Mastering the moldmaking for automotive industry
By Emma Palova
Grand Rapids, MI – It is no Coincidence that he gets called into work when others go to bed after a full day shift.
In a plant that runs three shifts, seven days a week, every minute that something doesn’t work like a well-oiled machine, means lost money. And a lot of it. The ABC Group global automotive supplier with vertically integrated plastic processing also has lots of pride being the GM supplier of the year several times.
And this mold maker knows how to fix what’s broken. Ludek must have mastered that elusive something that no one else knows. Call it the magic touch, and years of experience in the plastic injection molding industry. He is his own man in the tool room cage that is like an enclave between the plastic injection molding part of the company and the blow molding section.
Last night, as he walked into the gargantuan plant in his sandals sporting a black t-shirt from the Paranormal Society, he immediately commanded respect.
“Don’t touch anything,” Ludek yelled over the deafening sound of the machines to be heard.
The men standing around a 20-tun slab of steel hanging from a hoist turned around relieved, as if they had seen an angel in black.
Or better yet, the Raptor like the Raptor truck model that they were making the parts for.
Later, I learned that the slab of steel with holes and pins is called the tool. The tool is placed in a plastic injection machine, and it is expected to roll out plastic car parts.
The taller guy in blue shirt wanted to shake my hand, but grabbed a rag first to wipe the oil stains.
“Sorry to take him away from you,” said the manager.
It was 11 p.m., and the third shift had just started to find out that machine XOX was spitting out bad plastic car parts. It had to stop, and every hour the machine doesn’t work, the plant loses $60,000 according to the manager.
The question at hand remained what was wrong with what? Was it in the machine or in that 20-ton slab of carefully designed steel?
What first hit me, was the heat from the machines. Coming inside from a hot autumn night, it was like in a cauldron inside.
I had worked in the Svit factory in former Czechoslovakia several times during the summer breaks, but this was a different cup of coffee.
Ludek changed his sandals for boots. To my huge shock, he stooped underneath the steel slab to check the bottom of the tool. If it had fallen off the hoist, there would only remain an oil human stain.
“People get worried when they see me go under that,” he said.
Workers did come into the cage to see what was going on.
To be continued
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