speaker, educationist and much more, Dr.Limper is an inspirational figure.

Hence, this opportunity to present before you his interview, is a privilege to me and a prestigious addition to “Know A Rubber Leader” series.

Know A Rubber Leader

In this engaging interview, you will find him speak passionately about success, challenges, customer frustrations, plans of HF Mixing Group, innovations for tire and non-tire industry, quality and tackling piracy.

Here is  Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Limper’s complete interview.

  1. Hello Dr. Limper. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. The journey from a Mechanical Engineer, specializing in Polymer processing (1981) to Member of Board of Management (2004) of an Organization with 155+ years of legacy is a remarkable one. So let me start with a personal question – What would you say was a key to your success and how you reached the very top spot?

Everybody who has passion for his kind of job will be successful. When I started my career at the IKV (Aachen University), rubber processing was a focal point of activities. It has been very fascinating to transfer methods of engineering to the rubber industry. At that point of time (beginning of the 80’s) the rubber industry was dominated by chemists and a lot of process understanding had to be developed. Being a part of this paradigm change had been very inspiring and motivating. To the new generation, my advice is whatever you do, stop doing it if you do not like it (or can’t change it). The Rubber Industry is an attractive field of work, since it requires multi-disciplinary thinking (chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, product design, etc).  

  1. Through organic and inorganic growth (acquisitions), HF currently enjoys an enviable leadership status for its portfolio of products. What’s a challenge you spend a lot of time thinking about these days?

Excellent solutions require holistic thinking in the mixing room. We could show that, for example, by the tandem technology it is possible to save considerable mixing time and even mixing stages in some cases. The integration of the abilities of modern control systems, drives, hydraulics and machine concepts is necessary to achieve lowest possible costs at highest quality. Many customers are still ignoring these facts and tend to keep buying mixing lines as in the old times. In those days, steel and iron, controls and peripheral aggregates have been sourced individually and there have not been a lot of synergistic interactions.

It is a challenge for us to convince customers to leave the archaic way of purchasing and to go for holistic “turnkey” offers.  With our investment into a first class technical center, the building up of a big group of system engineers and control system specialists, we are today well prepared for widespread offers.

HF Tandem Mixer

HF Tandem Mixer

  1. Recently, a reader wrote to me saying “Ever since the inventions of Banbury® and Intermix®, rubber mixing machinery have not witnessed any spectacular invention”. Would you agree with this statement? Where do machinery stand today vis-a-vis the progress (or lack of progress) in rubber technology?

This reader was definitely wrong! Imagine, somebody saying: “Cars today still have four wheels, a motor , a brake and an autobody, I cannot see any new technical concept..”  Would you agree??

Only out of a very big distance the mixers from 1920 and today look similar. We have

  • hydraulic instead of pneumatic rams
  • a controlled ram pressure and a controlled ram position
  • dust stops , which have far less leakages as in the past
  • machines running at least with double speeds as 100 years ago
  • have rotors being at least 250% more productive
  • a tight process control, which uses to control the process parameters to achieve a very high batch-to-batch uniformity
  • a wear protection, which has doubled the lifetime of the mixer components

Apart from the common feature, many people address to the rubber industry, I see a lot of progress in the mixing room. Tangential mixers are offering new rotors with enhanced capabilities for cooling and a higher productivity. Tyre producers are using mixers as reaction vessels (silica compounding) and are introducing intermeshing mixers. The tandem technology is getting an increasing importance and a steep rising market share. Twin screws have conquered the downstream area in many mixing rooms. I have seen a mixing room for final mixing without any roll mill.

Summarizing these shows, there is a lot of innovation in the rubber machinery and its adaptation in the industry!

HF Twin Screw Extruder

Twin Screw Sheeter

  1. What is the biggest frustration today for buyers of tire machinery? How are HF Tire Products and Services addressing this?

As I already mentioned, a missing “holistic view” can be very frustrating. Customers seem to save money, when they purchase their mixing lines “in slices”. This is only a short-term thinking. Normally their own engineering work is not taken into costing consideration or valued to be for free. Also the cheapest product can have the highest “costs of ownership”, since in many times the availability of low-price solutions can be poor. Availability is not only reached by robust and well-engineered products, it is also a function of service. This means customers should also value, what would be the reaction of a supplier, when it would come to problems. By installing a network of own service stations and service partners all around the world, we show a high commitment to achieve highest possible availability for our customers.

