Inside Rubber Issue 1 2024

Page 1


2024 Issue 1

Hamilton Kent Automates Pallet Loading fPartnership Enhances Member Benefits fMachinery Companies One-on-One fNavigating the Healthcare Landscape

The Official Publication of the Association of Rubber Products Manufacturers






2024 Brings New Member Benefits


appy New Year!

As we embark on a journey into 2024, I extend my warmest wishes for a year filled with prosperity, growth and success for each and every one of you. As we reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, I am thrilled to share some exciting news about two new offerings that have been added to your ARPM membership benefits. We are committed to continually enhancing your experience as a valued member of ARPM, and these additions aim to provide you with valuable insights and resources to support your company.

ITR Economics Membership

We are delighted to announce our partnership with ITR Economics, a renowned leader in economic forecasting and analysis. ARPM members now have exclusive access to ITR’s insights and expertise. This collaboration will empower you with the knowledge to navigate the dynamic economic landscape, make informed decisions and stay ahead of industry trends. We believe that this partnership will be instrumental in helping you and your organization thrive in today’s everchanging business environment. Details on how to access ITR Economics have been sent to each member, but if you didn’t receive it, please contact More information can be found on page 10.

ARPM Learning Management System (LMS) Access

ARPM has formed an innovative strategic partnership with NogginGuru to help ARPM members address their number one problem – workforce development – with the creation of skills courses that teach rubber manufacturing. Course topics

Letha Keslar, ARPM


include basic and advanced rubber manufacturing processes. Co-developed with ARPM subject-matter experts, these courses help ARPM members teach new and incumbent employees the skills they need to succeed in a rubber manufacturing company. ARPM members receive access to the online learning management system at no cost! If you are a current or potential member that would like more information on accessing the virtual training, or would like to see a full course catalog of available training, please contact the ARPM team at Thank you for being a valued member of ARPM. We are excited about the possibilities that 2024 holds for each of you and look forward to supporting your growth and success throughout the year. n 3


View from 30

Hamilton Kent Automates Pallet Loading

By Liz Stevens, writer, Inside Rubber


Membership Partnership with ITR Economics Enhances Member Benefits By Lindsey Munson, editor, Inside Rubber

13 Cover photo courtesy of Hamilton Kent.

Technical Standards

The Association’s Pivotal Role in Shaping International Standards: A Testament to Member Industry Volunteers By Letha Keslar, executive director, ARPM


Technical Focus

One-on-One with Three Rubber Machinery Companies By Lindsey Munson, editor, Inside Rubber



Throwing a Punch to Break Through Sales Walls By Tom Wood, vice-president, sales, E-S Plastic Products

2024 ISSUE 1


4 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1


From the Director


Member News






Ad Index



Rubber Executives See Decline in Sales, Yet Remain Profitable for 2023 and Optimistic for 2024 By Andrew Carlsgaard, analytics director, ARPM



Event Preview

ARPM’s EHS Summit Scheduled for August 2024


Navigating the Changing Landscape of Healthcare By Susan Denzio, director of publications, ARPM



New Year, New Skills: ARPM Training Academy

By Paige Heck, project manager, ARPM

ARPM Team Executive Director Letha Keslar – Managing Director Kaitlyn Triplett – Project Manager Paige Heck – Marketing Director Marcella Kates – Analytics Director Tony Robinson – Director of Publications Susan Denzio – Analytics Lead Andrew Carlsgaard – ARPM Officers and Board of Directors President James Wideman, MBL (USA) Corporation Vice President Ryan Fleming, Freudenberg-Nok Sealing Technologies Treasurer Donovan Lonsway, BRP Secretary Joe Keglewitsch, Ice Miller LLP Past President Travis Turek, Bruckman Rubber Corporation ARPM Board of Directors

Rich Balka, Home Rubber Company Bill Bernardo, Ebco, Inc. Kirk Bowman, The Timken Company Russ Burgert, Maplan Rubber Machinery Aaron Clark, Danfoss Power Solutions Joe Colletti, Marsh Bellofram Randy Dobbs, Sperry & Rice LLC Carl Flieler, Zochem LLC Doug Gilg, Continental ContiTech Cedric Glasper, Mechancial Rubber Products Corp. Diya Garware Ibanez, Fulflex, Inc. Jeff Leach, Passaic Rubber Co. Donovan Lonsway, BRP Jon Meigan, Lake Erie Rubber & Manufacturing Mike Rainey, HBD Industries Inc. Mike Recchio, Zeon Chemicals L.P. Brandon Robards, Ace Extrusion Caitlin Steele, Gates John Stone, The Rubber Group

6 Vice President, Editorial: Dianna Brodine Editor: Lindsey Munson Vice President, Design: Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer: Cara Pederson Published by:

2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 Phone: 785.271.5801

7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256


Phone: 317.863.4072 | Fax: 317.913.2445 | © Copyright 2024 5


Hamilton Kent Automates Pallet Loading By Liz Stevens, writer, Inside Rubber

Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now.


amilton Kent LLC, Winchester, Tennessee, recently earned an ARPM Innovation Award in the Smart Manufacturing Solutions category for its outstanding work to bolster plant safety by automating pallet loading for 6 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

a finished goods line. The company is a manufacturer and distributor of resilient-rubber watertight sealing systems and components, including gaskets, sealants, lubricants, adhesives, pipe plugs, connectors and bearing pads. Outfitted

The team behind Hamilton Kent’s automated palletizer project. Photo courtesy of Hamilton Kent.

for compression molding, extrusion and injection molding, Hamilton Kent offers customers a complete package – from design and development, through production and testing, to warehousing and shipping. Inside Rubber talked with Plant Engineer/Project Manager Andrew Morris about implementing an automated palletizer for one of the company’s busiest production lines.

The Inspiration

Hamilton Kent had a straightforward, clear reason for tackling this automation project. “It was 100% based on safety,” Morris explained. “For 15 years, we had a boxed final product that came off a gravity-fed conveyor at the end of the line. Our team members would pick up the boxes and stack them on a pallet.” To eliminate the potential for back strains and the possibility of injuries from heavy lifting and repetitive motion, the company turned to Vention, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Vention offers customized automated material handling systems built from an array of modular components. The company offers turnkey solutions – from design to manufacture to installation – with extensive collaboration with customers.

The Configuration

With Vention’s help, Morris designed a complete system to automate the palletizing process. “An entire cell was customized for our needs,” said Morris. “I logged into Vention’s website and laid out our needs – box sizes, pallet sizes, floor space and so on. I could have specified multiple pallets to be operated by robots, but our system is pretty simple. We don’t have the floor space for robots, so we went with a small X, Y, Z-axis overhead crane that picks up our boxes.” Even though it is simple, the system was completely customized for one of Hamilton Kent’s production lines. “The palletizer was designed for a line that puts out nearly 85% of our products,” Morris said. Hundreds of different products are manufactured by the line, but they all get packed into the same standard box. “The system,” said Morris, “pushes the production line boxes through a tape machine, where a conveyor with automated traffic control takes over. When a box reaches the end of the line, a cartesian arm picks the box up with suction and loads it on the pallet the same way that the operators did.” The palletizer came with a PLC and a human-machine interface. “The interface has a computer screen for changing or customizing the palletizer’s operation,” said Morris. “It directly talks to the PLC and makes the changes for you, such as the configuration of the pallet or the system speed.” The machine is set up with polycarbonate windows that protect three sides. On the side that finished product exits for palletizing, Morris

installed light curtains. “I worked with our safety engineer,” Morris said, “to make sure that the safe distance calculations from the front of the machine to the hazard were set properly for emergency stops or uncontrolled conditions like someone walking into the cell.” Safety considerations were a major part of the project. “From start to finish, safety was the priority,” said Morris, “I worked with Vention’s team, with our team and with a specialty electrical engineer from another part of my company to get all of the safety requirements signed off on before we put the system into production.”

The Installation

“From the solid idea stage to installation, fine-tuning and running in production,” said Morris, “it took about a year.” When Vention was ready to ship the system, Morris received a plant-readiness checklist. “We then prepped the plant and the floor space, and got all of the power requirements and air requirements run to that location,” Morris explained. “I utilized our maintenance and facilities guys to do that.” The system arrived in several pallets. “Vention hired a third party to come in and assemble the entire machine,” Morris said. “As soon as it was assembled, Vention sent two of its technicians; while one guy finished up some of the mechanical tasks, the other guy got the wiring and the PLCs hooked up. It’s a turnkey system. I didn’t have to do anything to run a box other than push the start button and say ‘Go!’”

