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Plastics Business 2019 Issue 2

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Collaborative Robot Cleans House at Metro Plastics Profiting from Proprietary Products Supply Agreement Framework Using KPIs to Accelerate Growth

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


Contents

2019 Issue 2

outlook

30

view from 30

features

8 14 22

innovation Collaborative Robot Cleans House at Metro Plastics by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business strategies 5 Steps to Better Supply Agreements by H. Alan Rothenbuecher, partner, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP solutions KPI: The Need to Measure by Michael J. Devereux II, CPA, CMP, partner, Mueller Prost Four Ways Plastics Providers Combine KPIs to Accelerate Growth by Louis Columbus, principal, IQMS

30 34 38

outlook Injection Molders Expand Business Through Proprietary Products by Katy Ibsen, contributing writer, Plastics Business view from 30 SEA-LECT Teaches Entrepreneurs to Design for Plastics by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business industry 3D-Printed Fashion: Makers Push Boundaries by Nancy Cates, contributing writer, Plastics Business

Cover photo: Lindsey Hahn and Ken Hahn, with collaborative robot UBER. Photo courtesy of Metro Plastics Technologies, Inc.

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34


42 44 46 48 52

management 5 Reasons to Hire for Skill Over Experience by John Carrozza, principal consultant, Riviera Advisors, Inc. focus Workplace Implications for Marijuana Use by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business benchmarking Cost of Benefits Continues to Rise for Manufacturers by Ashley Turrell, membership and analytics director, MAPP economic corner Global Economy in a State of Flux (Again) by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence

industry

booklist Find a Way to Be Better by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

38

departments viewpoint.....................................6

news.......................................... 20

association................................. 16

supplier directory...................... 54

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 phone 317.913.2440 • fax 317.913.2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Vice President Tim Capps, Par 4 Plastics Inc. Treasurer Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc. Secretary and Counsel Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

MAPP Board Members Mike Benson, Stout Steve Bieszczat, IQMS Brendan Cahill, PTG Silicones Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Jim Eberle, MXL Industries Glen Fish, Revere Plastics Systems LLC Chris Gedwed, Cosmetic Specialties International Jim Kepler, Intertech Plastics Jim Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics, Inc. Samir Patel, Midwest Molding Inc. Derrill Rice, Plastic Components, Inc. Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Stacy Shelly, AMCO Polymers Chuck Sholtis, Plastic Molding Technology, Inc. Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc.

Peterson Publications, Inc. 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 phone 785.271.5801 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com

Editor in Chief Jeff Peterson

Advertising/Sales Janet Dunnichay

Managing Editor Dianna Brodine

Contributing Editors Nancy Cates Lara Copeland

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


VIEWPOINT

Enjoy the pain!

I

have routinely talked about the subject of perseverance and the benefits gained by studying how others have successfully handled difficult times and overcome challenges. I believe that each of us has a “perseverance toolbox” where we can store new mental methods to help us deal better with the curve balls that life throws at us. In fact, I believe strongly that focusing on growing mental toughness is just as important as improving other skill sets. I added new tools to my own perseverance toolbox when I discovered life lessons shared by David Goggins, the only member of the US Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, the US Army Ranger School and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. From a very early age, David faced extreme adversity. Over the course of his life, he learned that growth comes through suffering, and lessons are often gained when one experiences pain. He inherently believes that the primary way to build internal fortitude is to do the things you don’t like to do; the more you do those things, the more calloused your brain becomes and the tougher your mental mindset. I’ve enjoyed many of David’s interviews on YouTube. Through his words, I’ve come to know that the more a person stretches boundaries – the more a person is willing to do things that are outside of their comfort zone – the higher the growth opportunities and the higher the probability for failure. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, I am going to do this, and I’m going to be a success.” It’s another to go out, give it a try… and fall flat on your face. As an example, I have been working on my public speaking skills. Although it terrifies me to get up on stage and address audiences, I have accepted numerous speaking opportunities over the last year to address a wide variety of groups. Not long ago, after speaking to a group of medical researchers, I received feedback on my performance. As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to please all of the people all of the time.” Well, I had trouble toning my delivery down for this group, and I brought way too much intensity and energy to the event – and some of the attendees let me know that through a formal feedback process. It was extremely tough for me to read their honest critiques of my performance. Obviously, not all of the comments were negative, but some of the comments really hurt, leaving me feeling like I’d received a hard punch to the gut.

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After reading, rereading and analyzing the feedback, I received a call from a good friend who knew I was struggling. He told me that I was lucky. He reminded me that through pain, through suffering, through what we often perceive as failures, there are lessons to be learned. Thanks to his reminder, I took the lessons from the negative feedback and made myself better for every future audience. I wanted to focus my message on perseverance because – in the plastics manufacturing sector, where teams are always pushing the boundaries – failure is commonplace. I think all leaders could use a refresher course in working to turn the negatives into positives. Edel Blanks, president of New Orleans-based Intralox, focused on this important lesson during his opening address to MAPP member executives who attended the plant tour event in late March. In his opening statement, Edel said he probably led the organization in making the most mistakes. I love it when leaders make themselves vulnerable because this opening statement revealed much about his leadership style. Intralox is known for its culture – for how the company develops and cares for its employees, and for expecting each employee to make daily improvement contributions. Edel gave all of us in the room a strong reminder that failure – and taking the positive route to learning from those mistakes – are an integral part of the culture we were there to learn about. When we strive to continually improve, when we have set our sights to become better, we will encounter friction, pain and failure as we move to the other side of success. Use this to your advantage. Embrace it! Let it be the fuel for you and your team. Remember, pain is part of success!

Executive Director, MAPP


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8 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2


INNOVATION

Collaborative Robot Cleans House at Metro Plastics by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business

T

he new worker on the production floor at Metro Plastics is a real go-getter: punctual, tireless and precise. The Metro crew might be excused for resenting this new wunderkind. But, since the manufacturing area now is decluttered and quality inspection is taking place in record time, the crew at Metro Plastics instead cheers the newbie – a collaborative mobile robot nicknamed UBER. Established in 1975, family-owned and -operated Metro Plastics Technologies, Inc. of Noblesville, Indiana, offers short-run and high-volume thermoplastic injection molding. The company serves many industries, including commercial building, food processing, agricultural, automotive, medical/scientific and others. Metro Plastics is a full-service plant, providing engineering, tooling, molding, decorating, welding, finishing and assembly services. The company is ISO Certified 9001: 2015. Always on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency, the company saw room for improvement on the production floor. Since Metro Plastics specializes in high-volume and short-run jobs, its production area quickly became congested as pallets and boxes of completed products accumulated on the floor around each press. Its quality inspector spent valuable time making regular trips from the warehouse to the production area to examine sample products in floor-level boxes at each workstation. And, the company’s small fleet of propane-powered fork trucks that moved finished products to the warehouse created traffic that was a safety risk to team members.

Metro plans expansion, eyes automation

When the company decided to build a new 72,000-sq.-ft. facility, President Ken Hahn wanted to address the issue of moving products between the production floor and the warehouse. “Our original goal was to implement an AGV (automated guided vehicle) to move the finished product to the warehouse,” said Hahn. This type of automation had intrigued Ken Hahn’s father, Lindsey, Metro Plastics’ founder, as far back as the 1990s. Lindsey Hahn had long envisioned using AGVs to improve efficiency on the production floor. An AGV methodology, however, had not been possible to incorporate into the company’s original building.

While puzzling over choices among AGVs for the new building, which required an investment in permanent supportive infrastructure as well as vehicles, Ken Hahn learned about an alternative for automating material transport: collaborative mobile robots (CMRs). This option met all of the company’s needs and was squarely within the price range of the AGV solutions, and CMRs offered the advantage of being autonomous; they need no building-based infrastructure. Ken Hahn jumped on this choice, and his father, Lindsey, unleashed his energy and decades of injection molding knowledge on envisioning the new facility. “Lindsey was instrumental in the building design and layout,” said Hahn of his father’s contribution. Lindsey tapped his 40 years of injection molding experience, pairing it with his belief in the value of automation. “He designed the floor plan to maximize the benefits of a CMR,” Ken explained. “He dedicated more than 60 hours per week for 18 months to design, construction and move-in at the new facility, which took place in March of 2018.”

UBER, the CMR

Metro Plastic’s UBER is a MiR200 robot from Mobile Industrial Robots Inc., a Danish company that was recently acquired by American company Teradyne. The MiR200 is a compact wheeled platform with a low center of gravity for stability that can carry up to 500 pounds. While MiR robots can be fitted with a variety of interchangeable top modules – such as bins, conveyors and robotic arms – Hahn chose a simple waist-level rack. Metro Plastics’ Project Coordinator Emma Morris handled implementation of the CMR. “We had to map our production floor using the MiR robot,” explained Morris. "It was as easy as driving the robot around using a cell phone as a joystick. The robot’s laser scanners detected the building’s walls and the solid objects, such as injection molding machines.” page 10 u

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INNOVATION t page 9 With the floor plan mapped, Morris added the robot’s stopping points. “We wanted the robot to stop at each molding machine,” she said. “We drove the robot to specific positions on the floor and clicked on the map so that the robot created a position with precise coordinates.” Next came the design of the robot’s pickup/delivery schedule. “We set the robot up to do a simple loop of the floor every 10 minutes, stopping at each press machine for 20 seconds, so that an operator could add a box of finished products, before moving on to the next machine,” Morris said, adding, “We like a maximum of three boxes (or four) on the robot at a time.” Once programmed, the robot was autonomous – making its rounds and stops independently. In addition to “knowing” the facility’s layout, the robot’s sensors and cameras can detect people or obstacles to avoid collisions. To keep its battery charged, Metro Plastics’ CMR periodically retires to its charging station for a quick juice-up between its pickup/delivery cycles.

Results, expected and unexpected

Through its use of the CMR, Metro Plastics has seen several improvements, including unexpected benefits. UBER’s regular pickups at workstations have decluttered the production floor. The schedule of page 12 u

Top: Project Coordinator Emma Morris led the implementation of UBER, the collaborative robot, at Metro Plastics. Bottom: A new 72,000-square-foot facility allowed the incorporation of automation not possible in the original building. Photos courtesy of Metro Plastics Technologies, Inc.

