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Plastics Business Winter 2017

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

3D Printing Takes a New Shape Plastics Industry Outlook Applying Industry 4.0 Preventing Mold Stops

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


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Contents

Winter 2017

industry

solutions

20

8

features

8

solutions Material Development for 3D Printing by Brittany Willes, contributing editor, Plastics Business 3D Printing Takes On a New Shape by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

14 17 20 22 28

training room Preventing Unscheduled Mold Stops by Steve Johnson, operations manager, ToolingDocs economic corner A First Economic Look at the Trump Administration by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence industry 2017 Plastics Industry Outlook: Optimistic and Automated by Ashley Turrell Burleson, operations support specialist, MAPP, Inc. management 21st Century Leadership Intelligence by Magi Graziano, CEO, Conscious HiringÂŽ and Development marketing Augmented Reality: Catch Customers, Not Pokemon by Linda Mallwitz, marketing director, Vive Cover photo courtesy of Continuous Composites

4 | plastics business • winter 2017


34

strategies Applying the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 in the Plastics Sector by Steve Bieszczat, chief marketing officer, IQMS

42 44 48

focus People are Not Plastics: Four Challenges Facing the Industry by Darryl Warren, president, D. Gene Alliance

strategies

34

view from 30 Focus on Lead Times: Using QRM to Get Ahead by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business booklist Telling Your Story

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

association................................. 32

news.......................................... 24

advertisers................................. 50

view from 30

44

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 phone 317.913.2440 • fax 317.913.2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Vice President Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Secretary Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc.

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

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

Editor in Chief Jeff Peterson

Advertising/Sales Janet Dunnichay

Managing Editor Dianna Brodine Art Director Becky Arensdorf

Contributing Editors Nancy Cates Brittany Willes Lara Copeland

Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


VIEWPOINT

They are coming to get you – from the outside and the inside! How many people would like to begin a Monday morning with a cup of coffee and a message on your computer screen that reads like this? “Your Personal Information Files are Encrypted.” “All your documents, photos, databases, office projects and other important files have been encrypted with the strongest encryption algorithm and unique key. All original files have been overwritten, and recovery tools and software will not help. Private key is stored on a server, and nobody can decrypt your files until you pay this amount… You have 48 hours for payment to be received.” Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, but the situation – one example of a phishing scam – is becoming more common for public, private and small to mid-sized businesses. It can cost anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover. New data from Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report shows small businesses, described as those with fewer than 250 employees, are becoming larger targets for phishers. In fact, last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses 43 percent of the time, which is nearly a three-fold increase since 2011. As a recent example, the county government of Madison County, Indiana, suffered a widespread ransomware attack that shut down virtually all county services in November. Interestingly, the county government leadership actually decided to pay the ransom demanded by the swindlers running the malware attack. Over the last several months, an increasing number of MAPP member executives have communicated issues relating to cyberattacks and hacking. It is extremely important for company leaders to understand this malicious trend and take immediate steps to protect personal and company information technology and banking systems. Most of all, I feel it is critical to understand that every company is vulnerable. No matter what steps you have taken to secure your operation, threat vectors are evolving at an alarming rate. As a small example of this, in early January, a MAPP member company was infected with the Crypto-ransom virus. The company’s firewall stopped the attack, but during a system restore process, the virus actually made its way into the backup systems and was advanced enough to encrypt all of the backup files. Although there are many things that business executives should do to avert outsiders from disrupting business operations, the first is

6 | plastics business • winter 2017

to treat the information technology (IT) department as the most important operation in the company. Developing an IT strategy and ensuring its implementation should be as common as developing production, human resources, sales and marketing strategies. This may be a surprise, but most of the cyber security issues that happen are the result of someone inside the company. Although it’s not something leaders want to think about, the hard truth is that “55 percent of all cyberattacks come from inside the organization; 31.5 percent are done by malicious employees and 23.5 percent are done by company insiders who mistakenly leave the company vulnerable to an attack,” according to the online publication Small Business Trends. To reduce these inside attacks, it is strongly recommended that companies have strict policies in place that emphasize penalties for intentional misconduct and ensure operating rules are in place to eliminate vulnerabilities caused by human error.

Over the last several months, an increasing number of MAPP member executives have communicated issues relating to cyberattacks and hacking. To help members better understand best practices in warding off malicious attacks, MAPP will conduct an all-encompassing information technology study to provide benchmarks and best practices to member executives. Until then, remember that prevention is key to ensuring optimum protection against threats; in this case, a good defense is the best offense.

Executive Director, MAPP


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SOLUTIONS

Material Development for 3D Printing In the past few years, injection molders have gone from using 3D printers almost exclusively to create prototypes to exploring larger scale production opportunities for complex parts. However, material developers haven’t always kept up with industry changes. Plastics Business reached out to injection molders and material suppliers to discuss material development – specifically resin – for the ever expanding world of 3D printing: Mike Idacavage, vice president of business development for Colorado Photopolymer Solutions; Matt Hlavin, president, Thogus Products and its sister company rp+m; and Bob Holbrook, sales and marketing manager, and Ed Graham, engineering manager, ProtoCam. Each was asked for his individual perspectives and experiences regarding material development for 3D printing.

Q

What concerns do plastics molders have about the resin availability for 3D printers, especially as it concerns more precise applications, such as those for the medical industry?

Idacavage: From a liquid resin material supplier perspective, the concerns that I hear from plastic manufacturers can be bucketed into several categories. The first would deal with achieving physical properties that match or exceed current plastic specifications. The second area of concern involves the safety and handling of the resin materials, especially for medical and electronic applications. Once again, this issue seems to be more of a concern for liquid resin suppliers. Finally, the issue of cost does come up. However, compared to the first two concerns, this tends to be a lower priority as the plastics manufacturers are primarily focused on making unique and custom parts that meet target specifications as the highest priority.

by Brittany Willes, contributing editor, Plastics Business

Hlavin: From an injection molding standpoint, I do not feel that molders, in general, are overly concerned about resin availability for 3D printers, as the molding community has not implemented additive manufacturing equipment into their business model for production to this point. From my experience, most molders have yet to adopt 3D printing into their businesses. As for the additive industry, materials are one of the most significant factors holding the technology back from becoming a production process. Graham: Being a former plastic molder, I’ve paid close attention to the inroads being made in resins for 3D printers because we’re now printing a lot of high-heat, chemical-resistant materials. Any application that can now be done with molding, I would say we’re only a few years away from being able to do through 3D printing. For instance, we already have 3D-printed plastics classified as USP Class VI certified materials. When you start heading into that medical sector, there are materials available through 3D printing that meet some of the requirements. Holbrook: One unique thing coming on the horizon is that it’s not so much the materials themselves but what can be incorporated within the material. For instance, Hewlett-Packard

8 | plastics business • winter 2017


technology is looking at having barcodes printed directly within the part and integrating circuit boards within printed parts, which offers a lot of options you just can’t do with traditional means through injection molding. This could really shake things up, especially when we’re talking about industries like aerospace where there are certification and traceability requirements for parts and products. If we’re able to print a part that is coming off the machine with some type of traceability impregnated within the part itself, that’s pretty impressive.

Q

What differences are there in resin materials developed for 3D printers rather than material developed for traditional injection molding machines?

Idacavage: Speaking as a liquid resin supplier, each resin formulation is fine-tuned for optimum performance in each manufacturer’s 3D printing/additive manufacturing machine. There is enough variation between each brand of 3D printing machine that uses liquid resin to require this customization. While one’s first impression might be that this complicates matters, it also allows each brand of 3D printer to be optimized for the best performance. There are general rules and strategies when developing liquid resin formulations so this is not as daunting a task as it might seem. Hlavin: Most of the traditional materials developed for 3D printers have been low-end materials specific to prototyping. They have been modified from the production injection molding materials in order to process in these systems. For production to become an output from 3D printers, the materials that have been spec'd into applications like auto, medical (FDA) and aerospace have to be qualified for these machines. The 3D printing companies have not focused on this to date. Graham: Right now, the 3D printing world is chasing the injection molding world in terms of material development. We’re printing with a lot of Nylon 11 and 12, while the injection molding world is primarily using Nylon 6. Naturally that will be the big push for 3D printing – to get involved and print with Nylon 6. The 3D printed world started out with liquid-based photopolymers – such as epoxybased or acrylic-based photopolymers – and now we’re getting into more traditional solids that can be made by fused deposition modeling (FDM) or by selective laser sintering (SLS), which are closer to molded products and will have physical properties similar to that of traditional injection molded products. Holbrook: The 3D printing world is continuing to improve and develop, and it’s really driven by what people want. The demand has been for Nylon 6, so that’s what we’re developing now. We’re already into high-engineered resins, such as polycarbonates and nylons, and that will only continue to grow.

The experience obtained in the early days of 3D printing has propelled development of new resins to meet the requirements of applications other than prototyping. – Mike Idacavage, Colorado Photopolymer Solutions

Q

How are resin companies starting to address the needs for 3D printing resins now that 3D printers are not being used simply for prototype creation? (i.e., production requirements)

Idacavage: Initially, the materials provided to 3D printing users were simple modifications to resins that were being used in a variety of other applications. While this worked well for most prototyping applications, it soon became apparent that higher performance resins were needed for new applications. The experience obtained in the early days of 3D printing has propelled development of new resins to meet the requirements of applications other than prototyping. As we gained experience in supplying resins to the early prototyping machines, we developed a much better understanding of the science and technology of exactly how the 3D printers were performing. In addition, our company developed the habit of listening closely to what was being reported in the press and engaging in conversations with printer manufacturers and end users. We are moving past the first-generation resins that worked well initially to higher performance resins that would be practical in day-to-day manufacturing environments. Hlavin: The material companies that have traditionally focused on injection molding materials have, in part, ignored this space due to the low volumes consumed in 3D printing. They now are waking up to the notion that, in order to win spec, they must have an offering available for 3D printers, which means there is a lot of testing and material formulation work to be done. The material companies also will need to develop support materials, and there are intellectual property considerations that still protect the 3D equipment companies. All those factors must be considered. Graham: As mentioned earlier, Hewlett-Packard has come out with a new technology, called Jet Fusion, that is going to be able to print almost, or equally, as fast as injection molding using nylons. page 10 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 9


SOLUTIONS t page 9 The company is already developing more resins every day, so we feel that with the launch of this equipment in 2017 more materials are going to come very quickly to add to the nylon capabilities. The industry is developing resins proactively for production vs. for prototype. 3D printing is definitely in the transitional phase right now of moving into production.

one or more commercial machines in our development laboratory. We also receive prototype 3D printers so that the resins would be commercial when the 3D printer is available for sale. In general, it is usually easier to modify the resins than it is to make large changes in the equipment, so the first option would be for us to optimize the resin to achieve the desired properties in the final 3D printed object.

