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Epson Portland promotes reuse at inkjet cartridge factory

August 21, 2013

The OEM’s north-west US subsidiary reuses and recycles cartridge manufacturing equipment.epsonportland

Epson reported on the factory in Portland, Oregon, where the subsidiary has produced inkjet cartridges since 1999, operating “five different generations of ink cartridge assembly lines”. The factory has begun to promote reuse “to improve quality and reduce the environmental burden” of manufacturing.

Harking back to its parent company’s commitment to monozukuri – the “art and science of manufacturing” – Epson Portland says it “strongly believes in creating from the ground-up products that it designed itself”, with the Japanese mentality expanded to the US subsidiary, which notes it maintains a “strong commitment to send no waste to landfills”.

To that end, the company says it’s “determined to implement the philosophy of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, even in manufacturing”, building an automated packing machine loader from “retired ink cartridge assembly lines” in 2006, and continuing to the present day to “reuse hardware and robots from retired lines in other parts of the plant”.

Another area that has benefitted from this strategy is using “retired programmable logic controllers” to create a timer for “ink barrel mixers with a light that goes on when the mixer stops”, an “effective and low-cost way to improve accuracy and workflow”. In its cleanroom, the OEM reused parts to “fully automate” five used semi-automated production lines, with the cost reduced by using “machine parts from retired assembly lines”, in turn reducing “handling errors and defects”.

The OEM also stated that its vacuum packing area utilises robots “from the oldest generation of retired lines to automatically unload cartridges from vacuum packing machines”, reducing damage and increasing accuracy”, with a QR code reader installed on five of the machines to “prevent incorrect models from accidentally being shipped to customers”, a process previously relying on a visual check, with human error now removed from the situation.

Dave Graham, President of Epson Portland, said: “Epson’s commitment to monozukuri provides us with endless opportunities to innovate and improve. Reusing retired machinery is a form of innovation that has helped us to boost product quality, improve efficiency and reduce the burden on the environment.”

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