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10 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

ADVISORS


INNOVATION t page 10

At Metro Plastics, the collaborative robot has led to rapid defect discovery, which reduces waste and scrap. Photo courtesy of Metro Plastics Technologies, Inc.

pickups and deliveries has allowed Metro Plastics to do away with the fork truck traffic that formerly transported the accumulated finished products to the warehouse. “Eliminating fork trucks from the floor has made the production area tremendously safer,” said Ken Hahn, “and this allows our workers to listen to music using ear pieces with no fear of being hit by a truck.” In the past, Metro Plastics’ quality inspector walked between the warehouse and the production floor repeatedly to inspect sample items in boxes on the floor at each press. Now UBER collects boxes of finished products during the company’s 24/7

12 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

production schedule, with brief stops at each workstation and regular deliveries to the inspector in the warehouse. Metro Plastics’ CMR racks up an average of 110 miles per month on its rounds. Those regular deliveries make for more frequent and thorough inspection opportunities, no longer limited to merely a sampling of products. Hahn sees this as a tremendous, unexpected boon. “The giant benefit is that when a box is filled it goes directly to the quality department on its way to the warehouse,” he said. "We now


are able to isolate problems to just one finished box and the partially filled box at the machine.” Rapid defect discovery has led to problem resolution while jobs still are in progress. That, in turn, has led to less waste and scrap. And, in addition, the new system allows inspected products to be entered into the inventory system faster.

A culture of continuous improvement

Project Coordinator Morris notes that Metro Plastics makes occasional adjustments to the CMR’s programming. “As things on the floor change, such as machines being moved around, we have modified the robot’s map. This is as easy as opening the map and manually drawing an item on it,” said Morris. She explained that the company has plans for maximizing UBER’s usefulness. “We are in the middle of implementing an on-call/on-demand feature at the press machines. Our robot will report to a workstation whenever an operator calls it (using an iPad).” Hahn elaborated on the new plan, describing that the company will add robotic functionality at the presses to automatically fill boxes, a workstation-based system to allow the CMR to pick up filled boxes and automation to unload boxes at the quality department. “This eliminates the manual loading and unloading of the robot,” said Hahn. "We could have purchased this additional automation from the robot supplier, but we decided to build the system internally.” Hahn’s impetus? “We believe this will lead to higher paying jobs and exciting opportunities.”

UBER collects boxes of finished products during the company’s 24/7 production schedule, with brief stops at each workstation and regular deliveries to the inspector in the warehouse. Metro Plastics’ CMR racks up an average of 110 miles per month on its rounds. Those regular deliveries make for more frequent and thorough inspection opportunities, no longer limited to merely a sampling of products. the robot’s help, the company now has a tidy and safe production floor, speedy inspections that reduce waste and finished products that quickly enter its inventory stream. Following the success that Metro Plastics has seen from the initial improvements in the production area, the company keeps looking forward for new ways to automate and improve its operation. n For a look at Metro Plastics’ collaborative mobile robot, see the three-minute video at MiR200 Robot Improves Safety, Quality and Competitiveness at Metro Plastics.

Metro Plastics considered various automation technologies for material transport before bringing a collaborative mobile robot into the workforce. With foresight, smart planning and

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 13


STRATEGIES

5 Steps to Better Supply Agreements by H. Alan Rothenbuecher, partner, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

S

upply agreements serve as the lifeblood of many manufacturing companies. These agreements outline the terms and conditions controlling the supply of goods and services between various parties. Without this framework, many businesses could not meet the pressing demands of the modernday marketplace. With so much riding on these agreements, savvy business professionals must pay particular attention to agreement terms. Failure to critically think through options and deal terms often leads to lost profits and liability concerns over the life of a supply agreement. Parties to a supply chain contract can mitigate their risk by following certain best practices. While no provision in a contract should be overlooked, the five areas discussed in this article are the most important for risk management strategies.

1

Critical commercial terms

The first step in drafting any supply chain contract is to ensure that the written document captures all critical commercial terms of the parties’ agreement. Failure to clearly and concisely document the commercial terms of an agreement is an invitation for future misunderstandings and disputes. Failure to agree on a particular term (with the exception of quantity) is not automatically fatal to a contract. In the absence of an express agreement between the parties on a particular term in cases involving the sale of goods, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) permits courts to “fill in the gaps” by reference to default rules and sources such as the prior course of dealing between the parties and usage in the trade. However, if the lack of agreement between the parties on commercial terms is sufficiently pronounced, a court may find that there never was a meeting of the minds between the parties to form any contract at all.

2

Quantity

The most critical term in any contract for the sale of goods is the quantity term. It defines both the volume that the buyer is committing to purchase and the volume that the seller is committing to supply. To achieve a binding contract for the sale of goods, it is essential that the parties negotiate and document the quantity of goods to be purchased.

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A written quantity term is the only term that must appear in a contract for the sale of goods. A written quantity term need not be expressly set forth as a number. It is sufficient that there is a writing, signed by the parties, from which a quantity can be determined, even if doing so requires reference to evidence outside of the document. For example, a quantity term may be expressed as the requirements of the buyer or the output of the seller.

3

Duration and early termination

When parties are negotiating a supply chain agreement that they intend to apply on an ongoing basis, the parties must agree on the duration. Absent an agreed duration, a contract may be terminated by either party upon reasonable notice. A seller who may be making a significant investment of capital and resources to supply a product will want to make every effort to lock in a long-term commitment from the buyer. Related to the issue of duration, parties must consider the impact of provisions that provide a right of early termination. An early termination provision can have significant financial consequences for both the buyer and seller. A party that thinks it is locking its customer or supplier into a long-term agreement will risk losing the benefits of that agreement if it does not pay close attention to early termination provisions. If the contract includes early termination provisions, the parties should consider addressing in the contract the financial consequences of an early termination. For example, sellers should negotiate for the right to recover unamortized capital expenditures incurred in connection with the agreement.

4

Warranties and disclaimers

Warranties are the promises a seller makes regarding goods or services being provided to the buyer. Supply chain contracts typically include express warranties. In addition to these express warranties, the UCC may supply a number of implied warranties that will be considered part of the contract unless they are disclaimed. The most well-known examples of implied warranties are the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and the implied warranty of merchantability under the UCC. When negotiating a supply chain contract, buyers should seek to obtain the broadest warranties possible. On the other hand, sellers should strive to limit the warranties they give. When possible,


sellers also should seek to disclaim any implied warranties under the UCC. Any such disclaimer must be conspicuous. A disclaimer buried in the proverbial fine print runs the risk of being held unenforceable.

by eliminating certain categories of damages altogether. Buyers and sellers must carefully consider the risk-shifting implications of limitations of remedies and damages.

Limitation of remedies and damages

The supply chain in the manufacturing industry is fraught with risk. Manufacturers can mitigate risk by following best practices when drafting their supply chain contracts. The areas discussed above are critical for risk management. These areas should be the focus of any company seeking to manage risks. n

5

Both buyers and sellers should pay close attention to any limitation on remedies or damages contained within the agreement. Although limitations of damages and limitations of remedies share a common goal – shifting of risk – they are different concepts. A limitation of remedy is a tool, most often used by sellers, to reduce the remedies that a buyer may be entitled to in the event of a breach. The most common example is a provision limiting the buyer’s rights to “repair or replacement” of any defective goods. A seller that wants to include such a provision in its contracts should take steps to ensure that it is, in fact, willing and able to stand by its offered remedy. If the remedy is found to have “failed of its essential purpose,” it will be deemed unenforceable.

In contrast, a limitation of damages seeks to mitigate risk either by capping the damages that may be awarded for a breach or

Conclusion

Building assets and business, and then protecting them from capture by others, is Alan Rothenbuecher’s forte. He has developed a particular experience in the plastics industry (in general) and additive manufacturing (in particular), enabling him to assess business trends and needs, and provide services via alternative fee arrangements. His industry experience has led to Rothenbuecher being selected to act as general counsel for and serve on the board of industry trade associations, such as the Manufacturers Association of Plastic Processors and the American Mold Builders Association. More information: www.beneschlaw.com

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R & E tax credits aren’t just for the Silicon Valley set anymore. If your business has developed or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions or software, you may be able to claim a federal tax credit. In some cases, you may be eligible to recapture taxes paid up to four years ago. You already know there’s great value in improving your business - now we can tell you what it’s truly worth.

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association

MAPP Continues to Excel in Industry Benchmarking Initiatives As the industry leader in providing meaningful and relevant industry data, MAPP continues to produce and publish benchmarking reports for industry executives. All benchmarking opportunities are driven by MAPP member organizations, and new benchmarking studies are added throughout the year. Benchmarking reports are available for purchase on the MAPP website at www.mappinc.com/resources. • KPI Boards MAPP recently completed its collection benchmarking activity of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Boards. This benchmarking document includes 18 sample KPI boards submitted by MAPP member organizations. MAPP members shared visuals along with descriptions of the KPI boards their organizations use to share and disseminate important data and information to employees and management. • Health and Benefits Report MAPP, in conjunction with the Association of Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM), recently published its 2019 Health and Benefits Report. This report includes inputs from nearly 200 manufacturers across 33 states. The 2019 report includes a deep dive into company health insurance plans, premiums, participation rates, ancillary benefits and retirement programs offered by manufacturers. The following studies already are scheduled for 2019, and others may be added based on industry needs and demands. • Machine Rate • Sales Best Practices • Program Launch • Wage and Salary • Information Technology Spotlight on Safety

2019 Safety Best Practices Awards MAPP now is accepting submissions for the 2019 Safety Best Practices Awards. Two years ago, MAPP introduced its “Best

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Practices” Awards Series by presenting a functional area award to deserving MAPP member organizations. This year’s award seeks to celebrate, recognize and share best practices in safety from MAPP members. Submissions should share a company’s best practice in safety and answer the question, “How are you, your team and/or your organization safer today than you were one year ago because of this best practice?” Submissions for this year’s Safety Award generally should 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 facility safety best practices. Submissions are due by May 31. To learn more or enter a submission, visit www.mappinc.com/events.

