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Plastics Business Spring 2016

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

3D Printing Changes the Tooling Game Avoiding Material Supply Issues Eyeing Opportunities in Cuba

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


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director’s letter

Is there anything you simply don’t like about yourself? Have you ever attempted to change your own behavior for the better … and failed?

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

To be truthful, I’ve looked in the mirror once or twice in my lifetime and said, “It’s time to change, and it’s all going to be different tomorrow,” only to start the change process and fail literally hours or days later.

MAPP Board of Directors President Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc.

Business leaders continually are faced with an even more daunting task – that of bringing about positive change within their workforces. If you want to strike an emotional chord during any business conference, simply ask company leaders to recall failed improvement efforts, and you’ll soon find something in common with most of them.

Vice President Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies

Whether you know it or not, most everyone reading this letter is in the process of trying to influence somebody to change. In fact, I am working to influence you right now: My goal is that you become a better leader of change efforts, whether your own or those within your business.

Bill Bartlett, First American Plastics/Quad, Inc. Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Michael Devereux II, Mueller Prost PC John Hoskins, Octex Holdings LLC James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Bob MacIntosh, Nicolet Plastics, Inc. Terry Minnick, Molding Business Services Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics, Inc. Brian Oleson, Centro, Inc. Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Alan Rothenbuecher, Ice Miller LLP Teresa Schell, Vive LLC Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc. Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc.

Your Ability to Influence Can Radically Improve

Before I go any further, I want to tell you a true story about a very successful change process. It may encourage you to rethink your own approach to change. In December, my 21-year-old son, Daniel, was trying to raise $300 to purchase Christmas lights to decorate the outside of his fraternity house and get people in the holiday spirit. (He absolutely loves the Christmas season.) To collect the money needed, he set a five-gallon bucket in the house’s cafeteria and labeled it “Christmas Light Donations.” Daniel then put messages on Facebook to announce the effort and, after 72 hours, he was anxious to collect the money out of the bucket and begin the decorating process. However, his initial efforts produced only two donations totaling $20 – not even 10 percent of his goal. After returning to his room frustrated and disappointed, he picked up a book called The Influencer, written by a group of professionals including Joseph Grenny, and began reading. (Daniel obtained a copy of Grenny’s book after hearing him speak at MAPP’s 2015 Benchmarking Conference.) Sparked by ideas from The Influencer, Daniel employed new tactics to more positively influence his fraternity brothers to provide donations for the holiday lights. First, he decorated the five-gallon bucket, lined the table and background with lights, and posted an enormous picture of Santa’s eyes as if he were watching those who were “good” and “bad.” Then, he created a large thermometer to track the progress of the donations, with the goal and the amount of collections vividly clear. Finally, he brilliantly identified the amount of the donations and posted the names of the donors clearly on the wall next to the display. The results of his efforts are as astounding as the idea of a 21-year-old who took the time to read a book on influence and apply its proven contents. Within 48 hours, Daniel achieved a 1500 percent increase in donations, purchased the lights and fulfilled his desire to positively impact the spirit of others. The reason I tell this story is because it truly exemplifies how calculated leadership tactics can positively change human behavior to attain greater and more positive outcomes. As Grenny stated at the 2015 MAPP Benchmarking Conference, “What qualifies people to be called leaders is their capacity to influence others to change their behaviors in order to achieve important results.” By employing the concepts of personal, social and structural motivation, Daniel was able to achieve his goal. Just think about the positive things we, as leaders, could do to improve safety performance, reduce production waste and grow operational efficiencies if we advanced our approaches to changing behavior. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to read The Influencer.

Secretary Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc.

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

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

Advertising/Sales Janet Dunnichay

Managing Editor Dianna Brodine

Contributing Editors Nancy Cates Brittany Willes Lara Copeland

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Executive Director, MAPP

4 | plastics business • spring 2016

Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Contents Spring 2016

focus

8

outlook

solutions

14

40

features focus Racing to Production with 3D-Printed Inserts.........................................8 outlook Eyeing New Opportunities in Cuba...................................................... 14 view from 30 Game Training: Engaging Employees at Poly-Cast............................... 20 Retooling Attendance, Communication and Morale at PRD.................. 21 training room The Scientific Molding Plant: How to Get There from Here................... 28 strategies Don't End Up with Drones and Clones: How to Really Invest in Your Staff and Future...................................... 30

departments director’s letter................... 4 news..................................24 association.........................34 advertisers.........................50

marketing Better Marketing with Video................................................................. 38 solutions Impact of Material Specification on Operational Efficiency.................. 40 booklist Tackling Competition in a Global Market............................................. 46 management Generating Excitement in a Boring Economy....................................... 48

Cover photos courtesy of Polymer Conversions, Inc.

plasticsbusinessmag.com

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focus

Racing to Production with 3D-Printed Insert Tooling by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

Two New York plastics processors are working to circumvent the extended lead times and additional costs surrounding the research and development process of new product launches. Both companies take great pride in the engineering technical expertise offered by talented employees, and both see the potential in using 3D printing to create insert tooling to increase the level of service offered to their customers. Natech Plastics looks for a competitive advantage Natech Plastics, Inc., located in Ronkonkoma, New York, opened in 1998 when Gerd Nagler started a molding facility focused on luxury cosmetic packaging. While consumer packaging still comprises 30 percent of the company’s business, Natech Plastics has become increasingly engineering driven. Currently, the ISO 9001:2008-certified company is a provider of custom injection molding and contract manufacturing focused on the medical, electronic and consumer markets, with a reputation for research-based experimentation. The evolution of client support Gerd’s son, Tom, now is the company’s CEO and has been the force behind the switch to an engineering-driven production environment. “I’ve watched the industry evolve,” he said. “Transactional suppliers are at the lower end of the food chain, and customers expect greater value.” Nagler admits the engineering services involved in a new design are his favorite component of the business, and the opportunity to secure client loyalty by becoming a supply chain partner that could fill a complex need appealed to him. “In order for us to bring that design service to our customers, we had to be embedded in their businesses. It was very resource intensive for us, but it made us valuable.”

3D printing offers an opportunity to move quickly from design to molding to testing. Photos courtesy of Polymer Conversions, Inc.

8 | plastics business • spring 2016

Understanding the additive manufacturing landscape Nagler has devoted time and resources over the last two years to watching the developments in additive manufacturing. “As we talked about engineering services being a larger part of our business, we had to talk about how additive manufacturing would fit into that,” he explained. “It was never compelling to me for prototyping, because I can get


that done with a service bureau just as quickly and at around the same cost. So, where did it fit?” Nagler went to a couple of additive manufacturing tradeshows, including RAPID, to gain competitive intelligence. Admitting that what’s on a tradeshow floor isn’t realistic, but rather a tradeshow version of what’s possible, he nonetheless saw potential applications. “As we’re looking at what we want our business to be, part of the conversation was about what I had learned,” he said. “We had to decide: What do we want to do with additive manufacturing? We don’t want to be a service bureau, so what’s the value to us? And, what’s the value to our customers? It’s not that compelling of a story if we just print prototype Working to find value in the 3D printing process beyond prototypes and fixtures, the parts. But, maybe there was some value if we Natech Plastics team, including (foreground) Gary Bunch, senior mechanical engineer, could shorten the timeline or test out complex and Domingo Hernandez, plant manager, is exploring the design options with 3D tooling. components. That was interesting, because it was sort of in our wheelhouse.” assembly, while at the same time another portion of the component was being modeled. Because of the difficulty of Mold building as a competitive advantage the build, Nagler knew a sample with a shorter lead time would Gerd Nagler trained as a master toolmaker before emigrating to be beneficial. “We specifically chose something that was the United States from Germany, but Natech Plastics outsources difficult,” he said. “We felt if the 3D insert printing process a majority of its mold building to other US toolmakers, applying couldn’t help us through something like that – geometrically Gerd’s knowledge to the relationships Natech has nurtured over complicated, with internal core pins and a detailed exterior – the years. Working 100 percent domestically is an important there wasn’t value.” differentiation point for Nagler, and he believes it’s a competitive advantage. “Relationships are incredibly important to the mold Nagler looked for a partner, and CADD Edge, a reseller of building supply chain,” he said. “Every year, we specifically Stratasys equipment located in New York, was chosen to print devote effort and time to find the right tool builders and develop the tooling inserts. By exchanging Natech’s engineering and the relationship with them. It’s a critical part of our business.” processing expertise with the 3D printing expertise of CADD Edge, the envelope of knowledge is pushed and both companies Nagler explains this relationship because he isn’t trying to replace benefit. “We’re building a database that tells us where the tool makers with 3D printing. In the same way he offers an benefits are and where they are not,” said Nagler. expectation of partnership from Natech Plastics to its customers, he also believes the mold builders his company works with are It took three to four iterations to build a useful piece for the partners bringing crucial skills to the process. Instead, additive initial project, and Natech didn’t beat the original lead time as manufacturing technology could play a supporting role – and the company had hoped because of the learning curve. Since the Nagler was intrigued enough to start a few experiments to better client hadn’t been told a shorter turnaround could be possible, no understand both the possibilities and the drawbacks. one was disappointed – and the data gathered was a definite step in the right direction. “We were able to confirm how much the The beginning of the experiment part would shrink, which provide a good benchmark,” Nagler “We happened to have an urgent situation,” said Nagler, before explained. “We also learned how to reduce ovality in cylindrical laughingly adding, “There’s always an urgent situation!” parts. Those are two things that are not exactly clear to begin Natech Plastics was near kickoff for the steel mold build of a page 10 u complex part that was one component of a larger diagnostics