Holbrook: On another note, designers are now designing products specifically for additive manufacturing, meaning they wouldn’t be able to be molded in their current configuration. As we move forward, there will be a lot of parts developed and manufactured through the additive process because it will be the only way to do it. With improved design, we’re going to have lighter-weight, stronger and more efficient parts. All of those things play into the additive world.

Graham: Right now, we have companies like BASF, a resin manufacturer, working with companies like EOS and other SOS companies. They’re working in tangent with one another, changing the machine parameters to achieve success with higher temperatures and more control. These groups are constantly working together, whether the materials are being developed inhouse by the 3D printing OEM or whether there is a sub party on the outside working in tangent with these companies to develop the parameters that are needed. The material suppliers and machine manufacturers have to work together to find out what is needed and how to get there. Not only will it make more materials available more quickly, it will also drive the cost down as well.

Q

How are the companies that develop 3D printing equipment assisting with the resin requirements?

Idacavage: We work very closely with equipment manufacturers to understand the limitations and opportunities that each 3D printer brings to the table. Our interaction with the equipment manufacturers ranges from face-to-face meetings to discuss the characteristics of the machines and resins to having

Holbrook: We are gearing up for 3D printed production, trying to take the onus off of just being a prototype producer and moving more to that of a production producer. We feel 3D printing will be the next industrial revolution. n

SHAPING THE FUTURE

PLASTICS At M. Holland, we see a bright future for plastics. And it’s our mission to help usher it in for you—our processor clients and valued suppliers. That’s why we’re transforming sourcing from complex to streamlined, delivering a host of material solutions, and providing unbiased advice. In everything we do, we’re your trusted partner.

Shape your future with us at mholland.com 10 | plastics business • winter 2017


3D Printing Takes on a New Shape by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business Even as resin development takes a step forward, 3D-printed objects still have inherent structural flaws because of the layered building steps of the traditional additive manufacturing process. A Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based company has patented a 3D printing technology that combines continuous fibers with UVcurable resins to 3D print composite parts without the restrictions and limitations of layering. The goal? The ability to 3D print a building or airplane, complete with functional electronics and other components. Adding strength and flexibility Ken Tyler is the chief technology officer for Continuous Composites and inventor of the foundational technology. Originally a craftsman in the boat industry, Tyler first used a stereolithography (SLA) machine at a rapid prototyping center at Boise State University and later witnessed a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine in action. “The first time I watched one of the FDM machines melting plastics together, I thought it was crude – there had to be a better way,” he explained. “In the boat industry, I was working with epoxies and fiberglass every day, and one day I had an epiphany that we should introduce these materials to the additive manufacturing industry.” Tyler Alvarado is Continuous Composites’ chief executive officer. “I’ve been partners with Ken for two years now,” he said. “When we met, Continuous Composites was a patent-pending technology with limited resources, and it made sense for the me and my business partners to invest in the technology and work with Ken to bring it to the next level. “There are three primary elements to our technology – materials (i.e., resins and fibers), software and hardware,” Alvarado continued. “Until recently, we had been using the same UVcurable resin for all the various fibers we’ve printed with – it was a one-size-fits-all approach. Now, we’re developing specialized UV-curable formulations for each fiber and/or application – fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc. Our technology has applications across many different industries, and those applications each have their own material requirements.” “Early on in the technology development, the resin had been the missing piece,” said Tyler. “None of the resins I could find would work with our process, so I attended a conference held by page 12 u

National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Airfoil made with Continuous Fiber Composite Permanent Additive Tooling. The printer made a transverse move through free space to print a continous non-intersecting serpentine deposition of 600TEX fiberglass and thermoset matrix. Photos courtesy of Continuous Composites.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 11


SOLUTIONS t page 11 RadTech International North America, where I met a great group of formulators. I had a breakthrough on the resin with them.” The Continuous Composites process uses low-viscosity, UVcurable thermoset resins as opposed to the thermoplastics that are used in conventional 3D printing. With thermoset resins, there is no heating and cooling process like there is with thermoplastics. The thermoset resin is extruded with the continuous fiber – ranging from carbon fiber and fiberglass to fiber optics and copper wire – to form a part with properties unavailable with traditional 3D printing. “Our thermoset resins are cured using UV light, which causes a molecular-level change, and the parts cure without porosity,” Alvarado said. “The UV curing process not only ‘sets’ the resin quickly, but also enables us to print into free space without supports.”

With thermoset resins, there is no heating and cooling process like there is with thermoplastics. The thermoset resin is extruded with the continuous fiber – ranging from carbon fiber and fiberglass to fiber optics and copper wire – to form a part with properties unavailable with traditional 3D printing. He continued, “This allows us to orient fibers in unique ways to reinforce stress points and not deposit materials where materials are not needed. Our technology opens up the realm of design and manufacturing capabilities. We no longer need molds and autoclaves to manufacture composite structures.” High material deposition also is a major benefit of the technology. Continuous Composites has the ability to not only print with single nozzles extruding a single tow of fiber, but also multichannel nozzles with multiple tows of fiber – often different types of fibers – simultaneously. “We’ve always had a plan to put our print head on a robot arm, but it’s currently on a gantry system,” said Alvarado. “We’re designing and manufacturing a 4th and 5th axis to act as a ‘wrist’ to angle and rotate the nozzle(s) which expands our motion control capabilities.” Taking the technology to industry “I filed the first patent for the technology in 2012, and it was granted in December of 2016,” said Tyler.

12 | plastics business • winter 2017

Method and apparatus for continuous composite three-dimensional printing Patent No. US 9511543 B2 Granted to Kenneth Tyler, Dec. 6, 2016 ABSTRACT: A method and apparatus for the additive manufacturing of three-dimensional objects are disclosed. Two or more materials are extruded simultaneously as a composite, with at least one material in liquid form and at least one material in a solid continuous strand completely encased within the liquid material. A means of curing the liquid material after extrusion hardens the composite. A part is constructed using a series of extruded composite paths. The strand material within the composite contains specific chemical, mechanical or electrical characteristics that instill the object with enhanced capabilities not possible with only one material.

“We are an IP-based company, and we are working to license our technology to companies from various industries,” Alvarado said. “We are having good discussions with major players from industries such as automotive, aerospace and construction.” In addition to the uniqueness of the fiber/resin combination, low energy usage and higher speeds are attracting attention. “We are focusing UV LEDs at the point of extrusion, so we’re able to apply really high energy – as high as 14 watts per cm2 – but we’re not consuming much power, because LEDs have low power usage,” Tyler explained. “And, we can cure up to 1,500 inches per minute.” Alvarado’s vision for the technology is impressive. “We’ve been able to showcase our technology’s ability to print strong composite parts unsupported in free space while embedding other functional materials, such as fiber-optics and copper wire. As our technology matures, we will be printing production-ready parts quickly, which will include sensors and other electronic components,” he said. “It’s not hard to see a future where the technology allows us to print an entire airplane.” As for Tyler, his goal for the technology leads back to where he first had the idea that sparked Continuous Composites. “One of these days, I’ll be able to 3D print my own boat,” he laughed. n


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TRAINING ROOM

Preventing Unscheduled Mold Stops by Steve Johnson, operations manager, ToolingDocs

Every molder’s goal is the same: to efficiently produce quality parts on time, regardless of the type of product molded. “Efficiently” was added to this mantra after the crash of 2007. In talking with thousands of employees from hundreds of molding companies all over the globe, one thing is certain – Unscheduled Mold Stops are the single most prevalent and costly reason for not achieving that goal.

Complete the corrective actions (in or out of the press) 6. Perform the corrective action (hopefully the repair technician does not run into any unforeseen issues).

It has been proven and written about time and again by maintenance managers, economists and financial administrators of manufacturing companies: Unscheduled Mold Stops cost companies five times as much to correct as Scheduled Stops.

Restart the Mold 8. After the mold is set, perform start-up procedures and shoot the mold.

Why are they so expensive to deal with? Consider all that happens when a press door is opened mid-run or when the press “red lights” and stops. Press is stopped (door opened, red light, power failure): 1. Data about the stop date, stop time, who stopped it, etc., must be entered (usually manually) in the log book or noted in the work order system. 2. The issue must be determined: What exactly is the problem? • Part quality issue (flash, burn, non-fill, etc.) • Mold function issue (water leak, runner hanging up, broken tooling, etc.) • Press issue (Press preventative maintenance, oil leak, material problem, etc.) 3. Once the issue is known, a preliminary decision must be made concerning how long the mold can sit idle while determining a corrective action plan. • Do the hot runner manifold and nozzles need to be dialed back? • Does the nozzle need to be retracted? • Does the barrel need to be purged? • Does the water need to be shut off? Now we are ready to troubleshoot the issue: 4. Once the root cause is determined (if it can be determined): • How much time will it take to repair the issue? • Do we have the tooling to repair the issue? • Do we have the people to repair the issue? • Does the mold need to be pulled and sent to the tool room? • Do we need to do a lockout/tagout? Pull the mold (if repairs cannot be made in the press). 5. Find a fork truck, alert necessary personnel and pull the mold.

14 | plastics business • winter 2017

Reset the Mold 7. When the mold is ready, reset it per the mold set instructions/ procedures.

