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America is What America Makes It’s More than Being Patriotic

The other day, I received one of the most memorable gifts of my lifetime. Coming into the MAPP office on a Monday morning, I found a glass-encased American Flag, with the motto “America is What America Makes!” Little did Jenny Taylor, MAPP’s business manager, know at the time how that gift nearly brought me to my knees. This message is being written merely two days after the memorial service to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy so my feelings and patriotic emotions are running pretty high. Patriotism – where does it come from? For me, it has deep family roots. My father was the last of 11 children who were all born in the Great Depression era. My dad’s father died in 1935, leaving the family of 11 to fend for itself during one of the most difficult periods in American history. To this day, I marvel at the family bonds and patriotic beliefs that were created in the tough times and never broken. As one small sample of this family’s service to our country, my Uncle Kenny served as a Marine in WWII, surviving countless missions, and then was rewarded for his service with an extended tour in the Korean War. My Uncle Kenny loved America; my dad’s family loved America and that intense love for our country has made its way through the generations into my very own family. I presented a small amount of my family’s history to set the stage because the parallels of today are closely related to our yesteryears. Not only is our country in a global war against terrorism, but we also are in a global economic war; a war that I feel can be won only if we study our history lessons. As most know, our country quickly evolved, after seeking independence, into the world’s leading economic power because of our manufacturing base. Of America’s estimated $14.7 trillion economy, today’s U.S.based manufacturing sector GDP is still larger than the combined output of China, India and Brazil – but the gap is shrinking. From a personal belief that individuals can make a difference, each one of us can positively impact the efficiencies of the manufacturing operations we represent. Every manufacturing professional can positively make a difference by reaching out to young adults to infuse them with excitement about today’s modern manufacturing techniques. Each professional can make a difference by contacting government representatives on the State and Federal levels to demonstrate how manufacturing positively impacts local communities. All manufacturing professionals can make their voices heard and work to share impactful stories with the media and local news agencies. Each manufacturing professional can work to make his or her place of employment the best that it can be, as becoming the “employer of choice” will attract top talent. If all the manufacturing professionals in the United States focused on becoming better – better leaders, better sales people, better technicians, better machine operators, better fork truck drivers, better engineers, better financial managers – then we could elevate American Manufacturing far beyond the reaches of our foreign competitors. In order to become better, one must take action! On October 27th and 28th, MAPP will host its annual conference in Indianapolis, IN. The best and brightest minds in the U.S. plastics manufacturing community will come together at this event for one reason: to get better! They will do this to grow the bonds between them and because they understand and believe that America is What America Makes!

Troy Nix

4 | plastics business • fall 2011

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, Ind. 46256 phone (317) 913-2440 • fax (317) 913-2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Matt Hlavin, Thogus Products Companies Vice President Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics Tom Boyd, Blow Molded Specialties Dan Cunningham, Parish Manufacturing Tom Duffey, Plastics Components, Inc. Lindsey Hahn, Metro Plastics Technologies Laurie Harbour, Harbour Results, Inc. Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Bob Holbrook, True Precision Plastics Tom Houdeshell, Atek Plastics Stu Kaplan, Makuta Technics John Passanisi, PRD, Inc. Jeff Randa, PolyOne Distribution Alan Rothenbuecher, Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn Co., LPA Scott Titzer, Infinity CleanRoom Solutions Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Rick Walters, DeKalb Molded Plastics Roger Williams, Royer Corp. Wendy Wloszek, Industrial Mold & Machine

Plastics Business Published by:

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Peterson Publications, Inc. 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, Kan. 66614 phone (785) 271-5801 • fax (785) 271-6404 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com Editor in Chief Jeff Peterson Managing Editor Dianna Brodine Art Director Eric Carter Additional Graphic Design Becky Arensdorf

Advertising/Sales Gayla Peterson Janet Dunnichay Contributing Editor Gayla Peterson Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Contents Fall 2011

profile

features

6

trends

production

22

36

profile Conquering Complexity at Plastikos ....................................6 solutions In-line vs. Off-line Decorating: A 10-Step Analysis .............11 trends Supply Chain: What You May Not be Thinking About ...........22 strategies Are You Neglecting Your Brand Touchpoints? .....................28 management Understanding Workers Compensation: The Role of Frontline Management.....................................32 production The View from 30 Feet: Industrial Mold & Machine’s iPads and Social Network ......36 industry Job Compensation Study Reveals Interesting Trends ..........37

departments director’s letter ..............4 association ................... 18 product ........................ 26 advertisers ................... 38