2019 Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Summit, July 17-18. Columbus, Ohio The annual Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit will be July 17 and 18. This is a unique event focused on helping manufacturing achieve world-class safety by providing safety professionals with implementable ideas they can take back to their facilities. This event is designed to facilitate best practice sharing, build leadership skills and give attendees practical and innovative solutions to their largest safety challenges. Visit www.mappinc.com to learn more about this event and to register. MAPP Welcomes New Members MAPP is proud to welcome the following plastics organizations into the MAPP network: • Amaray Plastics – Pittsfield, Massachusetts • Buckhorn, Inc. – Milford, Ohio • Dynamic Group, Inc. – Ramsey, Minnesota • Formula Plastics, Inc. – Tecate, California • Four Process, LTD – Fenton, Missouri • Georg Fischer Harvel – Little Rock, Arkansas • Letica Corp. – Rochester, Michigan • N-K Manufacturing Technologies LLC – Grand Rapids, Michigan • Rapid Production Tooling – Berthoud, Colorado • Stone Plastics – Zeeland, Michigan


Industry Leaders Gather for First Healthcare Purchasing Coalition Meeting At the 2018 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, MAPP unveiled its plans to offer a healthcare coalition to help member companies save on health insurance costs and improve their offerings to employees. On April 9, 2019, industry leaders gathered for the first time to learn more about the First Resource Healthcare Purchasing Coalition. During this six-hour session, member organizations heard about the current state of health insurance, how the coalition operates, the benefits of joining the coalition and how it can help both their organization and their employees. Organizations in attendance have already begun the process of becoming part of this healthcare offering that is exclusive to MAPP member organizations. Those interested in learning more about the First Resource Healthcare Purchasing Coalition should visit www. mappinc.com or email info@mappinc.com.

delivery schedules and increase profits. Epicor for Rubber and Plastics provides proven enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) software solutions to help meet the unique challenges of manufacturing businesses that focus on injection molding, thermal forming, extrusion and similar complex manufacturing capabilities. Epicor solutions are available in the cloud or on premises. Current Epicor customers: 15% discount on additional software products; Free cloud-readiness assessment, $500 off two-day refresher training course New Epicor customers: 15% discount on software; 15% discount on MES hardware; Free cloud-readiness assessment; Premium maintenance – two free consulting days annually and option for pre-paid services at $25/hr discount. n

New Offerings Exclusive to MAPP Members Chem-Pak In the plastics industry, it’s common for molded parts to have defects, detracting from the quality of the part. Manufacturing imperfections – such as knit lines, flow lines and gloss imperfections – result in rejected parts, increased scrap rates and rework. Part rejection is both expensive and timeconsuming, but with Per-Fix® flaw repair coatings, processors now have the choice of permanently restoring the part to perfect condition in less than 30 seconds. Additionally, Chem-Pak makes Contract Aerosol and Liquid Packaging. Chem-Pak makes it easy for processors to formulate, test and package unique products. Its facility is equipped to meet specs, on time and budget. Chem-Pak offers all MAPP Members a 10% discount off product purchases, plus free lab services on all color matching. Epicor Plastics and rubber manufacturers face increasing demands for improved quality, efficiency, on-time delivery, pricing and cost control, as well as increased growth and demand of products across all markets. As a result, manufacturers are looking for better ways to manage raw materials, improve production efficiency, tighten

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 17


NEWS

MBS Advisors Completes 100th Plastics M&A Deal MBS Advisors, Florence, Massachusetts, provider of investment banking, M&A advisory, recruiting and specialty consulting services, completed its 100th successful M&A transaction in the plastics industry. The firm represented Syracuse Plastics of North Carolina, Inc. (SPNC) in its sale to Plastic Components, Inc., of Germantown, Wisconsin, in March. MBS Chairman and Founder Terry Minnick reflected on the milestone. “When I first started MBS in the late 1990s, I knew it was possible to get where we are today but didn’t know how long it would take.” He added, “This transaction was probably more fun and more rewarding than the previous 99. Tom Falcone (former owner of SPNC) is one of the most interesting, knowledgeable and authentic guys in the injection molding industry.” For more information, visit www.mbsadvisors.com.

Progressive Releases New Components for Medical Molds Progressive Components, developer and distributor of componentry and software for the injection mold industry, recently added new products to support the unique needs of medical tools for clean room molding. Progressive, headquartered in Wauconda, Illinois, now offers stainless steel date plugs that feature a tapered seal between the date plug and the date ring. The tapered seal prevents flash, which easily occurs with low-viscosity resins used in medical applications. Progressive also offers stainless steel support pillars, allowing medical mold builders to eliminate the labor and cost of making custom pillars in-house. For more information, visit www.procomps.com.

Frigel Introduces ModularChiller 3FX Water Cooled Central Chiller Line Frigel, the East Dundee, Illinois-based process cooling manufacturer, announced that its ModularChiller line now includes modular 3FX water-cooled chillers. Designed for use with Frigel’s Ecodry 3DK systems, 3FX chillers are key components of a digitally controlled, integrated closed-loop intelligent cooling system. The systems offer flexibility to expand and meet evolving process cooling needs or create system redundancy and are designed to build “integrated systems” either in parallel configuration or in series arrangement. Twelve models are available, including those featuring high-efficiency Bitzer screw compressors offering 41 to 139 tons of cooling per chiller, and models featuring twin tandem scroll compressors providing 25 to 65 tons of cooling capacity. The chillers can be configured to provide up to 850 tons of cooling capacity. For more information, visit www.frigel.com.

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Paulson Offers Mold and Part Design Courses by Kruse Training Paulson Training Programs, Inc., Chester, Connecticut, now offers online training in mold design and part design developed by industry expert Kruse Training. Each course focuses on the foundations and the many aspects of the molding and tooling processes, and how design elements impact the part properties. The course, including 18 lessons and recommended for all personnel levels, covers the basics of mold design and how various design elements impact a molded part, an examination of various gate styles and how they influence the molding process, and methods for optimizing different runner systems to achieve high quality molded parts. Future mold design lessons will focus on mold cavity and waterline layouts, waterline sizing, mold cavity steel selection and mold cavity venting. For more information, visit www.paulsontraining.com.

iD Additives Introduces New Pump/Filter System New Generation Jupiter III Available from Absolute Haitian Absolute Haitian, Worcester, Massachusetts – the sales and service partner in the US and Canada for plastics injection molding machinery maker Haitian International Holdings Limited – has announced the availability of the upgraded Jupiter III (JU III) two-platen, servo-hydraulic injection molding machine. The third generation JU III adds functionality and improves specifications while retaining energy efficiency and a compact footprint. Currently available from 506 to 7,418 US tons, the JU III is ideal for large parts such as trash bins, crates, automotive parts and appliance parts where high surface quality is critical. Improvements include faster cycles, higher precision, a smarter controller, lower costs and easier maintenance. The machine includes an updated clamp design, an improved injection unit and enhancements to the KEBA controller. For more information, visit www.absolutehaitian.com.

iD Additives, Inc., a LaGrange, Illinois, supplier of foaming agents, purging compounds and liquid color and additive systems, has introduced the iD Eco-Pro 360 cart for removing rust. The pump and filter combination unit removes and prevents rust in cooling passages, heat exchangers and water lines. The unit is designed to work with iD Eco-Pro 360 but is compatible with other cleaning products. The built-in filter function allows Eco-Pro 360 solution to remain at peak performance for reusability. The system runs on compressed air and, when used with iD Eco-Pro 360, no water is needed. The system features an air-operated diaphragm, a max flow rate of 13.5 GPM, a 20-100 PSI air supply and an operating capacity up to 55 gallons. For more information, visit www.idadditives.com.

Synventive Introduces eGate® 2.0 Synventive, a Peabody, Massachusetts business within Barnes Molding Solutions’ strategic business unit, has released eGate® 2.0, the latest addition to its activeGate control technologies that deliver complete pin movement control for large part sequential valve gated applications. eGate® 2.0 gives precision molders far greater options and delivers clean, quiet and energy-efficient operation that is responsive, precise and repeatable. The eGate electric actuator bolts directly on the manifold for an easy install, offering a compact footprint and small stack height. The product features precise all-electric control of each valve pin’s position, speed, velocity and stroke. For more information, visit www.synventive.com.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


SOLUTIONS

KPI: The Need to Measure by Michael J. Devereux II, CPA, CMP, partner, Mueller Prost

M

easurement. It is one of the best tools we have at our disposal for improvement. But what metrics are important to measure? Every plastics processor uses some sort of key performance indicators (KPI) to assess how the company is performing. However, performance is a relative term, and while some performance metrics may be important to one company, they may not be as important to another. Not all processors measure the same KPI because not all processors have the same set of goals. That’s why it is extremely important to have the end in mind when establishing (or refining) your company’s KPIs.

Goals should drive KPIs

Using KPIs is a fantastic tool business owners can employ to make data-driven decisions to grow and improve the business. If one were to do a web search for plastics manufacturing KPI, there would be more than 1.2 million results – a seemingly endless supply of knowledge on the subject. So what should processors be measuring? Technology has allowed plastics processors to measure just about anything. The operational data that can be gleaned from the press alone could create hundreds of measurement points, much less the data that is within the financial books and records of the company. The key to establishing and using the right KPIs to improve the company is tying these KPIs to the specific goals and objectives of the company. That is, there should be a nexus between what the KPI measures and the goal of the company for which that KPI was established. If you have not assessed the KPIs you’re using, now may be a good time to do so. Many believe it’s worthwhile to revisit each KPI annually, along with revisiting the means of collecting the data to determine if a better approach may exist – a leaning of the lean process, so to speak. You may find that some of the metrics you’re using are no longer informative or relevant, or there may just be a better way to extract the data. Further, in revisiting these KPIs, involve the team members that have the most impact on improving the metrics. Someone with direct knowledge likely has more (or at least a different) perspective of how the data can be collected or how the metric could be improved.

Establish a framework

Establishing and improving upon the KPIs the company

22 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

measures is a process, just like any other. As such, you may find that establishing a framework for measuring, assessing and improving KPIs can be helpful. Consider building a KPI framework using these 6 steps: 1. Determine the goal. What is measuring the KPI meant to improve? How will the KPI help my decision making? Be as specific as possible while still giving meaning to the indicator. The goal should support the business strategy and important value drivers of the company. 2. Identify the key operational and financial indicators that, if improved, help you achieve the goal stated in Step 1. 3. Select the operational or financial metrics that will help measure and track performance. 4. Develop KPIs by identifying the source data, how it will be collected and how it will be analyzed to produce the desired metrics. 5. Track the KPIs against the appropriate standard – i.e., peers, historical performance, current expectations, etc. 6. Revisit, reevaluate and refine the KPI process. Annually review your KPIs and how the data are collected to ensure you’re measuring the appropriate metrics in the most resource-efficient manner.

Build a dashboard

KPIs can be used both as a predictive measure and a historical debrief. Using a dashboard to help visualize major KPIs can be helpful, as it can quickly zero in on the company’s performance. Your ERP software likely has a built-in dashboard for KPIs common to plastics processors. Further, these dashboards can be customized to meet your needs. We’ve found that many processors will import economic information (such as resin pricing) or industry benchmarks to their dashboard to give it more context.