To allow our customers the look to a complete line, we have installed two lines in our technical center, where customers can use all components of a mixing line (material feeding, mixer, peripheral aggregates, different downstream solutions, a complete automation system including material and recipe management, process control, lab data etc.) to analyse his personal advantages in practical tests.

Such a detailed practical test had not been possible in the past. Often customers had to use industrial field installations for complete studies, which had a lot of limitations.

  1. How does HF propose to change the rubber and tire industry in the years to come?

I would be very happy, if a broader view on solutions would take place. In our case this would be an entire look at a mixing line – including controls, order and material management. It could be that the rubber industry will lose a part of its market to the TPE industry. In such cases, rubber processors could think about own compounding facilities for these materials.

In the tyre industry, we expect even new challenges from newer materials, as functionalized polymers or surface activated fillers. To develop solutions, which will assure the ability to compound these new recipes at acceptable costs, remains to be a real challenge.

Energy Efficiency will be a big theme in mixing. The relative costs might be only a few cents per Kg, but the absolute costs are approaching very high values in practice. We have developed new drive solutions with considerable higher efficiencies. Besides this we have a quite big research work in which we have analysed the complete energy flow in the mill room. The first results are very promising! By the optimisation of processes, the more intelligent process control (for example the ram-position control possible by iRam), a better use of hydraulics, we see specific energy-saving potential of up to 40%.

All in all, these examples show again, that we should be prepared to look in the bigger scope to the mixing line – then a lot of substantial optimizations are possible.

Know A Rubber Leader - Dr. Andreas Limper

Read PDF

  1. Can “superior-technology” and “low-cost” ever go hand-in-hand in rubber and tire machinery/equipment?

If we are speaking about high quality demands, it is a must!! Look at the major tyre producers. They have analysed the total costs of ownership and keep buying high quality machinery.  For low-quality products, which have to fulfill low requirements, perhaps a cheap solution also works. But for me, even this way is questionable.  A rubber mixing line has a high investment and a very long lifetime. Customers, serving today a low-requirement market, might see the demand for higher sophisticated solutions in a few years. With a line of sight at a low-standard, they are limiting their ability to follow market trends.

  1. Most analysts opine that the production has shifted from west to east in case of rubber goods production. However the customer awareness levels on advances in machinery and its availability, superior technology and its adoption is seen to be better in the west. So, on a scale of 1 to 10 (low to high), where do you rate the practices of manufacturers of the east? What do you think of this disparity and how is HF working to expand your market on newer technologies in the East?

We are actively supporting our customers wherever they go. We have own service activities at our new facility in Slovakia and an own service station in Qingdao/China. The higher personal costs are producing a higher pressure for modernization on western facilities. So in general terms, there is a certain routine for optimizations and process improvements. In eastern facilities, which in many cases are much younger, these skills must first be developed.However, I see eastern European facilities learning very fast. If the western companies in best cases are at a scale of 10, eastern facilities today are achieving results of at least 7.

If I look at Asia – which means predominantly India, China and Southeast Asia, conditions are comparable. These countries have been used by OEM’s, for example car manufacturers as source for easy and inexpensive parts. Companies being active in such business fields are working with very simple and inexpensive solutions. I am deeply convinced, with increasing quality demands there will be a strong requirement for modernisations and upgrades. New technologies, a wide use of automation concepts and new mixing procedures create the necessity to qualify as well the operators and people responsible for the mixing room. By installing our own training center, we are preparing our customer operators for the use of new technology. We see that this is as important as the technology itself.

Rubber Mixing Room

A Rubber Mixing Room

  1. One of the greatest threats to any business is copying of design and features from original manufacturer and offer at a fraction of price. Some politely call it “re-engineering” but any imitation can be quite intimidating. As a respected industry pioneer, I am sure you too would have your share of concerns and challenges. How does HF face this and protect your revenue or profitability?

I like the general thoughts of John Ruskin, who said, “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey”.
A mixer is – with a superficial view – not a complicated machine. Its geometry can be copied simply. What “pirates” ignore?  A lot of secrets are in the production methods! Think about hard coating, high precision machining of hardened surfaces, sophisticated controls for ram hydraulics, etc. Also, the correct assembly involves a lot of manual skills which need a lot of experience. If we apply our quality demands, a production of a key component is usually not decisively cheaper in a low-cost country. This means the production of this key components in own premises is the best know how protection.