The Return on Investment

The Hamilton Kent palletizer system had a successful implementation and has delivered the value that the company expected. “The payoff for the palletizer would probably be about a year and a half,” said Morris. “For us, anything that is under four years on the payback is a success. This machine has definitely already paid itself off.” While some of the workforce initially grumbled about the new equipment – like so many other manufacturing workforces that are skeptical about automation – they quickly realized that the palletizer was a vast improvement for the production line.

The Retrospective

Hamilton Kent seems to have found a material handling automation supplier that shares the rubber processor’s operating culture. For a company, that designed a way to produce 85% of its hundreds of items on one line and pack each of them into the same size box, Vention’s suite of carefully designed modular, interchangeable equipment may have been a natural fit. Morris was pleased with the design and installation experience with Vention, and happy with the quality of the system that was put into production. “One thing that stands out about

u 7


Before: Hamilton Kent’s original work area where its workforce would pick up the boxes and stack them on a pallet. Photo courtesy of Hamilton Kent. Vention,” said Morris, “is that a lot of its core pieces and parts are completely customizable and interchangeable with all of its different systems.” Morris found this versatility to be a real advantage. “A lot of times with material handling,” he said, “you are locked into one footprint from a vendor. It’s really neat how Vention can customize the footprint for exactly what you need.” Rather than being told, “This is what we sell. Do you want it or not?” Morris said the Vention experience was more like, “What do you want? Let our design team take over and come up with some solutions for you and then we will move on from there.”

Take a fresh approach to shipping. As a member of ARPM, you can save big! ARPM members can receive discounted shipping rates on eligible services. Sign up for the FedEx Advantage® discounts program for free to start saving on eligible services. With the FedEx Advantage program, you’ll get:*

45% off

FedEx Express® shipping

25% off

FedEx Ground® shipping

25% off

FedEx Home Delivery®

To enroll, go to

* FedEx shipping discounts are off standard list rates and cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Discounts are exclusive of any FedEx surcharges, premiums, minimums, accessorial charges, or special handling fees. Eligible services and discounts subject to change. For eligible FedEx® services and rates, please call 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339. See the applicable FedEx Service Guide for terms and conditions of service offers and money-back guarantee programs.

8 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

After: Hamilton Kent palletizer system had a successful implementation and has delivered the value that the company expected. Photo courtesy of Hamilton Kent. When asked for his advice to other manufacturers that are considering implementing a palletizer system or another automation project, Morris had this to say: “Staying on top of the vendors and making sure that they give you exactly what you want is key. Don’t accept less than what you originally planned for. That would be my advice. You are the boss. Remember that you are writing the check at the end of the day and don’t settle for less than what you need.” More information: n



LASTING DEFENSE AGAINST CDRRDSIDN AND ABRASION Blair Rubber Co.'s linings are used for the toughest jobs in the energy producing and chemical industries - extending the life of your vessels and equipment.

Rubber Linings For:



Scrubbers, FGD Absorber Towers, Slurry Recirculation, Polishing Vessels, Water Intake Boxes, Ian Exchanger Vessels, Waste Water Treatment, Rake Arms S Associated Piping

800-321-5583 9


Partnership with ITR Economics Enhances Member Benefits By Lindsey Munson, editor, Inside Rubber


n the rise and expected to grow over the next decade, the rubber industry is evolving and transforming by the day, and companies are challenged with meeting their operational expectations no matter the external market trends and economic impacts. Management teams are pressured now more than ever to assess, plan and respond based on environmental impacts and shifts – and to meet these demands head-on, they must be provided with the proper tools to make strategic business moves and sound decisions.

full transparency to its clients and in turn helps build trust in its partnerships. Bess shared, “Our overall forecast accuracy rating since 1985 is 94.7% at one year out! Our businessminded economists provide market forecasts, company forecasts and actionable advice to help business leaders stay ahead of the upcoming economic turns that will directly impact their business. We surpass the conventional regression-based approaches employed by other forecasting companies, which contributes to our consistently high forecast accuracy rating.”

For ARPM, it’s setting its membership up for success and giving them the economic know-how and foresight to navigate these pressures by forming a partnership with ITR Economics. “To remain competitive and thrive in this environment, it is imperative that our members are equipped with an improved understanding of the broader economic factors influencing our industry,” said Letha Keslar, ARPM executive director.

ITR Economics’ methodology stands on four key pillars: Interal trends – ITR Economics looks at rates-of-change and various statistics to define the bounds of normal for a data series.

As of January 2024, at no cost, members of ARPM will have direct access to a full, simple-to-read quarterly report provided by ITR Economics that includes the US macroeconomic outlook, general direction of the economy, and analysis of five major end markets (North America Light Vehicle Production, US Total Retail Sales, US Medical Equipment and Supplies Production, US Private Nonresidential Construction and US Agriculture, Construction and Mining Machinery Production).

Core Objectives and Methodology

Founded in 1948, ITR Economics is the oldest privately held, continuously operating economic research and consulting firm in the US. Its mission and ultimate objective is to provide the best economic intelligence to reduce risk and drive practical and profitable business decisions. ITR Economics’ highly regimented training program cultivates the economists who build the forecasts, which also are supported by a rigorous review process. Jeremy Bess, one of the firm’s economists and business consultants, took a moment to elaborate and share key program details with Inside Rubber. ITR Economics is one of very few economic forecasting firms that publishes forecast accuracy results, which gives 10 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

1 2 3 4

Leading indicators – These predictive datasets provide forward-looking insights based on the correlative and causal relationships between the subject series and various components of the economy. ITR Economics’ Long-Term Business Cycle Theory – This theory dates back decades and quantifies the various phases of the business cycle, providing extended views of core macroeconomic indicators. News and market observations – These data points, which may include new regulations, black swan events and other factors, are considered as they arise.

Member Benefits and Program Integration

In working with ITR Economics, ARPM members will have access to many benefits. They will be subscribed to customized reports that include three-year forecasts for pre-selected industries and markets that impact their businesses. Through the Business Cycle Dashboard, members will have the tools to understand where the macroeconomy is headed and access to supporting text analysis for additional insights that support the outlook. “This gets to the heart of understanding the economic playing field,” said Bess.

In addition, there will be access to the Alliance Powered by DataCast™ portal, which brings members’ customized reports to life. Bess elaborated, “It puts the member in the driver’s seat, letting them plot their company’s data against any markets covered in their customized report. This real-time experience will strengthen members’ understanding of where their business fits within their specific markets and the overall economy.” It is key for management teams to understand the trajectories of the economy, selected industries and their own company. Such insights are pivotal in guiding present-day decisions. Through the various services offered, ITR Economics equips companies with a precise and actionable roadmap that facilitates confident business planning. For association members specifically, ITR Economics crafts market forecasts that empower members to discern the prevailing trends, which in turn helps them make timely business adjustments. In addition to providing insights into the trajectories of various industries and markets, ITR Economics furnishes associated action items. Bess said, “These are known as Management Objectives; these comprehensive action items are organized according to their optimal deployment in the phases of the business cycle. Developed collaboratively with our clients over many business cycles, this evolving catalog is a strategic guide focused on preparing for future developments by taking the right actions at the right times.” In partnership and utilizing these tools, ARPM and ITR Economics are confident that if members integrate and apply the available benefits, they will help drive practical and profitable business decisions.