Execute

Revisiting and updating KPIs may sound onerous. Simply put, it’s worth the time and effort it takes to measure what’s important. Having the latest and most meaningful information to the company at your fingertips allows you to make timelier, data-driven decisions. n Michael Devereux II, CPA, CMP is a partner and director of manufacturing, distribution and plastics industry services at Mueller Prost CPAs + Business Advisors. More information: mdevereux@muellerprost.com


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SOLUTIONS

Four Ways Plastics Providers Combine KPIs to Accelerate Growth by Louis Columbus, principal, IQMS

T

he fastest-growing plastics processors and manufacturers excel at combining efficiencyand production-based key performance indicators (KPIs) to gain in-depth insights and capitalize on them more quickly than their competitors. Central to these companies growing 10% a year or faster is their ability to combine analytics, business intelligence (BI), real-time monitoring and mobile-based applications that provide dashboards anytime, anywhere.

Product-Quality Measurement

Product-quality measurement methods currently used by more than half of respondents include scrap by type or cause, analyzing RMA and relying on NC/CA to keep quality on track.

These and other insights are from a recent Decision Analyst survey, Where ERP Is Making the Greatest Contributions To Growth, which was completed in coordination with IQMS, a division of Dassault Systèmes. The primary goal of the research was to determine what most differentiates the fastest-growing manufacturers, as well as understanding their plans for Base: N=151 total respondents Q4. What methods do you use to measure product quality today? 2019. In conducting the study, Decision Analyst surveyed 151 North American manufacturers, a majority of which produced plastics. interviewed is their focus on using KPIs to measure the impact of The surveys were complemented by site visits to plastics their decisions on improving product and process quality. Notably, processors and manufacturers with the greatest increases the 27% of survey respondents that are growing 10% a year or in revenues, customers and operations. From conversations more report that they use efficiency-based metrics and KPIs as a with these firms’ production teams, it was evident how data- baseline of their production operations. These manufacturers excel driven decision-making dominates the fastest-growing plastics at finding how efficiency and production-based KPIs influence businesses today – from maintaining a daily focus on measuring each other, understanding causality and predicting how product their impact on goals to the real-time dashboards production and quality will impact related revenue and product outcomes. senior management teams review on their tablets. High-performing plastics providers are more likely to track yield This article examines the four most prominent ways that high- rates by machine, with 72% of this group using this metric versus performing plastics providers are combining KPIs to accelerate 38% of all respondents. They’re also more likely to measure original equipment effectiveness (OEE) compared to the total their growth. base of respondents (42% of fast-growing manufacturers versus 35% of all survey respondents). Measuring quality via efficiency

and production-based KPIs

A key differentiator among the fastest-growing manufacturers

24 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

page 26 u


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Real-Time Monitoring Benefits

51% of all manufacturing businesses use real-time monitoring. The top benefits of real-time monitoring are improving production efficiency as measured by order-cycle time, scheduling accuracy improvements and greater quality control.

Q9. Do you use real-time monitoring as part of your production process today? Q10. What are the top three benefits of using real-time monitoring in your shop floor today?

Finding the connection between efficiency and productionbased KPIs begins in the Quality and Compliance departments of these high-growth manufacturers, where real-time insights are linked into their software for supplier quality management (SQM), quality control, quality management and compliance.  

Real-time monitoring for immediate insights

Plastics processors and manufacturers have the highest real-time monitoring adoption rate at 74%, driven by their need to reduce scrap, increase yields and meet delivery dates. Meanwhile, in identifying the top three real-time monitoring benefits, 53% of all manufacturers cite improved production efficiency as measured by order cycle times, 47% note better scheduling accuracy and 38% list greater quality control.

Defining investment priorities

The fastest-growing manufacturers also use a combination of efficiency- and production-based KPIs to define the best investment priorities for 2019. Among plastics processors and manufacturers, the highest investment priorities today are centered around improving performance through either existing machinery upgrades (41%) or new smart machines that are connected and capable of self-diagnosing and reporting problems.

26 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

The 27% of survey respondents that are growing 10% a year or more report that they use efficiency-based metrics and KPIs as a baseline of their production operations. Following close on the heels of these priorities is investing in the ability to gain greater visibility across manufacturing through real-time monitoring and manufacturing execution system (MES) software (38%). Additional investment priorities include robotics (29%) and system integration (19%).

Conclusion

By combining efficiency- and production-based KPIs, the fastest growing plastics processors and manufacturers are able to find insights and act on them faster than their competitors. They are more focused on how to turn their organizations into datadriven businesses. And, they often have real-time dashboards


available via internal sites and, in some cases, mobile applications built within the company. For fast-growing plastics processors and manufacturers, overarching all of these strategies is a focus on becoming learning ecosystems that quickly aggregate, analyze and take action on new insights. n Louis Columbus serves as a principal at IQMS, part of the Dassault Systèmes portfolio. In addition to professional responsibilities, Columbus teaches MBA courses in international business, global competitive strategies, international market research and capstone courses in strategic planning and market research.

Investment Priorities for 2019

Note: Multiple responses allowed to this question. Base: Total respondents (n=151)

More information: www.iqms.com

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 27


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OUTLOOK

Injection Molders Expand Business Through Proprietary Products by Katy Ibsen, contributing writer, Plastics Business

I

njection molders invest time, skill and capacity to meet the needs of their external customers. Those customers, after all, are the lifeblood of the business – the determiners of the bottom line. However, some molders have an internal customer in the form of a proprietary product that can fill the void in custom work, add revenue, be leveraged for new custom business and bring a greater awareness of a plastic molder’s capabilities.

Wisconsin Plastics enters the consumer market

Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. (WPI), a contract injection molder that serves clients in the aerospace and defense, automotive, medical and merchandise markets, expanded its business strategy and added proprietary products to its fold in 2015. The result is PROvider, a line of hand towel, bathroom tissue and napkin dispensers. Wisconsin Plastics is located in the heart of the papermaking industry, and the company has a long history in designing dispensing systems for others. That expertise led WPI leadership to explore a proprietary product. WPI began with a hand towel dispenser, designed for easy refilling and to work each and every use. In addition to its function, customers ordering the dispenser could customize its color and create custom messaging on the front cover, including

30 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

a full-color logo. Complementary products quickly followed, including a bathroom tissue dispenser, and most recently, the PROvider napkin dispenser. Like the hand towel dispenser, the napkin dispenser allows businesses to customize the color and include a logo, allowing them to expand their brand identity. “We had all of the key pieces in-house, so developing a program like PROvider line was very straight-forward,” said Mike Kilgore, vice president of marketing and sales at PROvider.

Viking Plastics meets a need in automotive

Viking Plastics, a Pennsylvania-based custom molder with a strong customer base within the automotive and appliance industries, decided to develop its own line of caps and plugs for automotive sealing solutions. “Unlike some businesses, we didn’t head into producing a proprietary product because we started with a great product idea and had big dreams of everyone coming to buy it from us,” said Kelly Goodsel, president and CEO. “Instead, we saw a need created by regulations within the automotive industry that we could fill.” Above: Viking Plastics has an extensive proprietary line of caps and plugs for automotive sealing solutions. Photo courtesy of Viking Plastics.


Changing specifications drive development in the automotive industry, and Viking’s owners saw an opportunity early in the company’s history to develop the tooling automotive OEMS need – and then retain ownership of the tooling. “If you’re an early developer of the product,” said Goodsel, “you can become the standard-bearer. Then, as volumes grow, your capacity grows, and that creates barriers to entry for others. When we decided to build the tooling and own the tooling, that gave us control of a proprietary product, but also the responsibility.” Now, the company produces nearly 100 part numbers in its caps and closures line, representing approximately 15% of its overall revenue.

The challenges

Developing and succeeding with a proprietary product is not without challenges. For WPI, the PROvider line, while innovative, entered an already established – and possibly crowded – market. The company has seen firsthand the challenges of convincing customers to make a change from their existing dispensers. “Our goal is to create brand awareness by having a product line that is cost competitive, yet outperforms our competitors,” said Kilgore. “We have a long history in the injection mold manufacturing industry, which helps us compete globally against recognized brands.”

got it copied. It's not all roses, but in general, it's been a nice piece of our business. We continue to invest in it.”

Resources and capacity

When considering the development of a proprietary product, a company also must consider the resources needed, capacity required and possibly, new employees for marketing and sales. WPI has a dedicated sales staff and internal marketing team that promotes the PROvider line; and the company trained its production staff to accommodate the new products and anticipated customer expectations. “Servicing the proprietary product sector at WPI requires a team of employees to manage the work schedule and a production schedule that keeps everyone on track. This is true for the PROvider line and non-PROvider programs,” said Kilgore. “All WPI customers demand the same level of attention, and we take pride in making sure their needs are met.” And, a proprietary product can be a double-edged sword for a busy custom molder. When volumes grow, capacity grows – but that possibly brings interruption to existing workflow. “On the page 32 u

Additionally, a proprietary molded product requires patience. Beginning with marketing the product, identifying potential customers and eventually closing the deal, the sales cycle can vary in length. “You always need to keep your pipeline full and always be engaging new customers,” said Kilgore. “I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s efficient because we are the design house, the molder, the manufacturer of the product, and we also are the distributor,” he continued. “So, there’s a lot of pieces of the puzzle that we already have here in place at WPI. I guess if you want to say we cut out the middleman, we've definitely done that with our own program.” Viking, too, has seen challenges, despite entering a well-known market with large volumes. Creating products that are industryspecific requires continual research and development – and to a certain extent, an ability to predict market trends. As Goodsel explains, one product Viking thought was going to be a real hit has gone through multiple changes, but sales have not taken off as expected. “We've probably developed 30 new products in the last five years, and not all of them have been a hit,” said Goodsel. “That’s the downside of proprietary products. In some cases, sales took off for a little while, and then our customer took it to China and

Wisconsin Plastics expanded its proprietary dispenser line with the PROvider napkin dispenser. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Plastics, Inc.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 31


OUTLOOK t page 31 custom side of the business, the customers are calling, asking you to provide quotes and initiate new programs. With the proprietary side of the business, it can be a challenge to carve out time to mold your own products when there isn’t necessarily a deadline, so there’s a constant pull of the rope,” said Goodsel. “You've got to dedicate resources and time to working on those products in order to get them over the finish line.”