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focus t page 9 with, and now we have that information in a database.” “In the end, that first part wasn’t all we wanted it to be,” Nagler admitted, “but it certainly wasn’t a failure. Did it realize its promise? What we’re coming to believe is that the real sweet spot is not so much as a source of low-cost pre-production parts, which already is available in the market, but as a very powerful design tool allowing rapid iterations of risky design elements.” Natech Plastics completed a second experiment – this one a polypropylene application with a breakaway feature, one of Nagler’s so-called “risky design elements.” He explained: “3D printing the mold insert A buffer chamber project was one of the first by Natech using 3D-printed inserts gives us a chance to test this feature out. to create a molded part. Photo courtesy of Natech Plastics, Inc. We designed, printed and molded in the production material, and then we tested multiple iterations of investigation. Polymer Conversions opened its doors in 1979, and the feature within days. We’re not aware of any other technology one of its earliest projects was molding the plastic eyes for Kermit that would allow us to move so quickly from design to testing.” the Frog toys. Today, engineering and tooling expertise, combined with ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 certifications, have The learning curve positioned Polymer Conversions as an innovator in the medical Nagler admits the experiments have been fun, but the reality of device, health care, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. getting a client to actually pay for it? That’s still unclear. Reducing the costs of R&D “All of this is only meaningful if you are a design partner for “We’re a high precision molder,” explained COO Ben Harp, your clients, not a molder,” he said. “However, we could either “and we like making parts with critical dimensions. Those wait for other people to learn all there is about 3DIM – and then dimensions lead to very expensive tools. One of the things that lose the value to our clients – or we could get the knowledge deters research and development is the cost to look at different ourselves and create value. In the end, it’s still about the clients design concepts and make changes, but the advent of 3D we chose and the strategy we put in place.” printing has shifted the landscape. Now, OEMs can hold design possibilities in their hands – they can feel the part and connect Natech Plastics is on the brink of an expansion plan, and Nagler their thoughts and concepts to reality.” and his team are deciding whether or not to bring additive manufacturing equipment in house. “At the moment, I think the Prototype printing, however, has its drawbacks. Specifically, process has limitations, but we were able to adjust from one set material limitations often mean the 3D-printed part is not of inserts to the next because we’re processors and mold builders. created from the intended material as specified on the print, so chemical resistance and strength characteristics do not match. Our engineering expertise gives us an edge.” The perfect scenario would provide samples with the faster The technology’s other applications may swing Nagler toward speeds and lower costs offered by additive manufacturing the investment, including the ability to print fixturing or a technology, but that could be used for early stage clinical prototype on occasion. It’s the potential, however, that is truly trials. Polymer Conversions began to explore the possibility of exciting. “It’s why I come here every morning,” he said. “We’re 3D printing the tooling inserts, rather than the end-use part, a learning organization, and this is a new area for us to explore.” to create the geometry needed in a shorter time frame without compromising the base materials. Polymer Conversions takes its knowledge to the derby Some 400 miles to the northwest, in Orchard Park, New York, To aid in the discovery process, Polymer Conversions appointed the team at Polymer Conversions, Inc., is engaged in a similar a team focused on understanding the potential and limitations

10 | plastics business • spring 2016


of 3D-printed insert tooling: Dan Schwab, lead mold designer; Nathan Greene, process engineer; Ryan Gillon, process engineer; Mike Swift, tool and die maker; Leanna Bradley, quality engineer; and Alan Baillo, University at Buffalo intern. Learning the limitations “The best case scenario is to have the ability to take the customer’s design, print an insert tool within 24 hours and drop finished molded parts into the mail for the customer 24 hours after that,” said Schwab. “What we’re attempting to do is great in concept, but what can we really achieve? Will it work in all materials, and what are the tolerances we can hit?” Much like Natech Plastics, the team at Polymer Conversions is focused on data collection. There are questions about cycle times and how much heat and pressure can be applied before the insert blows apart. “What we hope to accomplish in this exercise is to better understand what can be done, to what tolerances and resulting in how many parts, so we can coach the customers in what to expect,” said Greene. “For a very low cost, we can get them further down the design path in product development or a small-volume application. We add significant value by saving the customer time and money.”

Investing in the possibilities Polymer Conversions does not have 3D printers on site; instead, the injection molding company partners with Staub Additive, a high-tech organization only four miles from its plant. “Our toolroom is capable of building every tool we supply to our customers,” said Schwab, “but we’re prioritizing the support of our production floor for existing tools. At some point, we may invest in additive manufacturing equipment, but now it makes sense to work with a company that already has the equipment and the expertise in 3D printing.” Harp explained, “What we’re trying to do is take our affinity for learning things and applying technology we already know well to benefit our industry sector. Medical device companies are having early stage success validating 3D-printed medical devices, but you can count those FDA approvals on one hand. We think this is a step better because we’re using legitimate production resins. In medical manufacturing, the faster we can meet our customers’ needs – safely – the faster their devices can be put to use.” page 12 u

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focus t page 11 The experiments For one of its first projects, the team chose a part it has been molding in the conventional manner for 10 years. The learning process will come with an extensive paperwork trail that includes timelines, costs, tolerances and run sizes. Steel, aluminum and 3D-printed tooling will be compared in great detail to provide data the Polymer Conversions’ team can use to then prove results with the customer. “We know exactly what we can do with eight-cavity tooling,” said Greene. “We know exactly what the part costs to build in the highest quality materials and in less expensive materials. And, we know which materials have been successful. Now, we’ll try out production with insert tooling, and we’ll learn.” To date, the team’s “internal science project” has produced approximately 300 parts and endless amounts of data. Swift detailed some of the experimental processes, including ramping up the clamp tonnage and testing various venting methods. “We were concerned about the plastic cracking or collapsing, but it made it to 50 tons, which was amazing considering we were going up against plastic.”

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From left, Allan Baillo, an engineering intern from the University at Buffalo; Nathan Greene, process engineer; and Mike Swift, tool and die maker, are part of a team at Polymer Conversions focused on understanding the potential and limitations of 3D-printed insert tooling. Photo courtesy of Polymer Conversions.

Greene added, “The actual 3D-printed cavity finally cracked and started chipping at 300 cycles at about 50 tons. For lowvolume production, 300 pieces could very well be enough for an entire year for some customers, but it was important to know when that cracking began to occur.” In fact, said Swift, the results have been impressive, even on a small scale. “Coming from a tooling standpoint, the 3D-printed tool held up very well, considering the fact that it was a plastic part molding a new plastic part.” The team continues to emphasize that the process is what is important right now. “We’re documenting everything we do,” said Greene. “We keep 99 percent of the parts every time, even if it’s a bad part. Then we label it and document what happened during that test so we can learn what’s possible.”

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

12 | plastics business • spring 2016

Playing with the possibilities Engineers and mold builders, however, can’t be given access to new technologies without expecting a little … side job here


and there. Enter the Boy Scouts of America Pinewood Derby® project. The first derby was held in 1953 and, although kits are sold by the Boy Scouts to ensure similarity of materials among competitors, an open class allows modifications – including those to the wheels. Swift was enthusiastic about the possibilities, which included machining some of the plastic for improved tolerances and better shutoffs. “We had a few things we were going to try, so we could make them the fastest cars around,” he laughed. What started as a fun project for a local troop and the son of a Polymer Conversions’ employee became the “poster child” for the benefit of 3D insert tooling. “On the first tool we created for this project,” said Harp, “we gated into the outer part of the wheel surface that would be in contact with the racetrack – and we realized what we had done right after we molded our first part.” “After we laughed and shook our heads,” he continued, “we were able to make a quick part design change and were back in production within 24 hours. Sure, it’s a funny story, but it also

The Boy Scouts Pinewood Derby project provided a model for the benefits of 3D-printed mold inserts. Photo courtesy of Polymer Conversions.

proved the benefit of what we were trying to do. The ability to test designs and make adjustments almost immediately could be a game changer, and it’s exciting to be at the front of the learning curve.” n

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outlook

Photos courtesy of Plastic Molding Technology.

Eyeing New Opportunities in Cuba A conversation with Chuck Sholtis, CEO and owner, Plastic Molding Technology Inc.

Approximately 100 miles from Key West lies the Caribbean islands of Cuba, home to more than 11 million citizens. The main island hosts the country’s capital of Havana and, despite the lack of US involvement for more than 50 years, was the destination for more than 3.5 million tourists last year, drawn from Canada, Latin America and Europe by its natural beauty.

planned to coincide, a delegation from the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) was in the country at the same time. Chuck Sholtis was part of the exploratory team.