Forecasting for Success

In closing, Bess said, “The encouraging news is that the association already has taken a significant stride in providing members with a valuable resource for decision-making. Now, the onus is on individual members to leverage these available tools and services. Integration requires active involvement and utilization.” By incorporating ITR Economics’ insights, program members stand to enhance their internal forecast accuracy, more effectively benchmark for success and further refine their marketing strategies. Members are encouraged by both ARPM and ITR Economics to stay updated on releases from both organizations so they can familiarize themselves with the advantages of tailored reports and the Economic Portal, where powerful and actionable insights are just a click away. n

Case Studies from ITR Economics Case Study A A client that receives company-specific forecasts attended a conference at which ITR Economics provided a keynote speaker. The client was already acquainted with ITR Economics’ outlooks, had a solid understanding of its forecasts and had proactively taken measures to prepare for an imminent recession in its industry. By contrast, the client’s competitors in the audience were caught off guard by ITR Economics’ projections, and they had accumulated excess inventory as demand decelerated. Meanwhile, ITR Economics’ strategic foresight empowered its client to capitalize on a more favorable pricing environment, which has enabled the client to augment inventory selectively, while its competitors found themselves unable to do the same. Case Study B Another client got ahead of a forecasted slowdown in its business by building cash reserves during the growth phase. When demand softened, the client was able to deploy that money and is leveraging the current period of slower growth to improve its efficiencies, including making a key upgrade to its ERP system. Case Study C ITR Economics has observed a prolonged trend of labor market tightness and, in response, has formulated crucial Management Objectives advocating for investment in automation. One of the firm’s clients enthusiastically embraced this advice and committed to robotics investments to assist with more labor-intensive tasks. Additionally, the client implemented software that automated processes suitable for overnight execution, resulting in bymorning completion. These initiatives significantly elevated the productivity of the client’s current workforce, mitigated the risk of burnout and improved retention amid postCOVID labor market pressures. For additional case studies, visit kenneth-brown-case-study/, sekisui-kydex-case-study/, vallen-distribution-case-study/.

More information:, 11




12 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Contact the ARPM office for information about membership. ASSOCIATION FOR RUBBER PRODUCTS MANUFACTURERS (317) 863-4072 INFO@ARPMINC.ORG


The Association’s Pivotal Role in Shaping International Standards: A Testament to Member Industry Volunteers By Letha Keslar, executive director, ARPM


n the expansive realm of International Standards Organizations (ISO), the footprint of our modest association has been nothing short of monumental. It is a story of dedication, expertise and collaboration – attributes embodied by the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers’ (ARPM) remarkable member industry volunteers. These volunteers form the backbone of the association’s involvement in crucial ISO technical committees, propelling ARPM to the forefront of global standardization efforts. Among the numerous commendable contributions, their tireless efforts are prominently felt in ISO/TC 45/SC 1 Working Group 1, focusing on “rubber and plastics hoses and hose assemblies – industrial, chemical and oil hoses.” Here, ARPM experts play a pivotal role in shaping standards that define the integrity and safety of industrial hoses on a global scale. Through the ANSI/ARPM US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO/TC 45/SC 1, many member experts are participating in the development and review of ISO standards and help generate a US vote for ISO ballots, which provides the US representation into ISO. These key experts also assume an expert role for the hose fittings and connector group of ISO TC 131/SC 4 via the US TAG for TC131/SC4. The expertise of ARPM’s member industry volunteers resonates as they actively contribute to the ANSI/ARPM US TAG for Belts and Pulleys ISO/TC 41, managing a spectrum of belt subcommittees within the US, including SC 1 V-Belts, SC 3 Conveyor Belts and SC 4 Synchronous Belt Drives. This multifaceted involvement ensures that the association is not only abreast of global standards but actively is influencing and shaping them. The impact of the association’s representation on the international stage is undeniable. These volunteers also impact the “home front” as they serve as the driving force behind the writing and systematic review of all ARPM technical publications. Their commitment to excellence ensures that


ARPM standards remain robust, relevant and aligned with ISO standards as well as the dynamic needs of the industry. It’s worth acknowledging that the influence of the association reaches far beyond the confines of its immediate community. Through active participation and leadership roles in ISO committees, ARPM members are not just shaping standards; they are shaping the future of industries globally. As ARPM celebrates the achievements of these volunteers, it is reminded that the association’s strength lies in the collective expertise and dedication of its members. Their voluntary contributions echo ARPM’s commitment to excellence and set the bar for what a small association can achieve on the international stage. Thank you to ARPM’s unsung volunteers – you are impacting the association and the industry! In the spirit of collaboration and progress, ARPM looks forward to continued contributions and milestones that further solidify the association’s presence as a key player in the world of international standards. n More information: 13

The ARPM Team is Expanding

The ARPM staff is thrilled to welcome Paige Heck to the team. Serving as project manager, Heck will be working to maintain all of the great benefits programs that are offered to members, as well as continuing to expand ARPM’s digital footprint. Follow the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with upcoming events and opportunities.

ARPM TRAINING ACADEMY Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technology MARCH 4-6, 2024, CHICAGO, IL

ARPM Training Academy: 2024TheOpportunities ARPM Training Academy offers participants access to exclusive

2024 Human Resources Forum

HR professionals in the manufacturing industry continue to face challenges in hiring, retaining and engaging employees. ARPM is hosting the annual Human Resources Forum (virtually) on March 13 and 14 to facilitate discussions on best practices and challenges facing the industry today. The event committee is hard at work developing programming for this event and seeking organizations to share their best practices in human resources. If interested, contact the ARPM Staff at For more information and to register, visit events. If unable to attend the event, please register to receive access to all recordings and event materials.

Product & Material Material Consistency Raw Material Control Compound Control Article Manufacturing Design-to-production-transition Quality and more!

In Person Opportunities: • Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technologies training will be held March 4-6, 2024, in Chicago, Illinois. This three-day course focuses on the elimination of variation associated with the initial design of the rubber article and Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technologies focuses on the elimination of variation associated with the initial design of the rubber compound through the control ofrubber the compound’s article and rubber compound, through the control of the compound’s consistency andand manufacturing process. This training will be a mix of course will be consistency manufacturing process. This lectures and demonstrations purposefully designed to provide the a mixture of lectures and hands-on demonstrations. attendee exposure to advanced manufacturing technologies that extend from chemical weigh-up through compound production to automated article manufacturing and inspection.

• Seals Product Design and Manufacturing course will be held July 15-19, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. This one-week intensive course provides comprehensive and consistent training in rubber science, product seal design (for static and dynamic sealings) and producibility.

ARPM Events on the Horizon

March 4-6, 2024 – Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technologies Training (Chicago, Illinois) March 13-14, 2024 – Human Resources Forum (Virtual) May 1, 2024 – Safety Award Submissions Open June 12-13, 2024 – Sales and Marketing Forum (Virtual) July 15-19, 2024 – Sales Product Design and Manufacturing Training (Columbus, Ohio) August 7-8, 2024 – Environmental, Health and Safety Summit (Indianapolis, Indiana) For the most up-to-date information and to register for events, visit

14 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Scan the QR code for registration and more information.

information presented by senior leaders from the industry who share ARPM is excited to share that it will continue to grow the their decades of product knowledge coupled with ARPM’s industryshaping technical guidance. opportunities available through the ARPM Training Academy in 2024. There will be both in-person and virtual opportunities Training content will include: availableDesign to the rubber industry:

Virtual Opportunities: • ARPM announced the newly designed Virtual Learning Management System in 2023, which now hosts all 22 courses that provide learners with the introductory, core information they need to understand the basics of each primary discipline of the rubber manufacturing industry. These courses are “FREE” for members. • After years of research, ARPM has partnered with Thayer Leadership to create the Building Leaders of Character Leadership Program. At Thayer Leadership, like nowhere else, you’ll experience the legacy of military leadership lessons from those who have powered and led a Nation. Today, the program has empowered organizations to adapt and thrive. For more information and to register, contact ARPM staff at

New ARPM Board Members

ARPM is pleased to welcome four new board members in 2023. The new members bring a wealth of leadership experience and will be a great addition to the association’s Board of Directors. Caitlin Steele, Gates Cedric Glasper, Mechanical Rubber Jeffrey Leach, Passaic Rubber Company John Stone, The Rubber Group ARPM also would like to extend immense gratitude to Marel Riley-Ryman, Southern Michigan Rubber, who has completed her term on the ARPM Board of Directors as treasurer. She made a lasting impact in the rubber manufacturing industry through her time on the board. ARPM is grateful for her service and the time dedicated to the association.

Welcome New Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new ARPM members! Federated Insurance Custom Hydraulics & Design n

Do your compounds meet the specifications? We deliver rapid turnaround specification testing for certification and product approval. ASTM | ISO | A-A | MIL | GMW ACE is an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory for rubber and silicone testing, development, research, innovation and consulting.