Corrective Action Verification 9. After the mold is restarted, run for the necessary time for the process to stabilize. 10. Verify the part now meets Q/A specs or that the mold is functioning properly. Wow. Now we can finally get back to back to business of making money … instead of spending it. As you can see, Unscheduled Mold Stops can require time for critical decision making and may involve as many as five different departments (process, mold setters/pullers, quality control, production and the tool room) to get the mold back up and running. If this unforeseen maintenance cost is not in the piece part price, guess who is footing the bill. In a firefighting maintenance culture, companies are at the mercy of the mold. Those practicing this expensive and archaic shop strategy do not set x-stop reduction goals, but instead depend on scheduled PMs to prevent unscheduled stops. This is just not enough in today’s landscape, with molders looking for any edge to get better production from their molds. Molds get heated, cooled, smashed, yanked open, pounded on and put away wet. No amount of PM (mostly just scheduled cleanings) is guaranteed to prevent molds from breaking down or wearing out tooling prematurely. So, What Do We Do? A question we always ask those who attend our managers course is “Do you know what your #1 Unscheduled Mold Stop reason was for last year?” Too many times, the answer is no. If the #1 reason isn’t known, then you can be sure a Top 10 list doesn’t exist either. Think about how crazy that is! We don’t make money in the business unless our molds are in the press running, yet we don’t know the #1 reason that doesn’t happen. Given


the cost and potential harm to customer relationships, it is highly advantageous to not only develop the necessary data tools/ skills to track Unscheduled Mold Stops, but to target them for extra attention when the molds make their way to a bench. Remember, nothing will get fixed unless the repair technician is made aware of the issue. Here are five steps we should take to prevent – or greatly reduce – the number of Unscheduled Mold Stops. 1. Create standard terms for mold stops. There are only two categories of Mold Stop Reasons: Scheduled or Unscheduled. Companies can have dozens of reasons for stoppages, but none of them can be addressed unless a common set of terms is established. As an example, we use the term “x-stops” instead of Unscheduled Mold Stops when training attendees to develop and use standard terms when documenting mold performance and maintenance history.

Mold Stop Reason

Stop Count

Labor Hours

Labor Cost

Tooling Cost

Total Cost

X-Broken Tooling

7

179.6

$8,980

$23,811.26

$32,791.26

X-Cavitation

8

177.5

$8,875

$15,601

$24,476

X-Flash Issues

13

90.5

$4,525

$3,346.25

$7,871.25

X-Heater Issues

4

75

$3,750

$2,585

$6,335

X-Internal Water Leak

6

59.5

$2,975

$0

$2,975

X-Parts Sticking

6

41.3

$2,065

$900

$2,965

X-Ejector Plate Won't Function

4

45

$2,250

$496

$2,746

X-Functional Issues

3

45.5

$2,275

$0

$2,275

X-Mold Damage

6

43.5

$2,175

$27

$2,202

X-External Oil Leak

4

37

$1,850

$0

$1,850

X-Gate Issues

3

36.5

$1,825

$0

$1,825

X-Metal in Gate

4

20

$1,000

$0

$1,000

X-Mold Won't Shoot

1

15.5

$775

$0

$775

X-Scuffed Tooling

1

14

$700

$0

$700

X-Electrical Issues

3

10

$500

$195

$695

X-Nonfill Issues

2

12.5

$625

$0

$625

X-Flashed Manifold

2

12

$600

$0

$600

X-Dimensional Issues

3

11

$550

$0

$550

X-Galled Tooling

1

10.5

$525

$0

$525

X-Residue Leaching Out

1

5.5

$275

$0

$275

X-Stop Totals

82

941.9

$47,095

$46,961.51

$94,056.51

Table 1. A sample mold stop reason report showing only the top 20 x-stops, sorted by total cost Any Unscheduled Mold Stop should be listed with an X in front (thus x-stops) to make sorting quick if using an Excel spreadsheet or other proprietary molders to have vastly different requirements – electronic work order system. Do not make the list of mold stop and thus, worries. It may be more important to target critical reasons too granular, as it will be too long. In the world of drop customer molds for improved mold performance or part quality downs, more than 50 items in a list will cause users to tire issues than focus on the x-stops that require many labor hours of reading and pick inaccurately. Do not include mold-specific to repair. defects, such as Flash on Parting Line, Long Gate, Flash on Seal, etc. These issues and other specific defects should be 3. Post the target list. tracked under a specific mold number and tracked separately. Once the top targets are determined, post the list on the molding The mold stop reason list should be constructed as a high-level floor and in the tool room. These employees need to know so that view, using more generic terms to keep the list shorter. For they can have their antenna up when any of the target x-stops instance, a mold might be stopped for “X-Flash Issues” with strike again. Better information is gathered and employees are the specific flash term (Flash on Valve Gate) noted on a defect more engaged when brought into the loop early to become part of the efficiency improvement game plan. Molding operators list for that mold. and production floor personnel who are around the molds all day pick up on small details such as squeaks, clunks, bangs, 2. Track (measure/count) them. X-stops should be continually monitored and counted over a sticky runners and other things that can be great clues for the specific time frame, such as quarterly or annually. They should repair technician. Also, everyone likes a game plan where an be sortable by frequency, corrective action costs (tooling and actual cost savings – the score – can be calculated and kudos labor) and/or high visibility (critical customer) to determine delivered. which of these is most important to your business model and future goals. It is not uncommon for custom molders and page 16

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TRAINING ROOM t page 15

4. Troubleshoot the x-stop. Using your maintenance history, repair technicians should scour past work orders and maintenance history looking for patterns and trends that point to root causes by comparing specific molds. These issues could include the following: • Specific mold tooling configuration • Run date and time during which the mold suffered the x-stop • Press the mold was running in when the x-stop occurred • Which process technician started and stopped the mold relative to the x-stop • PM dates during the time frame the x-stop occurred • Past corrective actions for the specific x-stops (including what tooling and work was required) • Number of cycles the mold was running between the corrective action and the next x-stop

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5. Perform the corrective action. Once the troubleshooting (soft skills) has been accurately accomplished, the hard skills of your technicians now take over. Skills such as precision measuring, fitting, stoning, polishing, grinding and fabricating are critical for corrective action success. After all corrective actions have been made and the documentation (again using standard corrective action terms) is complete, the mold can be returned to production. X-stops not only cost companies thousands – and sometimes millions – of dollars per year, they are a source of major stress within companies. Unscheduled stops disrupt scheduling with presses, parts and people; sustain the firefighting culture; stifle skill growth as data analysis is not a priority; and takes time away from more proactive work. Don’t let x-stops reduce your profits; instead, control them. To see how much x-stops are costing your company, go to www.toolingdocs.com/resource/moldstop.htm and fill out the Unscheduled Mold Stop Calculator. n

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16 | plastics business • winter 2017

Steve Johnson is the operations manager for ToolingDocs, a provider of mold maintenance training and consultation based in Ashland, Ohio. He designed and developed MoldTrax™, a documentation software system for tracking mold performance and maintenance. To learn more, call 800.257.8369 or visit www.toolingdocs.com.


ECONOMIC CORNER

A First Economic Look at the Trump Administration by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence Thus it begins – at least formally. What kind of economic growth does the Trump administration seek? What kind of shape is the economy as he takes over – as compared to what other presidents before him faced? What are the chances his goals will be met, and what are the factors that will make accomplishing these goals tough and perhaps even impossible? In the most general terms, he inherits an economy that has clearly started to recover from the grinding recession that began in 2008 and is in far better shape than when Obama took control. It is not as good as the economies of either Reagan or Clinton. As the term starts, Trump will be facing at least three trends that were initiated in 2016 and are expected to be a major factor in the coming year. The expectation for interest rates for most of the last eight years has been that they would stay low. This is a policy that doesn’t have all that much to do with the President and has developed over the course of two Federal Reserve chair terms (Bernanke and Yellen). Interest rates rose in December, and the current assessment holds that they will go up at least twice more in the coming year to end up somewhere between 1 percent and 1.5 percent. The second development is inflation – mostly driven by higher wages in select sectors. The rate now is close to 2 percent at the core level and is expected to continue inching up. Nobody is expecting hyperinflation or anything even close. For now, this level actually will be a good thing and stimulative to a degree. It also will help convince the Fed that rate hikes remain a good idea. The third development is the strong dollar, and that could be the most vexing of the three. Much has been made of the desire to promote exports and reduce imports, but a strong dollar will make that all the more difficult to obtain. Trump broke with decades of tradition by calling for the dollar to be weakened but was immediately contradicted by his treasury secretary, who reiterated the US commitment to a strong dollar. Beyond the verbiage, it is hard to shift the power of the currency, as this depends largely on the actions of the Fed and the overall global demand. As he develops policies that match the claims and aims of the campaign, Trump is in better shape than some of his predecessors and is facing bigger problems than others. Labor force participation is lower than it has been since Gerald Ford was in office. It now is just a little above 62 percent and, at the start of the Obama term, it was at just over 66 percent. At the start of the term for George W. Bush, it was over 67 percent and

The US has been regaining its status as a manufacturing state for years and never stopped being a dominant player. These gains have largely come at the expense of jobs as robotics and technology have replaced a lot of the people that once worked in these factories and manufacturing facilities. the two presidents before Bush (Clinton and George H.W. Bush) presided over an increase in the rate. This is a complex measure of the workforce, as there are many reasons a person may be out of the workforce. The number one factor is retirement, and there have been more people ending their work careers than ever – at least 10,000 a day as the Boomers age in their golden years. Regardless of why people are leaving, there is an issue with having too few people to fill the jobs that are becoming available as too many of those seeking jobs lack the skills that are in demand. One of the more challenging tests will involve manufacturing, as this was a big part of the campaign and has been a concern for years. The US has been regaining its status as a manufacturing state for years and never stopped being a dominant player. These gains have largely come at the expense of jobs, as robotics and technology have replaced a lot of the people who once worked in these factories and manufacturing facilities. The number of people directly employed in manufacturing has been declining since Eisenhower was in office. It was close to 35 percent when his term started and was down to a little over 30 percent when it ended. Every president since then has presided over a further reduction of the manufacturing workforce, and Trump starts with the lowest level yet – around 8 percent of the total US workforce. Remember that these are workers who are directly engaged in manufacturing – if you count all those people who work for manufacturing companies, the percentage employed is page 18 u

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ECONOMIC CORNER t page 17

closer to 30 percent. To increase the number of people working in manufacturing will be a nearly impossible task, given the preference for the implementation of technology. Banning imports and restricting where US companies produce will have a minor impact and could even make the problem worse, given that most manufacturing jobs are in small and mid-sized companies. Manufacturing in the US seems to be plagued by misnomer and myth, and this has been the case for years. Perhaps it is because so few people ever actually see inside a manufacturing facility. For years, the story was that there was no longer a manufacturing sector in the US, although the numbers never bore this out. It has been about 30 percent of the GDP when one looks at all the people employed by the manufacturers – not just the ones who are running the machines.

the moves that Trump plans to make, but there is a good chance for a backfire if there is failure to understand the real issues in manufacturing. A steel import tax will be good for the steel industry, but not so good for the users of that imported steel – the manufacturers that Trump wants to see hire more people. n Chris Kuehl is managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence. Founded by Keith Prather and Chris Kuehl in January 2001, Armada began as a competitive intelligence firm, grounded in the discipline of gathering, analyzing and disseminating intelligence. Today, Armada executives function as trusted strategic advisers to business executives, merging fundamental roots in corporate intelligence gathering, economic forecasting and strategy development. Armada focuses on the market forces bearing down on organizations. For more information, visit www.armada-intel.com.

