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Sprint Electric supporting manufacturing investment in the North Shakespeare Monofilament Line 5 panel upgrade with 7 Sprint Electric PLX digital DC Drives
July 2022
Application Focus


Sprint Electric is delighted to be supporting Shakespeare Monofilament during its ongoing investment to upgrade several of its key production lines. Having successfully transformed one line by replacing four drives with the latest PLX digital DC drive technology, the Fleetwood based manufacturer is now partway through a project to upgrade further production lines.

Investing in manufacturing is important to the UK as this industry contributes significantly to UK export growth and to domestic production (GDP). The North of England has a rich heritage of manufacturing expertise that drives a diverse regional economy, worth more than £340 billion, greater than that of Austria and Norway! It is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment from all over the world. The region gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and its industry know-how continues to be world renowned.

Headquartered in Columbia, USA, market leader since the 1960s, Shakespeare® Polymers & Filaments manufactures thousands of innovative products from custom nylons to unique extrusion products.

The UK hub, Shakespeare Monofilament UK LTD is one of almost 15,000 manufacturing businesses across the North. This region directly employs 350,000+ people making the North West one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the UK. The Lancashire site focuses on performance Monofilaments that are used in a wide range of applications, including paper machines, clothing, industrial filtration, specialty fasteners and tire cord reinforcements.

The team at Shakespeare Monofilament UK responsible for multiple production lines include a Plant Electrical Technician and a Mechanical Engineer. The lines produce monofilament strands that get used for strimmer cables or get weaved into printing belts and more.

The process on each production line is individually engineered to meet critical specifications and each has demanding performance requirements. Each line runs constantly for 20mins, 4hrs or even 12hrs depending on the line and the thickness of strand required. Any down time on a production line is enormously expensive, so it is vital that the lines are reliable.

Originally some of the production lines were shipped to the UK from as far away as USA and Germany. These imported fibre line systems used original motors & drives, and these being older and manufactured in US had the potential that parts could be difficult to get hold of. Plus, the drives did not offer a display capability that is really useful for set up, operating and diagnostics. To avoid the cost exposure of any outages and to facilitate maximum production levels, the maintenance team upgraded the lines in-house with new DC motors and a new control system.

During one of the production processes, a monofilament travels through four chrome rollers on the line in between ovens, heated baths and draw baths to perfectly make the finished filament. Along the line, water falls over the strand and at other points the filament is steamed at 90° degrees to slightly stretch it. This is a precise process that requires critical accuracy to 0.1 revolution on the rollers. The PLX digital DC drives enable accurate control of the speed of the motor roll stands, extrusion and chrome rollers. The rollers need 4Q (four quadrant control) with regen capability to accurately control the speed and braking. A range of drives including PLX5, PLX15, PLX20 and PLX50 ensured the flexibility of a wide range of control during the process.

Plant Electrical Technicianm, Colin, knew Sprint Electric from a previous position at another local company and was confident that the PLX drives were flexible enough to manage the different control requirements and would be perfect for this retrofit project. He already had built a great relationship with Sprint Electric and could trust their expertise. He commented:

“I appreciate Sprint Electric’s deep knowledge and experience making the whole process easy with ongoing assistance from the sales and tech team in selecting the right product for the job. I can rely on Sprint to recommend a suitable alternative drive for retrofitting and delivery is always fast, usually next day. The basic quick set up guides are easy to follow, the drives are easy to set up and intuitive to programme. The team are always on hand should I need them to advise on any aspect. Once installed, Sprint Drives are super reliable.”

Colin Bleasdale, Shakespeare Monofilament UK

The initial retrofit project took 3-4 weeks in all and involved swopping in motors and DC Drives. At the same time they took the opportunity to refresh some of the cabling and upgraded the control system.
Following the success of the first line it was decided to upgrade further lines. Colin and his team are now working on a control panel for a new line that produces strimmer line that comes in different sizes.

This line will have 7 new drives controlling a twin head extruder, two pumps and four rollers.

If your team need help with retrofitting a DC Drive for a plastics production line or any other application, please contact us here to discuss your retrofit project or find a local distributor from our Worldwide network here.

Thank-you to Colin Bleasdale at Shakespeare Monofilament UK LTD for the kind use of his images.



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