MAPP Benchmarking Conference .................. 20

Visit our Website:

plasticsbusinessmag.com

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


profile

Conquering Complexity at Plastikos by Dianna Brodine

E

rie, Pennsylvania’s Plastikos, Inc. has had an eventful year. The injection molding company won the 2010 Processor of the Year award from Plastics News and was named to Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare’s Employer Honor Roll. It has been profiled repeatedly in industry publications, including a feature article in the September 2011 issue of Business Magazine, the publication of the Manufacturer and Business Association. Inquiries are up from potential customers, sales are rebounding strongly from the recession years of 2008/2009 and a new class 10,000 cleanroom has been certified for medical molding. What’s next for Plastikos? The outlook for 2012 is bright.

Foundation for the Future In 1978, Tim Katen and Dave Mead established Micro Mold Co., Inc. as a provider of high-quality plastic injection tools and dies. In 1989, responding to a customer base that desired testing and sampling of molds before production, Micro Mold added an injection molding machine to its facility. That purchase was the beginning of Plastikos, Inc. Now led by a young ownership group that includes Philip Katen, president and general manager; Ryan Katen, general manager of Micro Mold and engineering manager for Plastikos; Matthew Mead, treasurer; and Rob Cooney, manufacturing manager, the custom injection molder has quickly established itself as a leader in the precision molding market. A natural partnership with Micro Mold customers led Plastikos to focus initially on the electronics market, but the molder has reached into aerospace, automotive, telecommunications and a new initiative to grow its medical molding business. With medical accounting for 10-15 percent of current production, Plastikos hopes to grow that percentage to 33 percent and ultimately to 50 percent over the next few years.

6 | plastics business • fall 2011

Plastikos is a small volume molder, with an average order size of 10,000 pieces per run and total annual production of hundreds of millions of parts. With shifts operating 24/5 and the largest customer demanding 100-125 million parts per year, changeovers are a way of life. In fact, Plastikos performs nearly 9,000 changeovers per year on its 27 presses. Adding to production challenges is the miniature scale of the pieces molded – the molder’s largest part is a six-inch electronics connector, and many of its parts approach the micro scale, with one part weighing .05 grams and comparable in size to a grain of rice. Plastikos adds to the intricacy of its operations by ensuring quick turnarounds for production orders. 50 percent of its products are shipped within three days of order, and it’s not unheard of for the molder to ship product on the same day that the order was received. Shipments are sent both nationally and internationally, reaching China, Malaysia, India, Mexico and Europe. In the last year, a class 10,000 cleanroom was built and certified as an investment in future business and growth. That’s the attitude that moves Plastikos forward: anticipating customer needs rather than reacting to – and missing out on the opportunities provided by – sudden demand.

Training for Success With an astounding amount of complexity driving its operations, the success of Plastikos’ 105 employees begins with a solid training program that has admittedly been ‘ramped up’ over the past five years. “We use a mix of both internal training and external training providers that is dependent on position, department and individual,” described Philip Katen. The most comprehensive training program was developed for the initial training and orientation for all operators and quality advisors,


COVER PHOTO CAPTION: From l to r: Rob Cooney, Ryan Katen, Philip Katen, Matthew Mead