Find out what sets us apart: 330-557-4088 15


One-on-One with Three Rubber Machinery Companies By Lindsey Munson, editor, Inside Rubber


he rubber industry plays a key role in a variety of market sectors, from automotive and medical to industrial and consumer goods. A central and crucial player in any rubber processing facility is its rubber injection molding equipment. The quality and capabilities of the machinery determine the processor’s ability to produce diverse applications, create specialized product designs, allow mass production with low material waste, offer consistency in quality, adapt to technology trends and more. Inside Rubber conducted interviews with representatives from three rubber machinery companies who shared their knowledge and expertise on rubber injection molding equipment, highlighting the areas of technology development, Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity, automation integration and top customer needs. REP Corporation, Kodak, Tennessee, is a supplier of solutions for the polymer and rubber industry, manufacturing rubber injection presses and compression presses. DESMA USA, Inc., Hebron, Kentucky, is a complete systems provider that offers German-engineered rubber injection molding machines, domestically designed molds and custom automation solutions. Maplan Rubber Machinery USA, South Elgin, Illinois, offers 16 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Austrian-made elastomer injection molding machines and automated system solutions.

What technology developments are coming for rubber injection molding equipment?

Marc Vonderlage, North American director of sales, DESMA USA, Inc.: Rubber injection machines continue to evolve in the areas of refined process control, ease of use and efficiency. Vonderlage said, “DESMA has focused on these areas because of customer feedback. Recently released DESMA Sealmaster+, for example, raises the bar in many of these areas and is targeted at high-volume automated production with horizontal machines.” The machine design has been reconsidered to improve points that include: • larger opening stroke, daylight, tie bar spacing and heating plates to accommodate larger and more varied molds; • faster clamping system movements (up to 50%) due to redesigned and optimized mechanical and hydraulic components; and • improved ease of maintenance due to reconfiguration of machine guarding, innovative access to auxiliary equipment, hydraulic systems with increased use of hard piping, as well as a focus on improving hydraulic oil longevity.

Photo courtesy of DESMA USA, Inc.

Russ Burgert, director of after-sales, Maplan Rubber Machinery USA: For Maplan, future technology developments are three-fold. 1. Smart machine features: Anticipate advancements in smart technologies, such as AI-driven real-time process optimization, quality control and predictive maintenance. 2. Sustainability focus: Continuing the development of energy-efficient machines to reduce CO2 footprint. Burgert said, “This is a battle Maplan has continued to pledge forefront. If it consumes energy, we are looking for higher efficiencies, from Cool Drive to our DCI temperature-control units, all the way down to thermal insulation – nothing is overlooked.” 3. Compound: The industry could see development in machines for handling recycled rubber and bio-based rubbers. Derek Williams, vice president of sales, REP Corporation: As the rubber industry continues to face labor market challenges, Williams explained that technological advancements are a critical necessity that assists in filling the labor gap. He said, “Due to labor inconsistencies in the US markets, REP sees added pressure to incorporate automation at the design stage of new projects and to offer automation adaptations to existing machines in the field. This technological advancement is driving innovation and creative solutions to a traditionally manual working operation.” In addition, energy-saving techniques are at the forefront. Williams shared, “Equipment and processes being introduced into the rubber industry need to reduce energy usage, and that also is driving major component changes to REP’s equipment.” From all-electric solutions to servo-driven hydraulic systems, REP is prepared to support these demands as energy costs continue to rise. Equally important, Williams continued, “REP also see increased customer-driven requirements to monitor and state the carbon footprint involved in the manufacturing of new equipment – showing a leadership role in reduction and offsetting this with carbon-neutral goal setting.”

How does Industry 4.0 play a role in equipment advances? How can the cybersecurity concerns that come along with digital access be addressed?

Vonderlage, DESMA USA: “DESMA has been preparing for Industry 4.0 for many years, and this thought process is included in its current control system, the DRC 2030TBM. In fact, the ‘TBM’ in the control name indicates ‘Trend Based Management,’ which is intended to allow customers to perceive trends in their process so that necessary actions can be taken to further optimize if needed. Additionally, the controls are equipped for integration with automation systems (either DESMA-supplied or from a third party), as well as with

customer factory management software for data collection and monitoring,” said Vonderlage. As for cybersecurity concerns, DESMA is prepared by equipping its machines with the DESMA SmartWall device – a specially configured hardware firewall designed to prevent unauthorized access. Vonderlage shared, “Furthermore, DESMA works closely with its customers’ IT departments to ensure machine networking hardware and configuration is in line with the requirements.” Burgert, Maplan: Maplan’s Map.commander C6 currently is based on Industry 4.0, where all components are operated centrally, and – together with its Map.autocell, a full turnkey solution – can take over the entire production process of the product. Together, this offers single-point control of robotics, brush and demolding, handling and individual automation. To address cybersecurity Burgert shared, “With further digital advancements, cybersecurity becomes crucial. Manufacturers may develop or use secure cloud-based platforms, as used in Maplan’s Map.remote program. Further, the industry could see advanced encryption methods and adhere to stringent data protection regulations to safeguard against cyber threats.” Williams, REP: “Through four generations of presses and over 20 years, REP has been at the forefront of data capture and monitoring,” Williams stated. “From a LAC-based system, initially, to the first presses in the industry offered with a Windows-based system called REP NET Win and, ultimately, to today’s REP NET 4.0 – REP remains a data-driven production environment. Also, REP is the only press manufacturer that can connect older generations of presses to today’s updated 4.0 standards for data capture and traceability.” As a tenured machinery company that has been through years of technology advancements, Williams said, “In the beginning, REP dedicated a standalone supervisory computer that communicated out to the factory floor with its operating system. Now, this same layout of a hub-based ethernet connection out to the factory from a dedicated computer running REP’s software ensures IT security by placing only one computer behind a client’s firewall. For remote access and technical support outside the factory, REP offers an internal wireless modem at the press. This allows a customer to securely connect only the one press in question to the outside world for remote access via a single SIM card controlled by its IT department. In turn, isolating the machine into an island of security for general internal data on its network – physically from security risks or by allowing remote connection through the firewall as a one-time secure VPN.”

u 17


What can equipment manufacturers do to help customers with automation/robotics integration?

Vonderlage, DESMA USA: As a molding systems provider, DESMA frequently works with customers on projects that include the injection machine, tooling, automation and other ancillary equipment. With this background, DESMA strongly focuses on ensuring that every part of the system is designed and executed in consideration of the other, and that includes automation. Vonderlage said, “To be successful, the product design must be automation-friendly, the right machine with the right control interface must be used, the mold (and cold runner) need to be appropriately designed and the automation functions should be carefully defined. These are very important points because the general definition of success for an automated solution is that it must satisfy requirements 100% of the time. A 95% success rate typically is not good enough because, unlike an operator, automation systems lack the flexibility to adjust or adapt when something doesn’t go right.”

are manufacturing in. Williams said, “This raises a few questions: Are the molds in good shape and not leaking? Are the parts consistently presented on the same half of the mold? Can the sprue be removed with the part for a secondary cutting operation?” He elaborated by sharing, “The most difficult part for a manufacturer of finished goods is to understand the success rate of an automated solution and that it directly is related to these important questions. A company cannot automate leaky molds with terrible flash grooves that leave behind waste material for the next cycle. Companies have become accustomed to requesting an operator to remove the flash groove, then want to automate with the expectation that equipment will operate at 100% with wornout molds that cannot ever be made consistent. Equally, the same scenario goes for a runner removal and the consistent presentation of the finished goods to be robotized, in removal.”


Burgert, Maplan: Customization and flexibility become the key points in focus while designing machines that easily are integrated with different types of automation and robotic systems. This could lead to modular designs or standardized interfaces. Maplan’s Autocell Technology integrates automation and robotics directly to the Map.commander cell control (master controller), offering seamless single-point operation of the complete cell. Equally important is providing comprehensive training and support for customers, and Burgert elaborated by stating, “It should be viewed as a partnership. It’s assisting customers in understanding ‘how to’ integrate and make the best use of automation in conjunction with their equipment.” Customers aside, Maplan puts focus and strong efforts into collaborative partnerships with various robotics and automation companies. In building these relationships Maplan has put its in-house automation department vastly ahead in the creative design of what may be possible today and tomorrow. Williams, REP: Requests for an automation quote require an understanding of the environment REP’s customers currently 18 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Today, fully automated production cells need to have flexible end-of-arm tool changes for quick changeover and an immediate return to run at rate, not after 25 cycles of wasted product. Williams said, “REP educates its clients about the value of a design-build solution. REP has proven that new presses get smaller with fewer cavities in the molds, and yet production goes up due to consistent run time.”