  1. What do you envision for HF Group in the next 10 years?

I am convinced the market will ask more and more for “solutions” instead of “machines”. This means our group has to be able to deeply understand our customers’ requirements. Our understanding has to include not only the mill room but as well the general product specifications and the value chain of its production. The HF Mixing Group is preparing itself by building up more engineering power and more engineering competence. Our production of key components will be further developed to achieve lowest costs at highest quality. We will as well develop and use our world-wide purchasing network to accomplish the best costs for our customers.

  1. Great! And one last question, what would you advice on machinery selection to buyers and users of rubber and tire equipment?

Let me again answer with a worldly wisdom of John Ruskin. “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better”.

xxxxxxx

Download the full interview in PDF here.

A highly influential persona up to First World War, John Ruskin’s ideas and concerns are today widely recognized as having relevance in environmentalism and sustainability. Significantly, both are key challenges for the rubber machinery industry as well.  And continued innovation in rubber machinery, I think, is the best way to protect environment and also ensure overall sustainability. With this food for thought, I look forward to hearing from you on this chat with Prof. Dr. Andreas Limper.


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The Anatomy of a Great Batch Off Cooling Line

A Rubber Mixing Room in any tire and modern rubber goods manufacturing unit is incomplete without a Batch Off Cooling Line. This is true especially if you use an internal mixer for your masters, final and remix production.

If you ask a rubber compounding expert, he will summarize for you the functionality of a great batch off in just six words – Dip, Cool, Dry, Stack and Cut.

Perplexed? Read on.

A Batch Off Cooling Line is a robust and powerful rubber machinery that accepts sheets or strips fed into it from a Two-Roll Mill or Twin Screw Sheeter (TSS), placed underneath a internal mixer. These sheets or strips of your rubber mix compound could have temperatures up to 160°C.

At such high temperatures, it is difficult and risky to allow your operators to handle them manually. I say this specifically, because rubber product manufacturers in developing countries who use rubber dispersion kneaders and does not achieve such high temperatures do not adopt a batch off.  Instead they prefer to dip the strips into a cooling tank and deploy labour to do the stacking.

Your batch off cooling line does the job of cooling these compounds to ambient + 5°C and stacks it up neatly in the most effective way with short cycle times.

Thus, you increase your productivity and efficiency.

Typically two types of Batch Off Machines are offered by prominent manufacturers. The most popular one is the Tunnel Batch Off  where the rubber sheets or strips hanging from cylindrical bars moves through a “tunnel”. You also find Cantilever Batch Off with its bars attached to one side only (cantilevered) and electrical cooling racks equipped with number of cooling fans.

Batch Off Rubber Machinery

Image: VMI Holland

Prodicon has two short informative animations on their website to help you understand the difference between the two types of batch off machinery.

The anatomy of a great (Tunnel) Batch Off Cooling Line is as below

Anatomy of a Batch Off Cooling Line

Image: Bainite Machines

Your rubber sheet or strip is passed through dip tank filled with water/antitack solution and then fed into the cooling racks (or festooners). There are cooling fans mounted on the sides (and on top) blowing air into the hanging rubber sheets passing through the tunnel. This gradually cools down the moving sheets or strips.

An auto-gripper assembly grips and lifts the cooled sheet, and feeds into a booking conveyor. This gripping accessory is even more useful, when you have a transport conveyor to take the master batch compound sheets on to the first floor. These sheets would later be fed again into the mixer as part of your two stage mixing for finals.

At one of the booking conveyor, an auto sampling unit helps you to collect a sample of the batch using a punch. These samples (mostly round in shape) is what you send to your R&D for testing and records.

The sheets from final booking conveyor passes through a wig-wag system, that aids in stacking your rubber sheets and strips. Once the required weight of a stack is achieved on the pallet, you cut the sheet (or strips) and replace the filled pallet with an empty pallet to continue.

Optional accessories like Auto Sampling, Auto Gripper, Auto Cutting, Auto Palleter and Auto Stacker further automate your batch off cooling line and reduces labor requirement.

Here is a short video you may want to watch. When you focus on details starting from 3:21 min of this video, you could comprehend effortlessly the above description in action. More importantly, you could visualize how to benefit from the various accessories of a batch off cooling line.

You get both new and used batch-off cooling lines in the market.