Today, the political emphasis is on manufacturing jobs, and there are myths here as well. The political assumption is that companies are ditching US workers to set up in foreign countries. Although this does still happen, the biggest issue is replacing human workers with machines – and import restrictions will have no impact on this. There is, perhaps, good intent behind

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Life & Times

of RJG’s Detect Process Inconsistencies

Packing & Filling Variation

Industries Served

Cooling Variation

Mold Deflection

Where have eDARTs been purchased?

31 different countries

eDART introduced

2002

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Valve Gate Software introduced

2006

 Electronics

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 Packaging

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2008 7 Ways the eDART Can Help Molders Abnormal Part Containment Produce Repeatable Parts Run Processes Based on Templates Detect Process Inconsistencies

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eDART Milestones

2000

 Medical

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Back Pressure Variation

Networking introduced with the eDART Data Manager (EDM)

2009

conx - process stabilization system released & original system renamed apex

2012

v10 touch screen software released

2014

Determine Causes of Processing Problems

2-Shot software released

Adjust Process Conditions in Real Time

2016

Eliminate Manual Sorting

The Hub™ networking will be released


INDUSTRY

2017 Plastics Industry Outlook: Optimistic and Automated More than 90 percent of plastics processing executives anticipate either steady or increased business activity for 2017, according to the recent State of the Plastics Industry Report from the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP). In its 17th year, MAPP’s annual State of the Plastics Industry assessment shows that executives are predicting optimistic trends for plastics processors. Data for this report were collected from more than 150 senior-level executives representing companies of a variety of sizes and across an array of processing disciplines. This report helps company leaders benchmark how their companies stack up in comparison to industry norms and helps to calibrate the intuitive “gut feel” that most executives are looking to validate. According to multiple indicators in this year’s report, partnered with outside economic indicators, the outlook for 2017 is shaping up to be fairly strong for the plastics industry. MAPP’s leadership team examined key questions from this year’s study to develop an overall forecast for what the plastics industry may look like in 2017.

by Ashley Turrell Burleson, operations support specialist, MAPP, Inc.

Fifty-eight percent of processors indicated their companies’ fourth-quarter sales were up compared to third quarter – an increase of 18 percent from last year, and four percentage points higher than the 10-year average of 54 percent. Troy Nix, MAPP executive director, elaborated: “The trend of this data point has generally served as a good indicator annually of the drive for the first six months. This increase suggests there is strong momentum going into the new year.” Thirty-four percent of plastics executives also reported an increase in fourth-quarter profits, up nearly 10 percent from the previous year. When looking at production, 97 percent of processors anticipate that first-quarter production work weeks will increase or remain about the same, and 96 percent believe the number of production employees will either increase or remain steady. The 2017 survey marks the first time in the past 10 years that fewer than four percent of plastics processing executives anticipate a decrease in the employee work week. Sales also are anticipated to remain strong in the first quarter of 2017 and throughout the remainder of the year. Eighty-nine percent of processors believe first quarter sales will either increase or remain stable, and 94 percent predict that sales over the next 12 months either will remain the same or increase. This confidence comes from upcoming projects with current customers and developments with new customers. This anticipation isn’t just processor optimism – recent studies reveal that increased disposable income and consumer confidence are helping to boost the industry. According to international news outlet Reuters, consumer optimism about the

20 | plastics business • winter 2017


to invest in automation/robotics. Overall, this isn’t surprising, as 45 percent of processors believe this area is the one major technology trend that will impact the industry the most during 2017. Executives who are struggling to find qualified, dedicated and skilled workers are finding a greater reliance on automation can eliminate some of the frustration experienced with the lack of available workers. Additionally this year, the current MAPP report includes new data based on responses from previous studies, such as customer demands for financials, trends by industry served, plans to improve overall competitiveness and insights from industry experts. With all things considered, a steady, positive outlook appears to be on the horizon for plastics processors. For more information or to purchase the report, visit www. mappinc.com. Join MAPP on March 2, 2017, for the State of the Plastics Industry webinar by first registering on the Events page of the MAPP website. n

economy peaked in December to the highest level since 2001. This information reinforces the positive predictions made by plastics executives. With processors reporting new programs and increased volume from current customers, as well as the anticipated increase in sales, many are struggling to find the labor needed fulfill their needs. Over the past six years, plastics executives have rated workforce development issues (training, recruiting, retaining) as a top challenge facing their company. In 2012, 45 percent of processors indicated that workforce development issues were a top challenge; today, that number has more than doubled. As of January 2017, 92 percent of processors indicated that recruiting and training qualified workers were major barriers facing their organization.

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Plastics executives are indicating various ways they plan to tackle this challenge – and most are not looking to invest large amounts of money into workforce development. Instead, many processors are turning to the growing automation and robotics industry to mitigate this challenge and improve their overall competitiveness.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


MANAGEMENT

21st Century Leadership Intelligence by Magi Graziano, CEO, Conscious Hiring® and Development

Being an effective leader of people in today’s world seems to be much more complicated than in years past. In the previous century, for the vast majority, work was a means for survival. The level of employee engagement did not dictate how long employees stayed in a role. Today’s employees, however, are on the lookout for more stimulating and rewarding work, as well as inspiring work environments where they can make a difference and grow themselves and their careers. Global workforce surveys report that highly qualified, motivated people chose to work for companies that build a strong, inspiring culture. If recruitment and retention of highly qualified, motivated people are initiatives for your company, leadership intelligence ought to be another. They go hand in hand because today’s leaders need to understand people at their core like never before. Leadership intelligence relies on your ability to grow, learn and master new ways to lead people, and there are three tenets to consider when boosting it: self-awareness, executive brain function and response agility.

1

Self-awareness Self-awareness begins with the curiosity and courage to hear what works and does not work about your leadership and the culture that exists in the organization. Once you become aware of your competitive talent advantages and your talent barriers through the eyes of your people, you are equipped to take powerful action. Self-awareness allows you to leverage your talent and intervene when and where it is necessary to remove those personality ticks that are in the way of your leadership potential. Culture and climate awareness opens the door for you to see what is really going on and intervene in the cultural norms and barriers that are in the way of employee engagement and innovation. When you are curious and courageous you begin to ask the tough questions – and hear the tough answers. When you do this, you begin to see what “blind spots” may be hidden from your view, and you learn what you do that sabotages or impedes your leadership effectiveness. Self-awareness is the doorway to emotional intelligence and it gives you access to real improvement, as well as personal and professional development. Self-awareness is not always easy. In almost every case with every human being, there are aspects of

22 | plastics business • winter 2017

Culture and climate awareness opens the door for you to see what is really going on and intervene in the cultural norms and barriers that are in the way of employee engagement and innovation. personality or behavior that have a negative impact on others. By itself, being aware of our negative behaviors is insufficient. Taking responsibility for the impact of those behaviors, asking for forgiveness and working to shift those behaviors are where leadership intelligence begins. Once leaders have mastered selfawareness, they optimize their abilities to leverage situational awareness, which is fundamental to assessing, evaluating and intervening in the ebbs and flow of the climate and culture of their organizations.

2

Executive brain function Optimizing your executive brain function is a secret weapon of leadership intelligence. The PFC, or prefrontal cortex, is where the executive brain operates; it is like the controls in a cockpit. This is the part of our brain where strategic thinking, collaboration, reasoning and creativity come from. The problem is most leaders learn over time to depend and lean on one hemisphere – over time, they become complacent in allowing that hemisphere to run the show. This limits the airplane’s ability to navigate through storms and soar to new heights. The left hemisphere of our brain is where our organization, categorizing, reasoning and strategizing come from. It is in the right hemisphere where brainstorming, innovation, collaboration and relationship abilities are housed. When leaders are aware of their goals and visions, as well as in control (conscious) of their thoughts, responses and well-being – and the leader leverages both hemispheres of their executive brain through right/left hemisphere integration – their leadership intelligence and effectiveness skyrockets. When a leader is utilizing all of their capacities, they see things they might not see and are more equipped to respond to climate and culture barriers and infringements.


3

Response agility Response agility is the ability to respond in an appropriate, controlled manner, regardless of the current stress or breakdown the leader is facing. Being agile with response and reaction is key to effective leadership. Flat line reaction is not appropriate for all situations. Screaming and yelling is not appropriate for any situation. Anger and frustration might be needed at times, and curiosity and collaboration may be needed at other times. Agility in your response means that you have trained yourself to think before reacting. Effective leaders ask themselves, “What is needed now?” When stress hits the fan at work, a leader who has a handle on how they respond and can coach others appropriately is a leader who is positively contributing to a healthy company climate and culture. Response agility takes discipline, awareness, new habit formation and commitment – and is a core component of leadership intelligence.

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Being a mission-driven leader who inspires people to give their w w w. m o l d i n g b u s i n e s s . c o m best in service of a compelling vision is a key element of today’s most successful leaders. They know that most people they hire are not coming to work simply for a paycheck; these leaders MAPP 2017 Quarterly Ad-1st Quarter Draft.indd 1 2/6/2017 10:21:07 AM have a keen awareness that many people they hire are coming to work to fulfill their individual purpose in a way that supports the organizational purpose. Today’s highly effective leaders understand how to inspire spirit de corps and leverage their communications with people to do so. They utilize their people intelligence to tie work responsibilities and tasks to the overall intention for and strategy of the business. Lastly, these leaders understand the difference between climate and culture and have the aptitude to know how and when to intervene in both. Adapt quicker for superior plant-wide

Process focused. Technology powered.