Long a political hot button and a source of economic difficulties for Cuba, US relations with the country are beginning to change, opening possibilities for American businesses. President Obama became the first sitting US president since 1959 to visit when he arrived in Havana on March 20 of this year and, although not

The United States maintains a comprehensive economic embargo on the Republic of Cuba. In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba, in response to certain actions taken by the Cuban Government,

14 | plastics business • spring 2016

The US Embargo of Cuba According to the US Department of State website:


Photo at left: A crumbling infrastructure is one of the biggest problems faced in Cuba as tourism numbers are expected to increase dramatically.

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On March 16, 2016, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published amendments to their respective regulations to further implement President Obama’s new direction on Cuba. These amendments, according to the US Department of Treasury, included a loosening of travel restrictions, allowed salary payments and hiring agreements for Cubans traveling to/ residing in the US, and authorized purchase of certain goods and services previously restricted under the embargo. “These changes, coupled with the arrangement recently announced by the Departments of State and Transportation allowing scheduled air service between the United States and Cuba, will significantly increase the ability of US citizens to travel to Cuba to directly engage with the Cuban people,” explained a March 15, 2016, fact sheet issued by the US Treasury Department Office of Public Affairs. How would you describe conditions in Cuba? Sholtis: It’s something that has to be experienced. The country is trying to privatize and at the same time, it has been desperately impacted by over 50 years of embargo. Material conditions of buildings, cars and railroad systems were in shambles, primarily due to a lack of ability to import construction materials at reasonable cost. One of the factories we toured was approximately three hours outside of Havana, and it was like climbing into a time machine. In the rural areas, the farmers were working on horseback and using oxen to till the fields. There was a definite lack of machinery from an agricultural standpoint, and there were no stores in those areas. Instead, a homeowner might leave vegetables on their porch for purchase by neighbors. Also interesting was the proliferation of ’55 and ’57 Chevys on the road. Automobile imports were frozen at the time of the embargo, and it gives you a jolt to see so many “classics” on the road. page 16 u

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outlook t page 15 Describe your tour of two Cuban manufacturing facilities. Sholtis: The first factory was engaged in making woven plastic bags for agricultural products such as coffee beans and raw sugar. It was an efficient operation, but hampered by older equipment. Although looking to privatize that business, much of its production volume is consumed by the Cuban agriculture sector. The second factory was promoted as a molding facility, but actually was a producer of vacuum-formed packaging, such as clamshells for food items. One molding machine was on site, but it wasn’t a recognizable model. After some investigation, it was determined to be a Spanish molding machine that had been brought in through the embargo. A Portuguese hot runner mold was utilized to mold spoons for the hotels. However, the trade conditions made it difficult to source polystyrene, so the spoons were being molded in polypropylene. In the second facility, the food packaging operations were performed using older Chinese equipment, and at least 50 percent of the equipment on site was offline, as it had been www.SRR.com

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The trade embargo enforced since 1962 left American automobiles in a time warp, with thousands from the 1950s still on the road in Cuba.

cannibalized for parts to keep the other machines going. Despite those challenges, the facilities were running around the clock and well organized, with clear production goals to be met. Those are micro examples of what’s going on in Cuba, but it’s indicative of an economy that is having a hard time moving forward. The island is complex – stuck in the past while moving very quickly into the future. Much of Cuba’s industry is owned by the government, and the average Cuban citizen makes only $15 to $25 per month, but the seeds of privatization are planted, with recent approvals for independently run restaurants, barber shops and taxi services. What are the Cuban government’s goals for industry? Sholtis: The SPI contingent met with Adriana Barceló Permuy, the general director for industrial management at Cuba’s Ministry of Industry. Much of the reason for the trip – and Cuba’s welcoming attitude – lies in the expectation of an 83 percent increase in tourism over the next five years. Hotels are expected to open 70 percent more rooms to meet the need, and manufacturing opportunities for consumer goods would appear to be growing. However, the US isn’t the only country interested in the opportunities in Cuba. A report from the ministry stated the US embargo has been the main obstacle for Cuban industry development since 1960, and the country was “forced to choose distant markets” for financing, materials and technology. Today, Cuba is open about its search for foreign investment and has set up economic zones with tax break opportunities, particularly focused on the Mariel Special Economic Zone page 18 u


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outlook t page 16 (ZEDM). Companies looking to take advantage include Cleber LLC, a tractor company from Alabama with plans to build lowcost tractors for small farms, and Dutch company Unilever, which plans to open a plant employing up to 300 people by 2018. Regardless of the politics, things are happening in Cuba, and it’s probably a good time for the US to re-engage. The Europeans are taking advantage of the opportunities to invest, and Americans could miss out on early growth. From the plastics industry perspective, what are the opportunities? Sholtis: The major opportunities appear to be supporting the tourist industry – packaging for food, utensils, cups – very fundamental items. Also, the infrastructure requires big upgrades in sanitation, internet, fiber optics and telecommunications. As a plastics processor – whether it’s extrusion, injection molding, blow molding or thermoforming – there are going to be opportunities to support the growth as Cuba prepares to deal with the challenges brought on by a growing tourism interest, but caution is still needed. The government has a heavy hand in almost everything, and it’s still unclear what the rules will be for

An American flag flies at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Cuba as the United States takes steps to re-establish trade relations.

companies wanting to play a role. When will licenses be given out? How long will the waiting periods for approvals be? There’s no way to know right now. What were the greatest takeaways from the experience? Sholtis: First, a regime change is not coming anytime soon, despite the embargo. Second, US industry should proceed with caution because we don’t want to lose the opportunities, but we also need to be aware of the risks. Third, Cuba is a beautiful island. It’s exotic and unspoiled, and it’s easy to understand the tourism appeal. Here in the US, I believe both Republicans and Democrats understand the time has come to work with Cuba. I think they see it makes sense to engage – to explore the opportunities – because the island is going to move ahead in its own self-interest. The Cuban people are ready for more of a market economy, but it will be controlled, at first. There won’t be a sudden unveiling of capitalism, but the country will change, and I saw the seeds of that. It’s very intriguing. n

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view from 30

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

Game Training: Engaging Employees at Poly-Cast by Brittany Willes, contributing editor, Plastics Business Long, tedious, dull – words often used to describe videos and look professional and be interesting enough to hold people’s other training materials employers use to keep employees attention for the length of the video. In the end, Zuvich selected informed and up to date with the latest policies and safety a 12-minute GHS training video produced by PAMCANI practices. While such videos undoubtedly contain useful Alliance and PCA safety consultant Roger Paveza. “I ended up information for workers, that information is rarely absorbed watching portions of about 20 different videos (a small fraction or is quickly forgotten as of what is available) before I “My goal is to provide the workers fail to pay attention found the ones I liked best,” to presentations that drone Zuvich noted. information in as many different on and on. To combat this, ways as possible in the hope that companies such as Poly-Cast, Zuvich also selected a second Inc., Tigard, Oregon, are they retain and use this knowledge GHS HazCom training video taking a new approach when from Excal Visual. “I thought to keep themselves, and their fellow this would be an excellent it comes to training materials and employee safety. employees, safe in the workplace.” source to put on our television in the lunch room,” she stated. Currently in the process of It was decided that for a few converting to the new OSHA days every month, the video requirements for GHS and SDS, Poly-Cast Purchasing Agent could be put on continuous play in the lunchroom in order Audrey Zuvich began searching for training materials that to reinforce the training. “Excal Visual, the makers of this would impart all of the necessary information to Poly-Cast particular video,” Zuvich remarked, “has a lot of other YouTube employees. “This is very important information regarding their videos, and if this works well with learning the new OSHAsafety,” Zuvich explained. As she researched, Zuvich thought regulated GHS labeling requirements, it might be a good source about the different ways in which people learn and the best ways to help reinforce other trainings.” to encourage employees to engage with the new information. “I started thinking about my daughter and how she learns more Finally, Zuvich searched for alternative training materials quickly when she’s having fun,” remarked Zuvich. “I thought to further help employees retain the new safety regulations. about my own military training and college experiences. I Knowing she wanted something that would be a fun learning really only remember the things that I enjoyed learning about or experience, she looked for a game for learning the nine new where the teacher engaged in alternative teaching methods. So, hazard symbols. She eventually found one on the GHS training I thought, why not try it for this?” website. “I want the employees at Poly-Cast to succeed in learning this information so they are safe in their environment,” After extensive internet research, Zuvich found three different stated Zuvich. “Considering that the average person’s attention resources she believed would best serve employees. She span is only eight seconds, it was important to me to have was determined that the main training video contain all the materials that utilize memorization skills,” she said. The game appropriate information while still being fairly short, preferably involves identifying pictograms in a timed setting and can be less than 15 minutes. Additionally, the visuals needed to played on a computer or smartphone. Zuvich loaded the game

20 | plastics business • spring 2016


to one employee’s phone and asked him to test it. By the end of the day, the employee was able to correctly recognize seven of the nine symbols. By the end of the week, he remembered and recognized all nine. Zuvich feels using the game as a learning tool is a very effective way for employees to learn the new symbols. While Poly-Cast has not yet implemented the new training materials for the majority of its workforce, the company plans to do so at its annual training session. However, employees who have watched both training videos and tried the game believe these training methods helped them learn and retain

the information and feel it will be beneficial for the rest of the workforce. Furthermore, Zuvich has shared her research and experiences with other MAPP members and has received many positive responses. “Everyone learns differently,” Zuvich affirmed. “We learn at different rates and by different methods; however, it has been scientifically proven that we learn best when we engage multiple senses and use repetitive processes. My goal is to provide the information in as many different ways as possible in the hope that they retain and use this knowledge to keep themselves, and their fellow employees, safe in the workplace.”