Your choice of a Batch Off Cooling Line (and its features) to Dip, Cool, Dry, Stack and Cut your rubber sheets or strips is best configured in consultation with your selected manufacturer or rubber machinery supplier and customized to your requirements.

Picture of a Batch Off

An Image From The Web:  Batch Off Cooling Line

Let me know if you found this post informative.

Or contact me if you seek more details on this machinery selection and their manufacturers.


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Rubber Machinery Selection Is An Art – Jacob Peled

Rubber Machinery selection is an art by itself and should be done by people who have visions, both technical and commercial, says Jacob Peled, Executive Chairman of Pelmar Engineering Ltd, Isreal in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World.

(Starting this month, I bring to you a new series comprising of interviews with rubber leaders – aptly titled “Know A Rubber Leader in 10 Questions”. I hope you find the wisdom, experience and vision shared here inspirational and energizing.) 

Know A Rubber Leader

Here is Jacob’s full interview reproduced for you.

  1. Hello Jacob. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. After a degree in Polymer Science and an MBA from Tel-Aviv University, you started Pelmar in 1966 and grew the brand to a revered name in reconditioned and pre-owned machinery, and tooling for the tire industry. Your growth history is fascinating and I have always found you very inspirational in our conversations. So, let me start with a personal question – Was your entry into Tire Industry planned or it just happened? Is there a story that could inspire and motivate the next generation of rubber leaders?

Thank you for your kind words. My entry to the Tire Industry happened as a combination of coincidence and probably hidden motivations. During my studies I worked as a compounder at Samson Tire and Rubber Co., which was a licensor of General Tires at the time. This has given me the first taste of rubber combined of course with a lot of dust, noise and dirt. Later on the same company has commissioned me to carry out a market survey for them, which showed me other sides of this fascinating industry. I have never left since – 49 years now.

  1. In our last communication, you cited that there have been very few changes in tire industry in the last 100 years. To a buyer, this is a surprise because their general perception is that tire technology is revolutionizing fast and leading tire producers compete on technology to garner market share. Could you elaborate on your view for our readers?

Indeed the changes in tire construction and production have not been significant, with the exception perhaps of the invention of radial tires by Michelin and tubeless tires by Continental.  Compounds have also developed to achieve better physical and chemical properties, but with relatively few significant improvements.

  1. How much of this stagnation or lack of change do you attribute to the machinery being used for tire manufacturing?

Tire rubber machinery have attributed to the slow development mainly because the function of machinery developed in the middle of the last century was satisfactory to the tire companies. The high prices of tires, combined with relatively low life expectancy, have caused the stagnation. Significant changes in automation of tire building only started approx. 15 years ago.

  1. At Tire Technology Expo 2014, you pointed out that tire production using the pre-cure method lends itself well to the manufacture of new tyres? Isn’t this unconventional? What changes in machinery would this demand on the shop floor for a tire manufacturer?

My concept at TTE2014 presentation indeed mentioned this as an option. Pre-cured tread achieved better results than virgin tread. This is true in many cases also in hot retreading, particularly on aircraft tires. This leads to the possibility of casings will be manufactured slick and the tread applied later, as per the market requirements. It enables keeping smaller stocks and fast response to customer wishes.  While this idea could be used on all tire sizes, I know that this has already started, but mainly on industrial tire production. The changes on the shop floor would not only be a result of using PCT. We shall see the gradual disappearance of duplex and triplex extrusion lines, as well as large calender lines, which will be replaced by strip-winders and roller-dies respectively.

  1. I observe that environment conservation has always been a subject close to your heart. However, rubber processing has always been and continues to be an energy intensive process with significant wastage. Is it possible to strike a balance? Are the rubber machinery manufacturers doing enough on this subject?

You are quite right. Environmental conservation and recycling have always been close to my heart. In fact, for many years and still true, retreading is the No. 1 recycling method in the tire industry. It is the most effective and economical. True enough, it is not a final solution, but it is the most significant preventer for more scrap tires in the landfills. Tire and rubber machinery and the process in general have traditionally been accompanied by significant wastage. This is changing very quickly in the last 10 years. The rubber machinery producers are paying a lot of attention and results are already there.

  1. What would future tire plants look like?

Tire plants will become smaller and more specialized in certain types and sizes of tires. Part of my answer is in Point 4. I also believe that future tire plants will have no compounding facilities of their own, as mixing would be done by outside custom compounders specialized in these products (similar in a way to what happened to fabric production and dipping).