The advantages

The strategy behind proprietary products is, in part, about creating a stronger product for the market – but mostly about diversifying revenue streams. In WPI’s case, the PROvider has supplemented the company’s ongoing molding business. “It helped fill in the peaks and valleys common with contract manufacturing,” said Kilgore. WPI is leveraging custom work within its PROvider wheelhouse. The line of products is compatible to Universal products (tissues and towels), however, as an injection molder, WPI can adapt its products to other paper products. “We have the ability – if a customer has a very specific core size in a roll towel or something of a proprietary nature that they have in the roll towel or tissue – we can change the plastic parts by updating the tooling that we have,” said Kilgore. “So that means that we can change the tooling to be a proprietary set … giving our customers a very unique solution.” And, in addition to the bottom line impact, the proprietary line opens other opportunities when current customers see what else Viking is capable of molding. “That drives our other new business opportunities,” he said.

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In the end, Goodsel explained, there are two reasons for a custom molder to investigate the possibility of a proprietary product. “Number one, it provides a sense of security – a little more control of your business because you own the tooling, you own the design and you own the automation that goes into making an assembly. It eliminates the pressure that comes with an external customer who needs a lower price or is threatening to move the tool.”

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The second, he said, is that the profitability of a proprietary product can be reinvested to strengthen both the custom and the proprietary sides of the business. “You should be slightly more profitable with proprietary products than with something that a dozen other molders are competing on,” Goodsel explained. “But, you have to convert those profits into further research and development to keep the engine going.” n

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VIEW FROM 30

The View from 30 Feet 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.

SEA-LECT Teaches Entrepreneurs to Design for Plastics by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business

I

nnovation. It’s in the DNA for a plastics injection molder in the Pacific Northwest and prominently featured in the company’s description: “We started in plastics with the purpose of engineering innovations into reality.” This company doesn’t just operate with this guiding principle, it reaches out to inform and support new innovators in its community. SEA-LECT Plastics Corporation is located on the Pacific Coast in Everett, Washington, between the Snohomish River and Puget Sound, and 25 miles north of Seattle. Founded in 1987 as the Plastics Division of SEA-DOG Corporation and incorporated in 1995, SEA-LECT provides design, development, tooling and injection molding for private companies, government entities and others in the Pacific Northwest.

SEA-LECT offers tours to inventors and designers to provide an introduction to plastics technology. Photo courtesy of SEA-LECT Plastics Corporation.

The company is a qualified Tier 1 military vendor and currently partners with the US Navy. SEA-LECT also manufactures products for outdoor recreation, including kayaking and fishing items, and even beautiful, rugged ukuleles for outdoor enthusiast musicians. Embracing sustainability, SEA-LECT offers expertise in the latest plastics technology, including biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics.

SEA-LECT reaches out

In 2015, Matt Poischbeg, SEA-LECT’s vice president/general manager, heard about the area’s NW Innovation Resource Center.

34 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

“I was immediately intrigued by the idea of having a local incubator for makers and inventors,” said Poischbeg, “and I set up a meeting with NWIRC’s Executive Director Diane Kamionka right away.” NWIRC is a nonprofit, headquartered an hour north of Everett in Bellingham, that helps inventors and entrepreneurs in northwest Washington develop ideas, create business plans, find mentors and connect with local resources. The organization works in concert with businesses and government entities in the five counties that it serves.


NWIRC opened its first multifunction innovation lab, The Lab@ everett, in Everett to support innovators at all stages – from ideation to business formation. Offering working space, offices, a workshop and rapid prototyping, the lab is in close proximity to SEA-LECT Plastics. Poischbeg generously offered to connect SEA-LECT to NWIRC as a mentor, adviser and manufacturing resource. SEA-LECT now volunteers its expertise to problem-solve design challenges, identify flaws, source material and customize solutions to get new start-ups ready for the investor stage.

Mentoring

NWIRC’s Just-in-Time Mentorship™ is designed to match experts with entrepreneurs and inventors to fulfill a specific needed skill set at a crucial time during business development. As part of the program, Poischbeg mentors an average of 15 individuals per year, bringing in other SEA-LECT team members when necessary. “It starts with educating the individuals about the intricacies of designing and manufacturing plastic parts,” said Poischbeg of the mentoring process. “How it works. The types of molds. The types of plastics.”

You take packaging seriously. So we take it personally.

From there, he explained, the mentoring continues: “It usually goes into the design phase where the mentees’ ideas will be drawn up in CAD.” Then comes instruction on rapid prototypes, followed by production molds and part production. As Poischbeg summed it up, “It can be a very time-consuming process, which makes NWIRC a great resource for up-and-coming plastics producers.”

Workshops

The SEA-LECT team participates in advisory workshops at The Lab@everett that draw 20 to 40 participants per event. Poischbeg described the diverse audience as, “All walks of life. Young, middle aged, old. Inventors mostly, and some entrepreneurs.” Poischbeg was the guest speaker recently at the final workshop meeting of an NWIRC “idea to prototype” course. Addressing inventors who were ready to explore the initial manufacturing stage of production, he offered helpful insights. “I talked to the group about the pros and cons of injection molding, offshore vs. local manufacturing and intellectual property protection,” he said. page 36 u

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VIEW FROM 30 t page 35

Facility tours

SEA-LECT opens its doors to NWIRC members two to four times per year for factory tours to give designers and inventors an up-close introduction to plastics technology. Between 10 and 20 aspiring designers and inventors – eager pupils of the plastics injection molding lifecycle curriculum – generally attend each tour. “Most people have never seen advanced manufacturing, especially injection molding,” Poischbeg explained. “They have no concept at all what a mold looks like, and why it takes a long time and a lot of money to build one.” On a typical tour, visitors see key areas in the manufacturing plant, starting with the tool and die shop. The tour moves on to the part design/mold design department, molding operations, and quality assurance/quality control and scheduling, before finishing with a hands-on exercise in which each visitor puts together an insulated tumbler. These tours are real eye-openers for fresh inventors, Poischbeg said, exposing them to production practicalities and an industry hiding in plain sight. “They don’t know that there are thousands

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of plastic resins and that we can custom-color resin like a paint store,” he said. “They are surprised by how much skill is required to do all of the jobs, and by the size and cost of injection molding machines.” A big takeaway for the visitors? “That we are right in their backyard.”

Point taken

When asked about SEA-LECT’s experience in mentoring and advising designers, Poischbeg is pleased to report a profound impact. “I want to say that 99% of the NWIRC clientele benefits from our feedback and professional design input,” he said. Poischbeg’s advice extends beyond just the design and prototyping of new products. “Most inventors are totally focused on manufacturing, but not on sales. It is important, however, to consider the sales and marketing side.” In urging designers to do thorough marketing research and sales homework before bringing a new product to the marketplace – to avoid wasting precious energy, time and money on failed designs – Poischbeg is tactful. “We try to be nice, but sincere, about the fact that nobody needs a plastics mold as an expensive boat anchor.”

Success story

Inventor Joel Townsan had an idea for a new power tool: a screwdriver that was transformable to work in tight spaces. Townsan did his research and found a ready market, then took his invention idea – the Tantrum screwdriver – to NWIRC for help turning the idea into reality with a solid business plan, strategy and supports. NWIRC connected Townsan with SEALECT for advice during the research and development stage of his project. As Poischbeg recounted, “When he came to us, he was not ready to pull the [manufacturing] trigger. I gave him advice as well as tooling and part cost estimates.”

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With SEA-LECT’s leg up in research and development, and the resources provided through NWIRC’s BuiltIt program, Townsan’s idea took flight. The Tantrum screwdriver now is available through Lowe’s home improvement stores. SEA-LECT’s partnership with the NWIRC incubator in its community has been a rewarding collaboration and a winwin, Poischbeg said. In addition to giving advice and practical education to innovators, he explained that the company also has achieved its objectives for participating, which are “to offer resources and support which will help us to take our customers’ ideas from concept to reality, to get referrals for potential prototyping and manufacturing business, and to facilitate a twoway connection between business and government.” n


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INDUSTRY

3D-Printed Fashion: Makers Push Boundaries Edited by Nancy Cates, contributing writer, Plastics Business Managing Editor’s note: Innovation is the name of the game, and Julia Daviy is at the forefront of the 3D-printed fashion industry. Although I doubt if many Plastics Business readers are using their 3D printers to whip up a new blazer on the weekend, it’s important to keep an eye on the possibilities – and Daviy is watching an $804 billion global textiles industry that lives and dies by the bringing the latest trends to market quickly.

I

magine a sustainable, low-waste, highly personalized method of designing, fitting and producing clothing and accessories. How? How about with a 3D printer?

That’s the concept and goal being pursued by Julia Daviy in her Miami, Florida, 3D Printed Clothing Lab. Daviy, who presented a 3D-printed collection at New York Fashion Week last fall, is committed to reducing environmental impact and sparking creativity with her revolutionary approach to fashion design. Daviy said she began out of the desire to create a sustainable method of clothing production and to implement her vision of clothing with new levels of functionality. “I had a lot of curiosity and was continuously asking myself ‘what if’ questions,” she said. “I permitted myself to experiment, make mistakes and not have any specific business in mind.” Daviy, whose educational background includes degrees in environmental science and international economics, previously operated a successful international business and had experience working as a corporate executive in the clean technology industry. That work led to invitations to judge innovation contests and increased curiosity about modern approaches to invention. “I took an online course from the University of Maryland on the creation of innovations,” she said. “Long story short: My journey in fashion started from launching an activewear line made from organic fabrics and innovative ‘eco-friendly’ dyeing techniques. At that stage, my main idea was to create clothing that followed the highest standards of environmental impact that – at the same time – did not sacrifice design. From a business point of view, I probably should have kept that project and continued to develop it. But after investigating the situation in each stage of the clothing-making chain, I discovered that this method of production is a dead end. We need technology and new approaches to react adequately to challenges in traditional clothing manufacturing. Changing fabrics and dyeing techniques is just not enough.”

38 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

Julia Daviy, founder of 3D Printed Clothing Lab, examines a design component in the Miami, Florida, facility. Photo courtesy of Julia Daviy.