What is the biggest “ask” an equipment manufacturer receives from customers (i.e., equipment speed, changeover rates, etc.)?

Vonderlage, DESMA USA: According to Vonderlage, “From the perspective of a systems provider, the answer to this question varies greatly and is heavily influenced by several factors, including the level of customer experience with rubber molding; product design, which may be very large, very small, very complex or made from very challenging materials; product quality requirements; production environment (i.e., cleanroom) or requirements. High volumes generally correlate to high speed, while low volumes often correlate to ease of changeover. A common and challenging question from customers is ‘Can you provide a very flexible yet inexpensive automated rubber molding system?’ The answer to this question depends on the definition of ‘flexible’ and ‘inexpensive.’ In most cases,

automated solutions are the best and most cost-effective when they are focused on a small number of tasks. When the number of tasks increases or the different product variations to be produced with the automation system increase, the cost and the level of difficulty to execute (and operate/maintain) often increase quickly.” Burgert, Maplan: Maplan receives customer requests for new high-tech custom machines geared towards specific industries and high-performance parts to modernize legacy parts with a fresh look that enhances performance. “However, the biggest ask from customers is for HELP – especially with dwindling hirable resources! It’s the over-tasked lean companies that are asking for help with best practice turnkey solutions to provide more products with fewer resources,” said Burgert.

chain for expertise, as their labor workforce changes and the wealth of experience gathered for many years begins to retire. “As a supplier, REP has answered this call with increased numbers of field service engineers, access to process validation testing and maintenance training and remote access for technical support to ensure the latest of REP’s hightech product offerings are being utilized to their maximum capabilities,” said Williams. He continued, “Some processes require a very high level of capability as the components manufactured require it, while other manufacturing types simply do not. REP has products with robust, proven construction that remain well-suited to simpler applications, where adapting to a new user is more intuitive, less intimidating and user-friendly.”

Williams, REP: Williams said, “In today’s environment, the biggest ask is cost... cost and risk aversion at the customer level due to the pricing pressures they face directly from their customers.”

As the rubber processing industry faces challenges from a retiring labor force, cybersecurity risks and increasing customer demands, DESMA USA, Maplan and REP are answering the call to provide machinery solutions. n

This has created opportunities for REP to adapt its products to be more user-friendly and intuitive, yet remain competitively priced. Customers are relying more and more on their supply

More information:,,

Trusted Independent Testing, Development, and Problem Solving TECHNICAL SERVICES • Compound Development • Failure Analysis • Technical Training • Prototyping • Technical Consulting

MECHANICAL SERVICES • Physical & Mechanical Testing • Dynamic Testing • Custom Test Design • Engineering Consulting • Rubber and Plastics Mixing • Rubber and Plastics Molding

CHEMICAL SERVICES • Chemical & Analytic Testing • Formula Reconstruction/Reverse Engineering • Microscopy • PPE Testing • Pharmaceutical & Microbiological Services




A Passion for Problem Solving

TOLL FREE 866-780-ARDL WORLDWIDE 330-794-6600 FAX 330-794-6610 ARDL.COM

CERTIFICATE #s 255.01, 255.02, 255.03, 255.04 ISO 17025:2017 19


Throwing a Punch to Break Through Sales Walls By Tom Wood, vice president, sales, E-S Plastic Products


o be successful in sales, sales team members need to be able to take a punch… but sometimes, they need to throw one!

A few years ago, a high-profile target customer toured an injection molding plant. A supplier survey and a full-plant audit followed, with the result that the company became an approved vendor. Then, personnel changed, and the target customer champion moved on. The molder spent more than a year trying to gain traction with nearly a half-dozen interim buyers until, finally, “Jim” became the dedicated contact. In the next 10 months, the molder received one quote/EAU of only 400 parts, with feedback that the pricing was “high.” Clearly, progress was stalled with this potential account, but the molder remained persistent. Then, the firm learned a major development was in process. The target customer was moving all of its tools from a competitor, resulting in a significant opportunity… if only the molder could break through the wall of silence from the contact. Three weeks of voice messages and emails to Jim were ignored, without the courtesy of an acknowledgement. It was complete radio silence. Sound familiar? It was time for the molder to throw a punch. On a Friday morning, at 7:15 a.m., the following email was sent to the target customer contact: Dear Jim, We have tried to connect with you regarding the tooling transfer package. We are an approved vendor, so I am confused as to why we can’t review the situation with you. I was going to keep my connection with Mr. X (company CEO) out of this, but that is where I am going to go to next. Please contact me. 20 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

The phone rang 22 minutes later, with caller ID showing that Jim was on the line. It went unanswered to voice mail. Two minutes after that, an email arrived. It read, “My apologies for not getting back to you. When can we talk?” The molder responded with a Microsoft Outlook appointment request for a half-hour teleconference on the following Monday afternoon to debrief. Later that day, another phone call was received from Jim, with a voice mail asking if the molder had time to talk now. The call was returned. The first few minutes were awkward, starting with an apology from the molder for the aggressive email, without mentioning the CEO connection. Jim explained that six other companies were hounding him to discuss the opportunity, so he was not returning any requests to talk or meet. The balance of the phone call was filled by discussing the target company’s strategic sourcing plan, the molder’s company history of getting certified and their mutual interest in doing business. A commitment to stay in touch was made, and a relationship of mutual respect was established. In the end, the business ended up transitioning to an existing, established vendor… but the molder now had an opening so the company would be in position for the next opportunity. At this point, readers of this article might be wondering how the injection molding firm knew Mr. X, the target company’s CEO, and why he was not engaged or approached directly. The answer? Mr. X was a third-degree connection on LinkedIn. The molder had no intention of contacting him. However, conventional communication tactics were going nowhere. Getting the courtesy of a response from the target customer required a bold move.

Four Strategies to Reach Unresponsive Sales Prospects

What are some other strategies to reach unresponsive potential customers? 1. Draft a short email with the “ask.” Send it at an odd hour – early morning, later at night or over the weekend. If there is no response, wait at least a week or two and then resend it with no additional message. Typically, around the third time the same email is sent, some form of response will be received. 2. Network to find someone who knows the target contact. Suggestions could include material suppliers or other colleagues within the organization – anyone whose name could be referenced or who could help make the connection. Mentioning the name of a mutual connection or receiving a personal reference can create an opening dialog. 3. Leave a voice mail, if other methods aren’t working. The voice mail shouldn’t be wordy. Instead, it’s the salesperson’s best elevator pitch, using positive action words. Follow up with a short email with a tag line at the end that says, “Please hit REPLY with a brief response.”

4. In sales, everyone has his or her own unique style. Be creative and try something that fits each individual’s personality. The molding company in this story had a style that tended to be direct and more aggressive, but I once knew a fellow sales rep who found success in sending a package to a prospect with baby shoes inside and a note that said, “Every relationship starts with baby steps. Please take my call.” This was corny to me, but it worked well for him. Customer relationships start out unidimensional, with the salesperson doing all of the pursuing and the heavy lifting. The individual the salesperson is dealing with sees no value in connecting with yet another supplier company… YET. The challenge is to create a value proposition message. Create a sense of urgency and create value in the eyes of the prospect to motivate action. Many times, the one-sidedness is awkward, and a salesperson can feel like he is getting punched in the gut. Sometimes, a salesperson needs to punch back. n


You can always count on our team to conduct your testing programs with care and precision. Whether it’s validating new raw materials due to supply chain challenges, evaluating new product designs, or understanding current product shortcomings, our team of materials and product experts can be an extension of your internal teams. Contact us today to discuss your testing needs.