Learning the fundamentals of how people operate and how to inspire them is the easy part. Mastering those skills is leadership intelligence. Turning your leadership intelligence into your competitive talent advantage is the number one way to impact recruitment and retention of the best people. n Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Graziano provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. For more information, visit www. KeenAlignment.com.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 23


NEWS

RJG Introduces Web Browser Interface

Krauss Maffei Upgrades Mid-Range Compacts

RJG, headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan, introduced The Hub™ to provide a simple interface that allows customers to access, support and view all eDARTs® on a network from a web browser. It clearly displays how many machines are running, how many are down, how much scrap is being produced, what changes have been made and more. The Hub also automatically stores data from every shot. This feature provides a view of exactly how each job performed at any given time on any given day. For more information, call 231.947.3111 or visit www.rjginc.com.

Krauss Maffei Group, Florence, Kentucky, upgraded its mid-range compact, the two-platen CX Series injection-molding machine. It now includes clamp forces ranging from 2,000 to 4,000kN (225-472 tons). The enhanced machine will save energy and production costs, with 10 percent less energy consumption, 25 percent longer oil life and more upgrade options that include Adaptive Process Control (APC), the SPX10 sprue picker and the electric water manifold. For more information, visit www.kraussmaffeigroup.us/en.

EPA Assesses Chemicals Under TSCA The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, DC, announced it is moving to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017. This action will set into motion a process to quickly evaluate chemicals and meet deadlines required under, and essential to, implementing the new law. When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced. The EPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process: The inventory rule, the prioritization rule, and the risk and evaluation rule. If the EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Under TSCA, the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

24 | plastics business • winter 2017

Arburg Offers New Entry-Level Series With the Golden Electric, Edrive and Alldrive series, Arburg, headquartered in Loßburg, Germany, unveiled its wide range of electric Allrounders, from the entry-level model to highperformance machines. Allrounder Golden Electric has been available since the spring of 2016 in four machine sizes with clamping forces from 600 to 2,000kN (66 to 220 tons). The double five-point toggle system ensures fast, high-performance cycles, while the play-free spindle drives operate with high precision. The position-regulated screw ensures high-molded part quality, and the new electric entry-level machine series also features liquid-cooled motors, direct drive and servo inverters. Compared to hydraulic standard machines, the high-efficiency of the servo motors, continuous power adaptation and energy recovery during braking achieve energy savings of up to 55 percent. For more information, visit www.arburg.com.


Frigel Announces Chiller Line Expansion

SRR Releases 2016 Plastics Industry Transactions Report

Frigel, Scandicci, Italy, announced it has nearly tripled its line of modular Heavygel 3HL and 3HM air-cooled central chillers to give users the ability to only purchase the chilled water capacity they need now – with the flexibility to readily and cost-effectively add capacity later. The expanded line of chillers also is engineered with a host of new features to ensure operational efficiency and optimal performance. The air-cooled Heavygel chillers now are available in 34 models, versus 12 original models, delivering anywhere from 79 to 1,428kW (26 to 393 tons) of cooling capacity. Additionally, multiple models are available for operation in ambient temperatures that range from -15 to 55°C (5 to 131°F), making them well suited for use virtually anywhere in the world. Heavygel chillers also are available in a wide variety of configurations, including units designed to connect to external pumping systems, to completely packaged systems that already contain all needed auxiliary components. A variety of condenser fans, such as variable speed units that automatically adjust to varying loads and ambient conditions, offer even more options to address the cooling needs of the operation. For more information, visit www.frigel.com.

According to a report released by Stout, Risius, Ross Investment Banking (SRR), Chicago, Illinois, the plastics industry merger and acquisition activity reached new heights during 2016 with 475 transactions, a 15.6 percent increase from the previous year. Transaction activity grew consistently throughout the year with significant year-over-year increases shown for each of the four quarters during 2016. In addition, the 126 transactions posted during Q4 2016 surpassed the previous high, which had just been recorded in Q3 of 2016. Positive momentum for plastics industry transaction activity is expected to continue into 2017, with continued favorable financing markets, ample buyer equity capital, strong financial performance in many sectors and historically high valuation levels. For more information, visit www.srr.com.

IQMS Adds Training Sessions to User Conference

Chase Plastics a Distributor for Solvay

IQMS is expanding the value of its Pinnacle User Conference by adding two training tracks to the agenda. The conference will take place April 3-6 at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort in Orlando, Florida. The conference offers strategic guidance, tips and tricks, networking opportunities and much more, all focused on helping customers get the most from their IQMS software installation. There are six concurrent breakout sessions (including 24 new sessions) covering the full depth of ERP and MES functionality and for varying levels of expertise. Attendees will have close to 70 training options from which to choose. The price is $1,295 per person. For more information, visit www.iqms.com/pinnacle2017.

Solvay, Alpharetta, Georgia, appointed Chase Plastics Services, Inc. as its North American distributor of Solvay’s Algoflon® L and Polymist® PTFE Micronized Powders. This family of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) additives was specially developed to enhance the processing and end-use performance properties of host products and base resins. Effective Jan. 1, 2017, the move takes advantage of Chase Plastics’ comprehensive North American sales coverage and more than 2,500 current customers to expand market access and technical support for these two high-performance PTFE powders. The addition of Chase Plastics will not affect Solvay’s Algoflon® L or Polymist® order fulfillment policies. Solvay will continue to accept and fill direct orders that meet the company’s established minimum order quantities. Small lot orders will be available through Chase Plastics. For more information, visit www.solvay.us. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 25


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MARKETING

Augmented Reality: Catch Customers, Not Pokemon by Linda Mallwitz, marketing director, Vive We are submerged in the technology era, in which consumers are anxiously awaiting the next innovative gadget. It is a challenge to keep up with an ever-evolving environment. The same applies for companies that want to get noticed in a sea of competition. Myriad ways exist for organizations to build brand awareness, attract tradeshow booth traffic or promote a unique feature or process; however, you may ask yourself, “What can my company do differently that will not only wow my audience, but give us sustainable tools and knowledge to build long-term impactful relationships?” Here’s a way: augmented reality (AR). For those unfamiliar, AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception

28 | plastics business • winter 2017

of reality. How is this different from virtual reality? Perhaps you’re familiar with the computer-generated simulation of a real-life setting as seen by wearing oversized goggles: That’s virtual reality. The effect positions the operator by making the person feel as if he or she is experiencing the simulation in real life through audio and visual technology. Virtual reality was first commonly used in gaming and 3D movies. Now, Virtual reality is used to improve training and education in real-life situations by allowing people to practice scenarios ahead of time. With augmented reality, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. While AR has been around for many years, last year its popularity exploded thanks to the interactive game Pokemon Go. Remember seeing groups of people walking around trying Augmented reality has applications in manufacturing through real-world simulations.


to capture Pokemon at businesses and parks? It’s a technology that made a significant impact. But, you’re in manufacturing: How is this relevant? Think about the technology that could show your latest capabilities and services. Since AR is meant to engage, the following provide some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Inspiration Idea #1: An injection molder opens a new location and wants current and prospective customers to see a specific new automated press within its manufacturing facility. The company creates a virtual experience that shows what the cell looks like and content within to support it. Inspiration Idea #2: A resin distributor is exhibiting at NPE. With more than 100,000 attendees, the distributor must stand out! With lots of pre-show communication to generate buzz, the distributor develops an experience that entices others to look. Using an iPad, a gaylord full of resin appears right in the middle of the booth. The user is able to learn about multiple resin types and can ask the sales rep questions. Inspiration Idea #3: A plastic extrusion manufacturer is launching a new product to its global audience. The direct mail piece appears to only be in English, but when using AR technology, it translates the deliverable into a multilingual piece, along with a 3D depiction of an extruded profile. Inspiration Idea #4: Onsite customer service. Since no one appreciates being placed on hold to speak to a representative in search of support for troubleshooting, AR creates an experience where the service

With augmented reality, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. representative comes to you! Gone will be the days of live chat pop-up boxes that rarely convert. For example, a pioneer in AR technology, Metaio, has created a user experience where a customer service rep will walk a user through a process and see what the user is seeing, which then will enable the representative to educate and provide support with greater detail, ultimately solving problems more efficiently in a DIY style. Many companies are becoming exceptionally creative at leveraging this technology to encourage consumers to buy their products and services. But, if the “why” can’t be answered, what’s the point? According to a 2016 study done by ExhibitorOnline. com, AR has the potential to become a powerful marketing tool because it can result in the following outcomes: • increased brand awareness • increased sales • increased booth traffic • increased length of meeting, exhibit or event visit • increased ROI/ROO • increased event attendance and interaction • enhanced quantity/quality of lead data • personalized follow up • improved relationships page 30 u

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Tel: 860 496-9603 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 29


MARKETING t page 29

Whatever AR direction your company goes, please consider how this will be more than just a “one and done.” The last thing you want is to have your audience lose interest right away; instead, give them reasons to come back and share their experience with others. If your company is spending ample resource dollars, it’s critical to have longevity in the forefront. Also, keep in mind: AR is not cheap! Depending on the complex and comprehensive AR approach, it could range anywhere from $25,000 to upward of $300,000. So, the most important thing to do is ask yourself (before proposing AR to your organization) these questions: 1. Will your company’s AR experience educate your customers? 2. Will your company’s AR experience earn the respect of your current and prospective customers? 3. Will your company’s AR experience captivate the attention of future talent? 4. Will your company’s AR investment ignite discussions that will lead to profitable results? If you answered “yes” to all of these, then that is at least a starting point for AR consideration.

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To put into perspective the relevance of this technology, Apple is expected to launch a new product this year called iWear: a wearable headset that connects wirelessly to iPhones and shows information that is superimposed onto a user’s view of the real world. The explosion of AR technology has the potential to decrease training requirements, hustle up introductions to new processes, advance quality procedures on the factory floor, boost customer service by providing better documentation and act as a better sales tool when demonstrating product features. So, if you’re going to pursue this technology, my recommendation is to first become more educated and then decide if AR technology is a communication tool in which your organization wants to invest. It must be a well thought out process, but don’t wait for other organizations to penetrate the manufacturing environment first – show that your company is an innovator! n Linda Mallwitz is the marketing director for Vive, a marketing firm exclusively for manufacturers and manufacturing service providers, predominantly in the plastics industry. With almost 10 years working in the manufacturing industry, Mallwitz is a key managing leader and creative driver of client brand development. For more information, call 414.727.VIVE or visit www.vive4mfg.com.

