We asked one of our clients to give us their impressions during a China factory visit during a buying mission recently. Read below to get an idea of how they felt during this trip. This is one of a series of blogs that we will title: Buyer Diary.
During the previous entry, we got to understand more about the production process for toys. Every production process includes the use of machinery, which brings us to today’s topic – technical issues relating to machinery. How should we handle these machineries that are used for production?
There are many complications to operate machines. For example, there is always potential danger and tendency of malfunction. These different factors affect production one way or another. The bottom line is – How should we minimize these problems?
China Factory – Different Machines (its Operations and Potential Dangers)
Handling these machines are not as easy as it seems, some of them are rather dangerous to manage, especially for inexperienced factory workers. Throughout my China factory visit, I have witnessed some of the accidents that are caused by mishandling of these machines. We will also touch on the various potential dangers that can happen.
PVC Powder Mixing Machine
As the name suggests, the PVC Powder Mixing Machine mixes both the PVC Powder and any other liquid substances in the required percentage to attain the material required for the molding process. First, the factory purchases all the materials required and it starts with molding. The PVC plastic is the main material required to manufacture the plastic toys – as you can see on the right of the photo. Together with other liquid substances, the PVC plastic is poured into the machinery. After which the PVC plastic develops to liquid form and is ready to be molded.
Rotational Molding Machine
A rotational molding machine is rotates during operation, therefore causing the softened material to spread and stick itself onto the walls of the mold. To ensure that the mold is evenly manufactured, the rotation continues throughout the entire molding process.
Take a look at the 8 holes that the factory worker is focused on during my China factory visit. Those are the molds required to make the toy. So liquid plastic is poured into the mold and after the high temperature processing, the toys have been molded into the required shape! This requires extreme high heat and is generated by both charcoal and electricity.
Please view the video for more information.
Take for example, you can be easily scalded by the Rotational Molding Machine during manufacture. The machine is under immense heat as it is operated by charcoal. Touching any part of the metal machine will cause a burn on the arm.
Just like baking cupcakes, the oven is used to heat up the plastic of the toy such that the toy stays in shape.
Basically set the temperature and time required, and press start! It works just like your usual home microwave oven. When time is up, the oven will beep and you simply press stop. While handling the oven, it is important to put on a pair of gloves to avoid scalding yourself.
Spray On Paint Machine
The spray on paint machine works like the air-brush tattoo machine. The apparatus has to be filled with ink and then sprayed onto the toy. Usually a mold is used to cover the toy, as not all parts of the toy have to be painted. The mold is therefore designed to have holes at parts that require the color painting.
One reason why very few workers are willing to pick this specialization to operate a spray on paint machine is due to the harmful effects that would be caused to the user’s health. There are toxic substances that are used which are harmful to the lungs in the long term. Therefore operating this machine will require much care, such as putting on a mask.
Pad Printing Machine
There are many different kinds of printing, depending on your product. Some printing technique works for flat surfaces and others on curved ones. Well, the printing machines that we work with are not humongous ones that you may be thinking of right now. This pad printing machine below sits two workers, and prints two different designs onto the toy.
Pad printing works well for curved surfaces, although adjustments would have to be made during the printing process. With the illustration provided below, we have the printing pad, ink pad and the toy holder.
First of all, the toy is being placed onto the toy holder. The printing pad then stamps the ink pad and moves forward to stamp onto the toy. It works just like your regular chop! To aid in the drying of the ink, a hair dryer is taped onto the machine.
The pad printing machine can be relatively easy to operate. However, when it is placed into the hands of inexperienced users, be sure that accidents will occur. Many of the times, the operator’s hand is stuck in between of the moving panel and the machine itself, which causes much pain. It’s better to wear a glove when operating the pad printing machine.
Hole Punching Machine
For certain toys that are to be displayed on shelves, there is this additional step. It is to punch a hole on the packaging such that it could be hanged on the shelf. The hole punching machine is operates much like a manual car clutch pedal. When you tap your leg onto the machine pedal, it punches a hole onto the packaging.
The worker operating this machine must be relatively well experienced as speed and accuracy is required! Of course there is a danger of hurting yourself such as rubbing your hands against the moving chain attached to the machine. With such great friction, your hands will peel and bleed. As advised, it’s best to put on gloves which the user in the photo failed to abide.
Malfunction of Machine & Solutions
Machines require continuous care and repair work to keep it under good condition. Old machines will not work well, just like your old cassette player left on the shelf at home. It is important to make sure that you cooperate with a factory that has good resources.
Throughout my China factory visit, malfunctioning of machines are frequent enough to cause a delay on the production. Therefore, my solutions are as follows –
- Work with a factory with good resources
- Ensure that the factory have repairmen who are always available to do the necessary
- Always start manufacturing early to avoid delays
- Have a good network of machinery suppliers for potential replacements of machines
- Have a strong network of related factories to borrow a machine if necessary
I hope that this is helpful for all who are looking to understand more about the machines used during production. That’s all for today’s entry!