Radius, manufacturers of premium toothbrushes, uses a water tank to cool its toothbrush handles before they are dried and sent for bristling. The chilled water causes the outside of the handle to cool quickly while the interior is still hot. Radius co-founder Kevin Foley says there is a risk of the pieces falling into the tank on top of each other while still having a heated core, leading to dimples that render them unusable. “We had about a 23% reject rate, and this is a multimillion dollar product for us,” said Foley.
Radius decided to replace the fiberglass tank with a stainless steel tank and conveyor system from Dynamic Conveyor. Foley, an architect by training, immediately recognized the flexibility provided by the DynaCon conveyor. “We broke our unit completely apart when we got it,” said Foley, adding that they had to try several conveyor configurations at the onset due to the specialized nature of the challenge. “When we had to expand the lineal distance, we were able to add length and put it back together very easily. It’s very cool.”
Radius was able to cut their scrap rate down to 10% through experimenting with conveyor length and speed. Then a brainstorm hit which allowed them to drop their reject rate even further. Drive flights were placed on the belt, creating compartments that maintained separation between the handles as they fell into the cooling bath and using a bubbler to push pressurized air through the belt.
“By the time they settle down, they’re sitting on the conveyor belt, not on another toothbrush,” explained Foley. “This dropped our reject rate to about 1.5%.”
Radius discovered additional benefits on the discharge side of the water bath. Where previously a bristling machine operator may have had to stop production and use an air gun to dry out the bristle holes, now two fans placed on top of the conveyor enabled the parts to completely dry before being dropped into bins for bristling. Foley said this adjustment allowed them to increase the belt speed.
“The complaint I always heard from assembly is we never have enough parts. Now all of a sudden, we have plenty of inventory,” said Foley, who calculated the annual dollar amount saved by switching to DynaCon at around $27,000. “Beyond that, we’ve got the ability to make a beautiful product, a product that is dry, and the ability to make product 16 hours a day instead of eight.”