Retooling Attendance, Communication and Morale at PRD by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business A lack of specificity in company policies and procedures can negatively impact productivity and profitability. PRD, a plastic injection molding firm in Springville, Indiana, realized its attendance policy had not been revised for several years and, as business picked up and more employees had been added, absenteeism became a regular issue. PRD recently took action to clarify the attendance policy, better communicate with employees and remedy the situation. Like many members of the Manufacturers Associations for Plastics Processors (MAPP), PRD’s attendance policy made use of a point system to track employee attendance. This system helps PRD to note attendance infractions and assign points accordingly. Infractions may include tardiness, early leave, excused absences, unexcused absences and no-call/no-shows. A review of attendance policies across the association shows many MAPP companies consider termination of an employee when the employee accumulates between six and eight points. Additionally, points can accumulate in a rolling or fixed format that is commonly set within either a sixor 12-month period. While the number of points allowed differs among companies based on the format they follow and months they allow, the warning stages are rather typical. For instance, a written warning follows a verbal warning and, in many cases, a disciplinary action is taken prior to terminating an employee. While its previous attendance policy worked for several years, PRD recently identified two significant problems that needed correction. The first issue PRD tackled was tardiness. The former policy defined an absence or tardy of less than four hours as a half unit,

while more than four hours totaled a full unit. This portion of the attendance policy created an issue in motivating employees to make it to work as soon as possible. Employees who knew they were going to be a few minutes late to work were tempted to take the entire half unit, thereby limiting the day's yield and also creating additional expense for the company in overtime hours for replacement workers. Sarah LaRue, human resource manager at PRD, identified the second and “single biggest issue” as the lack of clarity in the disciplinary action portion of the policy. She noted that “the ‘gray area’ made being clear and consistent difficult.” page 22 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


view from 30 t page 21 Recently, while focusing on utilizing more of the tools in the company’s IQMS ERP system, the PRD human resource department decided to evaluate the attendance policy prior to setting up the attendance tracking features. The analysis raised several questions. For instance, what determined if someone was disciplined or terminated? What type of discipline would apply? What happened after the discipline if an employee got an additional unit? LaRue noted the difficulty in clearly defining the consequence of an additional unit to an employee during a meeting to issue a written warning when the policy is vaguely defined as “discipline, up to termination.” She reached out to industry peers using the MAPP discussion forum, looked at policies from surrounding employers and solicited input from supervisors and managers. “After evaluating and comparing other policies, we realized we didn't need to scrap everything and start over,” LaRue explained. “A lot of the policy worked, and most of our employees understood it. We just needed to make some clarifications.” PRD decided to make two substantive changes. First, the company added a 1/4 unit measurement to allow employees to arrive up to an hour late or leave up to an hour early if necessary without being

penalized a half unit. The intent was to decrease the likelihood that an employee – knowing he or she would be charged a half unit for even a short absence – would be absent for the full three hours and 59 minutes. Second, the new policy delineated more precisely what disciplinary action would be taken for subsequent units accumulated beyond the verbal and written warnings. Now, seven units in a rolling six-month period is cause for termination of employment. Once PRD management agreed in principle to these changes, the information was shared with employees, communicated through gain-sharing meetings. These meetings produced a number of questions that allowed the company to revise and retool the policy’s language. For instance, some employees asked what would happen if they needed to pick up their children early from school. Other employees asked what would happen if they were out for three or more days for a reason other than an illness and did not have a doctor's statement (family emergency, unforeseen circumstances, etc.). PRD tries to be fair, consistent and realistic, LaRue said. While production demands need to be met, the company understands that their employees have lives and responsibilities outside of work and tries to offer balance in those areas as much as possible. According to the company website, since 1979 PRD has “operated under a ‘people first’ policy, believing that when we focus on each customer as an individual and put their needs first, the rest will follow. By also applying this principle to our workforce, we’ve been able to maintain an honest, family-style atmosphere that eludes most large companies.” Although the new policy has only been in place for three months, PRD is beginning to see positive changes in productivity and profitability, with fewer employees accumulating units. LaRue noted that the improved attendance policy has created an awareness in employees evaluating their time off, explaining, “I had an employee whose time off request was denied because the day was already scheduled by other employees. He came in to talk to me about how many units he had, when they would roll off and how a call-in would impact his current units. Ultimately, he decided the call-in wasn’t worth it and reported to work.” The transition has been smooth, but the company plans to evaluate the new rules at six months and implement any immediately necessary changes. True to the company’s commitment to evolve and continuously improve its business practices, LaRue commented, “There always is something that you don’t think of until it happens.” Remaining flexible and willing to work with personnel offers stability to both the company and its employees and creates better a better production environment. n

22 | plastics business • spring 2016


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news

BinMaster Unveils Scanner System for Silos BinMaster, Lincoln, Nebraska, announced a new MVL multiplescanner system that provides accurate volume measurements, plus high, low and average levels for large silos and domes. The MVL system integrates the multiple point measurement data from two or more 3DLevelScanners to cover a wide surface area. The software synchronizes data and provides a 3D visual of material in the silo and historical reports. It performs in highdust environments and requires little to no maintenance. For more information, visit www.binmaster.com.

PCT Launches Line of Nozzle Heaters Polymer Cleaning Technology, Inc. (PCT), Hillsborough, New Jersey, introduced its new line of brass nozzle heaters for hot runner systems. The new IMPERIUM line of heaters is available as direct replacements for all standard OEM nozzle heaters. They also can be customized for nonstandard systems and applications. IMPERIUM heaters are constructed of solid brass. The heater cable is mechanically deformed into the heater grooves and, along with the use of a tight-fitting stainless steel oversleeve, the design guarantees the elimination of hot spots. The design offers not only dramatically longer heater life, but also increased temperature uniformity across the face of the mold. Thermocouples can be integrated into the heater or mounted externally. For more information, visit www.polymercleaning.com.

RJG Offers Training Course for Injection Molding Routsis Releases 5S System Online Training Courses Routsis Training, Dracut, Massachusetts, announced the release of five new online training courses, entitled The 5S System (Steps One through Five). The 5S system is a workplace organization method that describes how to manage a work space for efficiency and effectiveness. The five steps – Sorting, Straightening, Sweeping, Standardizing and Sustaining – are covered in detail and designed to make any work environment clean, organized, consistent, properly maintained and up to date. Each Production SkillSet course is accompanied by a worksheet so the 5S System can be immediately integrated into any plant. For more information, visit www.traininteractive.com.

24 | plastics business • spring 2016

RJG, Traverse City, Michigan, announced a new course, Part Design for Injection Molding, to provide molders, tool makers and design engineers the information required to design and produce plastic injection molded components. Class topics address good manufacturing processes (GMP) for plastic part design, fundamental material characteristics, basic tooling concepts, necessary processing characteristics, molding nonconformities and tolerances. The class also offers an explanation of how part design and material selection affect the cost of tooling and piece price. Attendees work in groups to examine parts for flaws and discuss how those design flaws should be fixed. For more information, visit www.rjginc.com.


Conair Unveils EZLoad Single-Tube Loaders

NOVATEC Introduces Systemwide PLC Control NOVATEC, Baltimore, Maryland, introduced the FX2 NovaNet™ version of its original FlexXpand control that provides access and control of all NOVATEC auxiliary equipment through either 7- or 12-inch high-resolution color touchscreen PLCs, and is also remotely accessible with a networked smart device or PC. It provides control of up to 160 NOVATEC receivers and 20 vacuum pumps, and it offers many options such as source-to-destination ID proofing. Processors can start using the FX2 NovaNet Control System on a small scale and expand it as they grow without any extra programming. For more information, visit www.novatec.com.

Conair, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, has introduced EZLoad Series single-tube loaders that offer processors solutions for a range of everyday, point-topoint material conveying and loading applications. EZLoad loaders offer the same angled canister design and hinged filter lid that tilts back and locks to enable easy access for cleaning or filter maintenance. The control was specifically developed to serve loading applications where advanced load-control features are not necessary. Once it is turned on, the EZLoad control manages load and dump times automatically. A standard reed switch located on the base of the loader indicates demand, while the EZLoad control automatically adjusts loading time based on resin bulk density to ensure complete hopper fill. EZLoad Series loaders are available in two models, with three vacuum motors available to meet varied conveying distance and throughput requirements. For more information, visit www.conairgroup.com.