  1. Which machinery or manufacturing technology, do you foresee, has the potential to disrupt the rubber and tire industry in the next 15 years?

Disrupt is probably not the right term to use. I suppose you mean what machinery will change significantly or disappear? As mentioned above, calender lines and extrusion lines will disappear. This is particularly true for innerliner calenders since innerliner will be replaced by a film, which is already being used by some tire companies.  Passenger tire building machines have already changed and their capacity increased to 35 seconds per tire and they will reach 10 or 15 seconds. This will require a change in curing presses, and particularly shortening curing time. Curing bladders will either disappear or be made to endure thousands of curing cycles.

  1. What do you envision for Pelmar in the next 10 years?

Pelmar will hopefully continue to expand its services to more parts of the world. It will deal more intensively with new machinery made to its design, which is already being done now. It will also be involved more extensively in equipment refurbishment and upgrading.

  1. What level of support can a customer, who desires to set up a green-field project, expect from Pelmar?

The support that a green-field customer can expect from Pelmar is A through Z services starting with engineering, technology transfer, complete plant design or alternatively a line. These will also include assistance in R&D, quality control, testing of end product and a future forecasting and continued assistance. The exception is any commercial activity related to tires, which we refrain from completely as an iron clad principle.

  1. Great! And one last question. What advice on “machinery selection” would you give to buyers in rubber and tire industry?

Machinery selection is an art by itself and should be done by people who have visions, both technical and commercial. Our advice is always to check references, compare technical capabilities and prices.

Download the full interview in PDF here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this interview.


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Internal Rubber Mixer: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Having trouble comprehending the two types of Internal Rubber Mixers? Well, it’s not as difficult as you think.

Here’s an info sheet that gives you all the critical aspects that you need to differentiate between Intermeshing Type Mixer and Tangential Type Mixer. The Rotors, Configurations, Fill Factor, Position inside the Mixing Chamber, Mixing Nature, Rotor Cooling and Mix Quality all explained in a single page for your ready reference.

Banbury Vs Intermix Info Chart

A Quick Reference Chart on Internal Mixer from Rubber Machinery World.

I hope you will have this handy when you plan discussions for a new or used internal mixer or while addressing purchase selection questionnaire.

Let me know if you found it informative.


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A Beginner’s Guide to Rubber Refiner Mill

Are you looking for a rubber refiner mill? Great. Now you try searching this key word in google or any other search engine and explore a few sites.

How many direct search results did you get without linkages to rubber mixing mills or two-roll mills? Even more importantly, how many sites gave you clarity of information you sought for on this category of rubber machinery? Less than 2-3, on the brightest side, if I may say so.

And this is why I am prompted to write a beginner’s guide to rubber refiner mill.

First things first. You need a rubber refiner mill mainly for the refining of reclaimed rubber. The operational ease and functional performance makes this mill your preferred machinery in reclaim rubber industry for refining pure and fine rubber powder from waste.

Refiner Rubber Mill

A Rebuilt Refiner Mill From Deguma

Similar in construction to an open mixing mill, you will observe that its distinguishing feature is that both the rolls have different diameter. The front roll is smaller in diameter as compared to the back roll. And hence when you see a refiner mill identified as 21″ x 24″ x 36″, you simply need to decode it as Front Roll diameter is 21 inches, Rear Roll diameter is 24 inches and both the rolls have same face length of 36 inches.

The Rear Rolls have a higher surface speed than the Front Rolls again a similar feature of a regular rubber mixing mill. However, in your refiner mill, the differential sized rolls turning at considerably different speeds provides a high friction ratio. The ratio of speed of your Front Roll to Rear Roll could vary in the range 1:1.75 to 1:2.50 depending on your process requirement.

When the rolls are set quite tightly to each other (i.e. close nip-gap adjustment of 0.05mm), refined rubber in thin-sheet form (~ 0.10mm) is produced. This sheet that you get is usually smooth, uniform and free of grain or lumps. In this refining process, the impurities contained in reclaimed rubber are squeezed by rolls to the both sides of rubber sheet which can be removed. Therefore, the purity of your reclaimed rubber is increased in refiner mills.

In the past, this finished rubber sheet was pulled towards a wind-up attachment and layered few times to increase the thickness of the sheet (approx. 25mm), post which they are cut using a hand knife by your operator (video from YouTube). The cut sheet are then dusted and stacked. Today some reclaim rubber manufacturers rely on balers to package the rubber sheets.

