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Plastics Business Fall 2017

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors


Processors Predict Sustained Growth

Goal Execution Enabled by 4DX Preparing for Ownership Transitions Faster Decisions with Scheduling

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


Fall 2017




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outlook Processors Predict Sustained Growth in 2018 by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business training room Four Strategies for Optimizing Production Scheduling in Real Time by Ed Potoczak, director of industry relations, IQMS conference MAPP’s 2017 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference strategies Strategic Alternatives Through an Owner’s Eyes: Ownership Transitions by Joellen Sorenson, director, Stout booklist Podcasts for Leaders by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business management Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence by Jeff Bush, author and fiscal authority economic corner Hurricanes Storm In with Lasting Impact on the Plastics Industry by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence

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training room



focus From Melting to Molding – Analytical Techniques to Support Process Optimization and Quality Control in the Injection Molding Industry by Mettler Toledo


production 4DX Strategy Pushes Ideas to Goal Execution at GreenLeaf Industries by Nancy Cates, contributing writer, Plastics Business


industry Manufacturing Day: Enhancing the Industry’s Image by Lara Copeland, contributing writer, Plastics Business




MAPP Award Honors Outreach Efforts benchmarking As Labor Pool Shrinks, Compensation Rises by Ashley Burleson, membership and engagement manager, MAPP

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

association................................. 58

news.......................................... 44

supplier directory...................... 62



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 Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Vice President Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Secretary Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc.

Tim Capps, Par 4 Plastics Inc. Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Michael Devereux II, Mueller Prost PC Christopher Gedwed, Cosmetic Specialties International John Hoskins, Octex Holdings LLC Glenn Kornfeld, Asaclean-Sun Plastech Inc. James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Bob MacIntosh, Nicolet Plastics, Inc. Terry Minnick, Molding Business Services Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics, Inc. Brian Olesen, Centro, Inc. Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP 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 Art Director Becky Arensdorf

Contributing Editors Nancy Cates Brittany Willes Lara Copeland

Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


A Broken Promise A day before writing this letter, I experienced an issue as a normal consumer that I feel warrants being addressed, as it impacts all businesses without exception to industry or size. My wife and I had arrived home late from an out-of-town trip and had nothing prepared for dinner. Due to our exhaustion and lack of food supply, we decided to make an unhealthy but easy meal choice – we dialed the phone and ordered a large pizza from one of the most recognizable chains in the US. We are regular customers of this establishment due to its solid food quality and better-than-average service. Thirty-five minutes later, we received a pizza that was severely undercooked. In my first bite, I encountered a foreign object, resulting in an immediate decision to halt my family’s food consumption. My wife called the establishment, asked to speak directly to the manager and explained her issues. During the exchange, the manager took the opportunity to inform my wife that she was “sorry, but sometimes something can slip in” while the pizza is being made and was matter-of-fact about the situation. The situation was even made worse by the manager, as she offered no remedies to the situation and made no attempt to right the wrong. During MAPP’s October Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, I shared a couple of lessons learned as the executive director of MAPP over the last 20 years. I highlighted the fact that when I made my first sales call in 1997 to the owner of an injection molding company located in Evansville, Indiana, that I really had nothing to offer other than a promise. At the time, we were a new organization and didn’t have much in our arsenal to provide value, other than really good meetings. In short, I sold him on a promise that his company would be better off as a member of MAPP. The promise is the basis from which all business is conducted; we make promises to our employees, to our vendors and to our customers daily. The unmistakable point is that, sooner or later, individuals will break promises – not necessarily by intent, but oftentimes simply due to misfortunes that take the form of late shipments, quality defects, inaccurate product counts and more. I feel strongly that business leaders can create competitive advantages for their companies by how well they respond to broken promises. Do you think my wife or I really want to do business again with the pizza chain mentioned above, knowing

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that foreign objects “sometimes…can slip in” during the process? The pizza chain made a promise to my family when we exchanged money for its goods: The pizza should have been free of defects, and it wasn’t.

The promise is the basis from which all business is conducted; we make promises to our employees, to our vendors and to our customers daily. My wife and I are rational people, and we understand that things do happen. In fact, we have more than once experienced defects of this nature from other establishments and still continued to do business with them. However, it is what happened after the broken promise that cemented our decision to cease doing business with this vendor. I strongly encourage business leaders to improve the ways their organizations react to broken promises. If done correctly, customers can quickly see that the reason they actually do business with your company is not because you do the things they expect, but because they can trust you to make things right when your promise is broken.

Executive Director, MAPP

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Processors Predict Sustained Growth in 2018 by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business In many ways, 2017 has been a year of growth for the plastics injection molding industry and the US as a whole. The S&P 500 is up more than 20 percent since Q3 20161, unemployment is at its lowest since 20002 and manufacturing order activity reached a 13-year high in September3. Third quarter 2017 merger and acquisition activity is up 60 percent year-over-year4, the global market for plastics used in medical applications is expected to increase by nearly five billion pounds in the next five years5, the global electronics component market is expecting growth of nearly two billion pounds over the same time period6 and automotive programs are launching at a rate that has molders scrambling to keep up, with the estimated 2018 automotive vendor tooling spend predicted to reach a record high of $11 billion.7 However, some of the old worries remain – and new ones have emerged. Hiring and retaining qualified employees is a struggle that no one seems to have the answer for in industrial trades. China continues to pressure US manufacturers, and now Mexico is more of a concern than it has historically been, particularly in the automotive and appliance sectors. Natural disasters, in the form of wildfires and hurricanes, have not only thrown shipping and transportation into disarray, but also have impacted the availability of resins. Despite the uncertainty brought about by supply chains, end-use market swings and – as of this writing – potentially significant changes to the US tax code – US plastics processors are looking to 2018 with optimism. In this article, processors and suppliers to the industry share their perspectives on what’s in store for the coming year.

growth will slow in 2018, he still is anticipating an increase of about 15 percent. “While our growth is exciting, adapting to the new business can be difficult. There are new things to learn, and the question becomes, ‘Can we learn fast enough?’” Boyd is engaged in an effort to be sure he is, as president, working on what he calls “the right things.” In his case, that means hiring employees to remove tasks from his plate that can be done more effectively elsewhere. “In November of 2016, I hired a controller, and in June of this year, I hired a director of engineering,” he said. “Now, I’m more available to oversee the planning, which is where my focus should be.” Precision Molded Plastics, Upland, California, has seen tremendous growth in 2017 – a 36 percent increase on the top line following 14 years of sustained increases in profitability. The company’s business model calls for a diverse customer and market mix – no more than 10 percent with any customer and no more than 20 percent in any broad industry group – and its production model leads to constant line changes, mold changes and product changes. “My biggest concern right now is managing growth without sacrificing quality or margin,” explained David VanVoorhis, CEO. “Every Friday, we have a 90-minute meeting, and we strictly focus on how we can improve the business. It’s not an operational meeting – we focus on how to be a better company and better service our customers. We have to be very discretionary about what we take on to make sure it’s in alignment with our business objectives.”

Challenges ahead Success is often accompanied by growing pains. As orders increase, plastics processors face a new list of operational concerns that must be addressed to sustain growth.

Months of upward-moving arrows on economic charts will eventually be followed by a downturn, and Chuck Sholtis, CEO of Plastic Molding Technology, Inc. (PMT) in El Paso, Texas, is preparing. The custom molding company works within four markets – automotive, electrical, medical and industrial – but automotive is dominant, even though the volume is spread across several customers.

Managing growth Blow Molded Specialties (BMS) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is an extrusion blow molder focused on two business segments – specialty products (primarily in medical markets) and custom bottles (a blend of medical and personal care). The company grew about 20 percent in 2017, stacked on top of a 35 percent growth in 2016. While Tom Boyd, president of BMS, believes

“We’ve enjoyed positive growth over the last five years, and we’re looking to sustain that going into 2018,” Sholtis said, “but we’re due for a cyclical adjustment, driven by the macro economy. My philosophy when running a business is ‘hope for the best, but prepare for the worst,’ so our biggest challenge will be market diversification.” Changes in sales strategies and the hiring of a dedicated sales force will assist in the effort.


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Al Fosco, global marketing manager for Frigel, echoed the caution required by a potential market adjustment. “Our business is booming right now, and that’s going to bleed into 2018 because of a backlog of large systems. Ninety-five percent of the bump has been in the plastics industry, and we’re looking at a steadily increasing market, but a lot of that has to do with new plants or plant expansions in automotive. With automotive expected to be flat next year (but at a continuing high level), everything needs to be viewed with cautious optimism.” Addressing the skills gap Anticipation of new staff members shines a spotlight on the second challenge many processors will experience in 2018 – namely, the manufacturing skills gap. “Growing our team – hiring new people and training our current employees – will be a priority,” said Sholtis. “We’ll accomplish that through an apprenticeship program and the Paulson training system we reinvested in this year. That will complement the training grant we received through the state of Texas, and we’ll be prepared to respond and maintain our sustained growth and customer satisfaction.” Polymer Conversions, Inc., an Orchard Park, New York-based injection molding company, also is focused on training its team members. “2017 was the start of a growth period for Polymer Conversions,” explained Chief Operating Officer Ben Harp. Specializing in critical-to-life applications across a range of industries, with the majority of its work centered in medical, the company is in the midst of onboarding several new projects. Harp expects those projects to fuel the company’s growth into the first half of 2018. “As we’re talking to clients about new applications and devices, we’re looking for employees to add to our company, too,” he said. “We spend time identifying good people, but we’re also developing the people we have so we can provide a high level of service experience for our customers and build a career path for our employees.” At Polymer Conversions, that means being deliberate about pairing experienced employees with those still learning the industry. “We’ve always been fortunate because we’ve had very little employee turnover,” Harp explained, “but now those longtime employees are starting to retire. As we’re onboarding people, we want to be sure we’re showing them the opportunities that are available.” The company also builds the new employee workload slowly. “We team them up to job-shadow mentors or senior people in a role,” he said. “For several months, we may give them a customer

The increased rapid development cycle is setting processors up with an opportunity. Historically, a part and the tool for that part might run for 10 years – but today, customers want to redesign and go to market as quickly as possible. Extra margin is available for the processor that is able to react quickly. or program, but not a full load. That’s by design – to make sure they have an opportunity to learn and participate before we expose them to full project management.” Processors aren’t the only ones with staffing concerns. At AMCO Polymers, an anticipated double-digit growth in the next calendar year equals a need for qualified employees. “It’s a struggle for everyone in the distribution industry,” said Stacy Shelly, regional commercial director-Midwest for AMCO. “Our team has to have the ability to provide solutions for our customers. Hiring the right individuals takes time and effort.” VanVoorhis believes culture and a solid benefits package could be the answer. “Precision Molded Plastics is in greater Los Angeles, which is such a huge market,” he said. “We run into the same challenges of finding good people in a supercompetitive market, so we have worked to create a culture no one wants to leave. We also have a really good benefits package. It’s been over three years since we’ve had someone who has left the company.” Operational questions Then, there are operational issues that are common across all businesses and markets. “Cash flow is a significant issue for the processors we talk to,” said AMCO’s Shelly. “Their customers and their customers’ customers are pushing for extended terms, and the processor gets caught in the middle.” Shelly also reiterated a concern he noted in an article published in Plastics Business in 2016: “Our North American logistical infrastructure is in dire straits. Before the hurricanes, it was page 10 u

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OUTLOOK t page 9

stressed – now, it’s even worse, and that could hold back some of the growth in our industry.” Frigel’s Fosco mentioned increasing energy costs as a factor in 2018 growth. “From the processor standpoint, the newest thing is energy conservancy – and, not just conserving energy, but being able to record energy use and know what actual costs are for each segment of business. There are software packages related to the machines that assist with that, and the industry has seen an increase in hybrid machines. Now, auxiliary equipment is moving in that same direction – controlled systems that are cloud based to allow customers to monitor electrical consumption, which will allow processors to pound that down to cost per part.”