30 | plastics business • winter 2017


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MAPP Offers Strategic Benchmarking Information The MAPP organization continues to improve its focus on providing members with relevant, information-based reports and handbooks. These benchmarking documents allow MAPP members to be more informed, providing a competitive advantage in all areas of their operations. Like our members, MAPP is continuously working to produce information to help staff-level executives. In 2017, MAPP has already released the following benchmarking reports: • MAPP State of the Industry Report: The MAPP State of the Industry Report is available on the MAPP website. This report addresses approximately 40 different economic indicator questions, including sales forecasts, production backlog, quoting trends, material and production tooling information and new technologies. Participants in the study received the report at no cost, and the report is available for purchase on the MAPP website. • Safety Checklists: Members of MAPP’s human resources and EHS peer networking groups have commissioned a benchmarking study on current safety checklists utilized in plastics manufacturing companies. Although this study is a compilation of safety checklists used by members, it allows HR and EHS professionals to better understand best practices and to improve their own checklists. Other upcoming benchmarking opportunities for 2017 include the following: • Health & Ancillary Benefits • Sales Management • Wage and Benefits • Machine Rate • Engineering and Value-Added Services • Information Systems All benchmarking opportunities are listed on the MAPP calendar as they are launched, and benchmarking reports are available for download and purchase on the MAPP website. Three Plant Tour Events: Three Opportunities to Attend MAPP’s plant tour events are designed to provide attendees with new ideas and paradigm-shifting information about the way operations are managed in their own businesses. When business leaders are able to see outside of their own facilities, they are offered an immediate opportunity to benchmark. MAPP’s proprietary facilitation and engagement process creates an experiential learning environment for all attendees.

32 | plastics business • winter 2017

In 2017, MAPP will host the following three plant tour events: Cosmetic Specialties International Thursday, Feb. 16 Oxnard, California Areas of focus: Innovation, product ingenuity, on-site toolroom and custom SWAT culture Hansen Plastics Corporation Thursday, May 18 Elgin, Illinois Areas of focus: Employee ownership, process changes, value streams and lean culture Revere Plastics Systems Thursday, Aug. 10 Clyde, Ohio Areas of focus: Value-added services, molding processes (stack, two-short and overmolding), cellular manufacturing and process excellence Interested processors can learn more and register at www. mappinc.com. MAPP Welcomes New Sponsors: Constellation and ProtoCAM Constellation is a leading competitive retail and wholesale supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services across the continental United States. Energy costs represent one of the top five operating costs for most businesses. Constellation can help companies achieve their energy purchasing goals with a custom energy strategy. Constellation’s tools and experts allow targets to be set based on a company’s business needs. Companies will receive the latest market information to find better ways to power their businesses. ProtoCAM is a leading provider of value-added additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping services for customers in a wide variety of industries, including defense, aerospace, automotive, medical, architecture and consumer goods. For more than 20 years, engineers and product designers across the globe have turned to ProtoCAM to meet their prototyping needs. Why? Because ProtoCAM goes beyond additive manufacturing. With decades of experience and an obsessive commitment to service, the company works with customers every step of the way, ensuring that the finished pieces meet exact specifications – and perform exactly as expected. ProtoCAM offers stereolithography (SLA),


selective laser sintering (SLS), CNC-machined prototypes, 3D printing, urethane casting, rapid tooling, additive manufacturing, silicone RTV molds, investment castings, 3D CAD modeling and prototype development engineering. Save the Date! Upcoming MAPP Events 2017 Environmental, Health & Safety Summit July 19-20, 2017 Columbus, Ohio Registration is open at www.mappinc.com. 2017 Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference An Uncharted Journey Oct. 11-13, 2017 Indianapolis, Indiana Registration opening soon! Flags Presented to MAPP 15-Year Members To show appreciation and gratitude to long-term members, MAPP delivers an American flag to member companies on their 15th Anniversary with MAPP. It is MAPP’s strong belief that the gift of the American flag is a symbol of freedom, perseverance,

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integrity, strength and leadership. This gift recognizes the continued efforts, support and contributions executives and their teams make every day. Along with this gift, MAPP asks these members to take a photo of their team along with the American flag. Innovative Plastics, pictured here, has been a valued member of the MAPP community for more than 15 years, and MAPP is proud to recognize the company’s dedication and its exceptional team! n

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 33


STRATEGIES

Applying the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 in the Plastics Sector

by Steve Bieszczat, chief marketing officer, IQMS

Steve Bieszczat brings nearly two decades of engineering and manufacturing experience to his role as chief marketing officer for IQMS, awardwinning provider of the comprehensive and integrated IQMS ERP and manufacturing execution system (MES) software, which runs on-premises and in the cloud. To learn more, visit www. iqms.com or call 866.367.3772.

Everyone is talking about the promise of the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the related concept of Industry 4.0. But, discussions often are broadly conceptual, giving manufacturing operations managers and executives little real-world guidance on how to leverage new information and operational technologies to drive efficiencies in their facilities. Fortunately, a number of plastics manufacturers have been pioneers in applying IIoT and Industry 4.0 concepts to their businesses. Their experiences provide valuable guidelines for manufacturing companies now starting this journey. However, before diving into best practices, it is helpful to provide overviews of IIoT and Industry 4.0 in the context of this discussion. Broadly speaking, the Internet of Things describes the interworking of devices, vehicles and buildings with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that enable objects to collect and exchange data. IoT-enabled solutions allow objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across networks, creating opportunities for integration of the physical world into computer systems to improve efficiency, accuracy and economics.

34 | plastics business • winter 2017


The adoption of IoT is leading to the emergence of smart factories, smart homes and intelligent transportation. Within manufacturing, the application of IoT is known as the industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT. Concurrently, we are seeing the rise of Industry 4.0 – or the fourth industrial revolution – which is defined by advanced automation and data exchange within manufacturing solutions that rely extensively on cyber-physical systems, IIoT and cloud computing. In doing so, it stands out from earlier industrial revolutions. These include the first industrial revolution, focused on the mechanization of production using water; the second industrial revolution, built around mass production using electric power; and the third industrial revolution, which brought the use of electronics and information technology to automate production. The convergence of Industry 4.0 and the industrial Internet of Things has led to the development of smart factories where cyber-physical systems leverage IIoT technologies to monitor physical processes and create virtual copies of the physical world in order to perform analyses and automate decisionmaking. The tremendous amount of data generated and the higher requirement for fault tolerance and continuity has led much, if not all, of the underlying software to move into the cloud. Five Characteristics of Successful Moves to Industry 4.0 and IIoT In considering all of these concepts, it can be difficult for manufacturing teams to sort out if and how any of them should be applied to their businesses. However, when we studied successful early adopters of manufacturing IoT that now are enjoying strong benefits, we found five common characteristics in their approaches. 1. They innovated with a purpose – starting with a specific problem and a fix in mind. 2. They looked past the hype around IIoT and focused on how specific technologies could address their needs, helping to save time and money. 3. They piloted one process or cell at first to gain experience with IIoT. 4. They kept the initial scope simple and evolved it to become more sophisticated over time in an iterative fashion. 5. They created an investment and roll-out plan in phases and analyzed the return on investment (ROI) from each project phase. Following are three examples of plastics manufacturers that have taken a practical approach to IIoT and Industry 4.0 innovation by starting modestly and growing thoughtfully

Common Components of Industrial IoT Implementations A significant part of any Industry 4.0 Internet of Things (IoT) project is ensuring that systems are “talking” with each other. This often requires updates to outdated controls and information gateways and possibly the addition of smart sensors to old iron horses on the floor. There are many kinds of devices and solutions available to consider in designing a modern smart, connected manufacturing system. Following is a review of the most common components. • Equipment sensors monitor operating parameters, such as position, temperature, pressure, current and more. • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) offer improved communications abilities, allowing queries by servers and applications software. • Edge data concentrator servers typically follow open platform communications (OPC) protocols and usually are installed onpremises due to the volume of data being captured in real time. Then, clean data can be pushed to or pulled by applications on central servers or in the cloud. • Radio frequency ID (RFID) tags enable automatic tracking of inventory as it progresses through the manufacturing process. Some styles even incorporate “e-paper” visual displays, which act as human- and barcode-readable labels that can be updated for status, count and work instruction during production and storage. • Inline automated product inspection equipment – providing position, dimensional, feature presence, temperature and other attributes – can be integrated into the plant IIoT intranet. • Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) in the form of forklifts, carts and tugs can be managed by enterprise application software systems. • Manufacturing execution systems (MES) provide planning, scheduling and tracking, and they leverage many forms of data automatically captured and processed to provide real-time accuracy. into large-scale deployments that are delivering a strong ROI. Their experiences can provide useful insights on how other companies can apply these concepts to their own manufacturing operations. Spencer Industries: Real-Time Analytics and Monitoring Spencer Industries is a single-plant thermoformer in Indiana that produces cosmetic finish panels for the recreational all-terrain page 36 u

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STRATEGIES t page 35

To meet its goals, Spencer first began by implementing an application that included multiple ovens, sensors and software tools to collect process parameters such as oven temperatures, material temperatures, air flow and vacuum, among others. To date, a controls engineer has expanded this to the development of customized programmable logic controller (PLC) devices and software that combine to operate 21 work centers.

vehicle (ATV), tractor and commercial refrigeration markets. More than 10 years ago, Spencer had one full-time statistical process control (SPC) administrator whose job was to manually gather process data and record it in spreadsheets. The company wanted to create a system of leading indicators. However, its legacy customized system lacked the comprehensive analytics and reports to summarize SPC trends and schedule production; nor could Spencer view operational status at a glance.

In 2011, Spencer added a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) from IQMS with real-time monitoring and reporting. This has enabled managers to see colorized up-to-the-second work center status and key performance indicators (KPIs) across the entire shop floor with SPC charting and trend analysis. Moreover, with the system in place, the company was able to redeploy the SPC administrator to a more productive role. Spencer now reviews the automated SPC reporting at the end of each job run to drive continuous improvement of work center setup and operations for each product. The system also makes scheduling fast, flexible and comprehensive. Most significantly, Spencer has seen year-over-year improvements in key manufacturing KPIs.