which constitutes close to 40 percent of the employee base. Plastikos was one of the pilot sites for the Global Standards for Plastics Certification (GSPC) program in Pennsylvania, and the company certified many of its employees. From there, the company added to the GSPC foundation with companyspecific examples. “We spent nearly two months overhauling and enhancing our training materials,” Katen said. “We looked at the job from a new operator’s perspective, coming in with no previous plastics experience. What skills do they need to be proficient on a daily or weekly basis? From that, we began to build the agenda.” With some experience, new employees can complete the coursework – a mix of both classroom and production floor experience – in a week, but for most the training goes into a second week. Employees learn the basics of plastics from the ground up, including job responsibilities and quality requirements. Instruction also includes defect detection, with examples of actual parts produced and reject samples used in the training. “Most of the parts we manufacture are either really small or have intricate features and tight tolerances,” stated Katen. “If there’s any kind of damage or misalignment, it doesn’t take much to fall out of spec, so it is important that our employees can recognize Plastikos’ quality standards.” New employees begin working on the floor on one press under the close supervision of the training manager, gradually expanding time on the production floor and the number of presses that they’re overseeing until they are proficient. Additional follow-up training is done on the production floor for all of the employees, reviewing topics as the months go on. Ongoing education isn’t limited to production floor staff. As employees progress and move into other positions at Plastikos, they receive one-on-one on-the-job training for job-specific

responsibilities that can be supplemented with classes and certificate programs at Penn State. “Many of the process technicians have come to us from other molding companies,” Katen explained. “They are knowledgeable, but don’t always have a background in scientific molding. When the process techs come to work at Plastikos, they receive hands-on training from our supervisors, but also go through the intensive Penn State program.” Other training opportunities include partnerships with local universities, business and office skills training at the Manufacturer and Business Association in Erie and training provided by suppliers like RJG, Arburg, and IQMS among others. And at Plastikos, no one is exempt from continuing education. “Ryan, Rob and I attended Penn State’s Executive Leadership Academy, which is a nine-month series of coursework that mimics a high-level MBA program,” Katen said. “Education is a key expectation within the culture throughout all levels of the organization, including the partners in the company.”

Building Quality In With 10 degreed engineers on staff, including Ryan Katen, Philip Katen and Rob Cooney, perhaps it’s not surprising that Plastikos is a stickler for production perfection. It begins with preventative maintenance for the company’s molding machines and auxiliary equipment. One of the 27 molding machines and its related auxiliaries, including pickers, dryers and conveyors, is pm’d each day by a team comprised of both maintenance and housekeeping personnel who devote 6-8 hours to the task. page 8 u

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profile t page 7

One of Plastikos’ 27 injection molding machines is pm’d each day.

Each machine is stripped of panels and scrubbed clean of dirt, debris and parts that may have escaped during the molding process. While housekeeping personnel is cleaning the machine, maintenance staff reviews the press systems and runs diagnostics with the controller. Screws and barrels are checked for excessive wear, and moving parts are greased according to manufacturers’ specifications. Oil and filters are changed on the hydraulic presses as needed, and the electric presses receive similar intensive care. Screws and barrels receive additional attention during resin changeovers. Since the parts molded at Plastikos often have an aesthetic appeal, resin color is a critical component of a successful production run. As a result, each resin changeover is accompanied by a replacement of both screws and barrels in the molding machines. This changeover allows for added maintenance opportunities as well. With the equipment running in peak form, attention is turned to the beginning of the product design process. “We approach our customers and try to partner with them as soon as possible in the product development process,” explained Katen, “even if that’s when they’re preliminarily designing their product. Getting involved early helps us to build a closer relationship with our customer, which is always critical, but it also affords insight into what the customer demands out of the product.” A deeper understanding of the end application of the molded part translates into knowledge that affects both quality standards and the manufacturing process. “We can take our expertise in molding, tooling and materials and combine that with what the finished product is required to do,” Katen said. “In many cases, we find an opportunity to yield a better finished product

8 | plastics business • fall 2011

A photo of each outgoing shipment is taken to prove it was in perfect condition when it left Plastikos’ docks.

at a lower cost to the customer.” Once the tool design process is complete, an internal engineering design review is initiated that incorporates tooling and molding engineers from both Micro Mold and Plastikos. When the design is final from Plastikos’ perspective, customers then are given the opportunity to participate in a formal tooling design review. When not in production, tools are kept in a temperature- and humidity-controlled storage room. Each tool is bar coded. When the mold or its frame is removed for any reason, whether moved into production or maintenance, it is scanned to its new physical location, which is then tracked in Plastikos’ IQMS ERP system. This allows Plastikos to identify and flag molds that may require more than typical maintenance, and alert tooling engineers to problems before they manifest in the molded product. Another example of the steps Plastikos takes to ensure quality from beginning to end of every molding process includes the company’s shipping procedures. Photos of each day’s shipments are taken prior to the boxes or pallets leaving the shipping dock and then stored electronically. These photos enable Plastikos to definitively prove that each was shipped in perfect condition when it left Plastikos’ docks in the unlikely event of damage incurred in transit.

