Ocala, Florida - In 2007, polyurethane part producer Southwind Manufacturing Inc. was asked by a major player in the amusement/entertainment industry to evaluate and recommend possible solutions for problems they were having with structural failures of balls made of integral skin polyurethane foam (ISF). These balls were integral to a high-visibility interactive attraction at the user's Florida site.
Southwind noted that the attraction requires 150 of these "balls" to be in play at all times: they are picked up from the floor and ejected (in both cases by pinch rollers) in a continuous cycling operation. Then priced at $20 each and having an average lifespan of six days they represented replacemant costs of $180 000 annually, without considering the man-hours required to inspect, replace, and clean up the pieces, the company pointed out, in a recent statememt.
Southwind's inspection of the "pick-up" vehicle identified the cause of the rapid destruction. "Our evaluation of the ball suggested a solution that would result in extended lifespan," the company said.
The customer was convinced to invest $7000 in new tooling to build a replacement designed by Southwind. Over a six-week period Southwind designed/constructed the necessary tooling, produced prototypes, and conducted the testing necessary to achieve correct ballistics for the new ball flight.
According to Southwind, subsequent tests in use established a life-span of over three months for each ball. Though piece/part pricing went up a little, the overall costs were slashed (9000 annual parts requirement was reduced to 500).
Also, at $162 500 annual savings, the customer gained rather quick pay-back for the tooling, said Southwind. And that figure does not count the savings they realised from purchasing/warehousing, material handling, and maintenance.
Southwind Manufacturing, based in Ocala, Florida, was set up in 1994, and says it offers a wide variety of polyurethane products, with services ranging from ground-up design projects, to custom tooling to fit users' needs.