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Nissen Chemitec: Just in Time Barcode Labels Nissen Chemitec is an injection molder and assembler of components that require individual vehicle part sequencing and are shipped just in time (JIT) to its automotive customers. Six years ago, the company printed barcode labels in batch from a central location. The labels then were carried to the production line and manually applied to product containers, opening the company to the risks of mislabeling product containers. General Industrials Michael D. Benson mbenson@srr.com +1.248.432.1229

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36 | plastics business • winter 2017

The Nissen Chemitec team sought a new process for ensuring the delivery of the correct product in correct container with the correct label in the correct order and quantity at the correct time, just in time – with 100 percent consistency. The team’s approach was to connect floor devices, including real-time


computer tablets, wired fixed-location and handheld barcode scanners, and line-side label printers, to ensure that floor process execution and packaging would always stay in sync with the master production schedule. Now, at job setup, the solution conducts automatic mistakeproofing to confirm that the raw materials, components, containers and tools are the ones specified for the run. It then prints a test label, which is scanned to verify that the format and content match specifications. Only then can the production job start. As a result, Nissen Chemitec’s deliveries now are virtually 100 percent accurate, leading to high customer satisfaction. The company’s solution also automatically updates the job status for right and left side product processes in its ERP and MES systems, and it automatically calculates and refreshes overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) stats and KPIs, all in real time. Tessy Plastics: Up-to-the-Moment Production Visibility Tessy Plastics, which has multiple plants across the United States, is an injection molder that produces high-volume medical, disposable medical and consumer products in 24/7

operations. Previously, the company maintained paper folders with static product and process information at work centers on the plant floor. However, with challenges in taking timely action when after-the-fact performance data analysis indicated quality inconsistency, the leadership team identified continuous improvement of quality and delivery through process and information automation as the business’s most pressing need. page 38 u

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STRATEGIES t page 37

The solution was to implement a comprehensive ERP and manufacturing operating system, which was integrated with Tessy Plastics’ equipment to enable real-time monitoring and reporting. The company used real-time work center tablets to create information podiums at each work center. To make key information available to all employees, the team also deployed large-screen information centers on the plant floor.

The insights and efficiencies gained at Tessy Plastics have translated into savings of between $1.2 million and $2.5 million annually. Today, managers see colorized, up-to-the-second status updates on work center job schedules and KPIs, along with a layout view of the entire shop floor. All team members have up-to-themoment work center status and performance information at a glance.

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This level of clarity and accuracy means fewer work-hours are needed to capture and analyze production data. Team members can confirm that the correct components are being used as specified every time, and technology placed in key areas along the assembly automation line verifies that the components are produced without defects. The insights and efficiencies gained at Tessy Plastics have translated into savings of between $1.2 million and $2.5 million annually. As the three plastics manufacturers demonstrate, it is not necessary to tackle Industry 4.0 and IIoT in their entirety to realize significant business gains. Instead, manufacturers can eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time to start on a path of thoughtful innovation that leads to higher customer satisfaction, smarter and more efficient use of resources, and measurable boosts to the bottom line. n


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People are Not Plastic: Four Challenges Facing the Industry by Darryl Warren, president, D. Gene Alliance

Employees do not perform or respond as predictably as plastic. If they did, our job in managing human capital would be easier. The plastics industry is experiencing complex challenges with our most important asset, our people. Placing a help wanted advertisement does not yield quality applicants, which leaves a large skills gap. Experienced workers are leaving the workforce in record numbers. One of every four managers are millennials who are not recruited, retained, motivated or led in the same way as experienced workers of other generations. Compounding these problems is the lack of engagement that could cost the plastics industry billions every year [1]. During an October 2016 roundtable of industry leaders representing 16 organizations from seven states, CEOs and other managementlevel stakeholders gathered to discuss best practices and share solutions to these complex people issues. The challenges were categorized into four areas. 1. The Skills Gap 2. The Boomer Cliff 3. The Millennial Challenge 4. The Engagement Deficit The Skills Gap A 2015 study by Deloitte estimated six out of 10 positions will remain unfilled due to the talent shortage [2]. The skills gap is separated into two categories: operations and leadership. We identified innovative practices beyond existing training programs. Step one is to conduct a thorough assessment to benchmark the current state. Only then can the organization establish strategic plans to bridge any skills gap. To offset the shortage of incoming talent, forward-thinking organizations are widening talent feeder pools to include nontraditional sources, such as correctional facilities and halfway houses. This untapped group of entry-level employees has been very successful as a resource for the plastic manufacturers working with that community. Changing the perception of manufacturing also has delivered success sourcing new talent. Many organizations are investing in the advancements of computer technology, robotics and graphic simulation. These areas are of great interest to younger generations. Organizations in competition for new talent must promote internal investments in new technology.

42 | plastics business • winter 2017

The use of mentoring programs to train talent hired is not new, but an effort to strategically match the mentor and the mentee is new. We understand that the best learning occurs when strong alignment exists. When possible, organizations should assign the mentor relationship based on common background, geographical location and dominant characteristics. This connection reduces any generational conflict that can exist when one group mentors another. The Boomer Cliff A 2016 article in the Washington Post challenged the commonly cited figure – and then confirmed its accuracy – that 10,000 baby boomers are eligible to or will retire each day [3]. It’s not possible to prevent workers from reaching retirement age, but there are tactics and best practices to be utilized to manage “brain drain.” Since a large number of employees is expected to leave the workforce daily, smart organizations are preparing for the inevitable. Scheduled time is being blocked out for older, experienced workers to record the undocumented tribal knowledge that has been developed over the years. This knowledge goes beyond written work instructions created for the specific position. Another practice is to tailor job duties to the specific needs of the potential retiree. This may help delay departure, which will provide the organization the valuable time to document and record knowledge developed over time. Heavy travel expectations and lack of flexibility are top reasons why experienced workers are more receptive to retirement. When possible, organizations should reduce travel requirements and institute a more flexible job structure to accommodate the needs of the aging employee. The Millennial Challenge Studies tell us millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2030 [4]. To compete for the best talent in the current employees’ labor market, recruitment efforts should be tailored to specific groups. HR departments that focus on the specific needs of millennials are more successful filling open positions from this unique pool of applicants. The characteristics of this group are well documented. Hiring campaigns that highlight these characteristics in their organizational culture create greater employment interest among millennials.


The primary issue organizations face as new generations enter the workforce is the multi-generational conflict that occurs. A critical change that smart organizations are making to manage this conflict is first adjusting their perception of the incoming generation(s). A paradigm shift in the organizational culture must take place for the hiring staff to recognize a resume listing several employers may not necessarily indicate career instability. Millennials have a strong need to control their time. To effectively court this group, organizations should illustrate a culture of flexibility. The focus for management-level staff should be on delivering results – not on being in the building at a cubicle at a specific time. The greater sense of control of one’s time reduces employee stress. Lower employee stress contributes to a greater percentage of employee retention, and data prove it is a lower cost to retain an employee than to recruit a new employee. Examples of flexibility in manufacturing operations as it relates to time include self-scheduling teams that allow employees to have input on hours worked, technology that allows for seamless onsite/offsite communication and schedules that provide threeday weekends on a regular basis. Nothing will replace the fact that manufacturers must have a dedicated production schedule, but a willingness of the organization to be flexible and non-traditional will appeal to millennials’ need to control their own time, even in a structured manufacturing setting. The Engagement Deficit Data from Gallup tells us approximately 70 percent of the US workforce is either not engaged or disengaged in work activities [5]. A good first step to address a lack of engagement is to determine the existing level of engagement. Many tools, in the form of surveys, are available in the marketplace to benchmark the current state, but the most critical fact is once an organization begins to assess current engagement, there must be a strategic plan and early commitment to address any findings uncovered. Organizational engagement gets worse when feedback is solicited but no action or change is made. A senior level commitment to invest in and address issues revealed is required before engagement levels are explored. It also was found that to be most effective, organizations must ensure their mission is clearly defined. In today’s market, it is important to identify the “why” of the organization. The greater purpose must be clearly understood for employees to feel connected and contribute at their highest levels. At the end of the day, the new employee wants independence and the opportunity to make the world a better place. The organization’s objective must be greater than return on shareholder equity. Understanding the “why” helps align organizational objectives to the employee.

In the spirit of collaboration to improve the industry, leaders in plastics will continue to discuss challenges in human capital and share best practices solutions. Preparing for upcoming challenges that will affect our businesses should be very intentional. Success will not happen by accident. n References

1. Retallick, A. (2015, May 25) The Cost of a Disengaged Employee. Glass Door for Employees. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2016, from http://www.glassdoor.com. 2. Griffi, C., McNelly, et al. (2015) The Skills Gap in US Manufacturing – 2015 and Beyond (P 4) Deloitte – Manufacturing Institute 3. Kessler, G. (2014, July 24) Do 10,000 baby boomers retire each day? Washington Post. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2016, from http://www.washingtonpost.com. 4. Smith, J. (2014, November 18) 8 Things You Need to Know About Millennials at Work. Business Insider. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com. 5. Adkins, A. (2015, January 28) Majority of US Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014 Employee Engagement. Gallup Organization. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2016, from http://www.gallup.com.

Darryl Warren is president of D. Gene Alliance, a business solutions company and licensee of Crestcom International, where interactive leadership training delivers real business results. For a copy of the complete CEO Roundtable white paper report, People are not Plastic, email darryl.warren@crestcom. com or call 317.910.4318.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 43


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.