Daviy explained that the first experiments in 3D-printed shapes and hard materials developed from 2010 to 2014. “I found that 3D printing in the clothing industry is developing slowly because it needs a combination of knowledge – in traditional clothing design, in 3D modeling and in 3D printing. At that time, we did not have any specialists – probably in the entire world – who had technical knowledge in all three areas. Three years ago, I decided to learn all of these and dove into learning and experimentation.” Design has taken on a new dimension for Daviy. “Current day design in the clothing industry has an absolutely different meaning than it did in the past. It is about the creation of new products – the clothing that will be able to solve problems. It's also about designing a new, smart and ethical method of production.” Daviy said the traditional methods of fashion industry production involve hard work for little pay. In addition, she said,


the methods include unethical treatment of animals, wasted time and resources (about one-third of all fabric made is discarded after patterns are cut), and result in clothing that doesn’t meet current needs. Daviy said feedback from other designers, potential clients and others has run the gamut. “I have a lot of positive, inspiring (and inspired) comments,” she revealed. “Many fashion designers around the world are writing me. Some want to obtain knowledge, some like my approach of using 3D printing for achieving sustainable clothing production, some mention that my works inspired them with their own experimentation, design and work in fashion technology. Many requests are from fashion students and Z-Generation young people. I find this kind of feedback and interest to be very precious. “Others are very far away from 3D printing and cannot even realize what it means to ‘3D-print’ clothing. Recently, when I visited a textile expo, I realized that even people from the clothing industry rarely understand that what we do is actually possible.”

luxury segment. “We created a software platform that permits the consumer to feel like a designer. Now we are at the stage of testing it. For example, you may customize your one-of-akind 3D-printed skirt and get it made to order. At this first test stage, you can customize length, style, pattern, add pockets and regulate the height of a waist wrap. Launching sales of 3D-printed, made-to-order and digitally customizable garments is an important step for me and my team.” Her work has attracted potential customers who are interested in specific 3D-printed clothes – so many that the lab can’t satisfy all the requests. The lab is involved with research and development projects and also is exploring possibilities with business-tobusiness clients. During her presentation, Daviy noted that the current global leather market is worth $43 billion (US), with 3.7 billion animals killed for leather, according to Common Objective data. “The leather goods industry is a potential market that can be completely rethought and used for 3D printing companies’ expansion,” she asserted. “Moreover, it is on time. Some 75% of

Daviy’s process of creating and designing an article of clothing is interactive and, at this stage of development, is considered a

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SPRAYON PERFECTION

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Daviy said ethics and eliminating fur and leather for clothing and accessories is another strong trend. “3D printing is able to bring an absolutely new level of design work – shapes, patterns, colors and textures that are impossible to make in the leather industry. Traditional leather, in comparison, is a boring material. 3D-printed accessories and clothing also means customization, which is impossible in the traditional way of production.” In looking at the global textile industry – worth $804 billion, with 5% growth anticipated this year – Daviy cited other advantages of 3D-printed clothing and accessories: • Smart production, with a transparent and short production chain • Ease of management • Opportunities to create smart clothing and accessories by incorporating wearable electronics • High potential for recycling Obstacles remain in creating 3D clothing, and Daviy and a partner are patenting some potential solutions. “Everyone wants faster 3D printing,” she said, “and I’m not an exception. I dream about 3D printers that are able to create highelastic durable clothes 3D-printed as one single piece without the need for long post-processing and trimming. A much bigger 3D printing volume is essential. I would change the internal design of the STL 3D printer completely.” Her description of the perfect 3D SLA printer? A low 3D printer with a print area of 1 square meter, with a transparent light bath, on the bottom of which the structure is formed using technology similar to the continuous liquid interface production (CLIP).

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40 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

Considering the challenges that continue to slow progress in the 3D-printed fashion industry, Daviy noted issues with decisionmaking, implementation and acceptance of change as factors. “Innovation and 3D-printing challenges need absolutely new kinds of people,” she said. Challenges don’t stop progress, though. In her presentation, Daviy noted that files for 3D-printed shoes, among other items, are available online at thingiverse.com. And, on the mass production scale, the technology has developed enough to have 3D-printed wearable products successfully marketed: “For example,” Daviy said, “Adidas did not focus on negatives. It simply produced 100,000 sneakers with 3D-printed midsoles last year.” n


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MANAGEMENT

5 Reasons to Hire for Skill Over Experience by John Carrozza, principal consultant, Riviera Advisors, Inc.

W

hen hiring a new person into your organization, it’s very likely that you will review the resume, CV or professional profile and assess how that experience might apply to what your team needs. This is a very logical approach to assessing talent; however, when you look at how quickly the skills to perform each role are changing, only looking at past experience could leave you with a big skill gap. Hiring employees for their skills is a much safer – and longer-term – bet.

Hiring for skill means your workforce is better prepared for the changes your business may need to make in the future – and those employees will likely be more adaptable to the future organization you are starting to envision. To make sure you are not only attracting the best candidates, but know who they are when they’re right in front of you, here are five ways to approach hiring for skill.

1. Don’t get too caught up with ‘fit’

Hiring for culture is extremely important. However, hiring for what ‘fits’ today is extremely limiting. Think about where your business will be in three to five years – will the prospective employee fit what you need then? Every area of your business likely is evolving; make sure your talent acquisition activities are, too.

2. Avoid the shiny pedigree appeal

Many organizations focus too heavily on sourcing efforts that target candidates with “pedigree appeal” – impressive credentials, educational or employment backgrounds. In fact, these days it takes precedence over the thorough investigation your team should be doing to understand if candidates have the skills needed to do their job today and tomorrow. Make sure you still are using some good old-fashioned interviewing and assessment skills to learn what these candidates gained from their prestigious experience.

3. Leverage technology, but don’t fully rely on it

There are amazing tools today to search resumes for key words that can help create a shortlist of job candidates. Where the technology cannot help you is in uncovering why/when/how do people entertain new career opportunities, and what they need or want before you start selling the job and the organization. Be sure to learn candidates’ aspirations for growing their career and constantly enhancing their skill sets.

4. Sharpen your assessment skills

Further to #2: Know how to effectively assess candidates for desired skill sets based on prior accomplishments and results

42 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

– and coach hiring managers to do the same. Think about the skills the candidate has demonstrated and get an understanding of what the individual learned from that experience. You can do this by actively listening and interpreting for understanding, not just responding.

5. Learn the story of the skills

Know where the value lies in the story of the job seeker’s experience. Ask at least two skill-based questions (with followups) for each attractive experiential accomplishment, and you can get to the story of the skills. Coaching the team members who participate in the interview process can help them put the skills in the proper context. An example of a skill-based question could be, “How did you build the skills you needed after a setback?” Previous approaches may have had you looking for top commercial or consumer brands on a resume. Some have assumed that surviving a period at that school or at that employer would automatically prepare the individual to deliver what is needed in a particular role. Skill-based hiring involves looking for stories with keywords like: ability to communicate, learning new systems, managing relationships, interpreting situations, forming new ideas, strategic thinking and respecting others’ input. Many of these skills are much harder to teach, change or develop in candidates regardless of the industry. These are the solid skills that can make an immediate impact and help a candidate fit in with your culture, today and in the future. For consistency across all your interviews, a scoring tool to identify where the greatest added value would be, where the growth opportunity for each candidate lies and what your recommendations are can be a helpful way to later review the talent available to you. Having a strong understanding of what you need each role to bring to your team today – and how that role may quickly evolve – will help your company find strong candidates. These will turn into fantastic employees who are adaptable and will help bring your organization into the future. It may be tough at first, but know that getting a start on this will give you a competitive edge as the battle heats up to attract, develop and retain your talent. n John Carrozza is a principal consultant with Riviera Advisors, Inc., a boutique recruitment/talent acquisition management and optimization consulting firm based in southern California. More information: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.


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FOCUS

Workplace Implications for Marijuana Use by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business

M

arijuana now is legal, in some form, in 33 US states. Marijuana use still is illegal at the federal level, but attitudes and laws are changing. That’s partly because medical marijuana is being used legally in many states for the treatment of a variety of conditions, with pain topping the list. And, lawmakers in nearly a dozen states have passed laws that allow for recreational use, too. American employers must keep pace with these changes by learning how federal laws – such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – now may apply to marijuana use in the workplace and by adjusting the policies toward marijuana use at their companies.

Medicinal and recreational use

Thirty-three states allow cannabis for medical use. As the groundbreaker, California legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in 1996. The latest states – Utah and Missouri – followed suit in 2018. Under most of these laws, medical marijuana is available only to individuals who qualify for a patient registry. In most cases, a doctor must certify a patient’s ailment and make a recommendation that medical marijuana is needed for therapeutic purposes. Each of the states in which it now is legal has a list of allowable conditions. In some states, the lists are restrictive, while in other states they are expansive. According to Leafly.com’s “Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Marijuana Card by State,” Alabama, for example, only allows cannabis or CBD for treating epilepsy. For Michigan, 10 allowable ailments are listed and for Illinois, nearly 40 conditions qualify a patient for medical use. University of Michigan researcher Kevin Boehnke, PhD, and his colleagues examined how people enrolled in state-approved programs are using medical marijuana. Boehnke and his fellow researchers found that more than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states. Their count did not include users in those states that don’t require formal enrollment. Some estimates put the total figure at more than two million medical marijuana patients in the US. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Additionally, 22 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

44 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

The legal tide has turned, and the incoming wave is rearranging the landscape, the rules and the policies for many employers. According to survey results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Approximately 14.6% of US adults [1 in 7] reported using marijuana in the past year [2017].”

On the work front

Whether the topic is medical or recreational use, Marijuana Moment’s legislative tracker shows that state and federal lawmakers are considering more than 750 cannabis-related bills for 2019 sessions. The legal tide has turned, and the incoming wave is rearranging the landscape, the rules and the policies for many employers. The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) recently broadcast “Workplace Highs and Lows: OSHA, the ADA and Medical Marijuana,” a webinar covering medical marijuana and the workplace. The webinar was presented by two attorneys from Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, a US law firm with core strengths in energy, labor and employment, litigation, and transactional law. Presenter Nelva Smith is a labor and employment attorney and a member of the firm’s Workplace Safety Team. She has presented on several occasions nationally on OSHA topics. Co-presenter Vanessa Towarnicky provides guidance to clients with regard to compliance issues arising under state and federal employment laws, such as the ADA. The hour-long webinar explored OSHA rules in the workplace, the ADA and its prohibition of discrimination based on disabilities, and how changes in the legal status of marijuana are impacting these regulations. Smith and Towarnicky delivered a comprehensive presentation, discussing existing laws, emerging legislation and even recent legal case studies. While the regulatory and legal aspects of the topic are best left to the legal professionals, following are some highlights and suggestions for employers.