Managing Complexity Up to 9,000 changeovers per year + 95 unique materials + 25,000 potential parts = incredible complexity. “We manage a few different dimensions of complexity at Plastikos,” Katen explained. “First, we manage the parts themselves. These are very small parts, bordering on the page 10 u


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profile t page 8 micro scale, with micro features that are incorporated into larger part designs under very tight tolerances. The second dimension of complexity that we manage is a function of shortened lead times as companies around the world try to manage their inventory and push to an ever more lean system. The third dimension of complexity that we manage is the flexibility of our tooling.” It is the third dimension that “blows people away,” in Katen’s words. Many of the parts molded at Plastikos are slight variations of another part number, requiring a small addition or subtraction to a tooling cavity that results in a new part. Katen estimated the company’s capacity with existing molds and mold variations to be 25,000+ unique parts. That level of flexibility with tooling, coupled with demanding lead times and the complexity of the parts themselves, form a daunting barrier to managing the overall system. Katen pointed to process standardization as the solution. “If I could take one idea that overarches our approach, it’s standardization,” he said. “Even with the high number of part possibilities, there are still a lot of similarities, and we look

for those similarities within the process. It goes back to the training. If our staff follows the exact same approach with each part, it doesn’t matter which shift it is – the part will meet our quality standards because the parts are made by following the exact same process.” Standardization begins with engineering staff and process technicians, who work together to establish the optimal process for producing each part. Technology allows Plastikos to manage the complexity by keeping process data in one place, allowing better data analysis. “We work to boil the complexity down to more manageable steps through a standard process and documentation,” Katen explained. For the ownership team and employees at Plastikos, the past year has been a whirlwind of success, but it comes as no surprise to those who truly understand the measures the company has taken to produce a superior product. A commitment to building quality into the manufacturing process, rather than inspecting it in, has shined a spotlight on the company in 2011, earning Plastikos recognition from its plastics industry peers and establishing it as a leader in injection molding. n

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solutions

In-line or Off-line Decorating: A 10-Step Analysis By Bob Coningsby, Apex Machine Company

Should we run our decorating system in-line with our molding machine? Furthermore, should we run our molding machine and decorating system in-line with our assembly machine and subsequent packaging system?

Pad Print

3

Silk Screen Laser/Inkjet

3

Hot Foil/Heat Transfer Offset/FlexApex IML Sleeve

3

3 3 3 3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3 3

Step 2. Part Type Is the molder producing a flat part, round part or odd-shaped part? Is a consistent part produced per the agreed upon tolerances? What raw material would be utilized and how big is the part being produced? All of these questions are extremely important when considering the potential of running in-line, as the part itself will in most cases dictate the resulting decision.

3 3

3

3

3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3

Lo w Vo lu m e

Flat and round parts are more ideally suited for in-line applications than odd-shaped parts, but the key is in the consistency of the part produced. An inconsistently made H ig Vo h lu m e

Co l

or

3 3 3 3 3 3

1-

Fl

at

nd Ro u

O d Sh d ap e

B. Rotational Molding An in-line process with a rotational molder also is possible, but because of the size of most rotational-molded parts, this is not a common practice.

In summary, running in-line with any of the processes mentioned is certainly feasible and, in many cases, practical. As a rule of thumb, Apex typically recommends running in-line only with blow molding or injection molding equipment, as both of these processes will allow for a better return on investment.

M e Q ta ua lli lit c y

A. Thermoforming An in-line decorating process with a thermoformer is possible and practical; however, the key is volume, as large orders with limited changeovers should be run inline with the thermoforming machine in an efficient and cost-effective fashion. Another variable to keep in mind is floor space, as an in-line process with a thermoformer requires space to allow a suitable buffer between the decorating system and thermoforming line.

E. Injection Molding Running in-line with an injection molder is highly recommended, but as with other molding processes, the key is volume.