Anticipating additional growth Growth in 2017 (and the years prior) has everyone wanting more. Where are processors focusing their efforts?

New markets and expansion of current customer base At BMS, Boyd is focused on potential growth in the custom bottle segment. “We’ve got some capacity for high-volume business,” he said. “Custom bottle has a predictable product timeline, and we’d like to add a couple more substantial customers of that nature.” To accomplish that, and to assist in other target business acquisitions, Boyd plans to hire a director of sales – which will be another transition of job roles from Boyd to a dedicated staff person, as he currently prospects for new customers. Sholtis is turning PMT’s business plans to value-added services that can bring new life to existing customers. “We want to do more than just core plastics processing,” he said. “That might be liquid silicone rubber, vacuum metallizing assembly work or insert molding. We’re going to our customers to find out what their needs are so we can fulfill them.” Shelly sees an opportunity for processors with an upswing in reshoring activity and companies that prioritize domestic sourcing. “The increased rapid development cycle is setting processors up with an opportunity,” he said. “Historically, a part and the tool for that part might run for 10 years – but today, customers want to redesign and go to market as quickly as possible. Extra margin is available for the processor that is able to react quickly – especially the medium-sized processor, like those in MAPP.” Improving internal systems To meet the growth head on, VanVoorhis is making internal improvements. “We’re refining our operating systems to support significant growth,” he said. “In the middle of implementing ISO 9001:2015 standards, we decided to scrap our original

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Anticipation of new staff members shines a spotlight on the second challenge many processors will experience in 2018 – namely, the manufacturing skills gap. ISO program and start over when we realized there were a lot of places we could improve. We’re constantly reorganizing the facility, and we have a local lean guru/operational excellence specialist coming in February to consult for six months or so. We’re pushing ourselves to see what’s possible.” Process improvement also is the focus at Polymer Conversions, driven by the extreme complexity of its molded products. “When I first started 15 years ago, tooling lead time was 18 weeks, and only three weeks were reserved for process development and validation,” Harp said. “Today, many of our medical customers have grown the validation detail required to 15 weeks or more. We’re testing the validations across multiple lots and, instead of measuring four to 10 dimensions on a part, we’re measuring three times that with more complexity and with tighter tolerances.” Project deliverables have expanded from 18 weeks to 30 or more, frustrating customers and staff. “We are spending time to see how we can trim that excess validation time, whether that’s through advances in metrology to remove potential measurement errors or by streamlining the validation process and customer expectations,” he explained.


In 2018, NPE comes to Orlando Held triennially, NPE2018 will bring an estimated 65,000 plastics professionals and 2,000 exhibiting companies to Orlando, Florida, in May.

Technology upgrades and supplier introductions NPE has planned pavilions dedicated to both medical plastics and bottles – two areas of focus that excite Boyd. “I will probably send a team with the expectation that they come away with ideas that will enable us to work smarter. For us, that’s what NPE is all about – technology. The ‘how to do it’ is why we attend MAPP events – for benchmarking and to learn better ways of running the business. But, NPE is hardware and technology.” Sholtis agreed, saying he would attend and take a team with the objective of learning about the new technologies to complement

PMT’s ambitious growth plan: “We’ll come up with a laundry list of technology and supply sources to research while we are at NPE, based on what our customers need.” Industry exposure Six to eight Polymer Conversions employees will head to Orlando to see new technologies. “NPE is a platform where equipment OEMs want to showcase their developments in service offerings and equipment, and we want to be there to make sure we can bring those to our customers right away,” said Harp.

2. Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hiring-rebounds-inoctober-unemployment-rate-falls-to-4-1-1509712307 3. Markets Insider, http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/interestrates/ U-S-Ma nufactu ring-Index-P ulls-Back-Off-T hi r teen-Yea r-High-InOctober-1006457848 4. Stout, https://www.stoutadvisory.com/insights/industry-update/plastics-andpackaging-q3-2017 5. BCC Research, Medical Plastics: Technologies and Global Markets, www. bccresearch.com 6. BCC Research, Plastics in Electronics Components: Technologies and Global Markets, www.bccresearch.com 7. Harbour Results, Inc., Annual Automotive Tooling Update, www. harbourresults.com

“But, we also look at NPE as a way to educate some of our key employees,” he continued. “It’s a place we can send them to really experience the size and scope of the opportunity that exists in plastics – that we’re not just Polymer Conversions, but a part of a strong, healthy industry. We like to send a couple of employees to show them that where they’re at is a good spot.” n References

1. CNN, http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/08/investing/trump-rally-anniversarystocks/index.html

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Four Strategies for Optimizing Production Scheduling in Real Time by Ed Potoczak, director of industry relations, IQMS In a recent conversation, an executive at a South Carolinabased injection molding and vacuum forming manufacturer described how the company culture has evolved to enable greater operational performance and efficiency while increasing employee morale. The gains are the direct results of automating the company’s realtime monitoring of production processes, tool maintenance and inventory counts to give the company timely, accurate information. Not only is this enabling swifter, better management decisions in each plant, it has led to greater teamwork, more engagement from all associates and a continued focus on “let’s decide now.” Notably, the company’s evolution has enabled it to optimize production scheduling in real time – a critical factor for ensuring the quick turnarounds demanded in today’s market. In fact, 57 percent of manufacturers participating in a recent survey conducted by IQMS stated that having short-notice production capabilities was the value-added service their customers appreciated most. This article examines how plastics manufacturers can adopt four strategies for optimizing their own production scheduling in real time to enable short-notice production and improve overall performance. Providing visibility into real-time data and metrics The driving factor underlying a transformation toward production agility is the real-time availability of data and metrics across each area of the business. For example, at the South Carolina-based manufacturing firm, multiple monitors in central kiosks on the floor give hourly workers, technicians and managers immediate access to actionable insights regarding equipment status, product quality, materials, tooling availability, sales demand changes and work order priorities.

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Shared, real-time access to information empowers operators, technicians, schedulers and managers to form quick huddles when necessary, so everyone affected sees relevant information and can decide together what to do next. Because employees are working with the same version of the truth, including any factors that might impact execution of planned production, they become comfortable with in-the-moment decision-making. This serves to streamline the scheduling process, make setups more efficient and maximize production capacity. Additionally, the team can minimize the wasted value of making a nonconforming product and reduce unplanned interruptions caused by relying on postmortem reporting. A key aspect of timely visibility is implementing a short, closed feedback loop in real time to gain actionable insights to help improve uptime and utilization of production equipment. When a parts maker automates the capture of operations data from production machines, inspection equipment and tooling, it is possible to process and display metrics on cycle time, production counts, scrap reporting and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as well. page 14 u

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TRAINING ROOM t page 12 Oversight can be extended further by integrating automatically captured equipment measurements with statistical process control (SPC) tools to predict equipment and quality issues before a failure arises. This use of automated SPC avoids gaps and outright mistakes in the source data and helps to prevent skewed analysis. Using key characteristics to be monitored, control limits and level of control (such as Six Sigma) – established by plant operations and quality specialists – the analytic software can alert key personnel when a parameter starts to trend out of control. This enables proactive adjustments and maintenance, if needed, to assure product quality with minimal disruption to production. Implementing finite capacity planning In almost every production setting, scheduling is best done in real time. For example, a Midwest automotive interior parts supplier that deals with complex Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) order and releases relies on a planning and scheduling system to support its fast-paced environment. The system tells the team what needs to be running, what will be scheduled tomorrow, what materials need to be received and on-hand for that schedule to function appropriately and, most importantly,

This guidance is based on timely information about resins, work center status, readiness of molds and output containers, and maintenance plans to ensure maximum utilization. what future orders the scheduler should enter for the variety of raw materials that will be needed. Importantly, this guidance is based on timely information about resins, work center status, readiness of molds and output containers, and maintenance plans to ensure maximum utilization. If a manufacturer’s business model involves high-volume, repetitive production or has a very short manufacturing cycle time (i.e., minutes to hours), scheduling can be done with unlimited capacity presumptions. This type of base logic can be executed with classic materials requirements planning (MRP), production requirements planning (PRP) calculations or Kanban visual/virtual “card” methods. However, in high-mix/low-volume situations or where process equipment has very specialized capabilities, the flow of product through these processes needs to be planned more precisely. This must be done to address the availability of specialized materials and variable throughput based on the number and complexity of the tasks to be performed at each operation. Optimizing the mix of materials by machine to reach optimal output levels in these scenarios requires finite scheduling applications and workflows. Modeling finite (real) capacity constraints is the foundation for optimizing production performance across the shop floor, as it takes into account every quantifiable source of variation in production efficiency. These factors typically include: • required training levels, • machine health and OEE levels, • stability and reliability of work order instructions and operations for production machinery, • the calibration requirements of tools to reach optimal levels and • fine-tuning of algorithms for the specific output goal of a given production run. By taking into account all of these considerations, machinery will require less retooling for specific product runs. This, in

14 | plastics business • fall 2017

turn, minimizes setups and teardowns, enabling more work to get done in less time on the production floor. Examples of these kinds of machines are automated insert molding machines with robotic material handling, paint and powder coating systems and computer numerical control (CNC) machining centers, among others. Finite planning and scheduling enable operations planners to use “what-if” scenarios to fit shifting demands into every bit of processing time available over the following days and weeks to maximize output while following validated processes. This approach can provide useful insights into what “available to promise” as well as “capable to promise” commitments manufacturers can keep, along with capacity for additional business. If the scheduling software has the sophistication and efficiency to process schedule updates in real time, manufacturers may apply finite capacity constraints for some of the production floor and then apply classic flexible capacity methods for the rest. This hybrid plan can enable the best of both approaches, depending on the nature of the workflow through different parts of the plant.

Automating equipment maintenance Plastics manufacturers should consider automated machine and tooling maintenance schedules in their scheduling calculations and visual screen cues. This enables production scheduling specialists to avoid the downtime associated with waiting to get current status information or even actual time for the maintenance to be performed. Additionally, planners and managers can quickly adjust work order priorities as they orchestrate the use of alternative equipment where possible or carefully postpone setup work, which can be wasted if done before the work stoppage. Companies also can take a cue from a Great Lakes injection molder that has streamlined maintenance activities in its three facilities by using machine and tooling maintenance schedules based upon actual run times and cycle counts, not arbitrary standard day counts. The company piloted machine monitoring in stages, starting with a couple of work centers in one plant with smart sensors on older machines and direct connections to controllers on newer ones. As the team gained experience page 16 u

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analyzing the data in real-time metrics and dashboards, they refined their focus to the few key measurements that reliably indicate equipment health. This has helped prevent unexpected disruptions. It also saves time and money by eliminating unnecessary maintenance work because plant engineers can refine preventive maintenance schedules for equipment that proves to be more durable and reliable than expected. Maintaining production history records Last, given the intense focus on consumer safety and regulatory compliance in many industries, manufacturers may need to establish production history records (PHRs) in databases that allow rapid recall and analysis of past production activities. It would be cost prohibitive to capture this information manually in sufficient detail to quickly satisfy inquiries from customers and regulatory agencies. In addition, it could introduce the risk of errors. Therefore, companies will want to invest in integrating Internet of Things (IoT) technology with their software for managing PHRs to provide instant feedback and historical process detail. Key benefits of this smart, connected approach to manufacturing include robust product traceability, 100 percent accurate

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inventory tracking and the ability to engage mistake-proofing logic in the setup of production jobs. These best practices are easier for manufacturers of all sizes to establish and sustain today, as sensors with increasing capabilities and declining costs are coming onto the market. With modern, affordable operations technology to streamline the electronic capture of critical information needed for smart realtime scheduling, production monitoring, maintenance and quality measurement, plastic parts makers have the potential to increase their utilization of production assets and resources on a consistent basis. And, that translates into the ability to deliver on the predictable short-notice production capabilities key to attracting, retaining and growing customers in today’s dynamic manufacturing market. n Ed Potoczak, director of industry relations for IQMS, brings extensive expertise in manufacturing and engineering. He is currently a Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) Americas board member, participating in the Smart Manufacturing working group. He also is certified in Design for Manufacture and Assembly and Value Analysis/Value Engineering. For more information, visit www.iqms.com.