OSHA and marijuana

OSHA has issued changes in its guidance, as recently as October 2018, of the Recordkeeping standard, which includes its antiretaliation provisions. These changes are more extensive than can be addressed in this overview article. Separate from OSHA laws, the Drug-free Workplace Act, which covers federal contractors, allows for drug testing – and this may extend to subcontractors of federal prime contractors. Department of Transportation regulations, with zero tolerance for the use of illegal drugs, also allow for drug testing. As it pertains to marijuana and safety in the workplace, employers should be aware of the implications of OSHA’s General Duty Clause. Under the General Duty Clause an employer shall provide a workplace “…free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm…” Employers should be cautious that OSHA could issue citations under the clause if they do not have a clear policy on marijuana use (medical or recreational) in the workplace, particularly when there are safety-sensitive positions involved. In light of the General Duty Clause, it is imperative that employers train supervisors to recognize impairment observed on-shift that stems from off-shift use of marijuana and establish a policy for this situation. And, the presenters recommended employers create clear policies and procedures for supervisors to follow if they detect on-the-job use and impairment.

ADA and medical marijuana

“A complete mess for courts, employers and attorneys, with diametrically opposing federal vs. state laws.” That’s how the Steptoe & Johnson presenters described the Americans with Disabilities Act in conjunction with state laws that pertain to medical marijuana. The ADA forbids employers to discriminate based on disability. With medical marijuana use on the rise for a growing number of conditions, employers must be careful to avoid bias against users. Some employers that have always had drug-free, zero tolerance policies and are enforcing these policies with regard to medical marijuana use – in aspects of employment including hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training and more – now are seeing legal claims as a result. Other cases against employers include “failure to accommodate” claims brought by ADA-qualified individuals. Overall, in ADA lawsuits, some courts are beginning to rule in favor of employees.

basis. It is noteworthy that while people engaged in illegal use of drugs are excluded from claiming disability, recovering drug addicts are protected by ADA rules. The ADA does not yet protect the use of medical marijuana at the federal level, but state courts may apply anti-discrimination laws differently where medical use has been legalized. And, it is important to note that the Family and Medical Leave Act could cover leave for conditions that are treated with medical marijuana. To prepare for ADA and medical marijuana issues, the attorneys suggested that employers do the following: • Check for “qualified employer” status under ADA or state disability laws • Explore state medical marijuana statutes and what they cover • Check for medical marijuana laws at the municipal level • Review and revise workplace policies • Engage in an interactive process to consider reasonable accommodation • If using a testing facility, make sure it meets state requirements • Advise testing facilities of any new workplace policies

The only constant is change

At the state level, three new types of marijuana laws are unfolding: decriminalization (entailing no prosecution for certain levels of possession), medical marijuana statutes (with requirements and conditions) and full legalization. Federal laws are in flux too. Attorney General William Barr says that he will not pursue enforcement of prohibitions against marijuana for individuals who are in compliance with state laws. Legislation is advancing in both the US House and Senate. The House bill, Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act of 2019, would amend the Controlled Substance Act regarding the status of medical marijuana and would provide for expunging some marijuana offenses from conviction records. The Senate’s bill, the STATES Act, includes similar language. The Steptoe & Johnson attorneys conclude that, with marijuana becoming an increasingly important issue and the legal atmosphere primed for fast development, employers must really stay on their toes. The full webinar, “Workplace Highs and Lows: OSHA, the ADA and Medical Marijuana,” is available for purchase. n More information: info@mappinc.com

Understanding the meaning of “qualified individuals,” “reasonable accommodations” and “undue hardship” requires careful consideration and should be done on a case-by-case

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 45


BENCHMARKING

Cost of Benefits Continues to Rise for Manufacturers by Ashley Turrell, membership and analytics director, MAPP

O

n average, manufacturers are spending $1 million per year to offer benefits to their employees, according to a recent report by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) and the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM). The two associations jointly published the 2019 Health and Benefits Report. Data for this report came from a biennial survey of plastics and rubber manufacturers in the United States. The final report provides manufacturers with detailed information on health insurance plans, including premiums, employee contributions, employee participation and ancillary benefit programs. The 2019 report includes input from 194 plastics and rubber manufacturers located across 33 states. The majority of participants were human resource representatives from mid-sized manufacturing organizations. The data represent more than 38,000 participating employees. Overall, 99% of all organizations offered health insurance to their employees in 2018, with an average of 70% of employees participating in these plans. On average, participating companies spend $1,000,776 to offer benefits to their employees – or approximately $8,850 per participating employee. The cost of offering benefits continues to rise for employers. In 2018, 80% of manufacturers reported an increase in their health insurance costs. While 59% of manufacturers indicated their 2018 increase was between 1% and 10%, 6% of participants felt increases upwards of 21%. Additionally, 88% of companies have either already received or anticipate an increase in 2019. This year’s survey asked manufacturers to select all the strategies their organizations are implementing in order to control costs. The most common ways companies are attempting to control costs included moving to a high-deductible plan (40%), shifting premiums to employees (37%), implementing an employee wellness plan (35%), offering a Health Savings Account (34%) and

46 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

utilizing a Section 125 plan (26%). Other cost-controlling tactics included a spousal surcharge, shifting from fully insured to selfinsured, a tobacco usage surcharge and joining a manufacturing trust or Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA). In terms of plans offered, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is the most common. PPO plans are offered by 74% of participants. Other common plan types included High Deductible Health Plan (42%) and Health Maintenance Organization (24%). The least common plan types include Point of Service (POS), traditional and Consumer-Directed Health Plan (CDHP). In terms of funding type, the majority of organizations still utilized a fully insured health insurance program, with 69% of organizations reporting this plan type. However, the larger the organization, the more likely it is to offer self-insured plans. For


vision (88%), employee life insurance (95%) and dependent life insurance (60%). According to this year’s report, 93% of organizations also offered a retirement program to their employees. The most common retirement program offered is a 401(k), which is offered by 87% of manufacturers. The amount matched by organizations to employees’ retirement account ranged from no match to 100% match, but most companies commonly match 3% to 4%.

instance, only 15% of small manufacturers utilize a self-insured plan, while 64% of large organizations do the same. Manufacturers continue to offer more than just health insurance – the majority offer ancillary benefits as well. Overall, participating organizations reported offering dental (96%),

Participating organizations also reported other benefits provided to employees, including gain sharing programs, funeral leave, medical reimbursement, referral bonuses, childcare, company loans, legal assistance, and health and fitness coaching. Manufacturers know that keeping talent includes offering an attractive and competitive health and benefits program. n More information: www.mappinc.com

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 47


ECONOMIC CORNER

Global Economy in a State of Flux (Again) by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence

T

he International Monetary Fund certainly is not notorious for its upbeat forecasts. The institution began life after the Second World War as the lender of last resort – created primarily to give the shattered European nations an opportunity to rebuild their economies with borrowed money. It worked like a charm as these were mostly modern industrial states with the know-how and ability to compete once they had an opportunity to rebuild that shattered infrastructure. As that mission was completed, the IMF turned its attention to the developing world with the same basic plan – cheap loans to build infrastructure – but the outcome was not quite so positive as these states often lacked the background and skills to take advantage of this kind of support. Pretty soon, the IMF was the institution that set about correcting these bad habits through direct intervention – teams of IMF economists that virtually seized control of entire economies. This essentially set the IMF as the arbiter of good and bad economic policy, and its periodic reports on the state of the world are generally seen as very accurate – but they do tend to lean in a more negative direction. The latest edition of the World Economic Report is characteristically blunt as it outlines the factors that have been dragging the global economy to the slowest period of growth seen in the last several years – nearly as slow as was seen during the recession that gripped the US, Europe and the world in general. The report cites an “environment of increased trade tensions and tariff hikes between the United States and China, a decline in business confidence, a tightening of financial condition and higher policy uncertainty across many economies.” More than in past years these are all man-made issues that have been made more serious by political positions and the growth of populism as a political/economic motivator. This would seem to fly in the face of recent data collected in the US. The Q1 growth rate exceeded expectations with a reading of 3.2% when most were expecting no more than 2.5%. The US unemployment rate remains near record lows as it wavers

48 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

between 3.8% and 4.0%. The level of capacity utilization has been getting close to the normal range, between 80% and 85%. With all this positive data, why is the IMF so bleak? And for that matter, why have there been equally downbeat projections from the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development? The growth expectation for trade now is for a rate of 3.4% in 2019 – and that is down from a previous estimate of 3.8% and way down from the nearly 5.0% that was notched in 2018. The growth spurt that was led by the US in 2018 faded quickly, and the corresponding surge in Europe was even more short-lived. The tax cuts in the US, coupled with additional European stimulus, provided an unsustainable boom – but from the start that surge was undermined by other policy decisions. For every step forward, there was a step or two back and the global economy ultimately started to falter. Growth estimates for the world economy are down by an average of 70% and almost every nation is looking at dramatic reductions in their GDP. Germany is expected to be down by 0.5%, Italy also is expected to be down by 0.6% and the UK will fall by another 0.3%. Mexico is down by 0.6% and all of Latin America is looking at around 0.7%, with big drops in Brazil


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and Argentina. The Middle East will see a decline of 0.9%. Even the once high-flying US economy will be coming back to earth with growth at perhaps 2.3%, as compared to the 3.2% noted at the start of 2019. The challenge is that some of the factors that sparked that high growth at the start of the year in the US are fragile and subject to major change. The two most important motivations for first-quarter growth were a surge in exports and a more active consumer than had been anticipated. The export surge only will continue if the rest of the world is in a position to buy the US output. The predicted slowdown in Asia and Europe and Latin America will affect demand for US exports, as the majority of what is sold by the US is high-value manufacturing. Of the issues cited by the IMF, the ones that seem to be causing the most concern revolve around uncertainty – and this confusion is firmly rooted in politics. The erratic nature of US trade policy has been attributed to the fact that there is no real policy in place. Tariffs are imposed and then lifted. Threats are made and then they are not followed up with action, but then the threat reappears at the time that most assumed the issues had been resolved. The policy is directed entirely by the White House. The agony of the Brexit process has taken everybody by surprise and has all but destroyed the British reputation in the world. It was assumed that cooler heads would prevail and an orderly and mutually acceptable deal would be thrashed out. Now the betting is that the UK will crash out of the EU in a chaotic mess that will set the economy back by years, taking a big chunk of Europe with it. At the same time that British isolationism and populism lead the UK toward this train wreck, there are similar elements in Europe with Italy at the forefront of populist crisis. The economy of Italy is in shambles and all the leadership can focus on is immigration.

