Automating Drum Welding
"You don’t automate to get rid of the human. You automate to amplify the human." - Robert Mann
by Nagraj Pandit
Godrej Tooling

Plastic Drum welding SPM for 20 Litres container

The customer value proposition was delivered flawlessly by the trust reposed in Godrej Tooling.

Balmer Lawrie - Van Leer Limited (BLVLL), is a reputed brand and is a leader in the field of packaging and manufacturing of plastic drums. BLVLL uses a patented technology for the manufacturing of plastic drums in which the lid of the drum is joined rigidly and securely to the cylindrical body of the drum by plastic welding. This technology was developed in Europe in the early 90s and machines using this technology were imported from Germany into India.

This technology gave BLVLL an edge over its competitors on the fronts of price and quality.

BLVLL needed to replace existing welding SPMs with new ones as these machines were now more than 25 years old and yet performing the most critical operation of welding. Due to the patented technology, BLVLL customer was searching for a partner who can develop these machines locally and also safeguard their competitive edge. In other words, they were looking for a partner who could be trusted to meet the above requirements. Once they approached Godrej Toolings (GT), their search for a partner ended as they found GT trustworthy and technically competent for developing these critical machines. The available drawings of the machines were incomplete and to an extent, inaccurate as they comprised of hand sketches that were illegible. Further, over a period of time, many changes and modifications were carried out, which unfortunately were not incorporated into the drawings.

The major challenge facing GT was to reverse engineer the machines which were continuously being used for production. This was akin to learning to fly on the go!

The journey of development began with the visit of a GT team of 3 designers visiting BLVLL’s plant for almost a month, carefully studying the machine, recording dimensions, and preparing handmade sketches. Once the machine parts were sketched and dimensioned, each and every sketch of the part was converted into 3D model and integrated into the final assembly model of the machine. During this process, our designers had identified several errors in the drawings provided to us by BLVLL. Missing parts and mismatching of parts were rampant. All these issues were sorted out patiently and finally, corrected, modified drawings were prepared for the approval of BLVLL. In addition, using our knowledge and expertise, GT designers carried out many improvements in the design of parts to suit the requirements of the customer.

In an automatic drum welder, the top and bottom lids are welded to the drum body. The top lid is fed from the left side of the machine via the pick and place mechanism and the sliding bed. The drum body is fed via a conveyor and the body loader from the back. The lid is rotated at 900 and the drum and the lid are pushed simultaneously toward the heater plate. The edges of the lid and drum are heated so that both of these are welded together. The welded lid and the drum are ejected automatically from the machine and the same process is repeated on the adjoining machine for welding the bottom part is ejected automatically from the machine. The same process happens on another welder machine for welding the bottom lid to the drum. Using advanced manufacturing processes, we produced all the parts and assembled them successfully into a machine in a span of four months. On testing, the accuracy of the machine came out, in the range of 40-50 µ. This was indeed a moment of pride for our engineers and a team of highly skilled workmen. A team from BLVLL took several trials at GT itself, prior to giving their approval for dispatching the machine to their plant. Once, the machine was installed at their premises, the trials were taken once again and the machine built by us came out with flying colours, meeting all the functional requirements.

Drums produced on our machines were subjected to various tests such as drop test, hydraulic pressure and leak test, and so on, which were cleared successfully by the drums made on our machine.

The cycle time achieved was 23 sec per drum which met the requirement of the customer. The customer value proposition was thus delivered flawlessly by the trust reposed in Godrej Tooling. It has been a journey of co-creating successfully. The end result- Customer Delight.