Focus on Lead Times: Using QRM to Get Ahead by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business Over 30 years ago, at a time when a new home in the US cost an average of $90,000 and many Americans were embracing "Hands Across America," a small group of four entrepreneurs collaborated and – contributing $300 each – established a plastics manufacturing company in the middle of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Nicolet Plastics Inc. (NPI), Mountain, Wisconsin, since has expanded beyond its initial $1,200 investment and one leased press to a 19-press, 42,000-square-foot production facility that focuses on complex industrial and medical components and assemblies. Throughout the years, the company has thrived by pursuing business endeavors and facilitating growth. More recently, Nicolet has set itself apart from the competition by centering its efforts on shrinking lead times and increasing customer satisfaction. When the global financial crisis struck the country nearly a decade ago, the manufacturing sector did not escape its wrath. Nicolet leaders, aware of the ramifications of surrendering to the recession, realized they needed to act to reinforce the company. Bob Gafvert, business development manager, explained, “Nicolet knew we wouldn’t survive trying to be like the 5,000-plus other molders in the country at that time. We needed to do something different and approach our business in a new way that would further differentiate us from the herd of molders.” Nicolet reviewed its business and found its complexity score was off the charts when benchmarked against other molders. “In 2010, Nicolet was scoring in the millions while other molders were at a score of 300,000,” Gafvert continued. “We knew our complexity was something we could exploit when the easy, high-volume parts were being sourced off shore.” Wanting to explore options in efficiency, the company contacted the University of WisconsinSchool of Engineering and Dr. Rajan Suri, the founder of the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing. According to the website for the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing, QRM begins with an understanding that time is the

44 | plastics business • winter 2017

Nicolet Plastics is a high-variety, low-volume plastics molder in Mountain, Wisconsin. Photos courtesy of Nicolet Plastics Inc.

most valuable resource in any enterprise. The QRM methodology was designed specifically for high-variety manufacturers of customengineered, low-volume products looking to reduce lead times – much like Nicolet. This companywide approach is geared toward reducing lead times in all phases of manufacturing and office operations and is not to be confused with lean manufacturing – a philosophy focused on eliminating waste for high-volume repetitive production manufacturers. Rather than eliminating all variabilities in manufacturing processes, QRM focuses on the elimination of dysfunctional variabilities, such as organizational issues that can cause rework, and helps companies find and understand the potential competitive advantages in strategic variabilities. Examples include, “the ability to cope with unexpected changes in demand, a large selection of options for customers and page 46 u


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offering custom-engineered products,” according to the website. These strategic variabilities can be huge competitive advantages for companies not interested in higher-volume work, while the elimination of dysfunctional variabilities can cut the longer lead times often associated with highly custom work. Since Nicolet implemented QRM in 2010, business began to increase. “The marketplace is taking notice of our business model and responding positively to our strategy,” Gafvert said. QRM has allowed Nicolet to compete in the manufacturing arena and gain entry to new prospects. The company has seen significant improvements in quality, reductions in lead time and reduction of inventories. It also has increased profitability and brought products to market more rapidly. Specifically, Nicolet reported reduced lead times for QRM business by two weeks while also reducing setup and changeovers by multiple hours. “Reducing customers’ time to market and launch of new products has been a continued success. When we help a customer reduce their product launch by weeks and months, we are finding that our commitment to QRM is playing a significant part in delivering and exceeding customer expectations,” Gafvert affirmed. “Whether it’s been on the front end with customer service and orders and acknowledgements or in the quick turnaround of quoting in engineering, we found opportunities for efficiencies in reducing the white space in all aspects of business.” Presently, Nicolet is continuing its focus on reducing white space – the time a job is waiting between steps, when something is not physically being manufactured in the press – and the company is seeing success with the complexity and diversity of its customer base and their products. As Gafvert acknowledged, “The variability that we experience day in and out is strategic for us, and QRM supports that business model.” Adopting the QRM approach companywide did come with a few obstacles. “It requires a paradigm shift in terms of manufacturing, such as letting go of certain lean principles, as well as a culture change across the board,” Gafvert added. To be successful, QRM needs to be employed throughout the company, and it takes time to get everyone on board. As the company has expanded over the last five years, its new hires have had to learn the importance of using QRM and how to support Nicolet’s customers with it. Additionally, getting suppliers on board can pose a challenge. The company is working to educate its suppliers on the value of time and to convince them to adopt a QRM mindset. As Gafvert suggested, “We can’t wait days for a supplier to get back to us with pricing or availability on a material or assembly part because it slows down the process.”

46 | plastics business • winter 2017

QRM has led to significant improvements in quality, reductions in lead time and reduction of inventories.

As the company looks for ways to remain prominent in the manufacturing arena, it is “incredible” as Gafvert put it, to see where it all started. Nicolet marked its 30-year anniversary over a two-day period this past fall by offering plant tours and celebrating with its customers (current and prospective), suppliers and the surrounding community. “It was a great opportunity to get people from the area into the facility to see what we do, the level of automation and the opportunities that exist in manufacturing,” Gafvert articulated. Looking ahead, NPI is expecting continued growth at the facility and through expansion of its customer base. The ability to cope with unexpected changes in demand and its success in providing customengineered product in low to moderate volumes has been – and will continue to be – the cornerstone for Nicolet’s progress. “Our plan is to spend another 30 years in our community,” Gafvert asserted as he discussed his enthusiasm for developing the next generation of production, master molders, engineers and customer service staff. He concluded, “Nicolet will continue to focus on driving value to customers who see the opportunity in a relationship with us based on overall value and partnership.” n


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BOOKLIST

Telling Your Story Facts and figures will only take a company so far. To truly engage employees, customers, prospects and other business stakeholders, there must be an emotional connection that drives action. Storytelling is the key. These five books discuss the science behind the story, share examples of stories that had proven results and provide tactics to use a company’s unique value proposition to engage an audience. The Storyteller's Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don't Author: Carmine Gallo Released: Feb. 23, 2016

In The Storyteller's Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don't, keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication expert Carmine Gallo reveals the keys to telling powerful stories that inspire, motivate, educate, build brands, launch movements and change lives. The New York Times has called a well-told story “a strategic tool with irresistible power” – the proof lies in the success stories of 50 icons, leaders and legends featured in The Storyteller's Secret: entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandberg; spellbinding speakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bryan Stevenson and Malala Yousafzai; and business leaders behind famous brands such as Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Wynn Resorts, Whole Foods and Pixar. Whether your goal is to educate, fundraise, inspire teams, build an awardwinning culture or to deliver memorable presentations, a story is your most valuable asset and your competitive advantage.

Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations Author: Dan Roam Released: March 1, 2016

In this short but powerful book, Roam introduces a new set of tools for making extraordinary presentations in any setting. He also draws on ideas he’s been honing for more than two decades, as an award-winning presenter who has brought his whiteboard everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to tiny start-ups to the White House. Even if you’re already a good speaker, you’ll learn more about understanding your audience, organizing your content, building a clear story line, creating effective visuals and channeling your

48 | plastics business • winter 2017

fear into fun. And you’ll master three fundamental rules. 1. When we tell the truth, we connect with our audience, we become passionate, and we find self-confidence. 2. When we tell a story, we make complex concepts clear, we make ideas unforgettable, and we include everyone. 3. When we use pictures, people see exactly what we mean, we captivate our audience’s mind, and we banish boredom. From nailing the opening to leaving a lasting impression, you’ll soon be able to give the performance of a lifetime – time after time.

Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince and Inspire Author: Paul Smith Released: Aug. 10, 2012

Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum. The reason for this is simple: Stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could. Whether you are trying to communicate a vision, sell an idea, or inspire commitment, storytelling is a powerful business tool that can mean the difference between mediocre results and phenomenal success.

Putting Stories to Work Author: Shawn Callahan Released: March 18, 2016

The most successful leaders are storytellers. By mastering business storytelling, they achieve extraordinary business results. As a modern-day leader, you know you should develop


this skill, but you don’t have the time to do this in an ad-hoc way. What you need is a practical, reliable method to follow, one that will allow your business to reap the benefits of storytelling as soon as possible. In Putting Stories to Work, Shawn Callahan gives you a clear process for mastering business storytelling. He demolishes the thinking that storytelling has no place at work, reminding us that sharing stories is what we all do naturally, every day, and that it’s one of the most powerful tools for getting things done. You just need to adapt this natural superpower to boost your business.

has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why? In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems – just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Most successful stories are moral – they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us. n

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story

Book summaries provided by the publishing entity.

Author: Jonathan Gottschall Released: April 23, 2013

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ADVERTISERS

A-1 Tool Corporation...............................................................................................a1toolcorp.com................................................................................................................ 41 Amco Polymers.........................................................................................................amcopolymers.com......................................................................................................... 47 ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc.................................................................................asaclean.com.........................................................................................Inside Front Cover B A Die Mold...........................................................................................................badiemold.com................................................................................................................ 41 Carson Tool & Mold.................................................................................................carsonmold.com.............................................................................................................. 41 Chase Plastics............................................................................................................chaseplastics.com............................................................................................................ 16 ChemTrend...............................................................................................................chemtrend.com.................................................................................................................. 7 Conair........................................................................................................................conairgroup.com/thermolator........................................................................... Back Cover Concept Molds, Inc...................................................................................................conceptmolds.com.......................................................................................................... 41 Constellation.............................................................................................................constellation.com/betterway........................................................................................... 33 Federated Insurance..................................................................................................federatedinsurance.com.................................................................................................. 45 Frigel.........................................................................................................................frigel.com........................................................................................................................ 23 Grainger....................................................................................................................grainger.com......................................................................................... Inside Back Cover Harbour Results, Inc.................................................................................................harbourresults.com.......................................................................................................... 47 Ice Miller LLP...........................................................................................................icemiller.com/IoTSmartConnections.............................................................................. 21 INCOE Corporation..................................................................................................incoe.com........................................................................................................................ 13 IQMS........................................................................................................................iqms.com........................................................................................................................... 3 Ivanhoe Tool & Die Company, Inc...........................................................................ivanhoetool.com.............................................................................................................. 40 Jade Group International...........................................................................................jademolds.com................................................................................................................ 45 M. Holland................................................................................................................mholland.com.................................................................................................................. 10 MAPP (Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors)........................................mappinc.com................................................................................................................... 50 MBS (Molding Business Services)...........................................................................moldingbusiness.com...................................................................................................... 23 Mold Craft.................................................................................................................mold-craft.com................................................................................................................ 40 Mueller Prost.............................................................................................................muellerprost.com............................................................................................................ 38 Novatec.....................................................................................................................novatec.com.............................................................................................................. 26, 27 OCTEX.....................................................................................................................octexlabs.com.................................................................................................................. 16 Paulson Training Programs, Inc................................................................................paulsontraining.com/MAPP............................................................................................ 37 Polymer Technology & Services .............................................................................ptsllc.com........................................................................................................................ 30 PolySource................................................................................................................polysource.net................................................................................................................. 49 Progressive Components ..........................................................................................procomps.com/testing..................................................................................................... 39 RJG, Inc....................................................................................................................rjginc.com....................................................................................................................... 19 SIGMA Plastic Services, Inc....................................................................................3dsigma.com................................................................................................................... 31 SRR (Stout Risius Ross)...........................................................................................srr.com............................................................................................................................ 36 Synventive Molding Solutions..................................................................................synventive.com............................................................................................................... 38 VIVE – Marketing for Manufacturers......................................................................vive4mfg.com/inthewild................................................................................................. 43 Wittmann Battenfeld.................................................................................................wittmann-group.com....................................................................................................... 29 Yushin America, Inc.................................................................................................yushinamerica.com......................................................................................................... 18

50 | plastics business • winter 2017


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Plastics Business - Winter 2017  

Plastics Business - Winter 2017