IQMS Debuts Deployment Model Programs

Paulson Offers Additional Courses at Florida Academy

To address the diverse deployment needs of manufacturers, IQMS, Paso Robles, California, announced its “Choice is the New Cloud” deployment program for customers. The program features three deployment models for the IQMS EnterpriseIQ ERP system designed to support the needs of manufacturing firms that must balance any cost savings with the flexibility to meet certification requirements and customize their ERP solution to enhance existing operations. The IQMS deployment models enable customers to either own the software or act as a single tenant. In guiding manufacturers to choose the right deployment option for a specific business, IQMS works with companies to answer key questions that will affect their decisions. For more information, call 866.367.3772 or visit www.iqms.com.

Paulson Training Programs, Inc., Chester, Connecticut, announced new seminars at its Plastics Academy Tech Center in Florida and other cities nationwide. Two new intensive seminars offered this year are Data-Driven Molding and Mold Design Fundamentals. Each vendor-neutral course will provide expert knowledge that can be immediately put to work on the facility's production floor. Classes are intentionally small and are taught at the new 9,000-square-foot facility in Tampa, Florida. For more information, visit www.paulsontraining.com. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 25


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training room

The Scientific Molding Plant: How to Get There from Here Scientific molding often is used to describe the ideal injection molding process, but what exactly does the term mean? Scientific injection molding (SIM) is the practical application of the laws of physics as they apply to molded parts properties. To understand molding as a science, you first must discard the idea that the machine control settings determine plastic part properties. Part properties, whether good parts or rejects, are determined by just four conditions: 1

melt temperature

2

plastic flow rate in the mold

3

pressure of the plastic in the mold

4

cooling rate in the mold

The key to understanding plastic processing is to understand how each of these four basic variables affects the plastic and how changes in plastic behavior affect molded parts. Listen to the molecules. When you have part problems, are you putting them at the wrong temperature, the wrong pressure, the wrong flow rate or the wrong cooling rate?

by Donald C. Paulson, founder and owner, Paulson Training Programs

Donald C. Paulson, plastics engineer and longtime educator, is founder and owner of Paulson Training Programs and holder of nine US and European patents. For more information, call 860.526.3099 or visit PaulsonTraining.com.

How do we understand molding as a science? First, the initial requirement is that our molding machines, molds and any auxiliary equipment be capable and consistent in their operation. SIM specifies several machine/mold tests to accurately gauge the capability of the equipment. Examples include the machine’s ability to maintain consistent injection pressures independent of load; gate seal studies on the part(s); and checking for check-valve leakage, clamp force consistency and more. Procedures for these tests are widely available. The term “scientific injection molding” often is used for these tests, but the tests are just one component and the beginning of a truly scientific process. If injection molding is to get the benefit of actual science, there must be more to it than just machine/mold tests. Second, a scientific injection molder must understand “molding from the plastics point of view.” Each of the 30-plus machine controls has an effect on one or more the four plastic variables. Today’s machines have the capability to control all of the plastic variables, but not directly. For example, there is no single control adjustment for melt temperature. Actual melt temperature (not barrel temperatures) is the result of many factors, including screw rpm, back pressure and heater settings. The value of understanding molding from the plastics point of view is that the knowledge tells you what set of machine controls to adjust and which ones to ignore. The proof that plastic flow rate in the mold affects directional shrinkage, warp and part cracking was one of the reasons machine builders added fill-rate control. The development of velocity to pressure transfer setpoint (VPT) also was a direct result of research. Cavity pressure is much more consistent if a VPT setting near 95 percent of fill is set. Then, pack/hold pressure is used to adjust part dimensions.

28 | plastics business • spring 2016


Step back and ask, “What is the goal of a scientific understanding in the injection molding process?” The answer is that the goal is the same as any innovation – to increase productivity and reduce problems. The term I coined decades ago is “molding from the plastics point of view.” What does it take to become a scientific molder? An understanding of plastic behavior. The four plastic processing variables These four plastic variables determine final part properties, good or bad. As previously mentioned, no single machine control affects each of these variables independently of the other. Melt temperature. Plastic melt temperature affects the distance between the molecules. When melt temperature changes the molecules, distance apart changes. This creates a pressure loss during flow because the molecules moved closer together. Typically, flow viscosity decreases as melt temperature increases. For some materials, this effect is dramatic. 1

the flow direction versus the non-flow direction. This affects strength properties and differences in shrinkage and pressure loss during flow. 3

Pressure. Plastic pressure in the mold determines part dimensions, shrinkage and stress.

Plastic cooling rate. Faster cooling will freeze in molecular orientation; slower cooling reduces stress in the part. With crystalline materials, cooling rate directly affects crystal size and formation. 4

In summary, all of the properties of molded plastic parts are determined by one or more of these four processing variables. To the uninitiated, this sounds heretical. After all, there are at least 30 machine controls that seem to have the ability to affect part properties. It's true – they do. But, from the plastics point of view, each machine control adjustment affects one or more of the four basic variables. Our goal then is to develop a multitiered production team, all with a scientific understanding of the molding process applicable to their jobs. n

Plastic flow rate. Flow speed differences across the flow path force the plastic molecules to line up (orient) in the flow direction. Oriented molecules have different properties in 2

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 29


strategies

Don't End Up with Drones and Clones: How to Really Invest in Your Staff and Future Think of the future of your organization five, 10 or even 15 years down the line. Who’s in charge? Who’s paving the way? Really envision it for a moment. Are your new managers and executives following orders and sticking to Standard Operating Procedure? Or are they taking risks, pushing boundaries, discovering new revenue streams and opening up all kinds of new potential? Hopefully, you’re dreaming big and believing tremendous things are in store. The reality is, you do have the potential to develop your leaders to actually transform the growth path of your firm, but you can’t just stick to the norm. You have to be willing to mix it up within your organization. You have to help the right people develop in the right ways to create future managers – managers who won’t be afraid to be creative.

by Dennis Gros, founder and president, Gros Executive Recruiters Dennis Gros is the founder and president of Gros Executive Recruiters. Building on a decade of business-to-business sales, networking and marketing, Gros founded the company in 1989. Since that time, the firm has placed an aggregate of more than $49 million in new employee starting salaries, solely in the marketplace of plastics and packaging. For more information, visit www.grosrecruiters.com.

Traditional organizational development often backfires. For too long, company leaders have applied organizational development practices prioritizing a need for employees to align directly with the vision of the organization and its leaders. In an attempt to make sure everyone understands the collective goal of the company, employees and future leaders fall into the same hive mind, mirroring each other's behaviors, communication and even ideas. The “vision” of the organization can become a cage, preventing individuals from exploring their own perspectives and applying their own personal experience and education to the business and industry. In plastics, this is a common trap, especially within large companies. Here’s where good intentions can go wrong. Plastics employees at large firms are typically saturated in seemingly endless training. These training modules have been standardized to accommodate a large staff and usually appeal to the lowest common denominator to ensure that even the least experienced employees understand. In doing so, the truly remarkable future leaders are mired in a never-ending elementary education when they could benefit much more from something more substantial.

30 | plastics business • spring 2016


These companies usually keep records on individual progress and feel they are developing leaders correctly by promoting the winners (and terminating the losers, if necessary) to grow their future management team. Instead, they are simply creating a company culture that’s completely pedigree. They are accidentally churning out drones and clones who – yes – definitely understand the company and each other, but only because they have been indoctrinated. Unfortunately, these practices can lead to managers who act and think just like the managers above them.

The “vision” of the organization can become a cage, preventing individuals from exploring their own perspectives and applying their own personal experience and education to the business and industry.

In larger companies, when business is good, staff numbers go up. So do corporate information silos. The result can be more people performing tightly defined jobs, but no unique challenges. And, that leaves time for – you guessed it – more corporate training.

who engaged in them! In this environment, employees feel empowered to contribute. The dialogue around the office tends to be much more open, and ideas (even the radical ones) are more likely to be heard and discussed with all levels of staff.

Diverse development leads to wild, new growth. On the contrary, at smaller plastics companies, almost everyone competes in the trenches every day. Accomplishments – and mistakes – become obvious to everyone, especially the person

The employees who do make great contributions feel encouraged when they see their ideas being put to work and bringing in page 32 u

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strategies t page 31 results, which leads them to stretch even further. An environment of open communication tends to breed leadership skills. These women and men often rise to middle management supervisory roles and executive roles organically, as they become personally invested in the pursuit of growth and profitability. The company culture at these smaller firms becomes a melting pot of perspectives and strengths as the collective mission naturally becomes innovation and growth. Then, by augmenting the team with some outside hires (some of whom were trained by the big companies described earlier), the melting pot continues to expand, as does revenue. Here, organizational development prevails when managers choose to highlight and accommodate each individual’s personality and strengths instead of unintentionally pigeonholing each into like-minded teams, where the individual’s unique perspective is lost. As a manager, how can you ensure you’re developing your organization into creative growth instead of driving toward a dead end? Find the right hire for the right job. Ensure you are hiring the right people from the get-go. Take a look at your typical interview questions and overall process. Audit what you have and reframe the hiring process to prioritize searching for individuals who are self-­starters, always have a desire to learn, can provide a few bold ideas on the fly and confidently express their opinions.