WHERE: BOOTH S31137 - Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida USA WHEN:



May 7 - 11, 2018









The leaders in the plastics processing industry convened in Indianapolis in record numbers for three days in October. 42 Hours of Intense Education and Networking At the MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, nearly 600 attendees gathered with peers, suppliers and expert speakers to discuss the critical issues facing today’s plastics molders. In what has become a highly anticipated opening, MAPP Executive Director Troy Nix took the stage on the first morning of the conference to reflect on the lessons he has learned through 20 years of association leadership. Nix spoke passionately about how articulating the goals that seem like a stretch – or even an impossibility – can help them come true. Motivational speaker Connie Podesta had the audience laughing – and nodding in agreement – as she encouraged conference attendees to understand personality styles and the roles those traits play in decisionmaking and selling. TV host and explorer Chris “Bash” Bashinelli Photos courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.

18 | plastics business • fall 2017

discussed the power of connecting within a global community. And, world-champion quarterback, broadcaster and entrepreneur Joe Theismann spoke to an attentive audience about the parallels between success on the football field and success in business. The power of the MAPP conference, however, isn’t only found in the keynote speakers, no matter how impactful. Sessions led by members of the plastics processing community had the potential to change the way business is done in the facility of each attendee. Organizational leaders in manufacturing companies from across the US shared their successes with apprenticeship programs, employee communication, hiring practices and safety strategies. Industry experts offered insight into succession planning, website analytics, market volatility and manufacturing data. Breakfast roundtables on the final day brought together conference attendees in similar job roles to discuss the challenges in their own facilities and ask for feedback from those at the table. Topics included employee accountability for quality standards, hiring and training top talent, smoking and drug use policies, breaking the negative habits of long-term workers and implementing ISO standards. The 2018 MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference will be held October 10 through 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Connie Podesta

Chris Bashinelli

Joe Theismann

Troy Nix

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CONFERENCE t page 19

We did a study that brought home

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION. Traditionally, there’s a vertical-stacked mode of engagement where executives come up with strategy, managers communicate it and employees implement it. But, we found an individual’s engagement is the highest with their peers – people reporting to the same manager.


The manager is responsible for creating the climate – the culture of the team – but, it’s important to understand social connections as they affect employee engagement. Every employee has a role to play in improving the work experience. — Sadat Shami, IBM

• 30% are ‘A’ employees • 40% are ‘C’ employees • 30% are ‘F’ employees Leaders give the work of the ‘F’ employees to the ‘A’ employees – which adds stress to the top members of the staff and gives the nonperformers even less to perform. Leaders also spent 70 percent of their time and energy with the bottom 30 percent of employees; 25 percent of management’s time is spent with the top 30 percent of employees… which leaves 5 percent for the employees who need management and leadership the most. The ‘C’ employees are willing and eager to contribute, but they need training and coaching. Who will provide it? — Connie Podesta

20 | plastics business • fall 2017

Capacity utilization will never equal profitability! But,

SELLING INTO OPEN CAPACITY can allow your business to leverage right to the bottom line. — Laurie Harbour

WHY IMPLEMENT INDUSTRY 4.0? Plastics molders with 4.0 technology have... n


32% more presses than the average molder operating at 36% higher utilization 33% higher sales than the average molder — Plante Moran

IN EVERY CONVERSATION, ­ there’s the potential for a connection point – a moment – an ‘in.’ At that point, we are no longer trying to get something for ourselves. It’s now about having a relationship and having each other’s back. That’s when we become a community. — Chris Bashinelli

OPPORTUNITIES TO INNOVATE come about all the time, whether for internal improvements or new projects for a customer. How do companies decide which ones to take on and which ones to deprioritize? The companies participating in the innovation panel offered the following input:

Will the financial expense be returned within a reasonable timeframe? How will volumes, floor space and delivery schedule be affected? n What effect will there be on machine utilization and staffing? n How long will the program run? n How does the project fit within the company mission? n Where can employee influence be most impactful? Will it engage the employees by removing a frustrating or time-consuming task? n Do the internal and external metrics point to a strategic, data-driven decision? Innovation Panel: Makuta Technics Wisconsin Plastics Intertech Plastics Microplastics, Inc. n n

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Strategic Alternatives Through an Owner’s Eyes: Ownership Transitions by Joellen Sorenson, director, Stout The satisfaction of succeeding as a business owner can be unparalleled – achieving millions in sales by starting with an idea and a plan, weathering ups and downs and giving dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees a chance to earn a living. Inevitably, there will come a time when change is necessary, and one of the most important decisions a business owner will face is how to address a major ownership transition. In response to a growing number of members seeking advice in this area, a panel of plastics business owners/operators shared their stories as part of the inaugural Executive and Owners Track at the annual MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October. Mike Benson, an incoming MAPP board member and managing director in Stout’s Investment Banking group, moderated an insightful and candid discussion before an audience of more than 100 executives. Benson was joined by the following: • Thomas Duffey – former president, Plastic Components (PCI) • Kelly Goodsel – president, Viking Plastics • Bob MacIntosh – president and CEO, Nicolet Plastics • Jim Rikkers – managing director, Spell Capital Partners Benson began the conversation with the following remarks: “The current strong performance of the industry, coupled with an overall sustained, robust economy, has fueled a dynamic merger and acquisition (M&A) environment among plastics companies. Executing a transaction often is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it can vary greatly from one business to the next. Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to prepare your business, enable a smooth process and ensure the best possible results. One of those steps is to hear real stories from real business owners about their personal experiences navigating and succeeding at selling their businesses.” The panelists acknowledged the unique circumstances and objectives behind a business owner’s decision to pursue a transaction or liquidity event. Goodsel, Viking Plastics, wanted to grow the business, both organically and through acquisition. However, the company

24 | plastics business • fall 2017

lacked cash to pursue the acquisitions, and Goodsel was reluctant to take on significant debt given his current life stage – not ready to retire, but not ready to step away from the business, either. Ultimately, the decision was made to pursue acquisition growth with a partner. Duffey, PCI, had been in the business a long time and was ready to step away. “I had a deep, emotional investment in my company’s efforts, but I could feel my tank was running dry, both physically and spiritually.” From the time he made the decision, the process still took two-and-a-half years to reach conclusion. MacIntosh, Nicolet Plastics, was motivated by succession planning. He had started buying out his partners in 2000 and subsequently began to contemplate his own future. He communicated with employees early about how a transaction might impact the company and his goals for protecting them. Around the same time, Macintosh received a call from a representative of a longtime family-owned company in Wisconsin looking to diversify its assets. It turned out to be the perfect fit. Two of three owners on the panel sold to a private equity (PE) firm as their new partners. They discussed what differences, if any, they viewed between selling to a PE firm rather than a strategic buyer. Goodsel had the unique experience of trying to sell the company three times. When the first two didn’t work out, the third time was a charm – Viking Plastics connected with Spell Capital and completed the transaction. Goodsel indicated the relationship with Spell Capital has been extremely positive. “They’ve executed as they said they would and with great confidence in the business. A strong management team is in place, and an acquisition has been completed. With a PE buyer, I still have significant ownership but not control. It’s been great.” Duffey involved his management team to a great extent. They took the process very seriously and carefully considered their options after every management presentation. They also relied on guidance from their financial adviser, Benson. “We were deliberate in our process,” Duffey said, “but at no point in the cycle did we make a decision about going with a specific type of partner – either a PE buyer or a hybrid.”

Offering additional insight was Rikkers, who discussed why Spell Capital, and PE investors in general, find the plastics industry attractive and what plastics businesses can do to attract investors. Rikkers said the industry is significant in size and has specific dynamics that draw attention from PE investors looking for opportunity. Most notably, a small number of companies control the top of the market, with a great deal of fragmentation below that. “Fragmentation creates opportunity to try to help owners go through these types of transitions and also consolidate to better compete with the larger companies.”

From left, Mike Benson, Jim Rikkers, Bob MacIntosh, Thomas Duffey and Kelly Goodsel take part in a panel discussion addressing ownership transitions. Photo courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.

Typically, Spell Capital starts by looking at the fundamentals of the business: financial performance (including audited financial statements), growth plans and strength of the management. A big emphasis is placed on management continuity – whether there’s a plan in place to continue to manage the business after they invest. “We’re looking for profitable, well-run businesses, and the last thing we want to do is change that.” Diversity in the customer base and end markets, along with strong supplier relationships also were identified as desirable, value-adding attributes for investors. “If a company is in a niche business, we really strive to understand the specialty – what is the company’s ‘reason for being’?” Benson asked the owners/operators whether there was anything they would have done differently to better prepare for the process of selling. The panel agreed unanimously that they wished they had started sooner: They had underestimated the number of hours they would invest in the process and also acknowledged how critical it is to have a strong team of advisers. Goodsel said, “Start sooner, expect more hours and adopt a mindset that you’re selling your business tomorrow. This will motivate you to start addressing all of the things (Rikkers) mentioned. The

process puts huge demands on your time that you just can’t plan for. The earlier you get yourself in order, the easier it will be.” Duffey cited corporate governance as an area that required tremendous focus. “I should have had a board of directors that included a few people who knew how to prepare for and execute transactions.” He used the analogy of a nine-inning baseball game and suggested enlisting knowledgeable advisers to help guide companies to the third or fourth inning before deciding whether to proceed. “You need to build the (sale) mentality into your business. Then establish a board that will hold your feet firm, and discuss your progress toward this goal at every meeting.” MacIntosh belonged to a CEO networking group with people experienced in M&A. Despite the advice he received from this group, he mentioned that one area of improvement for him could have been better tax planning, as he’s anticipating writing a large check to the government come April. Rikkers also offered sage advice. “Tactically, in addition to the strategic things, have the right advisers – an accountant, an attorney and an M&A adviser. These professionals are paramount in making transactions go as smooth as possible. When you’re faced with the difficult discussions, the expert third parties help guide you in decision making.” page 26 u

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STRATEGIES t page 25

Benson shifted the discussion to when and how to share the news of a transaction with employees and customers. Goodsel addressed the difficulties of this process, saying “It’s not something that’s easily managed.” He suggested that companies’ CFOs will need to know of a potential sale early and be heavily involved, with the rest of the management team following from there. He did not communicate with his plant until a week after the transaction was complete, appealing to their good senses to not share the news until they could properly notify customers. “Customers are the lifeline of your business, so you don’t want to spook them.” Duffey involved five people from his management team, a few of whom had been through a sale before, which was helpful. But overall, he kept it a tight subject. When it came to telling customers, Duffey said it didn’t go as smoothly as he would have liked. “Customers weren’t as effusively positive as I was hoping, and some used the situation as a window of opportunity to play hardball in a way I wasn’t comfortable with.”