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ECONOMIC CORNER t page 49 The issues that once were seen as the most divisive have largely been worked out – issues such as intellectual property protection and forced technology transfer. The problem now is unwinding from the tariffs that have been imposed by both nations on the other. Which will be removed or reduced and in what order? Will some stay in place? This is part of that uncertainty situation again. Oil has been a rapidly shifting business as well. For most of the last 50 to 60 years, there was one economic development that could generally be counted upon. Anything that spiked oil prices would inevitably lead to some kind of economic calamity. Higher priced oil would usher in a recession of one kind or another – and often this downturn was brutal and lasted a long time. The price of oil has jumped by around 45% in the last few weeks and has hit levels not seen in many months, but thus far reactions have been muted. The issues that have affected the oil markets would have turned the sector inside out a few years ago – production cuts from OPEC and Russia; political chaos in oil producing nations like Venezuela, Libya and Algeria; the imposition of new sanctions on Iran and those that buy oil from them. Any of these would have been expected to have an impact, but this time around the impact has been minor.

The reality is that US oil production has changed the rules. The production can expand more or less at will and oil markets assume the US will kick into high gear when those prices finally hit somewhere in the 80s. Beyond that, there is confidence that global growth is robust enough to sustain demand even if the prices approach $100 a barrel – at least for a while. It often is asserted that the global economy is in flux, and it nearly always is to one degree or another. This time, that uncertainty is at maximum levels – and it serves to almost paralyze business decision making. n Chris Kuehl is managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence. Founded by Keith Prather and Chris Kuehl in January 2001, Armada began as a competitive intelligence firm, grounded in the discipline of gathering, analyzing and disseminating intelligence. Today, Armada executives function as trusted strategic advisers to business executives, merging fundamental roots in corporate intelligence gathering, economic forecasting and strategy development. Armada focuses on the market forces bearing down on organizations. More information: www.armada-intel.com

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BOOKLIST

Find a Way to Be Better by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

T

here is a way to do it better. Find it. – Thomas Edison

I’ve always been fond of Thomas Edison. He’s the inventor behind the light bulb, the phonograph and one of the first movie cameras – and, since I like seeing when it’s dark outside and watching the latest Avengers movie, Edison is an OK guy in my book. From a manufacturing perspective, Edison is an OK guy, too. Most biographies will tell you he was an inventor, but I like to think of him as an old-school tinkerer. His research lab contained a machine shop and a library, and he had the equipment to pursue his interests in chemistry, woodworking and metals. By the end of his 84 years, Edison held more than 1,000 patents on inventions related to the battery, the telegraph, the telephone, railways and, of course, incandescent lamps.

Edison was always looking for a better way to do things – a way to improve the lives of the people around him. As leaders, we’re called to do the same thing. This issue’s Booklist brings together the freshest releases in 2019 with new and better ways to inspire teamwork, understand behavior and adapt quickly within our organizations.

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases and Transform Industries Author: Safi Bahcall Released: March 19, 2019

In Loonshots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall shows why teams, companies or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture. Loonshots identifies the small shifts in structure that control this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice. Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how this new kind of science helps us understand the behavior of companies and the fate of empires. Loonshots distills these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs and visionaries everywhere. Over the past decade, researchers have been applying the tools and techniques of phase transitions to understand how birds

52 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

flock, fish swim, brains work, people vote, criminals behave, ideas spread, diseases erupt and ecosystems collapse. If 20thcentury science was shaped by the search for fundamental laws, like quantum mechanics and gravity, the 21st will be shaped by this new kind of science. Loonshots is the first to apply these tools to help all of us unlock our potential to create and nurture the crazy ideas that change the world.

It's the Manager

Authors: Jim Clifton, Jim Harter Released: May 7, 2019 Packed with 52 discoveries from Gallup’s largest study on the future of work, It’s the Manager shows leaders how to adapt their organizations to rapid change, ranging from new workplace demands to managing remote employees, a diverse workforce, the rise of artificial intelligence, gig workers and attracting – and keeping – today’s best employees. Who is the most important person in your organization to lead your teams through these changes? Gallup research reveals: It’s your managers. While the world’s workplace has been going through extraordinary historical change, the practice of management has been stuck in time for more than 30 years. The new workforce – especially younger generations – wants their work to have deep mission and purpose, and they don’t want oldstyle command-and-control bosses. They want coaches who


inspire them, communicate with them frequently and develop their strengths. When you build great managers – ones who can maximize the potential of every team member – you will see organic revenue and profit growth, and you will deliver to every one of your employees what they most want today: a great job and a great life. This is the future of work.

Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace Author: John C. Maxwell Released: February 5, 2019

Change is so rapid today that leaders must do much more than stay the course to be successful. If they aren’t nimble and ready to adapt, they won’t survive. The key is to learn how to leadershift. In Leadershift, John C. Maxwell helps leaders gain the ability and willingness to make leadership changes that will positively enhance their organizational and personal growth. He does this by sharing the 11 shifts he made over the course of his long and successful leadership career. Each shift changed his trajectory and set him up for new and exciting achievements, ultimately strengthening and sustaining his leadership abilities and making him the admired leadership expert he is today.

depends on individual talent and valor; instead, Alden Mills shows, it depends first on creating a strong foundation for yourself and, second, using that foundation to help others go beyond their individual pursuits and talents to create something bigger and better – an unstoppable team. Unstoppable Teams shows managers – at every level, at both large and small organizations, including private, public and nonprofit – how to inspire, motivate and lead the people around them. Mills draws on stories from his own experiences to impart surprising team-building lessons. These lessons aren’t exclusive to the Navy SEALs; they are used by successful entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, coaches and sport captains – and now you can master them too. Unstoppable Teams is the handbook for how to build care-based teams that will push people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game Author: Abby Wambach Released: April 9, 2019

Abby Wambach became a champion because of her incredible talent as a soccer player. She became an icon because of her remarkable wisdom as a leader. As the cocaptain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Team, she created a culture not just of excellence, but of honor, commitment, resilience and sisterhood. She helped transform a group of individual women into one of the most successful, powerful and united Wolfpacks of all time.

Among those leadershifts are the Adaptive Shift from Plan A to Option A, the Production Shift from Ladder Climbing to Ladder Building, and the Influence Shift from Positional Authority to Moral Authority. Maxwell gives specific guidance to readers about how to make these shifts in their own lives. Each one requires them to change the way they think, act, and ultimately lead so they can be successful in a world that never remains the same.

In her retirement, Abby’s ready to do the same for her new team: All Women Everywhere. In Wolfpack, Abby’s message to women is:

Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership

We have never been Little Red Riding Hood. We Are the Wolves. We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together.

Author: Alden Mills Released: March 26, 2019

Three-time Navy SEAL platoon commander and founder of Perfect Fitness reveals how to put together teams that can accomplish any objective – by leveraging an unexpected set of values and priorities. Teams are nothing more than a series of interconnected relationships with a collective, single-minded focus. Success almost never

She insists that women must let go of old rules of leadership that neither include nor serve them. She’s created a new set of Wolfpack rules to help women unleash their individual power, unite with their Wolfpack and change the landscape of their lives and world: from the family room to the board room to the White House. In Abby’s vision, we are not Little Red Riding Hoods, staying on the path because we’re told to. We are the wolves, fighting for a better tomorrow for ourselves, our pack and all the future wolves who will come after us. n Book summaries provided by the publishing entity.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 53


SUPPLIER DIRECTORY Energy Strategy

Financial Services

Constellation www.constellation.com Page 43

Federated Insurance www.federatedinsurance.com Page 33

Equipment/ Auxiliary Suppliers

MBS Advisors www.mbsadvisors.com Page 10

Conair www.conairgroup.com/genius Back cover

Mueller Prost www.muellerprost.com Page 15

Frigel www.frigel.com Page 36

Stout www.stout.com Page 7

Novatec www.novatec.com Pages 28, 29 Progressive Components www.procomps.com/CVe Page 37 Wittmann Battenfeld www.wittmann-group.com Page 13 Yushin America, Inc. www.yushinamerica.com Page 33

Events/Organizations Environmental Health & Safety Summit www.mappinc.com/events Page 50 K 2019 www.k-online.com/ticketing Page 49 Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) www.mappinc.com Page 51 PLASTEC East www.plasteceast.com/free Page 43

Foaming Agents iD Additives www.idadditives.com Page 47

Hot Runners INCOE Corporation www.incoe.com Page 25 Synventive Molding Solutions www.synventive.com Page 40

MRO Supplies Grainger www.grainger.com Inside back cover

Molds/Tooling A-1 Tool Corporation www.a1toolcorp.com/quality Page 19 B A Die Mold www.badiemold.com Page 18 Carson Tool & Mold www.carsonmold.com Page 19 Concept Molds www.conceptmolds.com Page 18

54 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 2

Ivanhoe Tool & Die Company, Inc. www.ivanhoetool.com Page 19

Operations Consulting Harbour Results, Inc. www.harbourresults.com Page 39

Process Monitoring

Specialty Coatings Chem-Pak, Inc. www.chem-pak.com Page 40

Training Paulson Training Programs, Inc. www.paulsontraining.com Page 23

IQMS www.iqms.com Page 3 RJG, Inc. www.rjginc.com/technology/edart Page 41 SIGMASOFT Virtual Molding www.virtualmolding.us Page 11

Purging Compounds ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. www.asaclean.com Inside front cover Chem-Trend www.chemtrend.com www.ultrapurge.com Pages 17, 32

Resins Amco Polymers www.amcopolymers.com Page 27

Plastics Business 2019 Issue 2

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Chase Plastics www.chaseplastics.com Page 32 M. Holland www.mholland.com Page 35 PolySource www.polysource.net Page 23

Collaborative Robot Cleans House at Metro Plastics Profiting from Proprietary Products Supply Agreement Framework Using KPIs to Accelerate Growth

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Business advertisers.


What people

are saying... MAPP’s MRO Program with Grainger ensures we receive the best pricing on all of our supplies. No need to waste extra time and extra effort – just order and save. Grainger gets it done. It’s that simple.” – Jim Krause, Microplastics, Inc.

Grainger offers MAPP members significant discounts off 13 categories, including: • • • •

Motors Safety (people) Electrical Safety footwear

• Power transmission • Safety (facility) • Hand tools

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Members also receive a discount off all other Grainger catalog and online products, as well as FREE shipping (restrictions apply).

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Visit www.mappinc.com Grainger hotline: (888) 326-8605 Other freight charges will be incurred for such services as expedited delivery, air freight, freight collect, sourced orders, export orders, hazardous materials, buyer’s carrier, shipments outside the contiguous U.S. or other special handling by the carrier.


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Plastics Business - Issue 2 2019  

Plastics Business - Issue 2 2019