1

By avoiding candidates who jump into the “yes-­man” role right away or take a timid approach to sharing their perspectives, you are working toward building a team of unique individuals who are more likely to embrace new ideas and collaborate. Remember to pay close attention to your overall staff. Look for hires who bring something new and different to the team. Develop differently. Don’t just crank out the same corporate training for every employee and call it a day. Invest deeply in each of your employees. Believe each of your employees can be a tremendous leader and asset for your company. Chances are, the extra attention and care will serve as a self­-fulfilling prophecy as you help guide individuals into upper level roles with more responsibility.

2

Always consider each employee’s strengths and ideas as you help develop each for the right role. Communicate closely with each employee. Learning more about personal growth goals can help you place individuals in the right management positions, which also will make them more likely to stay with your company and continue to produce new ideas for you.

32 | plastics business • spring 2016

Create a culture of possibility. Of course it is important to create goals for your organization, but never let them define your culture. Let your culture define the mission. The last thing you want is to build a culture that closes more doors than it opens. Encourage employees to shape the company culture in their own ways and integrate them through the organization.

3

By providing direct input, employees become much more invested. This can lead to an amazing snowball effect – the more employees who help shape your culture, the more employees who develop the morale, belief and pride necessary to become excellent managers. Now, for all non­managers: First, good for you: By reading a magazine devoted to your industry, you already are investing in yourself and your future management potential. Second, as an employee on the front line, how can you continue to work with the leadership of your company to ensure your development is leading toward proper management material? Take a look at these three action items again, but from your perspective. Find the right job. Every job brings its fair share of challenges, so don’t use that as an excuse to quit just because it was a rough Monday last week. Instead, really think about what draws you to plastics. What do you do better than most and in what role can you continue to pursue that best?

1

Be unique. Don’t stop being curious. Continue to develop your skills and strengths, and embrace the way you look at a problem and find a solution. Be open to learning from anyone and everyone around you, and don’t hesitate to try something new.

2

Take pride in your organization. Make the place you work everything you dream it could be. Believing in your work and your company can do wonders for you in actual productivity and output, as well as for your employer. Even if you are not in a formal leadership role at the moment, you are a part of a team and can help transform it into something truly great. n

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association

MAPP Launches Inaugural Terms and Conditions Survey As part of a continuous process to offer MAPP members industry-specific information and benchmarks, MAPP developed and launched its newest survey: Terms and Conditions.

additional cost-savings opportunities with two key sponsors: Aurora Plastics and Plante Moran.

Purpose: The survey and subsequent report will serve as a means to collect and benchmark information regarding customer concentration and terms of sale to large customers in the plastics manufacturing industry.

Aurora Plastics Inc. is a leading manufacturer of high-quality exterior weatherable rigid PVC, interior-grade rigid PVC, cellular PVC foam (AuroraLite™), injection molding (including PVC fitting compound) and extrusion compounds, and PVC/acrylic alloy cap stock (AuroraShield™), as well as custom and tolled compounds in both powder and pellet form.

The survey, which was sent to more than 300 plastics industry executives, is the first of its kind for plastic industry-specific terms and conditions benchmarking. The responses from this survey will be collected and analyzed by MAPP’s executive team, and a report consisting of aggregated data will be available in mid-May on the MAPP website.

Plante Moran is the nation’s 14th largest certified public accounting and business advisory firm, offering clients financial, human capital, operations improvement, strategic planning and wealth management services.

Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit The Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit will be June 9-10 in Columbus, Ohio. The EHS Summit is designed to share best leadership and safety practices with industry professionals hoping to achieve world-class EHS performance within their companies. Attendees’ experience will center on best practices in environment, health and safety, along with becoming a better leader. This year’s summit will showcase keynote speakers and safety-focused breakout sessions, which could include topics such as safety and risk management; compliance and safety technology; evacuation plans; SDS labels; OSHA Slips, Trips and Falls (Walking and Working Surfaces); near misses; and workplace violence training (presentation from the former assistant director of the FBI).

To find out more about the cost-reduction programs all MAPP corporate sponsors are offering exclusively to MAPP members, visit the Cost Reduction Programs page on www. mappinc.com.

The EHS Summit promises to provide high-level EHS professionals with implementable ideas, which can be taken back to their facilities to immediately improve their operations and achieve world-class safety. To register, visit www.mappinc.com.

MAPP Welcomes New Members n  Ironwood Industries, Inc., Libertyville, Illinois n  Exide Technologies, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania n  Precision Southeast, Inc., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina n  Plastic Products Co., Inc., Lindstrom, Minnesota n  Hayward Industries, Clemmons, North Carolina n  Press-Seal Gasket Corp., Fort Wayne, Indiana n  Meadowburke, Canby, Oregon n  Koller Craft South, Gadsden, Alabama n  Mars Petcare, Spring Hill, Tennessee

MAPP Offers Additional ROI Opportunities Driven to continually offer its membership opportunities for both business and professional growth and development, alongside cost-saving programs, MAPP has developed

34 | plastics business • spring 2016


Members Share Employee Training and Development Strategies In an effort to leverage the mutual knowledge of MAPP’s 350+ members, MAPP President Ben Harp published a call to action in the last issue of Plastics Business. Knowing the majority of plastics processing companies share the same struggle in regard to recruiting, training and engaging qualified, skilled and dedicated employees, he asked that MAPP members openly share their knowledge and experience.

latest additions to the MAPP staff: Ashley Turrell and Shelby Trusty.

Responding to the call to action, individuals in the MAPP network shared the training strategies that have worked well – and, those that have not. The results of this call to action are being compiled into a simple, yet thorough, document, which will be shared on the MAPP website in May. Watch for this document to find new ideas and energy that can be implemented into your company’s training process.

Shelby Trusty is MAPP’s newest organizational support coordinator, functioning as the office manager, liaison and adviser to MAPP’s leadership team. This new role enhances customer service within the MAPP organization. Before joining the MAPP staff, Trusty gained association management experience by managing operations for the Indiana Beverage Licensing Association. n

Ashley Turrell joined the MAPP staff as the organizational support specialist in January. Turrell’s role will allow for deeper analysis of data, trends and reporting. Prior to joining the MAPP team, Turrell had extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, working with the Office of Veterans Affairs and a local charter school network.

MAPP Staff Expands As MAPP’s membership continues to grow and develop, so does the team at MAPP. MAPP is proud to announce the two

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marketing

Better Marketing with Video by Todd Schuett, owner, Creative Technology Corp.

Videos are the hottest thing on the internet today. There is a reason YouTube is the second-highest trafficked site on the internet (after Google). Nothing tells a story – your story – like a video. A video doesn’t have to go “viral” to do wonders for your business. Forrester Research Group says, “Video is 53 times more likely than text pages to appear on the first page of a search engine.” People love to view video. In a recent conversation, a client told me, “If you put a video in an email, I am watching it.” In fact, if you have a limited marketing budget, a video is a good place to start. Most in our industry are quick to assert that if they can get a prospect to pay them a visit, they will most likely close an order and start doing business. The goal with a video is to show your company in such a way that the viewer will want to know more about who you are and what you can do for them. It should leave the viewer feeling as if they’ve found the solution to their problems: “Wow! Why would we look anywhere else?” A video tour may not replace an on-site visit, yet in today’s global marketplace, video can virtually transport your prospect to your facility, no matter where they’re located. Whether presented online or by your sales specialists, video can open new opportunities to help your business grow. Key concepts for video success Not all videos are created equal. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of video marketing. Know your purpose. In the world of custom manufactured goods, you won’t get your first order over the phone or online. The idea of a virtual tour is to get your prospect to ask for more information and start a dialog. This can only happen if you can impress them with how special your company is. Keep it short. It’s better to have a short video and get the viewer to watch the whole thing than to have a long video and have the viewer move on before getting to the close. Most marketing videos should be around two and a half minutes in length or shorter, if possible. Resist the temptation to tell too much. You know how busy you are, and your prospects are just as busy. It’s always tempting to add details about what you do, but it’s more important to ensure that the viewer watches the whole video. Craft your message carefully. Make every word and image count. Say what you want to say as concisely as possible. Plan

38 | plastics business • spring 2016

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your message and images to show your strengths. Establish the visual flow to convey a sound workflow and show off the organized layout.

Sales visits are actually a great place to use your video. Salespeople are generally inclined to talk with the client as the expert, yet a video provides the opportunity to show off your facility and capabilities.

Make it pop! The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is no less valid today in video. The benefit of combining words and visuals, either still or motion pictures, can be truly compelling. Clear, bright visuals that jump off the screen can help capture and keep the viewer’s attention.