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MacIntosh, when Nicolet Plastics was near the end of its transaction, met personally with his top 10 customers. He let them know his team was looking at a succession plan, gave them some comfort on who the buyer might be and explained none of their contacts would change. Benson concluded the discussion by asking the panel for parting comments or final advice to share. Duffey addressed the importance of resources. “All of us in this room are very fortunate that we have resources within the MAPP community – attorneys, accountants, investment banking professionals – to draw on. If you don’t take advantage of these relationships through the MAPP universe, you’re doing yourself a disservice.” Goodsel touched on the familial aspects of a business. “Think about it this way: You have a great company with a lot of great employees. You also have a family you care about. If and when you sell your business, you’re going to fight tooth and nail. If you haven’t planned what you’re going to do with that business, then your company, your employees and your family aren’t being served.” n For additional information, contact Stout at 773.750.7150 or visit www.stoutadvisory.com.


26 | plastics business • fall 2017

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Podcasts for Leaders by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

Each quarter, Plastics Business staff has been offering five or six book selections on topics from building culture to storytelling to management techniques. In this issue, the focus is taken off the printed page – instead featuring podcasts that draw on the business experiences of leaders from all industries. Editor’s Note: Sure, I love the guilty pleasures of Serial and Missing Richard Simmons, but when I’m sitting in my office, I often have an earbud in and am listening to one of these four podcasts. I recommend you start with LEADx and go from there.

The LEADx Show

Host: Kevin Kruse Length: 15-30 minutes With a mission to get 1% better every day, Kevin Kruse hosts business leaders and industry experts, beginning each podcast with one question: What was your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it? Guests have included NFL star Gary Brackett, actor Alan Alda and former COO of FranklinCovey, David Covey. Sample podcasts: • Are you able to fit your company’s mission into a oneminute pitch? • One simple question that will immediately make you a better leader • This CEO made millions by putting his employees first

NPR’s How I Built This Host: Guy Raz Length: 45-60 minutes

How I Built This is a podcast filled with interviews of innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists, and the stories behind the companies they’ve built. Each episode features leaders of some of the world’s best-known companies and brands, including Southwest Airlines, Chipotle, Five Guys and Patagonia. Sample podcasts: • Airbnb: Joe Gebbia • Kickstarter: Perry Chen • Whole Foods Market: John Mackey

28 | plastics business • fall 2017

Outside In: C-Space Host: Charles Trevail Length: 15-25 minutes

The podcast focuses on customercentric organizations and discusses the strategies and philosophies of those businesses, from Jaguar Land Rover to Oracle. Business leaders, interviewed by Trevail, discuss how and why the customer has become the focus. Sample podcasts: • Is Innovation a Dirty Word at GE? • Boston Celtics: The Global Business of Sports, Fans and Legacy • Hyatt Hotels: Knowing What to Innovate Next

Dose of Leadership Host: Richard Rierson Length: 15-45 minutes

Dose of Leadership tells the stories of business leaders, military heroes, entrepreneurs, authors and speakers. What influenced them? What have they learned? What knowledge would they pass on to listeners? Since 2013, hundreds of reallife leaders have been interviewed. Sample podcasts: • Bill Rasmussen: Founder of ESPN • Chris Hellar: CEO of Keller Williams Realty • Bob Chapman: Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller n


Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence by Jeff Bush, author and fiscal authority Have there been times during your career when outside influences affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos? You may have been elated – or dismayed – during the recent election, but in either case, the powers that be in Washington, D.C., likely have you scrambling for directional control of your business. Tax reform, health care, immigration and trade are all major issues as the new administration tries to find its governing legs. These pending shifts in policy can cause headaches for business owners. Many employees, customers and suppliers look to their manager as that grey-haired, seasoned hand at the controls, steady to guide them safely through the unsettled air. What happens when all you see around you are ominous clouds of change with no clear path to predictability? Envision yourself as a pilot, navigating your plane through some particularly rough weather. You’re at 10,000 feet, making moment-to-moment decisions. You’re maintaining all of the proper protocols, minding all of the necessary instrumentation – when suddenly your panel lights up like a Christmas tree and gauges start fluttering wildly. Alerts begin to chirp throughout the cabin. There’s a problem – and it’s up to you to rectify it, or mitigate the issue as best you can to ensure a safe landing. Leading a business through a turbulent political climate can feel a bit like a pilot making snap decisions when the norms go awry. It’s important to know that there will be confusion and challenges, and it is your preparation, experience and trust in your training that will see you through. These four action steps can keep your company flying high and stable when the political winds begin to shift.


Do the most important things first … and keep doing them. What are your business’s core elements for success? Can your employees list them? Many business owners or leaders would report that “customer service” is one of their core elements. But, what are the three most impactful drivers of excellent customer service unique to your business? Ask yourself, and your team, to excel at those three things. If you don’t know what your essential elements of success are, you’d better figure them out quickly.


Have an honest discussion with yourself about the situation and your capabilities. In the context of business, you need to be honest about what you’re struggling with and find a better way of getting the job done. Perhaps in your business, it means outsourcing HR to an employment agency, switching suppliers or firing a problem client. But, be honest with yourself about the weaknesses in your operation, and commit to addressing them. page 30 u

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MANAGEMENT t page 29


Communicate with everyone vital to your business success, from customers to suppliers, vendors and financial advisers. Do you have a communication plan for each of these critical constituents? Who owns that plan? To whom is the plan owner accountable? Sit down with a blank piece of paper. Draw a circle in the middle and, inside the circle, write the name of your business. Take 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to write down all the key connections and relationships you need to maintain your business’s success. Next, write down who in your organization should own that relationship. Meet with those persons and be clear as to the importance of that responsibility.


Work the problems. How many times have you seen people work hard without ever really taking on the core issue? You are the pilot of your business. It is up to you to take control and keep your team focused. Many companies have vast institutional knowledge within the organization. Trust that experience to solve the problems. If they know what’s core to your business success, they will likely solve the problem with little input needed from you.

Good times are just that – good and easy. It’s the challenging times when you need to expand the confidence and wisdom that are needed as we receive additional details on the political issues that impact every business, such as tax reform, health care options or changes in US trade policy. The business climate may be turbulent, but if you follow your training, trust your experience and decision-making ability, your steady hand at the helm can guide your team through the most adverse landscapes. n Jeff Bush, Washington’s Wall Street insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics and the author of “American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues.” A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Bush works with executive teams, business owners and high-income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-marketplace. For more information, visit www. JeffBush.net.

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30 | plastics business • fall 2017





Lawn & Garden




The U.S. Plastics Industry Loses $9.6 Billion Every Year Because of Poor Power Quality and Utilization...

And up to 80% of the $9.6 Billion Loss is Preventable and Curable! Poor power quality and utilization problems like these are common in most factories, ultimately causing machinery and component failure as well as the loss of production while these conditions are being repaired or replaced.

VFD Drives and Downtime VFD drives are great at power savings, but are also very sensitive to fluctuating power—as well as causing poor power factor utilization. Again little of this is the fault of the drive board itself, but is the fault of poor power quality which can be diagnosed and prevented.

The Largest Cost Reduction Opportunit

Typical Symptoms of the $9.6 Billion Power Quality Problem: Motor Burnout and Downtime The windings inside an inductive motor degrade over time—much of which is caused by poor power quality. The winding insulation burns off and ultimately causes shorts, reducing motor output and increasing internal heat until it fails. All this is not a motor warranty issue, but instead is the fault of poor power quality which can be diagnosed and prevented.

Controls/Displays, Memory Loss and Downtime PLCs and microprocessors control most production equipment nowadays. But these devices are ultra sensitive to power fluctuations which can lead to excessive current and heat or program loss. Very little of this is ever the fault of the controller itself, but instead is the fault of poor power quality which can be diagnosed and prevented.

Power Factor Problems and High Utility Penalties VFD drives may lower power consumption, but they often result in poor power utilization which prompts penalties on your utility bill. Again all of this can be easily diagnosed and corrected.

Transformers Failing and Downtime Just the same as motor windings, transformer internals decay over time and fail because of power fluctuation. Again little of this is the fault of the transformer itself, but is the fault of poor power quality which can be diagnosed and prevented.

ty in the Plastics Industry Today...


See How

Grabbing Your Share of $9.6 Billion Starts with Diagnosing the Problems in Your Plant… Less than 20% of the factories address poor power quality and utilization issues. That’s because users aren’t electrical engineers and are intimated by electrical jargon and expensive instrumentation which can’t be understood by 80% of us…Until now. Introducing the MachineSense Power Analyzer. The first easy-to afford, easy-to-install and easy-to understand power diagnostic instrument and app for the rest of us. For the first time, an easy to read dashboard that tells you exactly what’s going on with your power quality or utilization and gives you tips on how to implement the cures.

No need for expensive instruments limited by 24 hour storage. MachineSense monitors 24/7 to detect seemingly random power problems that can knock your equipment, controllers or process offline. No need for expensive outside consultants to interpret the data. The MachineSense dashboard is the only diagnostic expert you’ll ever need.

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Hurricanes Storm In with Lasting Impact on the Plastics Industry by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. This Scottish saying was not directed at the impact of a hurricane, but the sentiment is one that can be universally shared. This year has been a roller coaster due to the storms and other natural disasters that have befallen the US. On the one hand the toll has been very high – both in terms of lives lost and the economic damage. The totals still are being tallied, and already the numbers are in the hundreds of billions. But, even as the assessments are being made, there is the silver lining (at least from the perspective of the economist). What has been destroyed now has to be rebuilt. This process also will cost hundreds of billions, but this will be money spent to bring the infrastructure back and to make people and businesses whole. There have been several unique aspects of these storms and disasters. Hurricane Harvey took aim at the part of Texas that hosts almost 50 percent of the country’s total refinery capacity. This concentration of capacity is even more profound when one understands the variety of refined product produced in the US. The storm affected the production of vehicle fuel, to be sure, but the most profound impact was in the production of ethylene, as well as other petrochemicals critical to the plastics industry. Initial estimates held that these production facilities would be out of commission for many months and, in some cases, that estimate is proving accurate. The damage caused by the storm itself was significant, but the flooding that followed did the real damage. At the time of the disaster, the price of basic plastic material shot up to levels not seen in years. These price hikes affected many of the basics, such as polyethylene and PVC. The price hikes were expected to last into November, and that has been the case for many categories. The shortages reverberated through the entire supply chain and will continue to be an issue into the coming year. It is that cascade of reactions that will cause the greatest concern. The entity that can’t source the commodity will miss opportunities to fill that order – and then that customer misses opportunities and so on. Some attempt has been made to source elsewhere, but the US has played a dominant role in this sector for a long time, and switching to some other supply network is far easier said than done. The majority of the world simply has to wait for the US to get back to its former production levels.

