Snow Grooming

The Client Challenge

Yellowstone Track Systems is an innovative manufacturer of snow grooming systems for cross-country ski and snowmobile trails. It is also a growing Wyoming company whose product is in high demand. Yellowstone determined the most cost-effective way to keep up with orders and maintain quality was to outsource several plastic components to Diversified Plastics. Their requirements, part by part, are pretty straightforward — tight tolerances and even tighter schedules.

The Diversified Plastics Solution

The Diversified Plastics team carefully reviews the specifications for each component and uses the most cost-effective method available, by part. Parts are injection molded, machined (manually and with CNC machines), cast out of urethane and thermoformed. We even combine processes when called for. For quick injection molding projects, we use aircraft quality aluminum materials for economical tooling. This speeds up the machining process and turns out molds faster than steel molds for quicker customer response time.

We became this customer’s fabrication partner — testing new designs, producing a wide array of components, incorporating a variety of materials, and reducing inventory with quick-turn production and just-in-time delivery — all of which helped to keep its operations as smooth as the trails its equipment grooms.

Cost Reductions through Process Improvements

The Client Challenge

Spectrum Products was sourcing multiple parts and components from multiple sources. While it was getting quality products, the process was inefficient and expensive — especially on some of its short-run products — which cut into its profit margin. A Diversified Plastics sales specialist called on the OEM customer and walked through our variety of fabrication processes.

The Diversified Plastics Solution

Results – Parts were injection molded, machined, cast out of urethane, and also, vacuum formed.  Diversified Plastics combined processes when necessary.  We also machined low-volume prototypes, then converted to injection molding at a later date, including custom coloring and logos for larger production runs.

OEM Wear Strip Solution

The Client Challenge

Wear strips were needed for a sliding filter belt. In this particular application, a vacuum is applied from the underside of the assembly, through the filter belt and also through the slide wear strip, pulling the filtered material through the filter belt as it conveys down the wear strips. Multiple wear strips are joined to each other, end on end, to reach lengths of more than 100 feet. Diversified Plastics had been manufacturing the strips with no issues.

However, in 2009 the client changed production processes, increasing the vacuum on the underside of the assembly and filtering a finer material. The result was that material was getting pulled through and packed in the areas where the wear strip sections joined together. The result was a much shorter life for the filter belt and the wear strips.

The Diversified Plastics Solution

Diversified Plastics brought the client out to our Montana fabrication facility and reviewed photos of its new process. We quickly realized that the higher vacuum and finer material combined with expansion and contraction over the length of the wear strip was causing the problem.

We formulated a simple, low-cost solution to seal each joint. A tongue-and-groove seal allowed for the inevitable thermal expansion and contraction while keeping the joint airtight. We developed and tested the solution in an afternoon and provided preliminary drawings and prototypes to the customer the next day for final approval.


Converting Metal into Plastic

The Client Challenge

Engineers at a large manufacturer of agricultural equipment, were tasked with examining each part in the equipment and reducing costs — without sacrificing product life or durability. The supplying distributor relied on Diversified Plastics to help them meet the challenge.

The Diversified Plastics Solution

We sat down with both the distributor and the engineering team and walked through the needs; we then created prototypes for testing. Each of the proposed parts was subjected to a full year of real-world performance testing in the field before being considered for full production. In addition to the per-part cost savings, the company wanted to recoup its tooling and capital investment within 12 months of full production. Diversified Plastics’ approach helped the supplying distributor meet all of the requirements. This changeover to plastic components has been an ongoing one, but in early 2010 nearly every part manufactured by Diversified Plastics has outperformed its metal counterpart and at a dramatic cost savings.


Deer Island Wastewater Treatment

The Project:

The Deer Island treatment plant, operated by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, is the public wastewater treatment facility for the city of Boston. The plant was undergoing an extensive refurbishment, replacing all of its chain and sprockets. Diversified Plastics, pre-qualified by the independent design engineering firm, earned the award of an equipment order. By the end of the one-year contract, more than 4,600 SS715C23T sprockets for head shafts and corner shafts will have been delivered, as well as all the polyurethane NH78-40T sectional teeth that were molded for the 575 offset hubs included in the job.

The Client Challenge:

Engineering specifications called for sprockets to be either cast or injection molded from 70D-75D polyurethane. Diversified Plastics offers both processing capabilities and bid both options. The challenge came in providing the part at the right price and on time. Diversified Plastics’ goal was to meet or exceed specs at a price point well within budget, as well as to maintain a stringent delivery schedule.

There were extensive evaluations completed of both manufacturing processes to determine the best fit. Engineers and contractors from the Boston site visited the Diversified Plastics plant in Missoula and worked closely to ensure the process selected would produce the desired product. Prototypes were tested extensively, both in-house and by an independent laboratory located in Chicago.

The Diversified Plastics Solution:

Injection molding became the clear choice for manufacturing. The process reduces material waste and is less labor intensive, which ensures the desired product can be delivered on time and on budget. For thermoplastic polyurethane, we worked closely with BASF and ultimately chose the best material to meet specified requirements — including a high tensile strength (for carrying the load) and a high wear property (for long-lasting wear).

Diversified Plastics  engineered the process to mold the sprockets in a fashion that met all the project requirements. This process also helped reduce time, material and waste, and assisted in meeting the stringent delivery schedule. The necessary dies were all tooled by us, in-house, for projects such as this.

The finished piece was a large 23.3-inch OD sprocket with chain saver rim and 6-inch LTB. Its finished weight was 33 pounds. It exceeded the specifications and reduced long-term maintenance costs at Deer Island. The sprocket readily carries the 2,200-pound max chain load required. It was both abrasion resistant to withstand the high grit slurry and corrosion resistant against the harsh chemicals.

In independent testing, the sprocket was submerged and run in a simulated, abrasive chemical tank. It showed miniscule teeth-wear after the accelerated five-year test and was still running strong after the accelerated 15-year mark. To ensure consistency and quality control throughout the entire run, Diversified Plastics thoroughly tested the products in-house, including a 4,500-pound, static load test on every hundredth part produced.

In early 2010, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority completed installation of the sprockets and was pleased with how easily the sprockets installed.