A flying start with the HIGHLINE MK2

The PKS company from Stapelburg in the northern Harz region is one of the first companies to receive the new HIGHLINE MK2 from Hennecke‘s Next Generation series. Owner Markus Leßmann has been using the machine since June 2023 and reports on his initial experiences.

For more than 30 years, the company PKS (short for Projects in Plastics and Foam) has been producing highly specialized molded foam parts for a wide range of industries. For the past 15 years, the company has focused on small series of the highest quality for use in medical technology. For example, PKS now produces cold foam cushions for a wide variety of medical treatment units. “But anyone who can supply the demanding medical sector also has the right solutions for special requirements in other industries,” assures Markus Leßmann. For instance, the PU experts also manufacture integral foam parts for selected customers in the automotive and shipbuilding sectors. Another exciting topic will be production with environment friendly raw materials, Leßmann is certain. The company’s unique selling point, however, is the manual production of even the smallest series with part weights between 40 and 3,000 grams in premium quality – even under difficult conditions such as demanding part geometries or special fire protection requirements. Furthermore, alongside the actual production, the Nordharz company also offers its customers expert advice and design of foaming tool molds.

Changeover to Hennecke machine
Markus Leßmann, who studied mechanical engineering, has been with PKS since 2020 and has also been the owner of the company since the beginning of 2022. In the fall of 2021, he set out to find a replacement for the company’s own high-pressure metering machine, which was now almost 20 years old and was increasingly causing problems – not to mention that finding spare parts was becoming difficult too. At Fakuma, he met Philipp Sterzenbach and Berthold Schimmelpfennig, two sales engineers at Hennecke, who were able to advise him in detail and convince him of the advantages of the high-pressure metering machines from Sankt Augustin. The exchange between the PU specialists continued – and when they met again a year later at the K trade show, Hennecke was there presenting its Next Generation and the brand new HIGHLINE MK2. It was not only performance and price that convinced Markus Leßmann: “I appreciate the detailed evaluation of production data and figures, which is why I was also enthusiastic straightaway about the machine’s IoT connection and the associated possibilities,” he reports – so he ordered the innovative metering machine while still at the trade show.

On-the-fly changeover to new production level
Commissioning and integration into production took place in mid-June 2023 and was literally a flying changeover without prior test runs. “The old system was dismantled on Monday, and production was already running on the new machine on Friday,” says Markus Leßmann. This is all the more remarkable because not only did the boom of the old system have to be reassembled, but it was also the first Hennecke metering machine ever at PKS. Nevertheless, the replacement went smoothly and without complications. He is particularly positive about the communication with the Hennecke sales department, which quickly provided a competent answer to all questions that arose: “You notice immediately that Philipp Sterzenbach and Berthold Schimmelpfennig are not just salesmen, but technicians through and through. They know the machine inside out and can help immediately.”

Convenient control with many options
Of course, switching to a new machine from a different manufacturer takes some getting used to at first, but the employees quickly became familiar with the intuitive visualization of the FOAMATIC control system. For example, its 12-inch display clearly shows the entire machine process on the main screen. “In the event of problems, a solution can be found within a few minutes – much faster than before, when you had to work your way through all kinds of menu items,” reports the Managing Director. What is more, many settings can be individually adjusted via the software in order to optimally adapt the machine to one’s own needs. For example, Markus Leßmann has already individually adapted the error tolerances to his needs and set the intervals of the cleaning strokes exactly to his own production.

Greater efficency and energy savings
A clear efficiency advantage is provided by the automatic startup programming, thanks to which the HIGHLINE MK2 is ready to start at exactly the desired time every morning. Here the machine is started automatically, after which the raw materials undergo temperature control and the hydraulics are then prepared. “This effectively gives us an additional 45 minutes of production time every day. This is clearly noticeable and pays off directly,” the entrepreneur is pleased to say. Another noticeable saving can be seen in energy consumption. Right off the bat, the Hennecke machine saves 15 percent energy compared to the previous system. “If we experiment a little more with the settings, even 30 percent savings are probably possible,” estimates Leßmann. He discovers that the Next Generation offers only the most modern plant technology in many places: in the automatic cleaning function and the integrated pressure and temperature measurement of the mixheads, the modern pump technology with frequency converter, the highly efficient motors, and much more.

Expansion of production is already planned
However, the most important thing for the company boss is always the quality of the products manufactured – and the foaming result achieved is perfect with the new HIGHLINE MK2. Leßmann’s customers agree, and so there are already further inquiries that could be optimally served with the machine. For this reason, the entrepreneur is already planning an expansion with a second Hennecke production line in the near future – for example with a larger mixhead to be able to produce other component sizes as well. Especially when additional Hennecke machines come into play, Markus Leßmann would like to benefit from the IoT connection. This allows the machines to be evaluated and compared easily and conveniently, even over longer periods of time.

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