The good news in all this stems from the fact the recovery will bring new technology to the damaged areas. As recovery and rebuilding get underway, the operations will avail themselves of the newest and most technologically advanced equipment. The good news is that Houston is a wealthy city in a wealthy country, and the affected businesses have the wherewithal to rebuild. In contrast, there has been Puerto Rico – a part of the US that is not wealthy. The reconstruction process there has been extremely slow, and even the basic recovery of power is still months away. The impact on fuel has been more limited, and the price per gallon for gasoline and diesel remained somewhat more reasonable. The recovery has been swift enough, although there are still transportation issues stemming from the fact the colonial pipeline is old and under capacity – limiting what can be sent from the middle of the country to the Eastern states. page 36 u

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ECONOMIC CORNER t page 35 Will there be lessons learned from these disasters? There should be, but it is likely there will be far more talk than action. The hurricanes were very different and hit in very different ways. It would have been hard to anticipate the path or the damage. Hurricane Harvey was a flood event, and no scenario anticipated the amount of rain that fell in the Houston area. The preparations that had been made would have been enough to handle a normal situation. The path of Hurricane Irma went toward an area that had not been hit for almost 30 years. The path of Hurricane Maria was a direct hit on Puerto Rico, and that had never happened previously. Certainly, plans must be in place to better protect and prepare, but there are limits to what can be done and what people are willing to pay. The other aspect of preparation concerns the supply chain, and there is abundant evidence that companies are setting up contingency plans to cope with future issues of this magnitude. These range from creating a more diverse supplier base to storing more material than might have been the case before. The limiting factor is expense. It sounds good to have multiple suppliers, but this means giving up some of the volume discounts. It sounds good to have more product in reserve, but that means inventory

costs and running the risk of missing out on price declines. The notion of “just-in-time” was a reaction to the costs of storage and warehousing. What seems like a great idea in the wake of a severe disruption looks like an unnecessary expense after years and years of no incidents. The best estimate is that rebuilding will be largely complete by early next year, and it is likely that very little will change as far as the current system is concerned. This will apply to the petrochemical sector as well as the other sectors that have been affected. The fuel situation is unlikely to alter, and there will be no change as far as shipping is concerned. Once the infrastructure for an industry this large has been established, it is very hard to change it. The options that look good now will not look as lucrative once the damaged infrastructure is developed. The storms had a profound impact on the economy as a whole, but this is another case of good news following bad. The initial damage to the employment market was severe – Texas alone lost 133,000 jobs, and the national totals dipped for a month – down by 33,000 jobs. The majority of these have already been recovered, and a surge in new jobs will be seen as people arrive to engage in the reconstruction. By the end of the year, job creation will be back up. The third quarter GDP numbers shook off the storms for the most part and finished above 3.0 percent. It had been expected to crest at around 3.6 percent, but the dip from storm impact was far less than had been thought.


Several industries got a major boost from the aftermath of the storm. The most aggressive was the automotive sector, as there was an immediate demand for some four million cars to replace those lost to the storm. This was an urgent situation, as there was no real alternative to the private vehicle in these communities. That surge was good for some solid, but temporary, numbers in car sales.

w w w. m o l d i n g b u s i n e s s . c o m

A major boost has been seen in demand for building materials, appliances, furniture and all the other accoutrements of modern life, and now there will be hiked demand for infrastructure supplies – everything from steel to aluminum and lumber. Much remains to be done to return these areas to some sense of normal. n



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From Melting to Molding – Analytical Techniques to Support Process Optimization and Quality Control in the Injection Molding Industry by Mettler Toledo Quality issues in injection-molded products can range from purely cosmetic to serious structural defects that affect product performance and function. These may be caused by problems, such as contamination, related to the raw materials themselves, how they are stored and/or handled by the manufacturer prior to the production process or to the molding process.

They can tolerate melting, solidification and re-melting without significant alteration of their chemical composition1-3.

A technical discussion of injection-molding machinery is not within the intended scope of this article. Rather, the article focuses on selected in-process control (IPC) and quality control (QC) measures for the testing of raw materials and ejected molds.

All processing methods have in common melting, forming and cooling, and careful control of these steps is vital to the quality of the final product. IPC tests are typically positioned throughout the manufacturing process to ensure the finished product meets required quality standards (Figure 1). In the remainder of this article, we present techniques for the IPC and QC of raw materials and ejected molds, i.e. before and after the injection-molding process.

Injection molding of thermoplastics More than 80 percent of molded plastics sold today are made of either thermosets or thermoplastics. The absence, or extremely low density, of cross-links in thermoplastics makes them capable of flow, and accordingly easy to process by a variety of methods, among which injection molding is the most frequently used. Thermoplastics also possess a unique physical property:

Moisture analysis of raw materials The hygroscopic nature of many plastic polymers poses the risk of surface or structural damage in molded objects and also may engender corrosive wear on components of the injection unit. For optimal melting and forming, a polymer resin must be within a specified water-content range. Hence hygroscopic resins in particular must be dried in an oven before being processed in the

Figure 1. The value chain. In-process control (IPC) is undertaken at multiple stages during injection molding: Either moisture analysis or thermal analysis (TA) may be performed following a pre-drying step. TA may be used to optimize syntheses; moisture analysis and TA also may be performed for quality assessment of final products. TA is particularly valuable in failure analysis should a recall be necessary.

38 | plastics business • fall 2017

injection mold. Excessive water content resulting from ineffective drying in the hopper may lead to splays and delamination of the final product or even cause partial hydrolysis of the polymer chains during the melting process, whereas lack of water content may cause brittleness in, or incomplete formation of, the final product1, 4.

the loss on drying is continuously recorded until mass stability is achieved. The moisture content then is calculated from the difference in weight:

Standard assay methods (Table 1) developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) can be used for water and moisture determination in plastics. These guide injection molders on ensuring polymer resins are in the specified water-content range, for efficient processing and high-quality products5.

The moisture contained in a material, therefore, includes all substances that evaporate upon heating, thereby reducing sample weight. The difference between the initial and dried sample mass, determined by a balance incorporated into the moisture analyzer, is interpreted as the moisture content6.

ASTM Standard


ASTM D6980-12

Standard test method for determination of moisture in plastics by loss in weight

ASTM D6869-03

Standard test method for coulometric and volumetric determination of moisture in plastics using the Karl Fischer Reaction (reaction of iodine in water)

ASTM E1131-08

Standard test method for compositional analysis by thermogravimetry

% Moisture content = (Wet weight – Dry weight) / Wet weight * 100%

Comparison studies have shown that the results achieved via infrared moisture analysis are comparable to those obtained by Karl Fischer titration (the reference method). Figure 2 displays results obtained by each method in assessing moisture in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS7.

page 40 u

Table 1. Assay methods developed by ASTM for moisture/water determination in plastics and for compositional analysis by thermogravimetry.

In a lean process setup, moisture content can be easily determined directly on the production floor. Loss on drying, certified as efficacious by ASTM and frequently used by injection molders, is the easiest and cleanest available method, despite its lack of water specificity. Also referred to as gravimetric moisture determination, loss on drying can be undertaken by various means – drying oven, infrared and microwave moisture analyzers, as well as thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and distillation solutions. TGA and other thermal analysis (TA) techniques may be preferable to moisture analysis for sensitive injection-molding operations or when a product has been recalled due to flaws and diagnosis is required. Thermogravimetric moisture determination via infrared moisture analyzer is both rapid and affordable, and can easily be undertaken in a production environment without substantial operator training or a controlled laboratory space. The sample is weighed and subsequently heated with an infrared radiator, and

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FOCUS t page 39

Figure 2. Comparison of results obtained by infrared moisture analysis and Karl Fischer titration for the polymer acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). Measurements were collected with an HX204 halogen moisture analyzer and a C30 coulometric Karl Fischer titrator coupled to a Stromboli oven.

Thermal analysis in quality assessment Among the suite of analytical tools available to ensure product quality in injection molding, TA is well suited both to IPC during production and to diagnosis in the event of product failure. TA is the study of the relationship between a property of a sample and its temperature as that sample is heated or cooled in a controlled manner8. As sample cooling rate influences the properties of a molded product, TA can provide specific insight into the properties and quality of raw materials and molded parts alike. A variety of TA methods are available to study material quality. While thermomechanical analysis (TMA) and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) are useful for evaluating volumetric or dimensional changes and stiffness (modulus), respectively, the most important TA methods used in injection molding are as follows: • Differential Scanning Calorimetry, or DSC, which measures heat flow as a function of temperature and/or time; • Thermogravimetric Analysis, or TGA, which determines the quantity and rate of change in the weight of a material, as a function of temperature or time, in a controlled atmosphere. Operation of TA instrumentation requires laboratory infrastructure, and it may not, therefore, be suitable for all

40 | plastics business • fall 2017

production environments. Table 2 summarizes applications of DSC and TGA that may be of interest in injection molding.

Thermal analysis tech.

Material properties


Melting temperature/range; heat of fusion; percent crystallinity; glass transition temperature (Tg) or softening of amorphous polymers; crystallization behavior; composition/ purity (presence of blends and copolymers)*; presence of recycled material (regrinds); presence of additives*; aging, degradation, thermal history*; compatibility


Composition/purity (presence of blends and copolymers)*; thermal stability; aging, degradation, thermal history*


Presence of additives*

Table 2. TA techniques and the material properties they can assess. *Can be assessed by more than one technique. page 42 u

FOCUS t page 40 Conclusions Routine quality checks using the techniques described in this article reduce the likelihood or reoccurrence of product failure and its associated costs. Moisture analyzers can be used for the quality assurance of goods received and ejected molds. Moisture content is determined rapidly, and the compact instruments are easily situated close to production – for example, next to the conveyor belt on which molded parts are dropped. Moisture is, however, just one aspect of IPC or QC testing. Highperformance TA instruments provide broader and more precise quantitative information on the purity, glass transition, melting point, thermal stability and compositional analysis of materials. Knowledge of such properties is critical for failure analysis and process optimization. For example, the establishment of “pass-fail” criteria is not uncommon in the automobile industry to ensure batch material received from suppliers is indeed correct. In this case, DSC curves may be used as a fingerprint to identify materials. By checking the level of crystallinity and the magnitude of the glass transition of an injection-molded part, one can also measure the effects of cooling within the mold as a means to define optimum cooling conditions. n

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42 | plastics business • fall 2017


1. Bruder, U. (2015). The User’s Guide to Plastic. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag. 2. Kunz, R. (2016). Market Analysis for Water Content Determination in Plastic Granulates. Zurich: University of Zurich 3. NobelPrize.org (2016). Retrieved 15 July 2016, from https://www.nobelprize. org/educational/chemistry/plastics/readmore.html. 4. Plastics Technology Online (2016). Retrieved 10 July 2016, from http://www. ptonline.com/knowledgecenter/Plastics-Drying/Resin-Types/HygroscopicVS-Non-Hygroscopic-Resins. 5. ASTM.org (2017). Retrieved 6 October 2017. 6. Wernecke, R. (2003). Industrielle Feuchtemessung. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. 7. METTLER TOLEDO (2014). Plastics Methods for HX204, https://www. mt.com/us/en/home/library/product-brochures/laboratory-weighing/05_ Moisture_Analyzer2/00_Family/05_Method_Collection/Plastics.html. 8. Lever T., Haines P., Rouquerol J., Charsley E.L., Van Eckeren P. and D.J. Burlett. (2014) ICTAC nomenclature of thermal analysis (IUPAC Recommendations 2014), Pure Appl. Chem. 86(4): 545-553

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PolySource Opens Second East Coast Warehouse In response to success in new business growth within the New England area, Kansas City, Missouri-based PolySource recently expanded its network of warehousing facilities to include a 57,000-square-foot location outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Now with two East Coast warehouses and 11 total locations, PolySource offers a flexible inventory policy that allows customers to use PolySource for warehousing at no additional cost and with one- or two-day delivery lead times. PolySource warehouse locations include Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; El Paso, Texas; Laredo, Texas; Mexico City, Mexico; Ayer, Massachusetts; Edison, New Jersey; Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Akron, Ohio; Evansville, Indiana; and Denver, Colorado. For more information, visit www.polysource.net.

Mueller Prost Ranks Among Inc. 5000 Inc. magazine ranked Mueller Prost CPAs + Business Advisors, St. Louis, Missouri, number 4737 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, a ranking of the nation’s fastestgrowing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within American independent small and midsized businesses. For the past several years, Mueller Prost has experienced significant growth, both organically and through strategic partnerships. For more information, visit www.inc.com/inc5000.

Frigel Introduces Aquagel GPV Process Pump Sets Frigel, Scandicci (Florence), Italy, announced advanced 3PR control technology and variable frequency drives (VFD) for its new Aquagel GPV process pump sets, which combine to ensure the pumps operate at peak efficiency with the lowest possible energy consumption. The enhanced Aquagel GPV is part of Frigel’s family of pumping, reservoir and filtration systems designed for fast, economical expansion in use with its central cooling systems – Ecodry or Heavygel. With Frigel’s 3PR control console, users can easily monitor all data in real-time for the pump stations. 3PR allows users to access full operating schematics that monitor pump performance such as pressures, flow rates and VFD capacity and to make adjustments on the fly. Real-time data, combined with troubleshooting capability, gives users the ability to gain precise control of the system. For more information, visit www.frigel.com.