Ph Q oto ua lit y

Step 1. Molding Step 1 involves the molding process, as certain molding processes are more conducive to an in-line operation than others. The five most common molding processes include thermoforming, rotational molding, extruding, blow molding and injection molding.

D. Blow Molding Running in-line with a blow molder is both recommended and highly suggested as most blow-molded parts take up air; hence, one cannot afford to handle the part twice prior to its subsequent shipment.

M u Co lti lo r

A 10-step analysis is suggested in order to truly verify the feasibility of an in-line operation.

C. Extruding Running in-line with an extruder is very common, but the key here is in the extruder itself and in the product being extruded. Some extruders and some products may not allow for either an efficient or practical interface.

1C Va ol o Coria r py ble

These are significant questions that are deliberated when proposing the lowest possible unit cost system that will operate in an efficient and economical fashion. This can be determined quite easily provided that the molding machine, decorating system, assembly machine and packaging line are analyzed and assessed in every aspect of their feature and operation. Similarly, long-range goals and economic expenditure are critical factors that also should be considered in advance of the development and final confirmation of the project.

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solutions t page 11 part will not allow for the use of specific technologies, which otherwise would be more conducive to an odd-shaped part. Another factor to keep in mind is the size of the part and the material used to produce it, as some materials have different shrink characteristics than others. Certain materials also require pretreatment for particular decoration processes. To summarize, smaller parts which are consistently manufactured are appropriate for an in-line decoration process. Before considering the idea of running in-line, the required graphics should be analyzed, as the type of artwork also will impact the feasibility of the decoration process.

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Step 3. Volume How many pieces per year will be produced? Will short runs or long runs be produced? How many cavities is the molding machine? Would that particular mold be dedicated to that particular molding machine? When running in-line, one must definitely take into account the volumes, as an in-line operation with a small-volume molding process may not be practical simply due to the cost of the automation.

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Step 4. Artwork or Graphics In most cases, the artwork required will dictate the decoration technology. Likewise, in most cases the decoration technology will impact the feasibility and possibility of running in-line. When evaluating the artwork or graphics, one must consider the location of the graphics as this too will dictate the decoration technology.

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Does the round part need to be decorated for a full 360° circumference on the full length, or does it simply need to be spot printed? If a flat part is produced, would this require decoration on both sides, and would the graphics be applied to the full surface of both sides?

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In producing an odd-shaped part, where do the graphics need to be placed? Would the part support itself during the decorating process? What type of artwork or graphics is needed? Would a one-color print be required or is multi-color artwork necessary? Is a metallic image needed or does the part require photo-style graphics? Would short runs or long runs be produced; and how often would the artwork or graphics change? All of the above are critical questions, as the style of graphics will dictate the decoration technology; and the decoration technology will determine the feasibility and practicality of running in-line.

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Step 5. Decoration Methods or Processes There are numerous ways to mark, decorate and apply graphics to a product, but for this article the focus will be on the most common technologies utilized today. A. Pad Printing Pad printing is primarily used for odd-shaped parts and small volume applications. This process involves the utilization of a page 14 u


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solutions t page 12 solvent-based ink, recessed printing plate and a silicon pad to achieve very high quality graphics on unusual surfaces or odd-shaped parts. Most pad printing machines operate in a reciprocal fashion and off-line, as the volumes are typically not large enough to justify the automation to interface the molding machine with the pad printing system. There are continuous-motion pad printing machines on the market, and many of these systems do run in-line. However, the keys to an in-line operation with a rotary pad printer are the part – which in most cases is round – and the volumes. Large volumes will be needed to run with few changeovers to truly justify an in-line interface between an injection molding machine and a high-speed rotary pad printing system. B. Hot Foil or Heat Transfer Either process involves the utilization of a metallic foil or a preprinted foil which comes in contact with a heated surface to transfer the image to the substrate. Hot foil is suitable for small-volume applications where a semipermanent metallic image is required. Heat transfer also is suitable for small-volume applications where a photo