SMITHERS 425 West Market Street Akron, OH 44303 330-762-7441 WWW.SMITHERS.COM 21


Rubber Executives See Decline in Sales, Yet Remain Profitable for 2023 and Optimistic for 2024 By Andrew Carlsgaard, analytics director, ARPM


very year, it’s essential to go to the doctor and have an expert assessment of where an individual is from a health perspective to set goals, treat any ongoing ailments and plan how one can improve his or herself – or at least stay the course. Likewise, ARPM’s 2024 State of the Rubber Industry Report aims to assess the rubber product industry’s “health” by surveying leaders across 54 rubber processors for their thoughts on various topics, addressing 2023 fourth-quarter results and momentum for 2024. One of the critical factors that will influence the outlook of the US rubber products industry in 2024 is the state of the global economy at the end of 2023. The sector has seen mixed results as the US economy suffers from slowed growth and heavy inflation in the post-COVID era, which has led to increased uncertainty over the past two years. This is evident in many of the survey results from the fourth quarter of 2023, relative to the prior quarter, particularly when examining the average results for the same period over the previous five years (20182022). In the survey, respondents were asked whether statistics “decreased,” “increased” or remained “about the same” from the end of the third quarter to the end of the fourth quarter of 2023. Those reporting fourth-quarter increases for quoting, sales, backlog and shipments have fallen significantly from the prior five-year average. However, those seeing increased profits in the fourth quarter of 2023 remain on par with the previous five years (Chart 1). Growth potential for the upcoming 2024 fiscal year likely is to be strongly influenced by 2023 sales performance, particularly with momentum coming from how it ended the year in the fourth quarter. Compared to the end of 2022, where 41% of respondents reported increased sales going from the third to the fourth quarter, 2023’s final quarter only saw 21% experience a sales increase from the prior quarter. This is the second straight year respondents experienced an overall decline in sales during the fourth quarter. The sales increases in 2023 primarily were due to new programs or increased volume in current programs from existing customers, while in 2022, most increases came from new customers – potentially signaling a contraction of the industry’s client base over the past year.

22 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Despite the decline in sales momentum at the end of 2023, executives now forecast some optimism for a rebound in 2024; despite only 53% of respondents indicating sales increased for the entire year in 2023 (compared to 89% in 2022), 81% anticipate growing sales in 2024. Also bolstering this sentiment, 85% reported profit margins of 5% or higher in the past year, a slight improvement compared to 84% in 2022. This shows a remarkable amount of resilience in the industry. Despite dealing with headwinds on the sales side of the business, a vast majority of processors are finding ways to increase profitability (Chart 2). Additionally, rubber processing business leaders have continued to face labor issues that may impact the industry’s performance in 2024. However, participants reported some slight improvements in labor statistics in the fourth quarter of 2023, particularly for operator wages (37% reported increases in fourth quarter of 2023 vs. 50% in fourth quarter of 2022) and employee turnover (just 8% reported increases in fourth quarter of 2023 vs. 16% in fourth quarter of 2022). Despite this relatively positive showing in the fourth quarter of 2023, recruiting employees was listed by 54% of respondents as one of their top three most significant challenges going into 2024 – the highest-voted topic amongst 17 others. Also, though processing leaders enjoyed a degree of stabilization at the end of 2022 with logistics and raw materials that continued throughout 2023, the rising cost of raw materials remains the second highest-voted potential challenge for 2024 at 39%, and rising inflation the third highest at 34% – both of which risk cutting into their bottom line (Chart 3). Other factors that will influence the outlook of the US rubber industry in 2024 are technological innovation, adaptive business strategies and forward-looking investments. Developing new materials, advanced manufacturing processes and automation were listed as innovations that could improve the rubber product segment’s efficiency and quality, making the sector more competitive globally and sustainable in the US long term. On a company-by-company basis, the top competitive strategies for 2024 were expanding their capabilities and

offerings, developing their workforces and investing in automation. According to the survey respondents, items at the top of the list of potential capital investments over the next 12 months were primary machines, infrastructure (buildings, chillers, etc.) and automation. Environmental regulations also play a role in shaping the future of the US rubber product industry as concerns about higher PFAS regulation and enforcement continue to grow and force processors to change their inputs, product offerings and business models. Many rubber product manufacturers felt pressured to adopt more sustainable practices in the prior year to reduce their environmental footprint – another area where processors expect to see increased innovation in 2024. However, several respondents noted that concerns about new regulations and enforcement may change, depending on the results of the 2024 general election.

Chart 1

Chart 2

Overall, the outlook for the US rubber product industry in 2024 will depend on a combination of factors, with the state of the global economy again the most important. If the economy begins growing faster and inflation returns to manageable levels, this will provide a trickle-down effect on every facet of business. From a sales perspective, a second straight underwhelming fourth quarter signals there may be more uncertainty going into the new year. However, positive supply chain and labor market results may boost producers’ profitability regardless of economic conditions, as the vast majority reported positive margins over the past year despite lagging sales indicators.

Chart 3

Whatever the tides turn, doctor’s orders are for industry executives to remain vigilant, lean and resourceful as they navigate a murky beginning to 2024 to take full advantage when more prosperous times arrive. n The entirety of ARPM’s 2024 State of the Rubber Industry Report is available to purchase from the ARPM website at 23

REGISTER TODAY ABOUT THE EHS SUMMIT The Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Summit is designed to share best leadership and safety practices with industry professionals hoping to achieve world-class safety within their companies. This one-of-a-kind learning and networking conference will focus on uniting manufacturing executives from across the United States. Attendees will focus on best practices in environment, health and safety along with becoming a better leader. This Summit promises to provide high-level safety professionals with implementable ideas they can take back to their facilities to improve their operations and achieve world-class safety.

August 7-8 Indianapolis, IN

A full schedule will be available soon, but topics could include: Environmental Regulations Injury Prevention OSHA Updates

Safety Culture SDS Sheets Sustainability

Keynote Speaker With over 25 years in safety, operations and executive roles, Trinnie Cortez has been coaching leaders, developing teams and designing processes that have created highly motivated and effective teams in multiple industries ranging from construction to technology. Today, Cortez is putting his experience to work at Caterpillar Safety Services in Tucson, Arizona, helping companies understand themselves and improve their safety culture by changing mindsets, developing leaders and engaging employees.

24 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Attendee Testimonial “I look forward to the EHS Summit every year! The event is a place to reinforce things I am doing correctly, takeaway many best practices that directly apply to my business, get updates on what’s happening in the regulatory world and exchange ideas with others in the industry having similar business challenges.”



"This was my first safety summit. Expectations The Environmental, Health & were unknown, but from the opening greeting, Safety (EHS) Summit is designed the Summit made me look at myself for my 'why' and the ways I lead safety at my organization. It to share best leadership and provided me with new insights and ideas to safety practices with industry what is happing in the industry, and the invites you to participate in the 2024 Safety Awards! The Safety professionals hopingARPM to achieve opportunity to meet and discuss with peers on Don’t Miss the Awards recognize companies in the manufacturing industry that have similar topics. The resources and networking at world-class safety within their achieved excellent safety techniques beyond the average regulations. Safety Awards thethat EHSgo Summit is one of the greatest assets." companies. Visit to participate.





Sa f et y is not a on e-

Safety should be a top

TheThe EHSEHS Summi t wi l l be Summit

pers on job, it i s a

priority at y our

in-person , May 2 3 -25 , will be in-person,

commitme nt from ea ch

organizat ion, an d

202 3. 2024. August 7-8,

per son at y our company.

continuously improv ing

Ther ef or e, th e EHS

you r safety program is

S ummi t is open to

essential t o protect your

every on e!

employ ees.