44 | plastics business • fall 2017



MBS Names New President Molding Business Services (MBS), Florence, Massachusetts, announced that Jonathan Soucy has stepped into the role of president at MBS, and former president Terry Minnick is now chairman. Soucy joined MBS as a partner in early 2015. His knowledge of and experience in the plastic injection molding industry is invaluable to MBS’s growth and success. Minnick spent more than a decade as CEO and chairman of The Pro Corporation before selling to a private equity group. After that sale, the group added two molding companies, and Minnick ran the consolidated company until he left to start Molding Business Services. Minnick’s extensive plastics industry knowledge and his reputation for excellence have been at the forefront of Molding Business Services’ success since its founding. For more information, visit www.moldingbusiness.com.

RJG Offers Self-Paced eLearning Math RJG, Inc., Traverse City, Michigan, launched its first eLearning course, Math for Molders. Math for Molders provides foundational math skills practice needed both in the field and for more advanced RJG courses. This online eLearning course allows students to complete each module at their own pace, including the option to replay sections as needed, and takes an average of nine to ten hours to complete. There are eight units in the course, with multiple interactive modules in each that include videos, animations and practice activities. Utilizing real scenarios, molders will be more prepared to calculate data, enabling them to match mold requirements with appropriate machines and avoid common defects while preventing mold and machine damage. For more information, visit www.rjginc.com.

Wittmann Battenfeld Offers Resource for Robotics Training Robot customers of Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc., Torrington, Connecticut, have a resource to provide hardware and software upgrades, operator training and plant audits free of charge. Coming to the company with several years of experience in the plastics industry, Mark Chorabik has joined Wittman Battenfeld as the company’s robot support specialist, providing service and support to customers implementing robotics within their own facilities. Chorabik has traveled to more than 80 customer locations throughout the US over the last 12 months, and his visits have included more than 250 robot upgrades. For more information, visit www.wittmann-group.com.

M. Holland Acquires T&T Marketing

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M. Holland, Northbrook, Illinois, announced its plan to acquire T&T Marketing, a distributor of polymer resins and compounds to the wire and cable market, as an asset to help M. Holland debut in the marketplace. T&T distributes throughout the US and Canada, and the company will continue to serve its more than 250 customers after it is brought under the M. Holland brand. T&T will retain all 26 of its employees and continue to be led by owner and president Tom Jordan. For more information, visit www.mholland.com.

Located in Geneva and Lausanne, Stout's first Europe-based offices provide cross-border transaction coverage for Switzerland and the market regions of Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Stout also welcomes two investment banking veterans as managing directors to lead the offices. Stephane Oury will head the Geneva office. Christophe Lapaque will head the Lausanne office. Together, they have more than 30 years' experience in international mergers and acquisitions across numerous industry sectors. For more information, visit www.stoutadvisory.com. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 45


4DX Strategy Pushes Ideas to Goal Execution at GreenLeaf Industries by Nancy Cates, contributing writer, Plastics Business Every manager has done it: Look at the P&L sheets and analyze production. Consider customer comments and complaints. Prep for the meeting. Invite all the players to gather in one room. Review strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Brainstorm. Put ideas on the board. Stir the pot. Swap out this concept for that. Argue points until reasonable consensus is achieved, goals set and responsibilities assigned. Finally: a strategic plan with everyone on board. Three months pass – or maybe just a month. What happened to the plan? Does anyone even remember the goals? One goal? That bothered Lawrence Segrest, CEO of GreenLeaf Industries, a small plastic injection molding company in Lenoir City, Tennessee. “I’m one of those aggressive people who wants to do everything at once,” he said. “That was my history. Every year, I’d be looking at the annual plan, things we wanted to be better at, and would say, we’re going to get better at all these things. In the end we wouldn’t achieve much of anything. I had the vision but didn’t have the execution part.”

At GreenLeaf Industries, Lenoir City, Tennessee, weekly commitments keep employee teams on track to achieve waste reduction and other goals they have set. Photos courtesy of GreenLeaf Industries.

46 | plastics business • fall 2017

4 Disciplines of Execution “I started looking for books on how to execute,” Segrest continued. “After reading the descriptions of some of the books available, the 4DX book stood out to me. It was simple. It really enforces alignment. Once we decided on a corporate goal – one or two – it emphasized how you need to focus on the ‘wildly important goals.’ So the teams’ goals are in alignment with the corporate goal. Everybody’s working on the same large team, heading in the same direction.”

The 4DX system being used at GreenLeaf is based on the book “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling (FranklinCovey Co., FreePress 2012). The book outlines the four disciplines as: 1. Focus on the Wildly Important: Set wildly important goals, or WIGs. 2. Act on the Lead Measures: Set quantifiable goals with predictive outcomes that individuals can influence. 3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: Make scoring simple to understand so it is easy to evaluate how the team is doing. 4. Create a Cadence of Accountability. Teams report on the previous week’s commitments – no excuses allowed. They review the scoreboard to assess whether they are moving forward or losing ground and why. Finally, they make commitments for the next week. “The fourth discipline, the Cadence of Accountability – where people make commitments and hold themselves and teammates accountable weekly – is the key,” Segrest explained. “I thought that even if the rest of this failed, that will be an incredible improvement to the culture. Everyone holds themselves accountable, so it’s not just the managers doing that.” Before 4DX, Segrest said, there was difficulty remaining focused on implementing the annual plans. A second concern was that the leadership team – two or three people managing the family-owned company of about 45 – seemed to be forcing it. “Everyone was going through the motions without any real buyin to the concepts,” he said. “We wanted to change the dynamic so that everyone was pulling the same direction.” Implementation and launch After deciding to implement 4DX, Segrest said, “We started out with the leadership team learning and practicing how to do brainstorming, set goals, look at lead measures and work with your team. When we hit our stride, the program starting really looking good. “That was how we launched,” he continued. “It took us about six months to get going and 12 to 15 months to do it well. We had patience, and at this point I say it’s how we do business.” Beth Johnson, GreenLeaf’s vice president of operations and quality systems, added that the company had used quality circles before starting the 4DX program, but the implementation lacked excitement as well as overall alignment and clarity about what was most important. “In using quality circles, what teams decided to work on may or may not have a big impact on the bottom line,” Johnson explained. “It might be an improvement but not really impactful.

A thermometer-like tube on the “4DX wall” represents progress toward the next company goal.

In looking at the Four Disciplines of Execution, we determine what really is the most important thing. If it’s truly important to your organization, then why isn’t everyone in the organization working toward that particular goal? It’s common sense-driven. “We took a step back,” she continued. “In the quality circle world, you want the team to pick their project because then they have ownership of it. In following the Four Disciplines, we did something different. The executives looked at what was impacting profitability: Where is the waste? By looking at that, we came up with the most important goals. Then the individual teams got together to pick their projects, but they had to be aligned with the corporate Wildly Important Goals. Now we have 10 teams working on programs that drive the corporate goals in the right direction. The bang for the buck is page 48 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 47

PRODUCTION t page 47

tremendous, plus everybody feels good with 10 teams working on the same problem. The impact on the bottom line and on morale is huge.” Everyone in the company is on a team, and each of the 10 teams has a leader. Team leaders are given guidelines or boundaries as each team brainstorms to set its own goals and lead measures. Lead measures involve everyday activities that can be quantified and evaluated regularly in terms of progress toward the goal. These measurements go on each team’s section of a board that measures progress toward the end goal. A date is set to kick off the next 4DX goal and everyone goes to work. Each team meets weekly for 15 minutes near the scoreboard to evaluate progress and set commitments for the upcoming week. Culture shift Johnson said the system has benefited employees – including some with lower levels of experience or education – in allowing them to learn to identify waste. “They are trying to figure out where there is waste in the system: ‘Can we do this better? Faster? Can we move the racks closer to where we are so we don’t have to take so many steps? Why do we wait to put this part together at this point, because if we make a mistake it takes us three times longer to fix? How can we be sure we don’t make that mistake at all?’ “We’re seeing a shift in how people do things,” she continued. “Before, sometimes people would throw waste in the trash can because they didn’t want to have to count it. Now we have a tremendous amount of accountability and teamwork: Every pellet, every purge gets measured for waste. Instead of hiding the mess, they discuss it at their 4DX meeting. They can bring up their problems, ask for help in eliminating a problem and improve their efficiency. There’s a lot of discussion, and the conversations have changed to ways to make the job better and improve overall productivity.” To really celebrate accomplishments through 4DX, Johnson said, the company wanted to do something creative. The teams report weekly, as outlined in the 4DX program, but management decided to tie a portion of the dollars saved in the program back to the factory. Once a month, Johnson said, all employees gather at the “4DX wall,” where each of the projects is outlined. As the money is saved, after a drum roll, someone climbs a ladder with a pitcher of plastic pellets and pours them into a giant thermometer-like tube on the wall to represent the company’s progress toward the next goal. Though it’s not really a part of the 4DX program, the gathering helps create excitement.

48 | plastics business • fall 2017

One of GreenLeaf’s 10 teams (top) meets to review their commitments and gauge progress toward corporate lead measures (bottom), activities that can be quantified and evaluated.

“Sometimes we might have T-shirts, or a barbecue or ice cream social as small prizes,” Johnson said. “We alternate that with things for the factory. For example, we might have our moldtech team use a portion of the budget to pick their own reward to allow them to do their jobs better. They might pick an electric pallet jack or a quick-release mold clamp or a marble-top table to measure product – all things that are improvements to the factory, but they get to decide what it is they need to help them do their jobs better. It has really created a lot of excitement. “This is our third program,” Johnson continued, “and employees have earned a new break room with a television on the wall and an outdoor picnic area. This time we shared a financial benefit: Every single employee in the factory got a $1 raise. The big prize for the current goal is an extra vacation day or the equivalent benefit dollars for those who don’t like to be off work.