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image is required as high quality graphics can be preprinted on the film. As a rule of thumb, odd-shaped parts cannot be hot foiled or heat transferred; thus, most hot stamped or heat transferred parts are either round or flat. In addition, both technologies utilize a reciprocating part-handling motion, making it ideally suited for small-volume applications only. In comparison to other technologies, heat transfer or hot stamp has an expensive per unit cost. However, this technology allows for a lower capital investment as heat transfer and hot foil systems are very inexpensive. C. Screening Silk screen machines are predominately used for one-color applications and for either round or flat parts. Some oddshaped parts can be silk screened, but the printable area of the part needs to be round or flat, and consistently placed. As mentioned, silk screen machines only can apply one color at a time; however, there are numerous systems on the market today which can imprint multiple colors, assuming the order sizes are large. As a rule of thumb, silk screen machines have a long changeover time, making a multi-color silk screen machine impractical to run in-line for small volume applications. On the other hand, if running in-line with a blow molding machine, a sufficient buffer can be incorporated between the molding machine and the print to run small orders. Again, the changeover time is extremely critical, as the buffer needs to allow for a sufficient part accumulation while a changeover takes place. D. Offset and FlexApex Printing Processes Most in-line applications involve the utilization of either the offset printing process or a FlexApex printing process. Both of these processes are designed for large-volume runs and allow for stop-and-start capability, which will occur in an in-line process. Both technologies require either a flat or round part; and a sufficient buffer is required to allow for an in-line color or artwork changeover. E. In-Mold Label (IML) IML only can be utilized with an injection molding machine. This technology is ideally suited for smallvolume, high-quality graphics on either round or flat parts. Other shapes can be decorated with an IML, but the unit cost will be high and the cycle time will be low. F. Laser and Inkjet Both of these technologies are ideally suited for an in-line application where either variable data or a single-color


One of the most important factors to keep in mind when running in-line is the automation required to interface each of the machines within the line. artwork is required. Both technologies are non-contact, making them appropriate for almost any part type. G. Sleeves Preprinted sleeves are suitable for high-end graphics on blow molded parts and the automation required to operate in-line is both simple and cost-effective.

Step 6. Assembly Process Does the product require a sub-assembly process – meaning, do other parts have to be attached to the part prior to its subsequent packaging and shipment to the customer? Some assembly processes can be done very easily in-line, but the more complex the part, the more difficult it is to run in-line. In addition, volumes need to be considered, as a high-volume, complex assembled parts would be more challenging to run in-line than a high-volume part that does not require any assembly at all. Normally, an in-line application is not recommend for highvolume parts that requires multiple assemblies. The assemblies are the key, however. What parts have to be assembled to the decorated parts and do those parts also have to be manufactured in-line?

Step 7. Packaging Requirements What type of packaging is required for the parts, and is the packaging of a simple or complex nature? How often would the package change, and how will the end package be shipped? These questions need to be addressed before considering the potential of running in-line with a molding process, decorating system, assembly machine and packaging line. Packaging off-line is recommended because of the complexities normally associated with the packaging process. However, Apex currently is running numerous lines in-line with packaging, and once again, the decision is based on volumes.

Step 8. Automation to Interface One of the most important factors to keep in mind when running in-line is the automation required to interface each of the machines within the line. Apex normally recommends a buffer between each system, but this is not a mandate, as many of our high-speed automated lines run completely in-line as the speed of each system is equally matched. Another very important concern when running inline is the artwork and color changeovers. How often would page 16 u

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solutions t page 15 colors and graphics change? If the artwork and colors need to be changed frequently, then Apex does not recommend running directly in-line, unless with a bowl feed and a buffer in between. How long does it typically take to perform a changeover? The buffer needs to be larger or longer than the longest possible changeover timeframe, as it will not be affordable to stop the machinery when running in-line. Another key factor is machine efficiency, as an in-line operation will only be successful if each of the machines can operate in an efficient and non-stop process. If any of the machines which are part of this operation cannot operate efficiently, and each of the machines within this operation is not predictable, then Apex does not recommend running in-line.

Step 9. Cost How much would an in-line operation cost, and would running in-line be affordable? From experience, this only can be answered with numbers, as the volumes will define the likelihood of a successful in-line process.