These sheets are stored and sold for a wide variety of end products like new tires (especially carcass, side-wall, under-tread of passenger, light-truck and off-road tires; inner liner of tubeless passenger tires; semi-pneumatic tires), tubes, automotive floor mats, de-vulcanisation for low technology pressed or extruded rubber goods, tread rubbers, adhesives, sealing and tape compounds, belting, battery containers, molded products, and rubberized asphalt.

Summarizing, though Rubber Refiner Mill is similar in appearance, construction and features of safety and operation; as a beginner, you simply need to absorb that these are special types of two-roll mill used in reclaim rubber industry to produce smooth and homogeneous rubber sheets.

Would you like to add more thoughts?


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Here’s Why TCU Is An Irresistible Ancillary For Your Rubber Machinery And Worth Your Investment.

TCU or Temperature Control Units are ancillary equipment to your rubber machinery that control process temperatures during rubber processing. During rubber processing, you continually seek optimal temperatures for the best product quality.

A TCU achieves temperature control by circulating water or an oil based fluid through the process application (in a closed loop). This results in heating of the application and temperature control of the process.

Temperature control units service a single process at any one time. In rubber industry, water is most popular circulating media.

For example, you have Three-Zone Water TCU’s for your internal mixer where One Zone supplies water to the Rotors, Second Zone to Drilled Sides (or Mixing Chamber) and Third Zone to Discharge Drop Door (and Floating Weight, RE Plates as appropriate to the mixer model). Usage of TCU in an intensive internal mixer is found to improve carbon black dispersion, eliminate first-batch-effect, maintain batch-to-batch consistency of your rubber mix compound, increase productivity, and reduce machine stress (which in turn increases the life of your internal mixer).

Similarly, you have 4 or 5 Zone TCU’s for your Extruders, where each of the zones supply water to screw, forward and rear barrels, die head, feed roll, etc as is required for your rubber extrusion process. Or you may have Two-Zone TCU for open two-roll mixing mills where each zone supplies water to your peripherally drilled or cored rolls. Most Rubber Calenders also have TCU supplying water to the rolls to control the calendering process temperature.

TCU for a 3-Roll Calender

3-Zone TCU for a 3-Roll Vertical Calender – Image from Bainite Machines Website

A properly installed, operated, and maintained TCU system gives you years of reliable operation.

Each TCU is a self-contained system consisting of a centrifugal pump, electric heater, cool/vent solenoid valve, electrical control, including a PID microprocessor controller and thermocouple along with standard safety devices like a mechanical over temperature safety thermostat, a pressure relief valve, motor overload protection, a low pressure cut out switch, etc.

Temperature Control Units come both in portable and robust sizes (depending on the application) with a variety of different control instruments, heater sizes, and cooling vales.

A Compact TCU

Compact TCU – Image from AEC Website

And you are right when you imagine that the portable TCU’s are visually appealing and popular because of their compact size.

At your installation site, you need to provide adequate water (from portable or central chillers or towers) to these TCUs from your plant water supply source. Check your manufacturer’s operations manual to verify the recommended water pressure requirement. This is important because lower than recommended water pressure can cause pump cavitations while excess pressure can damage internal components.

The pump in your TCU is used for rapid circulation of a relatively small amount of water. This in turn ensures close and uniform temperature differences between the delivery and the return lines.

You use temperature control units, when you want to preheat a process to the desired operating temperature. The heater and  cooling valve works together to give fast and accurate response to bring the water up to desired temperature or to change the settings when needed. This controls your circulating water temperature.

Here is an animation, that I found on the website of Sentra Temperature Controllers. It is quite informative and I hope you too like it. (Click on the picture to start animation)

Advantage Make TCU

Upon reaching your desired operating temperature the TCU can continue to add heat or convert into a cooling device by exchanging a small amount of circulated water with cooling water from an external source. Modern TCU have the controls wherein cooling water is precisely metered into the system by the cooling valve.

Most TCU’s in rubber industry for your machinery has temperature control from 30° to 300°F and designed for easy maintenance.

Summarizing, rubber processing under optimal temperature conditions is a must for your final product quality. And the features of TCU makes it irresistible as an efficiency enhancing ancillary equipment, which control process temperatures on your rubber machinery. Thus worth your investment.

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