Sledges, snowboards … The Swedish company STIGA Sports is among the world’s top suppliers of leisure and winter sports articles. In order to organize the production of plastic sledges more efficiently, the entire manufacturing process was designed anew, and at the same time moved back home!

Until now STIGA Sports has had its sturdy children’s sledges manufactured abroad in a “low cost” country. However, beginning in summer 2013, its brightly colored “Classic Sleds” for children are being produced in 
Sweden again. The way back was paved by a joint venture with neighboring plastics processor Memo Industriplast AB. STIGA and Memo 
Industriplast made a joint investment of 10 million Swedish kronor in a completely new on-site production line. Being highly-automated, it is competitive with manufacturers in the Far East. The core of this highly efficient plant is a Haitian Mars Series machine with a clamping force of 14,000 kN, integrated into a production cell with IML.

One step backward, two steps forward 

The co-operation with Memo Industriplast (and the accompanying relocation of production to their native Sweden) was more than a logical step, and it was not just the matter of one of Memo’s plants being located directly adjacent to the premises of STIGA Sports. Memo Industriplast itself is one of the most renowned companies in its field. As many as 50 injection-molding machines of various brands process the widest variety of raw materials, such as PP, PE, PA, PC, TPE, ABS, and magnetic materials.

Production ranges from plastic magnets and highly technical plastic or 
hybrid components for automobiles, smart phones, medical articles, 
heating and ventilation systems, right through to leisure articles and sports accessories. And now M. I. is also producing the sledge for STIGA.“Being directly adjacent to the location is advantageous, not only logistically. Above all, when you work together as closely as we do, short distances are a clear plus for technical meetings”, explains Conny Tapper, Production Manager of Memo Industriplast.

Mats Bandstigen, CEO of STIGA Sports, says that there has been a great improvement not only in his business’s ability to act, but also as regards costs: “Production abroad did have some economic advantages but it also had long lead times. 
Because of our proximity to M.I., we can now act more quickly and innovate, but with the Mars Series we can also produce more rapidly and much more efficiently. The cost effectiveness of the Mars is simply optimal; indeed, you can say that the whole plant operates with an absolute efficiency.”

Twelve hours of unmanned production 

The technologies and the know-how for the new sledge production come from Sweden too, from the Haitian agency Plamako. Christer Stureson, owner-manager of Plamako, still remembers the test phase and the arguments that were crucial very well: “Low energy costs, stable production parameters and an attractive price; that’s what the Mars Series was most able to score with”. The company, also the general distributor for Sepro Robots in Sweden, not only supplied the Mars machine, but also integrated it into fully-automated production cell. “Basically, the product is completely untouched by human hand until it gets to the STIGA Sports warehouse”, Christer Stureson says.

The sledge is produced by the Mars Series at 14,000 kN and is picked up by the gripper system of a 5-axis robot and guided to the stacking station. En route, a reflective sticker loaded electrically in advance is applied ‘on the fly’. From the stacking station, which has space for 12 Euro-pallets, a conveyor belt transports the sledges directly to the warehouse. The whole plant is designed for 12 hours of unmanned production and can process more than 800 tons of raw materials annually. The production volume amounts to around 300,000 sledges per year.

Economy is on the agenda

Since its Introduction, the energy-saving Mars Series were sold more than 90,000 times in 7 years – probably the most successful machine series in the history of injection molding machines ever. The innovative servo-hydraulic drive technology has been optimized yet again, increasing its efficiency and requiring even less energy. At K Show there will be showcased an economy version of the Mars II Series with 1,200 kN clamping force. Producing a case weighing 135 g made from PP transparent. The machine is equipped with a 4-zone hotrunner system and a robot from Sepro. The energy consumption of this application is about 8.3 kW/h.