“It’s pretty exciting when you think about it,” she said. “We are trying to break down the ‘entitlement’ mentality that is plaguing corporate America now. Everything that (the employees) get, they earn. They see that it’s not just that the GreenLeaf executives have all this money: They all have helped save that money, and it can be used to make their jobs better, improve the factory or do something fun together as an organization. We didn’t just give them a break room or a pay raise: They earned it. There’s a tremendous amount of pride and self-worth that comes along with that, so we are totally sold on it.” Execution scorecard Before 4DX, Segrest said he would have tried to tackle everything at once. Now, once a goal line is achieved, planning begins for the next one. The first three programs were waste-related, but the leadership team is open to determining the next major goal: quality, customer service or something else. Then the team looks at ways to measure improvements, evaluates how much can be saved and sets goal lines. “We try to put ourselves in our employees’ shoes,” Segrest continued. “Maybe this is their first job ever in manufacturing,

so what can they come up with to achieve the goal? Can they be successful?” The sales and marketing team has joined 4DX by looking at ways to do a better job with quotes and service to current and potential customers. The program also has been expanded to include the front office team, whose members look at the methods of dealing with customers, processing orders, interviewing and selecting job seekers and onboarding new employees. An unexpected benefit has been a higher level of engagement between the front office and the factory, Johnson said. “We’re all thinking about waste in different ways. It’s been really good for the entire organization.” In terms of “lessons learned” from implementing 4DX, Segrest said the first improvement made was holding leadership accountable. “We started having weekly meetings with team scorecards where team leaders could measure themselves in 10 categories, with an ultimate score of 100. The leaders put that information into a spreadsheet to show how well we were doing in leading the company and leading our teams. That’s actually one of our lead measures. If the leaders are leading the teams well, we’re going to hit our goals.” page 50 u

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 49

PRODUCTION t page 49

In addition, Segrest continued, corporate goals weren’t on the board in the beginning because a celebration of profitability might send a negative message to visiting customers. After recognizing that the missing corporate goal was a big weakness, they changed the measurement from profitability to waste reduction – which, Segrest said, ultimately represented the same thing. It was important to show the corporate goals along with those of the teams. A third improvement to the GreenLeaf program was to assign an employee to shepherd and maintain the 4DX teams. Her assignment includes looking at scoreboards to determine when teams might need assistance, conducting leadership team meetings and visiting with the teams to ensure they are on track. Segrest believes making that investment sends an important message. “It demonstrates our commitment to the program and reinforces the ability to achieve the goals being set.” Johnson said she would recommend that companies employing 4DX work to improve the quality of the weekly commitments sooner rather than later. “Every week, you come to the meeting with a commitment already determined. At first, we were just happy they were making commitments because we wanted them to learn to do it – and that was a great starting point – but we probably didn’t move into enforcing quality commitments soon enough. Now everyone is held accountable.” Now at GreenLeaf, Segrest said, execution is no longer a concern. “When I do my quarterly or annual reporting, it’s all tied back to 4DX and how that’s impacted our bottom line or our waste reduction program or the latest goal. We talk about it a lot, and everyone in the company participates.” n

From the sales team to the front office to the factory floor, achieving common goals has resulted in an unexpected benefit: a higher level of engagement among teams.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 51


Manufacturing Day: Enhancing the Industry’s Image by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are currently 12.3 million manufacturing workers in the US, accounting for nine percent of the workforce. Over the next decade, Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) estimate that – of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that will likely be needed – 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap and a potential lack of students seeking an education in STEM and a career in manufacturing. To combat these industry-damaging statistics, Founding Partner Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International, created Manufacturing Day, or MFG DAY, in 2012. MFG DAY has since become an annual event produced by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), with key contribution and support from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and MI. Companies all over the country host MFG DAY events on the first Friday in October to help shape and improve public perception. It provides manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and demonstrate what modern manufacturing is – and certainly what it isn’t. When manufacturers join forces for this coordinated event, they begin to address the expected shortage in skilled labor by connecting with youth, parents and educators, actively influencing the future of manufacturing and strengthening the continuous success of the industry. To make this grassroots effort a success, sponsors provide resources to support the US manufacturers participating in the program. A variety of awareness-raising activities take place, including plant tours, community events and expos, job or educational fairs, and other celebrations of the manufacturing community. Below is a sample of what some of the more than 2,800 participating manufacturing companies across a variety of industries – including plastics – did to celebrate MFG DAY 2017. Seneca Foundry, located in Webster City, Iowa, held a tour that consisted of educational stations and presentations in each department. “Not only did this tour showcase our own processes, but it explained some advancements in general manufacturing,” explained COO Lori Mason. The company had a computer simulation set up to highlight how it uses FlowCast software with SolidWorks. “And, just for fun, we set up a photo booth where guests could wear different PPE (various styles of gloves, aprons, spats, etc.) and take a silly photo,” she continued. Following the facility tour, 15 local high Top: At Brenner-Fielder, more than 300 students and community members toured the facility, with demonstrations in its engineering and production departments. Photo courtesy of BrennerFielder. Middle: At Plastics Molding Technology, students toured the company’s Innovation Lab to see how robotics work with the injection molding process. Photo courtesy of Plastics Molding Technology. Bottom: At Bishop-Wisecarver, President Pamela Kan addressed the growing number of women in the manufacturing industry. Photo courtesy of Bishop-Wisecarver.

52 | plastics business • fall 2017

My accountant found a way to get tax credits for research and experimentation. That’s more than accounting.

that’s innovation school students participated in a “Foundry in a Bod” hands-on activity. This opportunity allows students to play in sand to gain further understanding of how to manufacture a casting. While hand-packing their molds and melting the tin, the students were exposed to the company’s processes and gained an understanding of what it takes to create a quality casting. Plastics Molding Technology, Inc. (PMT), in El Paso, Texas, participated in MFG DAY by hosting an event for the fourth year in a row; however, this was the first year PMT collaborated with two other El Paso manufacturing businesses, participating in a three-stop MFG DAY tour event. The company welcomed students at its facility and showcased the innovative and modern plastics manufacturing industry by providing hands-on learning opportunities for a class of 25 Career & Technical Education students. They were invited to PMT’s new Innovation Lab to learn about the plastic injection molding process, work with robots and see how 3D printing complements manufacturing today. “Representatives from each PMT department talked with students, helping them engage with our industry and consider a career in plastics,” said CEO Charles A. Sholtis. A career path in plastics and PMT's internships and apprenticeship programs also were highlighted. Hosting its third annual Manufacturing Day event, Florence, Kentucky-based Balluff welcomed more than 120 students and local community members to learn about modern manufacturing and automation. Visitors took part in hands-on activities and games involving Balluff sensors to learn how they work and to experience how automation aims to improve manufacturing outcomes. Guests also toured Baluff’s facility to witness how lean process improvements and automation are key components to driving manufacturing growth in the US. Students then had the opportunity to meet with local schools and universities to learn about STEM programs and manufacturing apprenticeships in the area. “There are incredible job opportunities in manufacturing right now for both young people entering the workforce, as well as people looking for that exciting next career,” stated Marketing Management Director Will Healy III. “Manufacturing Day is one way we connect with our local community to build interest in STEM and vocational opportunities that exist in Kentucky and in manufacturing as a whole,” he added. Some 70 students from Northwest High School in Jackson, Michigan, were invited to join Team 1 Plastics at its facility in Albion, Michigan. The students spent the afternoon touring the company’s plant and asking questions. “Many of the students had never seen a manufacturing facility in real life, and our goal was to let them experience first-hand some of our cool processes and page 55 u

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INDUSTRY t page 53

equipment,” HR Manager Robert Clothier commented. Participating in the nationwide event for the first time, Team 1 Plastics wanted to showcase some of the opportunities that are available to students in the manufacturing industry. “Companies like Team 1 can offer high-paying jobs and opportunities for development through onthe-job learning and outside education at no cost to the students,” he said. Impressed by the interest of the students, Team 1 Plastics will continue to hold MFG DAY events in the future. Brenner-Fiedler, a premier automation and pneumatic At Seneca Foundry, students received provider for original hands-on experience in manufacturing a manufacturers (OEMs) and casting. Photo courtesy of Seneca Foundry. end users, held its second MFG DAY event. With a turnout of nearly 300 students and community members, BennerFiedler led visitors on an engaging tour through its facility, stopping for 30 minutes in both engineering and production departments for a demonstration and Q&A. “Our engineering department gave the students robotics demonstrations and touched on the importance of quality, and our production department led a hands-on demonstration on Lean 5S and teamwork in building anything from panels to liposuction machines,” explained Marketing and Web Manager Mallayana Bradley. The most impactful experience Bradley witnessed that day was a conversation between two young girls. “One brought up the fact that there are girl engineers, to which the other replied, ‘She (our engineering manager) is my role model.’ ” As a tech company streamlining the procurement of CNCmachined parts, MakeTime, Lexington, Kentucky, hosted students and faculty from local universities and technical colleges to dispel the outdated image of manufacturing and replace it with one that is more attractive to millennials and more representative of the future of manufacturing careers as techheavy and computer-savvy jobs. With motivation to change the perception of manufacturing from dirty and repetitive work to a more modern view of the field, the company opened its doors to show off MakeTime. Lee Lingo, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, as well as Terry Gill, page 56 u

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INDUSTRY t page 55

secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, were in attendance at the company’s event to help promote the advancement of technology and manufacturing. This year, Bishop-Wisecarver, Pittsburgh, California, hosted a two-and-a-half-hour event at its facility, with more than 80 people in attendance. Students and educators from four local high schools, as well as community leaders, heard an opening keynote discussion from president of the company Pamela Kan. She focused on busting manufacturing myths and highlighted areas that are most meaningful to students – salaries, job opportunities, use of advanced technology and the growing number of women in the industry. Following the keynote address, participants were divided into smaller groups and rotated through a career panel, plant tour, hands-on demo of a robotic arm and a hands-on assembly project. The career panel consisted of four BWC employees – from both technical and nontechnical roles – giving details about their jobs, educational backgrounds and exciting projects. The participants were then able to speak with one BWC engineer who has been programing a robotic arm. For the assembly project, students built a minirepresentation of a linear actuator that included a carriage with

four wheels that ran along a pair of BWC DualVee® tracks. “They had to assemble the studs/wheels to the carriage and then adjust the wheels so the carriage would travel smoothly down the tracks,” Winchester said. Though it’s too early to assess the full impact of Manufacturing Day, results from a survey conducted by NAM’s Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte showed that in 2016 the event had a positive effect on the public’s view of the industry. Overall, students and educators felt more aware of manufacturing jobs in their communities and were more convinced that manufacturing jobs are interesting and rewarding. Additionally, 89 percent of Manufacturing Day event hosts saw value in participating, and 86 percent were likely to host an event again in the future. Helping to shape the public’s opinion of manufacturing and shift it to a more modern outlook will ensure its continuity and provide future generations the opportunity to work in the field. n For the second year, an award was given to manufacturers that worked throughout the year to raise the profile of the industry. Read more on page 57.

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56 | plastics business • fall 2017

MAPP Award Honors Outreach Efforts Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) recently held its second annual Educational Outreach Contest. This celebration recognizes manufacturers that coordinated events during the past 12 months to engage young people in the manufacturing industry. Interested companies were asked to provide examples of the ways in which their organizations worked with local schools, programs or students to raise awareness and build interest in the plastics industry. The award honorees were announced on Manufacturing Day, Oct. 6, 2017. In first place was Viking Plastics located in Corry, Pennsylvania. The second and third place awards went to Dymotek, in Ellington, Connecticut, and AllPlastics, Addison, Texas, respectively. Following is a selection of the information shared in each company’s nomination, providing a sample of the outreach efforts the three plastics processors made throughout the year.

The Educational Outreach Award honored Viking Plastics, Dymotek and All-Plastics. Photo courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.

First place: Viking Plastics, Corry, Pennsylvania More than 160 students tour Viking Plastics annually, including ninth-grade students who visited various departments of the plant this year. Additionally, Lifeskills students from Corry High School trained with the quality team while also working in Viking’s assembly area, gaining more than 20 hours of workplace experience. Company leaders partnered with Corry High School for its Business Week, serving as advisers and presenters. Attending career fairs throughout the year allows Viking employees to meet with more than 250 high school students to show them opportunities in the industry. Viking also discusses internships and career opportunities with 100+ college students twice per year. This year, five college interns received hands-on experience in several manufacturing areas, and the company hires anywhere from four to six interns each year. Second place: Dymotek, Ellington, Connecticut At the UConn Student Athlete Career Fair – an event that brings University of Connecticut student athlete alumni back to speak with current student athletes about career possibilities after graduation – an alumnus and Dymotek employee shared the opportunities that exist in manufacturing. The company also participated in Manufacturing Day by opening its doors to the public and providing tours to several area schools. Dymotek also joined a number of other community members to participate in Ashford School’s Career Day in May 2017, focusing on robotics and automated manufacturing. The accounting department at

Dymotek Corporation also welcomed a local high school student for a job shadow in the finance department in February 2017. And recently, Dymotek worked with the Connecticut Department of Labor to create a state-sponsored apprenticeship program for process technicians. The program takes an individual on a two-year journey that includes on-the-job training with tooling, quality, process engineering, maintenance and automation. Third place: All-Plastics, Addison, Texas For two consecutive years, All-Plastics has hosted accounting students from Schreiner University at its Kerrville facility to present discussions on lean manufacturing and kaizen events. Featuring discussions of bill of materials, costs, margins, standards and manufacturing in great detail, the event also speaks to what products All-Plastics manufactures and future job opportunities in the field of manufacturing. All-Plastics also spent a full day in November 2016 presenting to every health care class at a local high school about careers in health care through manufacturing. Representatives answered questions and discussed types of medical devices that are manufactured through plastic injection molding. The company donates to programs that provide grants for innovative, STEM-based teaching in the classroom. Recently, the company hosted 15 students of the Society of Plastics Engineers from Baylor University at its Addison facility. The event encouraged students at Baylor to join the plastics industry by showing them how fascinating the world of plastics is while allowing them to see real manufacturing first hand. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 57


600 Attendees Gather for 2017 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference In October, nearly 600 plastics professionals gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference. This year’s conference featured preconference sessions, motivational speakers, functional area networking and more than a dozen breakout sessions for attendees. From Connie Podesta’s comedic introduction on how to communicate and sell to anyone, to peer networking roundtables and evening receptions, all the way through Joe Theismann’s closing presentation highlighting the importance of listening, trusting and motivating your team, the event brought professionals of all levels together for an impactful and unforgettable day and a half.