Tradeshows and technical conferences offer great places for your video showing. Custom tradeshow loops without voiceover can be created to leverage on-screen words and graphics. In this way, your message avoids competing with the sound or noise in neighboring booths – often a losing battle.

Make it move. Today’s action-packed adventure films set a standard to which we all must aspire, even in marketing media. Avoid dwelling on any image or video sequence too long. Quick, short snippets have the best value in keeping your viewers’ interest and leaving them wanting more.

Video – moving pictures move people Shortly after their introduction, movies were referred to as “moving pictures.” I still like to think of videos as “moving pictures,” not so much for the motion of the imagery, but rather for their ability to move the viewer. Video can help your prospects see what you do, how you do it and your passion for what you do. Combining the right imagery, words and even the background music, video can go beyond just moving pictures to moving your audience. Put video to work for your company. n

Only claim what you can live with. While it’s critical to show your best face in a video, it is equally important to accurately portray yourself. Knowing that a prospect will develop expectations from your video, only portray capabilities on which you can deliver. Narrative or interview? Having an owner or industry expert who is a good speaker talk on video can be compelling. It also can leave the viewer cold if the speaker looks uneasy or uncomfortable. Using a narrative style can be a great alternative. The narrator’s vocal characteristics can be selected to help portray the image you want. Call to action. As with all marketing messages, be sure to ask your viewers to respond. If they’ve taken the time to watch your video, push them to the next step to start doing business. Ask them to get in contact with you and give them your phone number and email address. Video uses Many first-time clients ask where and how to use video. The simple answer is “everywhere.” Your website is your 24/7 marketing presence. The first and most important place to show video is in a conspicuous place on the website. Make sure everyone sees it.

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solutions

Impact of Material Specification on Operational Efficiency By Stacy Shelly, regional commercial director, Midwest, AMCO Polymers Stacy Shelly is regional commercial director-marketing director for Amco Polymers. He is a plastics expert with more than 25 years of experience in the areas of engineering resins, styrenicsbased products and resin distribution. Amco Polymers is a family-owned business with a product portfolio that provides its customers with the highest quality products from industry-leading suppliers. Industry knowledge, integrity and dependability create unmatched value in the distribution marketplace. For more information, call 800.262.6685 or visit www.amcopolymers.com.

Plastics processors are driving efficiencies throughout their operations by ensuring equipment is up to date, optimizing facility costs and gaining a deep understanding of job scheduling. Resin pricing has received attention, too, with conversation centering around price stabilization and guarantees. However, the simple of act of qualifying more than one resin for each application could be one of the biggest cost savers in any processing operation. Some are choosing to gamble that one resin will be available without supply interruption for the life of a part. However, that gamble is increasingly risky. Reasons for resin supply disruptions A prime reason for resin availability uncertainty centers around aging North American resin-producing plants. Plant outages are happening more frequently today than even five years ago, due to aging facilities and infrastructure. Costs to build a chemical or plastics facility in the US are astronomical, and a refinery hasn’t been built in the US since the 1970s. When additional capacity is needed, plant expansions are the norm – with many of the facilities originally constructed in the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s. Until recently, pricing margins didn’t allow companies to justify the cost of construction for a new plant. However, prices have continued to climb – particularly for polypropylene – and some new facility announcements have been made. In the meantime, North America had to become an importer as Asian plants – built to support the boom in China – are able to meet resin needs. page 42 u

40 | plastics business • spring 2016


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solutions t page 40 A second reason for resin disruption is that resin companies are searching for the same efficiencies in production that processors have implemented. Resin producers are consolidating and discontinuing product lines on a regular basis – particularly those that are more difficult to make. This leads to longer manufacturing production wheels/cycle times for all resins produced by that supplier. For example, a resin plant might make 35 products, often transitioning from the production of one product to the next on a set cycle to maximize efficiencies. However, the number of products causes a higher number of transitions spread out over a longer period of time with smaller amounts of the products made. If some of those products can be removed, and the cycle time is shortened, the plant increases its efficiency and increases the amount of product it can produce. Standard lead times for resin products today can go out as far as 24 weeks or more – unheard of 10 years ago – but it goes back to the production cycle. Companies may only have a product scheduled to be made every 20 weeks, and if a processor needs to order and catches the wrong point of the manufacturing cycle, 450+ transactions totaling $18 billion closed in 5 years

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it could cause production delays. Stocking distributors can help alleviate the longer production cycle after the initial startup of the program. A third reason for resin supply disruption? Mother Nature. Weather events, from flooding to snowstorms, cause supply disruptions. Houston’s recent flooding is an example, since a major portion of polypropylene and polyethylene plants are in the Houston area. Pick any year: There’s always a product that is severely affected by weather, and if the truck drivers or rail cars can’t make it from Point A to Point B, neither does the resin needed for a production job. A fourth reason for resin supply chain problems: Transportation issues have increased significantly over the last 10 years. Every major freight company is deeply concerned about a shortage of drivers across all of North America. The rail industry also has been affected. The average lead time for a rail car of plastic has increased from two weeks to three weeks in recent years, in part due to the aging North American railroad infrastructure. Bridges are being shut down across the country because of safety concerns, which means rerouting railcars and lengthening – in some cases, significantly – the time and cost required for delivery. Why specify and qualify more than one resin for an application? Qualifying multiple resins from the outset for every application always is the best standard practice, but not often done due to time constraints or immediate costs concerns. Many molders recognize the importance of having multiple resin options approved in an application from the very beginning. To show their customers how important it is, some molders will charge their customers an additional fee for not having multiple resins approved up front, knowing the eventual costs that they (the molder) will incur when a supply chain interruption takes place. Costs associated with approving replacement resins after an application has been qualified for commercial use are much higher than if multiple materials are approved during the initial consent process. Once a material has been specified for an application, the parts created in that material must be tested to ensure production standards and characteristics are met. If the initial material becomes unavailable and a new material must be tested, mold changeovers and samples – often charged by the hour – are performed. If the part is a high-performance or medical part, field testing could stretch for six to 12 months – or longer – before approval is given.

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When possible, it’s recommended to qualify a domestic resin, an imported resin and a generic grade resin for every application for


non-critical applications. For more critical applications, a domestic and imported resin, or multiple domestic resin approvals, are recommended.

Resin companies are searching for the same efficiencies in production that processors have implemented. Resin producers are consolidating and discontinuing product lines on a regular basis.

Why qualify an imported material? Most plants outside of North America have newer technology and produce cleaner products at more competitive prices. This can be technology-related or resin feedstock-related, but either way we live in a global market. Availability and pricing always are better somewhere in the world. Distributors can decrease the lead times associated with imported materials, and improving exchange rates and falling US tariffs also are making imported resins more attractive. North American molders have to compete globally.

be the best choice. It makes sense to have options, whether those options are domestic or international.

Why qualify a distributor’s generic prime grades of resin? Generally, availability is better for generic prime resins. Distributors keep generic prime resins in stock and position these resins to sell large volumes. These resins are guaranteed to meet two primary physical characteristics, but the supplier could vary. Pricing can be more attractive due to the higher volumes that are sold, and pricing mirrors the changing market conditions.

But, most importantly, generic prime products, by nature, open up the supply chain if one producer is having a manufacturing

An imported material could provide greater efficiencies or be a better fit for the application – or a domestic material could

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solutions t page 43 interruption. Most distributors will test and approve multiple producers’ resins that meet the generic prime specification. What does this mean to the molder? In normal supply situations, one primary producer’s resin is sourced to supply a specific generic product, keeping the processing setups very consistent. However, in times of material tightness due to supply disruptions, the fact that other producer materials have been approved to meet that generic grade’s specification allows material substitution without the molder or OEM experiencing the cost of qualifying another resin and the time it takes to work through that process. Having the ability to switch between supply options will protect a molder from supply chain disruptions and keep the molder globally competitive. Any time more than one resin can be approved for an application, it is the best supply chain insurance policy a molder and OEM can have. Conclusion It happens more often than anyone wants to admit: An application only has one material approved, and the material producer decides to eliminate or consolidate that grade with minimal notice to the market. The OEM needs more than a

year to approve another material in the application, so someone needs to purchase and stockpile that resin and incur the costs associated. Even simple requalification costs are higher after a product has become commercial, and in this case, they are even greater due to the timeline pressures. Everyone loses. Cost reduction and production efficiency are the goals – for the molder, the OEM and the resin producer. That’s why resin grades are disappearing. To avoid supply chain disruption, it’s important to take steps at the very beginning of a new customer relationship to qualify more than one grade of resin. It protects everyone in the supply chain. In a perfect world, every material application would have three resins approved: a North American-produced resin, an imported resin and a distributors’ generic prime resin. This allows the molder the maximum opportunity to keep the supply chain full and at the most competitive prices. At the very least, two resins should be approved, even if they are both from North America. This is a huge step in the right direction. n

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booklist

Tackling Competition in a Global Market Selections offered by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