Columbu s, OH Indianapolis, IN

The Safety Achievement Awards are a way to recognize safety in the industry and facilities that have achieved a level of safety performance above the industry average. Awards are based on data reported on a company’s annual OSHA 300 Log of WorkRelated Injuries and Illnesses. A copy of the facility’s OSHA 300 and O300A forms are required to submit. The Safety Best Practice Awards are a way to recognize the best practices that organizations have implemented to increase overall safety. Submissions should generally align with at least one of the following topics: employee safety training, safety committees, safety audits/walk-throughs, emergency training, behavior-based safety, tracking/displaying safety metrics, equipment and mold change safety, safety communication or other innovative safety best practices. Please include photos, videos, policies, checklists or any materials that help outline best practices. 25


2 1 [1] Orion Awarded ISCC PLUS, Completes Air Emissions Projects

Orion S.A., Houston, Texas, a specialty chemicals producer, announced its facility in Cologne, Germany, as the company’s latest and fourth plant to pass extensive audits earning the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS). The plant was certified for producing circular and bio-circular raw materials. In 2022, Orion achieved ISCC PLUS for multiple carbon black grades made from different feedstocks at plants in two regions of the world. The facilities were in Borger, Texas; Belpre, Ohio; and Jaslo, Poland. The three facilities were recertified in 2023. The ISCC PLUS certification is granted by the Cologne-based ISCC Association, which promotes the sustainable production of biomass, circular and bio-based materials and renewables. In addition, Orion has completed upgrading its air emissions control technology at all four of its US carbon black plants, including Belpre, Ohio, Borger, Texas, Ivanhoe, Louisiana and Orange, Texas. The upgrades were part of an initiative from the US Environmental Protection Agency that applied to all carbon black producers in America. For more information, visit

[2] REP Announces New CEO

REP International, Corbas, France, a manufacturer of injection molding machines, has announced Hervé REVEL as CEO as of October 1, 2023. With 25 years of experience, REVEL held a number of different positions since joining the R&D department in 1998. Well known to REP customers, he was for a time after-sales director before becoming director of the industrial and technical division and, finally, chief operating officer. This progression over time opens new prospects for the future with the development of three major projects, including CSR, digital transformation and G11. For more information, visit 26 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

4 [3] Silcotech Celebrates 25th Anniversary

In 1998, Michael Maloney and Isolde Boettger started their new business venture, Silcotech, specializing in liquid silicone rubber (LSR) molding. As the company’s only two employees, they managed all company operations and with two molding machines, they started operations in a small, rented space in Bolton, Ontario. On October 20, 2023, Silcotech celebrated its 25th anniversary at its headquarters in Bolton with a plant tour of the facility, speeches and a lunch for its 100 employees, several honored guests, the mayor of Caledon, Ontario, Annette Groves and the CEO of Caledon Community Services, Geraldine Aguiar. Maloney stated that Silcotech’s goal is to double its business and its facility over the next five years. Silcotech also has a facility in India known as Silcotech Bonny Products Pvt Ltd. For more information, visit

[4] Trelleborg Opens Vietnam Facility

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, Fort Wayne, Indiana, a developer, manufacturer and supplier of precision seals, bearings and custom-molded polymer components, has begun production at its first-ever manufacturing facility in Vietnam, an advanced 86,111 sq. ft. facility strategically located in Long Thanh. The facility produces high-quality O-rings and custom-designed engineered molded components in a wide


LET US DO THE DIRTY WORK SO YOU CAN QUICKLY MOVE FORWARD. Performance release agents and mold protectors for rubber molding.

Let us help you stay lean and clean. CHEMTREND.COM

5 range of elastomer materials, using the latest compression and injection molding technology and plate heat exchanger gaskets. Applying Trelleborg’s “local presence and global reach” principles, the presence in Vietnam means customers will benefit from this global location. For more information, visit

[5] Carver Launches Stocking Program

Carver Inc., Wabash, Indiana, a manufacturer and supplier of standard and custom hydraulic presses, has launched a quick ship stocking program for its most popular manual and autoseries presses. The stocking program includes manual and autoseries presses with force ranges of 12 tons to 30 tons down to pelletizing dies, hardened plates, polished plates and other common accessories that can be used with presses in the field; platen sizes of 6" x 6" to 12" x 12"; heated and unheated models; and manual series presses with a wide range of in-stock accessories including digital gauges and two-gauge configurations. For more information, visit

advantage Practice Advice for the Rubber Industry Ice Miller focuses on meeting the needs of our clients quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Ice Miller attorneys with rubber industry experience can assist with your greatest legal challenges. Contact Josef Keglewitsch at 614-462-2279 or for more information.

300+ lawyers in Columbus and other offices 27


Navigating the Changing Landscape of Healthcare By Susan Denzio, director of publications, ARPM


he healthcare landscape presents many challenges for business owners and, with the turn of a new year, it is likely to become even more difficult. The very purpose of insurance, a mechanism to protect against unforeseen costs, is needed to protect the human capital asset – employees and dependents – from the risk associated with medical conditions. However, for most business owners, navigating through the complexities of healthcare – rising costs, plan structures, evolving trends – is essential to protect the well-being of the workforce and to maintain the company’s competitiveness.

company executives continue to find themselves grappling to discover solutions to offset escalating expenses.

For decades, healthcare has been a benefit of employment from both the employer’s and the employee’s perspective. However, because of the increasing costs, many employers are reassessing the role of being the provider and subsidizer of healthcare benefits. While many employers continue to sponsor healthcare plans, there has been a shift to integrate the value-based care philosophy and motivate employees to shoulder more responsibility – not only for maintaining and improving health outcomes but also for the associated costs by increasing the employee’s financial contributions.

There are two primary methodologies for funding health insurance and managing the risk or the potential exposure to a company. The first often is achieved by being a part of a large [risk] pool with little control or transparency (fully insured plans). The second is more of a stand alone program that offers greater control and transparency, along with an increased level of risk (partially self-funded plans).

With the diversity of the workforce spanning different age groups, job roles and health needs, understanding the design and administration of effective insurance plans can be extremely challenging. In addition, the most arduous task can be striking the right balance between comprehensive coverage and the affordability of that coverage.

Balancing the Risk vs. the Cost

One of the foremost challenges for business owners is dealing with the relentless rise in healthcare costs. Ask any business leader and healthcare costs likely will be mentioned as the largest employee-related expense. Whether it’s due to advancements in medical technology, increased demand for healthcare services or the inflationary nature of the industry, 28 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Understanding risk tolerance is another hurdle for companies offering a healthcare plan. Employers must adopt proactive risk management and cost containment strategies to mitigate the company’s exposure. By reviewing the potential threats and the resources needed to minimize them, an organization can assess what it is willing to tolerate and develop strategies to match.

Funding Methodologies

Fully insured plans protect against loss by capping the company’s overall financial liability; however, this method limits data transparency, the ability to pinpoint root causes of cost escalation and the development of actions to remedy them. Additionally, the fully insured model requires plan owners to prepay for bills that might occur, not for what actually occurred. For this reason, the fully insured methodology can more accurately be categorized as risk avoidance vs. risk management. To actively engage in managing risk and obtain the benefits of controlling costs, an employer must participate in what is commonly referred to as a partially self-funded program. In this model, the employer covers the costs of medical expenses up to a specific financial limit for each individual also while limiting the financial liability for the sum of all medical expenditures via third-party insurance.

Trending Strategies

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

Under the self-insured platform, employers gain access to detailed data about medical claims and are given greater choices in determining the service providers and structure of their health benefits plan. These selections are predicated on the overarching goals and objectives of the employer’s risk management strategy. There is a strategy (see sidebar) that offers the best of both worlds – the strength of aggregation with the control and transparency of individual plans – where the approach is to provide accessible coverage when things go bad.

Amidst the obstacles manufacturers encounter through the healthcare maze, there are attainable solutions that can help companies strike a balance between cost and risk. The 2022 Health and Benefits Report, compiled by the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) and the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM), outlines a list of the unique cost-containment strategies that have been implemented by manufacturers to combat the escalating costs associated with providing healthcare benefits. Note that in 2022, employer-funded HSA contributions evolved as a new approach for some companies (Chart 1). As was previously noted, self-funding offers greater control and transparency. This allows employers to gain access to detailed data about submitted claims and the ability to make greater choices when selecting the service providers and developing the structure of their health benefits plan. This is evident in the data shown, as a higher percentage of self-insured manufacturers were able to utilize cost-containment strategies compared to those under a fully insured platform (Chart 2). Furthermore, while most healthcare plans include prescription drug benefits, fully insured plans are not privy to cost-containment opportunities because the health insurance carrier controls the contracting arrangements and accepts the entire liability of the health plan, which typically includes prescriptions. Respondents utilizing a self-funded platform cited a few strategies specific to minimizing drug costs for both the employee and the health plan (Chart 3). The cost savings realized by manufacturers employing any of these tactics are shocking. Specifically noted by a participating employer, between the company and the employees, more than $250,000 was saved – just on drugs – enough to provide local near-site clinic access to its employees at no cost! The 2024 Health and Benefits Survey launched on February 12, 2024, giving manufacturers the opportunity to submit data that will be compiled anonymously and shared in the 2024 Health and Benefits Report later this year. n u 29

ARPM ARPMTRAINING TRAINING ACADEMY ACADEMY Advanced AdvancedRubber RubberProduct Product Manufacturing ManufacturingTechnology Technology MARCH MARCH4-6, 4-6,2024, 2024,CHICAGO, CHICAGO,ILIL

Training Trainingcontent contentwill willinclude: include: Design Design Product Product& &Material Material Material MaterialConsistency Consistency Raw RawMaterial MaterialControl Control Compound CompoundControl Control Article ArticleManufacturing Manufacturing Design-to-production-transition Design-to-production-transition Quality Quality and andmore! more!

