Tim Crites, President, LWB Machinery, North America
Peter Steinl, like any other innovator and forward-looking individual, has a penchant for transformation.
Taking the reins after his father Alfred Steinl—a pioneer in the German rubber machine building industry—at LWB-Steinl, Peter for the better part of his leadership remained focused on the needs that the existing organizations do not address.
Leading a company specializing in solutions and machines for rubber processing, Peter was quick to identify that it was difficult to achieve an edge in the global market just through an attractive pricing model. As a result, with a vision to have a balanced organization, Peter and his team at LWB-Steinl brought in a transformation in the rubber and molding industry by providing turnkey packages with tooling, automation, customer, and process support. He started additional companies that would supply other products to the rubber and the molding industry.
Today the company has evolved into one of the leading manufacturers of rubber injection molding machines. The product portfolio comprises a complete range of rubber molding machines—from the vertical C-frame machine and the vertical machines with 4-column or plate frame clamping units to horizontal machines with tie-bar or C-frame clamp units. Today, the firm has gained command over the extraordinary viscoelastic properties of elastomers and successfully applies its superior mechanical engineering capabilities in developing robust and effective elastomer processing technology. With the production of over 400 machines annually for the elastomer processing industry and the thermoplastic sector, LWB-Steinl is rapidly progressing to become a leading supplier of robust machinery. Also, thanks to its versatile and combinable technology modules, the organization possesses the manufacturing solution for every elastomer product, including automation systems and plant engineering.
Custom-Built for Every Application
LWB-Steinl brings unparalleled decades-long experience in manufacturing vertical and horizontal injection molding machines and systems for processing elastomers and thermoplastics. The company offers profitable solutions for every application. Be it a standard or custom machine—with well-conceived designs and innovative developments, LWB-Steinl ensures high process efficiency in the production of rubber and thermoplastic molded parts. The uniqueness of the company also stems from its ability to design and manufacture machines that are optimally tailored to customers’ requests and applications, due to the modular design and numerous machine options.
“We have always been a custom machine builder to accommodate our customers’ needs. LWB-Steinl has used that ethos to grow its market share and customer base. As a technologically centered company, we strive to be on the cutting edge for our customers. For instance, we are one of the early companies to start automated molding cells. Our automation company in Germany is focused solely on offering turnkey automated systems and solutions for customers, instead of selling an off-the-shelf piece of equipment. The idea is to differentiate ourselves from our competition by being able to sell them a molding system rather than just a press to mold their parts,” says Tim Crites, President at LWB-Steinl Machinery, North America.
The desire to continue growing and addressing a crippling labor shortage in the manufacturing market remains the principal driver for LWB-Steinl Machinery’s adoption of automation. In doing so, LWB Automation empowers its clients with innovative turnkey systems and solutions for the automation of molded part handling.
We have always been a custom machine builder to accommodate our customers’ needs. LWB-Steinl has used that ethos to grow its market share and customer base
Typically, when a client approaches the company for an automated product, the specialists at LWB-Steinl–capable of handling any molding tool used by the client–supply them with the required system for the particular process. After equipping them with a suitable press, the company also offers them automation systems for the manufacturing of the parts. For instance, LWB Steinl has developed one of the best automation systems for molding, which is being used by its clients for the production of anti-vibration and suspension parts. Unlike most large tonnage presses with big molds and multi-cavities, LWB-Steinl’s design is fairly compact, with smaller cavitation for better process control and seamless automation. Furthermore, it can run continuously without operator intervention and easily exceed the client’s previous production output.
Over 50 Years of Competence in Machine Development
Currently, LWB-Steinl holds approximately 70 percent of the market share for C-frame machines. As per Crites, the ergonomics of the machines play an important part in elastomer processing. To facilitate a soft and elastic design structure and favorable access to the tool area, the company provides a variety of locking systems and press frames. LWB-Steinl has built machines up to 2000 tons of clamp force. Its equipment for plastics is based on a standard reciprocating screw—the RS injection unit. The patented rubber molding technology of LWB-Steinl, the EFE system, results up to 50 percent cure time reduction as compared to the standard injection systems. As a result, the clients achieve a significant increase in their output, and concurrently can lower their energy costs and enhance their profitability. Apart from the sales and installation of presses, LWB-Steinl also offers a myriad of training packages to its clients. When the equipment is delivered to the client, LWB sends a process engineer to give the users an overview of the machine and train them its usage. To those clients looking for in-house maintenance, LWB-Steinl also offers maintenance training.
Renowned companies in the rubber and thermoplastic processing industry have been placing their trust in the reliability and precision of LWB’s machines for years now. Elaborating LWB-Steinl’s customer-centric approach, Crites cites a client case study. The client, who specialized in the molding of components for an anti-vibration product, was struggling with the lack of labor for operating their equipment and running maintenance. This propelled them to seek the assistance of LWB-Steinl. The proficient engineering team from the firm developed a robust multi-station molding concept that enabled the client to go from a 400-ton molding machine (with 32-cavity mold large-format press) to a compact 100-ton injection molding machine (with two-cavity mold press). The new process advocated by LWB comprised the use of mold handling and load/unload robots designed to inject rubber and manipulate inserts. After the rubber was injected, it was taken to the curing station, and another mold was inserted into the press. Post-curing, the molds were sent to the de-molding station, where they were handled by automation units. LWB-Steinl was also able to integrate its system with the client’s plastic injection molding and adhesive application cells. Result? The entire process was automated, eliminating the need for operator intervention. Apart from the lower scrap and almost-zero downtime, the client was able to increase their annual output by about 15 percent, needless to mention that the labor necessity also diminished.
Orchestrating multiple success stories through its plethora of products and being instrumental in providing turnkey automation systems, in Europe as well as North America, LWB-Steinl is focusing on the development of advanced support for product and program launches. Instead of having the clients procure specialized personnel for the implementation, the company will deliver a pre-tested product cell, which will alleviate the burden on companies that cannot support internal management of the automation systems. Simultaneously, the company is also looking at the green initiative by inculcating the features of the recyclables industry.