In 2018, Schoeneck Containers — a manufacturer of plastic containers for industries such as food and beverages, personal care and industrial products — was running at full capacity. The company wanted to expand its footprint beyond its facility in New Berlin, Wis., so a second facility in Delavan, Wis., was planned and built. The new 250,000 ft2 facility — divided equally into production and warehouse space — is large enough to support current and future growth.
Although the Delavan facility currently operates only six product lines, Schoeneck Containers — now known as Radius Packaging — opted for a cooling system that could grow with the company and eliminate the need to spend additional capital down the road.
Process Cooling Is Critical for Plastic Blow Molding
Process cooling plays a significant role in plastic blow molding. Inside the mold, the molten plastic is cooled by a cooling tower or chilled water. The process cooling water is fed through small channels within the mold. As the cooling water travels through the mold, it removes heat from the plastic and the plastic hardens.
Radius Packaging wanted to find a system that offered the flexibility to increase cycle times when needed while providing reliable, consistent cooling. The company reached out to Thermal Care, a manufacturer of water chillers, process cooling equipment and systems, to help with the specification. After considering the cooling requirements of the new facility, including future expansion needs, Radius Packaging selected Thermal Care’s HFCG 250-ton, closed-loop adiabatic fluid cooler. The system was installed outside of the new production facility while a TCW700 250-ton water-cooled central chiller from Thermal Care was installed inside. The closed-loop adiabatic fluid cooler with variable-frequency drives and central chiller with free-cooling capabilities allowed Radius Packaging to stage and cycle down to lower tonnage requirements while being able to ramp up as production lines are added.
“The Thermal Care unit allowed us to have the capacity to ramp up from a small load — of 30 or 40 tons — up to the rated capacity of the unit that’s in place right now, which is 250 tons,” said Bill Bushman, the facilities engineering manager at Radius Packaging.
The chiller, which uses Danfoss Turbocor oil-free magnetic-bearing technology, has fewer mechanical parts because all components associated with the oil-management system are eliminated. Reduced maintenance and high reliability over the life of the chiller are benefits of such a design, according to Danfoss. Reduced maintenance requirements allow Radius Packaging employees to focus more attention on the core capabilities of the business, for instance.
Because the company uses a lot of water, the New Berlin facility has open cooling towers. The closed-loop system at the Delavan plant requires minimal water consumption. This lowers treatment costs because it is not necessary to replace or treat large quantities of evaporated process water.
“The cost for treatment at our new facility is less than a quarter of what we pay at our New Berlin facility,” said Bushman. “We also have minimal water treatment requirements, so we don’t need to test our water systems daily.”
Free Cooling, Remote Monitoring Provide Benefits
Southeastern Wisconsin experiences temperatures consistently below 50°F (10°C) during the fall, winter and spring seasons. The free-cooling mode on the Delavan plant’s cooling system automatically shuts down the chiller when the adiabatic fluid cooler alone can efficiently cool process water and supply all the chilled water needed.
The chiller’s two Danfoss Turbocor TTS350 magnetic-bearing centrifugal compressors allow the system to operate at partial load efficiently. They also can automatically shift to free-cooling mode to reduce the load on the chiller when ambient conditions approach the 50°F setpoint. Removing these energy costs during the colder months has led to cost savings.
The Thermal Care system also includes integrated connectivity and system-wide operational remote control with secure access. The color touchscreen provides remote access to the operating and diagnostic screens of the chillers and pumping systems.
Because operators can control and monitor the systems remotely, employees do not need to travel approximately 40 miles between facilities to conduct diagnostics and ensure the system is running properly. This also helps reduce the costs of having dedicated service managers at each plant. Thermal Care also can log into the system and perform service checks to verify settings, temperatures and performance.
The Delavan facility has enough space for 12 to 14 injection-molding lines and eight blow-molding lines, and Radius Packaging designed the plant for future equipment expansion. According to the company, the next phase will involve installing an identical chiller compressor module, additional pumps, a plate-and-frame heat exchanger and a fluid cooler. The expansion will double the size of the system.
By working with Thermal Care on the layout and installation, the plastic container manufacturer was able to fit all the equipment into a relatively small area. The balance of the space will be used for production and warehousing.
For more information from Thermal Care, call 847-966-2260 or visit thermalcare.com. For more information from Danfoss Turbocor, call 888-326-3677 or visit danfoss.us.
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