Advanced AdvancedRubber RubberProduct ProductManufacturing ManufacturingTechnologies Technologiesfocuses focuseson onthe the elimination eliminationofofvariation variationassociated associatedwith withthe theinitial initialdesign designofofthe therubber rubber article articleand andrubber rubbercompound, compound,through throughthe thecontrol controlofofthe thecompound’s compound’s consistency consistencyand andmanufacturing manufacturingprocess. process.This Thistraining trainingwill willbe bea amix mixofof lectures lecturesand anddemonstrations demonstrationspurposefully purposefullydesigned designedtotoprovide providethe the attendee attendeeexposure exposuretotoadvanced advancedmanufacturing manufacturingtechnologies technologiesthat that extend extendfrom fromchemical chemicalweigh-up weigh-upthrough throughcompound compoundproduction productiontoto automated automatedarticle articlemanufacturing manufacturingand andinspection. inspection.

30 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

Scan the QR code for registration and Scan the QR code for registration and more information. more information.

The TheARPM ARPMTraining TrainingAcademy Academyoffers offersparticipants participantsaccess accesstotoexclusive exclusive information informationpresented presentedbybysenior seniorleaders leadersfrom fromthe theindustry industrywho whoshare share their theirdecades decadesofofproduct productknowledge knowledgecoupled coupledwith withARPM’s ARPM’sindustryindustryshaping shapingtechnical technicalguidance. guidance.


We’ve Slayed the Healthcare Dragon... and We’re Winning! The paradigm is shifting as CAPTIV8 is changing the way insurance premium dollars can better serve its members by leveraging the fully insured methodology of pooling with the control and transparency of a selfinsured model. This program utilizes a unique contracting approach by putting employer premiums to work for its members, specifically during bad times. The CAPTIV8 program facilitates multiple partially self-funded employers aggregating a majority of the premium for one sole purpose – to be utilized by its members. In the event it is utilized for claims because it is a member

premium supporting other members’ needs, the insurance entity (the captive) does not need to recoup the premium as aggressively at renewal. In fact, given the captive premium is going to be returned to the members through either expense reimbursements or profit distributions, there is no need to charge for its use. Instead, the increase associated with the utilization of these premium dollars is directly linked to the forward-looking projection of risk for the individual or group of individuals who generated the claims – not a penalty for using the premium. By sharing the premium, members are insulated from market factors and the pricing of commercial insurance. n More information:


t rld’s firs The Wico injection electr machine moldingtomers! for elas 31


New Year, New Skills: ARPM Training Academy By Paige Heck, project manager, ARPM


urning the page into a new year typically calls for people to begin thinking about how they would like to grow – as a person, as a leader or even as an organization. Growing and learning fall hand in hand; without learning, it practically is impossible to grow and adapt into something or someone better. The Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM) leadership team strongly believes in training the next generation of rubber industry talent and has invested time, resources and capital into the creation of the ARPM Training Academy. Covering three major knowledge gaps, this training resource has virtual, in-person and leadership-focused opportunities for the entire industry. The ARPM Training Academy is a dynamic technical training resource that teaches from the basic fundamentals to the more advanced topics within the rubber industry. The Training Academy provides learning experiences and guidance for anyone and everyone in the workforce – from the entry-level machine operator to the highly skilled engineering professional, and mid-to-senior-level leaders.

Online Training

In late 2023, the ARPM leadership team launched a brand-new online portion of the Training Academy that offers over 20 courses, providing learners with an introductory look into the rubber manufacturing industry. The focus of the online training is the core information that is needed to understand the basics of each primary discipline and what it takes to make a rubber part. There are several modules, covering topics such as nonmolding operations, quality in rubber manufacturing and job set-up and production flow. These online learning opportunities 32 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

are available around the clock. As a company, training its workforce is an essential component of maintaining a world-class facility and the driving force behind ARPM’s mission of ensuring this training is accessible to members at no additional cost. Created by ARPM’s subject matter experts, also known as peers in the industry, these courses combine audio and visual learning with skills and certification quizzes to ensure learners are trained and ready to enter the rubber industry with little to no previous knowledge.

In-Person Training

In addition to training on the basics of the rubber industry, ARPM also saw a knowledge gap in advanced technical training. After the success of the 2023 Seals Product Design and Manufacturing training, ARPM is expanding and will be offering two in-person training courses. The Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technologies training will be held March 4-6, in Chicago, Illinois. This training focuses on the elimination of variation associated with the initial design of the rubber article and rubber compound, through the control of the compound’s consistency and manufacturing process. The course is a combination of lectures and in-person demonstrations that purposefully were designed to provide learners with exposure to advanced manufacturing technologies that extend from chemical weigh-up through compound production and follow into automated article manufacturing and inspection. The Seals Product Design and Manufacturing training will be repeated as a week-long course that takes place July 15-19, in Columbus, Ohio. This course provides comprehensive and consistent training in rubber science, product design (for static and dynamic sealings) and productibility.

Leadership Training

Lastly, ARPM is continuing to offer the Building Leaders of Character Leadership Program. This in-depth leadership training was created in partnership with the Thayer Program at West Point after years of research. This course is an intensive, immersive and interactive experience led by retired General Officers and faculty, who divulge their leadership lessons learned from West Point and the US Army. The experience includes applied academic classroom modules, interactive experiential sessions, mentoring with expert faculty, networking time with other participants and inspirational speakers. Attendees will learn how to become more robust in: • holding people accountable, • developing and maintaining trust, • pulling people together to meet organizational objectives, • understanding the importance of providing immediate feedback and how it’s delivered, • conquering communication challenges by applying military methods to express objectives and key mission points, and • be equipped to better improve organizational performance with After Action Review tools.


Every day, there is an opportunity presented to learn something new in the industry and it is a choice to take charge of that time to learn and how it is used. As 2024 begins, ARPM Training Academy has opened the door to a variety of training courses to meet the needs of its members – don’t miss the opportunity to grow and advance with peers! n More information: 33


ACE Laboratories......................................................15 Akron Rubber Development Laboratory, Inc. (ARDL)...................... 19

4-6 Advanced Rubber Product Manufacturing Technologies Training

ARPM Membership ..................................................35

13-14 Human Resources Forum (Virtual)

ARPM Training Academy..........................................30

26 Peer Networking

JUNE 2024 12-13 Sales and Marketing Forum (Virtual)

JULY 2024 15-19 Seals Product Design and Manufacturing Training

AUGUST 2024 7-8 EHS Summit

OCTOBER 2024 2-4 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference

NOVEMBER 2024 13-14 Finance Forum (Virtual) For the most up-to-date information and to register for events, visit 34 Inside Rubber // 2024 Issue 1

ARPM Publications....................................................12

Blair Rubber Company................................................9 Chardon Custom Polymers.......................................33 ChemTrend...............................................................27 Grainger......................................................................2 IceMiller.....................................................................27 PartnerShip.................................................................8 REP Corporation.......................................................31 SIGMASOFT® ............................................ Back Cover Smithers....................................................................21



ASSOCIATION FOR RUBBER PRODUCTS MANUFACTURERS Benchmarking | Industry Standards | Training | Networking | and more... Listed in Rubber and Plastics News "Top 5 Rubber Industry Associations You Should Know." Visit for more. 35



SAVE TIME. REDUCE WASTE. Get better injection molding results with SIGMASOFT® Virtual Molding. Follow Us

Learn More 847.558.5600

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.