This is what 2017 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference attendees had to say: “This conference should be attended by all. The knowledge gained from the floor personnel to top management is priceless.” – Gary Surowiec, Bamar Plastics “I walked away with a greater appreciation for the MAPP organization. One industry, one common goal: to share lessons learned and best practices. Outstanding!” – Jeff Patrick, Dymotek “Very few manufacturing conferences focus on improving organizations by understanding people and leading them from the front. I leave this event feeling enriched, invigorated and ready to face the next challenge with my team.” – Carl Bartle, Wisconsin Plastics Inc. Save the Date: The 2018 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference will be Oct. 10 through 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. MAPP’s Continued Benchmarking: What to Expect in 2018 Each year, MAPP strives to provide industry professionals with the most relevant, timely and meaningful benchmarking in the plastics industry. MAPP is currently completing its final benchmarking study for 2017 on engineering services.

58 | plastics business • fall 2017

Listed below are the reports MAPP members can expect to see in 2018: • State of the Plastics Industry • Drugs in the Workplace • Machine Maintenance • Tuition Reimbursement Policies • Wage and Salary • Marketing in Manufacturing • Quality in Plastics Have questions on past, current or future benchmarking? Email info@mappinc.com. Welcome New MAPP Members MAPP’s staff and board of directors would like to welcome the following organizations to MAPP’s growing community of members: • American Casting and Manufacturing, Plainview, New York • Apex Plastics and Tooling, Garland, Texas • Bennett Plastics Inc., Paterson, New Jersey • Calico Precision Molding, LLC, Fort Wayne, Indiana • DaMar Plastics, Inc., El Cajon, California • Flexcraft Company, Neptune City, New Jersey • Granite State Plastics, Inc., Londonderry, New Hampshire • North Coast Plastics, Inc., Erie, Pennsylvania • Parkway Products, LLC, Florence, Kentucky • Performance Plastics Ltd., Cincinnati, Ohio • Productive Plastics, Inc., Mount Laurel, New Jersey • Sussex IM, Inc., Sussex, Wisconsin • Teamvantage Molding, LLC, Forest Lake, Minnesota • Tec Air, Inc., Munster, Indiana • The Plastek Group, Erie, Pennsylvania MAPP Introduces New Sponsors to Membership: Creative Technology and 5Fold Agency MAPP is excited to welcome two new sponsors to the MAPP community: 5Fold Agency and Creative Technology.

An industrial marketing agency with more than 30 years of plastics industry experience, 5Fold provides clients with the most effective and latest marketing strategies and tactics: web design and SEO, LinkedIn marketing, LinkedIn advertising, content marketing, brand collateral and Google AdWords. Just as manufacturing technology advances every year, manufacturers’ marketing strategies must advance to get attention from target demographics. Tactics from three

years ago are losing effectiveness; organizations need to partner with an agency that knows where to focus to get the best ROI, produce top line growth and adjust to cut through the marketing noise.

Creative Technology is dedicated to helping American manufacturers through quality media. Creative Technology produces a wide range of technical and marketing materials for industry, specializing in plastics, mold and die manufacturing. Offering industrial photography and video, the company is equipped with the right gear and experienced at unusual techniques to capture challenging subjects, such as highly polished and reflective mold cavities and cores, clear plastic parts and cutting tools in action. The focus is on capturing those special images with the right equipment for the job to keep costs affordable while creating a distinctive image for you. Coming Soon: 2018 Planning MAPP is currently finalizing plans for 2018 – continuing to add plant tours, webinars, peer networking, young professionals events, summits and additional opportunities for members to network and gain additional value. Check the MAPP website for upcoming events as they are scheduled. n

Bridge the Skills Gap with RJG’s CoPilot™ RJG recently released the latest in injection molding process monitoring software: the CoPilot™. The purpose of the CoPilot is to provide a simple and practical program that is so easy to use that technicians of all experience levels can consistently keep a process on template. The CoPilot observes actual machine settings and offers instructions to bring a process back into set parameters. Real-time notifications tell molders when a process is out of match, allowing them to address the problem sooner and limit the number of bad parts produced. The CoPilot is able to walk processors through a step-by-step order that is driven by Scientific Molding principles by prioritizing the most important out-of-specification variables.

Features of the CoPilot include the following: • Step-by-step walkthroughs to return a process to match • Real-time notifications when a process has changed • Automatic process audits • Automatic part sorting • Process change logs

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 59


As Labor Pool Shrinks, Compensation Rises by Ashley Burleson, membership and engagement manager, MAPP Compared to 2016, more than half (57 percent) of jobs in the US plastics industry experienced wage increases above the current inflation rate of 1.9 percent. Across the board, plastics manufacturing positions, on average, experienced a 2.0 percent increase in compensation, according to the most recent Wage and Salary Report published by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP). Now in its 15th year, MAPP’s annual Wage and Salary Report analyzes data collected from plastics executives and human resources personnel on reported wages of nearly 60 different job classifications within plastics manufacturing organizations. The 2017 report includes data from more than 200 US plastics manufacturing companies, representing just shy of 40,000 fulltime and part-time employees. While the 2.0 percent increase in compensation was the average, skilled labor positions are continuing to see a much larger increase in compensation than other positions. According to this year’s study, CNC operators/machinists, mold/die setters, mold maintenance, production schedulers, secondary operations/ assembly associates and warehouse material handlers all experienced greater than a 5.0 percent increase in compensation – not surprisingly, as the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the current US unemployment rate at 4.2 percent. As the unemployment rate is decreasing, the need for talented workers continues to increase. According to a recent article by Reuters News Agency, manufacturing jobs in the US are increasing each month, and 83 percent of participants in the MAPP study indicated their company plans to hire more employees over the next 12 months. Plastics processors across the country are feeling the effects of the current unemployment rate and the need for skilled workers, and these processors are working diligently to find and retain individuals. Now more than ever, having a steady and stable workforce gives organizations a competitive advantage in the industry. It is that need to compete for skilled workers that has forced many plastics processors to realize the importance of making adjustments in compensation. Plastics companies also are working to gain a competitive advantage by changing their shift structures. In just three years, the number of plastics executives who indicated their company runs one shift was cut in half. Today, approximately 85 percent of companies run at least three shifts in various iterations –

60 | plastics business • fall 2017

compared to 67 percent three years ago. The need to staff second and third shifts puts further pressure on manufacturers to increase pay in these areas. According to this year’s report, 82

percent of companies running three shifts compensate secondand third-shift employees with an increased pay differential. These pay differentials range from less than 25 cents to greater than one dollar per hour – with the most common being between 26 and 50 cents per hour. It is not just skilled labor personnel who are experiencing increased compensation – other positions, such as marketing directors/managers, project engineers and quality engineers, also saw an above-average increase in compensation. These changes could potentially be due to an increased focus on marketing within manufacturing and the increased demand and pressure to effectively manage projects and deliver quality products to customers. However, many of the staff-level positions inside of plastics organizations are seeing stagnant or below average increases. For the first time since 2009, the nine staff-level positions considered most common in plastics operations (general manager, engineering manager, human resources manager, IT manager, maintenance manager, plant manager, purchasing manager, quality manager and sales manager) did not see

Plastics processors across the country are feeling the effects of the current unemployment rate and the need for skilled workers, and these processors are working diligently to find and retain individuals. an increase equal to or greater than the current inflation rate. However, this trend is not expected to continue. Many experts are already anticipating compensation rates for these roles to increase in the near future. For more information on MAPP’s Wage and Salary Report or to purchase this year’s report, visit www.mappinc.com. n

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and product names are trademarks or service marks of their respective holders. All rights reserved. Errors and omissions excepted.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 61

SUPPLIER DIRECTORY Additive Manufacturing/ Prototypes

Financial Services


Federated Insurance www.federatedinsurance.com Page 56

A-1 Tool Corporation www.a1toolcorp.com Page 23

MBS (Molding Business Services) www.moldingbusiness.com Page 36

B A Die Mold www.badiemold.com Page 22

Energy Strategy

Mueller Prost www.muellerprost.com Page 53

Carson Tool & Mold www.carsonmold.com Page 23

Constellation www.constellation.com Page 61

Stout www.stoutadvisory.com Page 43

Concept Molds www.conceptmolds.com Page 22

Equipment/ Auxiliary Suppliers

Hot Runners

Ivanhoe Tool & Die Company, Inc. www.ivanhoetool.com Page 23

Engineering Resource Center www.theerc.com Page 55 ProtoCAM www.protocam.com Page 59

Conair www.conairgroup.com/ therevolution Back cover Frigel www.frigel.com Page 53 Novatec www.machinesense.com Pages 31-34

INCOE Corporation www.incoe.com Page 27 Synventive Molding Solutions www.synventive.com Page 55

Legal Counsel Ice Miller LLP www.icemiller.com Page 39

Progressive Components www.procomps.com/date Page 37

Marketing Services

Wittmann Battenfeld www.wittmann-group.com Page 50

VIVE – Marketing for Manufacturers www.vive4mfg.com/inthewild Page 26

Yushin America, Inc. www.yushinamerica.com Page 11

Events/Organizations MAPP www.mappinc.com Page 51 NPE2018 www.npe.org Page 54

Metrology OMNIA SCIENTIFIC www.omniascientific.com Page 17

MRO Supplies Grainger www.grainger.com Inside back cover

62 | plastics business • fall 2017

Mold Craft www.mold-craft.com Page 23

Operations Consulting Harbour Results, Inc. www.harbourresults.com Page 49

ChemTrend www.chemtrend.com Page 7

Resins Amco Polymers www.amcopolymers.com Page 16 Chase Plastics www.chaseplastics.com Page 14 M. Holland www.mholland.com Page 51 Polymer Technology & Services www.ptsllc.com Page 30 PolySource www.polysource.net Page 42

Training Paulson Training Programs, Inc. www.paulsontraining.com/MAPP Page 15

Process Monitoring IQMS www.iqms.com Page 3 RJG, Inc. www.rjginc.com/copilot Page 41 SIGMA Plastics Services, Inc. www.3dsigma.com Page 13 Syscon International www.syscon-intl.com Page 26

Purging Compounds ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. www.asaclean.com Inside front cover

Plastics Business Fall 2017

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Predict 2018: Processors Sustained Growth Goal Execution Enabled by 4DX Preparing for Ownership Transitions Faster Decisions with Scheduling

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors

A guide to this issue's Plastics Business advertisers.

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Plastics Business - Fall 2017  

Plastics Business - Fall 2017