Knowing we’re operating in a global market and understanding the implications of that market are two different things. Whether working with overseas suppliers, dealing with competition from China or Mexico, or looking to expand your own operations to another country, an international knowledge base is a foundational necessity. Following are four books that offer perspectives on global trade, carving out competitive space and recognizing cultural characteristics that may impact business practices. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of World Trade Author: Pietra Rivoli Release Date: Nov. 24, 2014 (2nd edition) The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a US storefront before arriving at the used clothing market in Africa, the book uncovers the political and economic forces at work in the global economy. Along the way, this fascinating exploration addresses a wealth of compelling questions about politics, trade, economics, ethics and the impact of history on today's business landscape. The new printing of the second edition includes a revised preface and a new epilogue with updates through 2014 on the people, industries and policies related to the T-shirt's life story. The China Factor: Leveraging Emerging Business Strategies to Compete, Grow and Win in the New Global Economy Author: Amy Karam Release Date: June 13, 2016 Editor’s Note: Reviews were not available at the time of press as the book had not yet been released. When it comes to globalization, the rules have changed: What once was nice-to-know now is need-to-know, and this book lays it out in a clear, no-nonsense style. Based on customers in over 50 countries, you will learn why a premium product, though domestically successful, may not be well received in foreign markets, and you’ll discover the critical factors that contribute to success in both established and emerging markets. Disruptive

46 | plastics business • spring 2016

competitors are transformed from threats to examples as you learn to recognize opportunities for re-evaluation, and shift your strategy to stay ahead of the curve. The China Factor equips Western businesses with a practical framework for competing successfully in today’s ever-changing global markets. Written by a 20-year expert in competitive strategy and global market expansion, this book is packed with insights gained through first-hand experience leading competitive programs at a high-tech multinational corporation and customers across 50 countries. Karam has worked with companies including Cisco, Apple and CapitalOne, as well as start-ups, and is a corporate instructor of Stanford courses, as well as her own. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business Author: Erin Meyer Release Date: May 27, 2014 Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. Renowned expert Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain where people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together. When you have Americans who precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, Israelis and Germans who get straight to the point (“your presentation was simply awful”); Latin Americans and Asians who are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians who think the best boss is just one of the crowd – the result can be, well, sometimes interesting, even funny, but often disastrous. Even with English as a global language, it’s easy to fall into cultural traps that endanger careers and sink deals when, say,


a Brazilian manager tries to fathom how his Chinese suppliers really get things done, or an American team leader tries to get a handle on the intra-team dynamics between his Russian and Indian team members. In The Culture Map, Erin Meyer provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business. She combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice for succeeding in a global world. Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant Authors: W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne Release Date: Jan. 20, 2015 (Expanded Edition); Feb. 3, 2005 (Original)

This global bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, challenges everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Now updated with fresh content from the authors, Blue Ocean Strategy argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” – untapped new market spaces ripe for growth. Blue Ocean Strategy presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and outlines principles and tools any organization can use to create and capture their own blue oceans. n Book summaries provided by the publishing entity.

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management

Generating Excitement in a Boring Economy by Robert Fry, Robert Fry Economics LLC

I have been writing a monthly newsletter on the economy for more than 21 years. For most of those years, I had no problem coming up with a topic each month. That has changed in the last few years. There are only so many ways to say “disappointingly slow,” which is how I would characterize the US economy since mid-2010. I’ve tried to spice things up by writing about more “exciting” topics, like the decline in oil prices or the slowdown in China. Other times, I’ve put on my political-economy hat and written about economic policy and why growth was disappointingly slow. But, for an economist who considers himself a businesscycle analyst, persistently slow growth, without booms and busts, is boring. For several years, I have ended my presentations on the economic outlook with a PowerPoint slide that says “The real issue is slow long-term growth, not recession,” and I’ve urged my audiences and my profession to focus on long-term growth in their businesses and the overall economy rather than on quarterly earnings reports and cyclical fluctuations in the economy. Given the power of compound growth, taking actions to boost a long-term growth rate from, say, 2 percent to 2.5 percent will accomplish much more than hitting a quarterly earnings target or forecasting/avoiding the next recession or bear market. Companies should be focused on consistent research and investment programs that produce long-term growth, not on panic-driven actions to hit quarterly earnings targets. My fellow economists and the policymakers they advise should be focused on structural reforms (tax reform, regulatory simplification, investment in infrastructure) – not on countercyclical fiscal and monetary policies. Inflation? Deflation? Whatever. Some economic analysts have not been content to describe the economy in all its boring reality and don’t appreciate the cumulative impact of boosting growth from 2 percent to 2.5 percent. Instead, they’ve stoked fears that economic conditions are much worse than they really are. For years, inflation hawks have claimed the monetary policies pursued by the Federal Reserve and other central banks would cause inflation to spiral out of control. Meanwhile, central bankers and inflation doves have lived in constant fear of deflation. The reality? Inflation, as measured by the 12-month percent change in the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, excluding food and energy, has been in the 1.3-1.7 percent range for 38 straight months. That isn’t “price stability” – price stability means zero inflation – but it certainly isn’t hyperinflation or deflation either, and it should cause us to question the credibility of both inflation-phobes and deflation-phobes. Many analysts also have been talking about a “manufacturing recession” or “industrial recession” lately, and some even think

48 | plastics business • spring 2016

the overall economy is falling into a recession. Total industrial production was indeed down 1 percent year-over-year in February, but this decline was due entirely to a 9.9 percent decline in mining production caused by the decline in oil and gas prices and a 9.3 percent decline in utility production caused by mild weather. Handpicking the numbers Industrial production in US manufacturing fell all of 0.4 percent from July 2015 to December 2015, but was up 1.8 percent year-over-year in February after two monthly increases pushed it to a new post-recession high (see line graph). Yearover-year growth hasn’t been in negative territory since 2009 and hasn’t been above 4.3 percent since early 2011. Year-overyear growth in real Gross Domestic Product has remained in an even narrower range; it has been between 0.9 percent and 2.9 percent since 2010. Pessimists handpick their starting and ending points to show the housing recovery has stalled, but a longer-term view that looks past monthly fluctuations caused by weather or regulatory changes shows the slow recovery in


housing starts and home sales remains intact. Single-family housing starts rose in February to their highest seasonally adjusted annual rate since 2007. There are several reasons why people think the economy is worse than it is and why they want to convince others that it is worse than it is. Business leaders think the economy is worse than it is because they focus on nominal (dollar) magnitudes that depend on volumes and prices rather than on real (inflation-adjusted, constant-dollar) magnitudes that depend only on volumes. Real growth is disappointingly slow, but only slightly below historical norms. Because of low inflation, especially for goods, nominal growth is at rates that before 2007 were only associated with recessions. Businesses would be happier with stronger nominal growth even if that growth were solely the result of faster price increases. Economists, on the other hand, know that revenue growth due to price increases is zero-sum growth; it makes sellers better off, but makes buyers worse off. Real growth, due to volume increases, is positive-sum growth. Four (wrong) viewpoints on the US economy There are at least four groups of people who want to convince others that the economy is worse than it really is. Republicans want people to think the economy is bad because the incumbent president is a Democrat, and Republicans believe a weak economy will help the Republican presidential candidate in November. Most Democrats want people to believe the economy is weak because they want to boost government spending, and they think a weak economy bolsters the case for more spending. (Among the major presidential candidates, only Hillary Clinton has any incentive at all to say anything good about the economy, and that incentive is apparently very weak.) Many investors, plus businesses that benefit from low interest rates, want to convince the Federal Reserve that the economy is weak so they’ll keep interest rates lower for longer. Finally, the news media know that bad news is always better for television ratings and newspaper circulation than is good news. The public accepts all of this negativity because, as Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter said, “Pessimistic visions about almost anything always strike the public as more erudite than optimistic ones.” It’s pretty sad that I get called an optimist for not forecasting a recession even though I don’t have US GDP growth rising above 3 percent, despite low oil prices. The US economy isn’t the only major economy that is being mischaracterized as much weaker than it really is. The problem is even bigger in Europe. Because of unrealistic expectations for potential growth and an excessive concern about deflation, the European Central Bank has panicked and driven interest

rates into negative territory. (The ECB probably assumed negative rates would weaken the Euro and make European manufacturers more competitive. Counterintuitively, the Euro has strengthened.) I do not claim that US and European economies are doing well. Growth remains disappointingly slow and will without tax and regulatory reform. But, exaggerated fears of deflation and irresponsible references to an “industrial recession” are not only unjustified, they’re harmful. By discouraging investment and (to a lesser extent) consumer spending and home sales, those fears cause growth to be slower than it otherwise would be. Better to accept boring than to hurt the economy by generating unjustified excitement. n Copyright © 2016 Robert Fry Economics LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Robert Fry writes monthly on the global economy, with emphasis on US manufacturing. Subscribers receive every issue as soon as it is published. Contact RobertFryEconomics@gmail.com.

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www.mappinc.com 50 | plastics business • spring 2016


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Plastics Business - Spring 2016  

Plastics Business - Spring 2016