Step 10. Return on Investment In order to justify running in-line, one must have a relatively appropriate return on investment. Apex typically strives for an 18-month payoff. Apex has been able to justify investment with a 2-year or 3-year payoff, but typically these are for programs which either have a longer life expectancy or a mandate for total automation. The medical industry is a perfect example, as many of the large volume medical products today must be run in-line as the process simply will not allow for an off-line mentality. To summarize, Apex is a huge advocate of an in-line process, specifically in the U.S.; however, running in-line is not easy, and every aspect of the project must be carefully analyzed and assessed to truly define what is possible, practical and – of course – justified. n Bob Coningsby is CEO and chairman of Apex Machine Company. Apex serves every facet of industrial printing systems, custom printing systems and on-product printing, marking and decorating equipment. For more information, call 954.566.1572 or visit www.apexmachine.com.

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association

MAPP Releases 2011 Wage and Salary Report MAPP’s Executive Team announced the official release of the 2011 Wage and Salary Report. MAPP’s 2011 Wage and Salary Report has evolved over the last eight years and remains one of the most utilized reports for compensation benchmarks in the plastics manufacturing industry. Today, the report contains comprehensive analysis on over 50 different job classifications with aggregated data from 171 plastics industry related firms, representing over 11,875 employees in the plastics industry. MAPP’s Wage and Salary Report is recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of compensation rates and trends in the plastics industry. To purchase the report, visit MAPP’s website at www.mappinc.com and go to the Publications page.

New User Groups Added to MAPP Forum MAPP members rely on each other to solve problems and address daily issues. There is no greater example of this than watching the interaction on MAPP’s Community Forum. MAPP Members have access to a dynamic network of industry professionals to find needed resources and solutions to pressing problems. The key to the MAPP network is people helping people. Many who have “been there and done that” are willing to stretch a helping hand to another person in need. Earlier this year, MAPP launched a “Point of Contact” campaign to get all the contact information for key leadership roles. The next phase in this campaign is creating online user groups for particular job functions. This NEW addition will provide members the opportunity to exchange ideas with one another; i.e. plant managers with plant managers, human resources personnel with other HR professionals, CEOs/Owners/Presidents with those who hold the same title or responsibilities. Members will be able to communicate directly with their group online. To start connecting, go to the MAPP website under “Communicate with Members”. Together we can continue building the strength of the MAPP network throughout each company.

18 | plastics business • fall 2011

Polycarbonate Resin Survey to Commence As every plastic processing executive understands, slightly impacting the highest cost line item (resin) on the Profit & Loss statement can mean much greater profitability. As a result of data collected through its surveys, MAPP is able to generate comprehensive information on specific resin families and on the individual resins that make up those families. By examining commonly used resins, MAPP Members are able to better understand strategies and tactics that could be used to ultimately lower their purchase price. The next resin study will focus on the Polycarbonate raw materials family and will be initiated in the October/ November time frame. Members of MAPP are strongly encouraged to participate in this valuable benchmarking activity. As always, all data inputs provided by individual companies are kept in strict confidence and benchmarking reports include only general information.

MAPP’s Leadership Engages in Strategic Planning Process The summer of 1996 marked the first beginnings of MAPP, as a handful of plastics industry executives created a strategic plan for the birth of an organization that would be “run by processors for processors”. As a member of the “founding fathers”, Lindsey Hahn, president of Metro Plastics Technologies located in Noblesville, IN, recalls that “the strength of the MAPP organization today resides in the fact that we’ve maintained the course that was established nearly fifteen years ago. While brainstorming the core elements and principles of MAPP back in the mid 90s, it was made very clear that our members would determine the goals, objectives and deliverables of their organization!” Beginning in the late winter of this year, MAPP’s Board of Directors set off on a strategic planning initiative to define the organization’s five year journey. “The road map we are creating for the future will focus on adding more value to our members and becoming a more flexible and agile organization, so we can react to and better meet our members’ needs,” said Matt Hlavin, president of MAPP and Thogus. But make no mistake about it, our direction will not alter the desires of MAPP’s founding fathers as this organization will continue to represent and address the needs of plastics manufacturing executives – we will continue to be an organization run by processors for processors!” n


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Benchmarking Conference Indianapolis, IN

October 27-28, 2011

Register Today: www.mappinc.com Operational Best Practices Sales Strategies Leading to The Industry’s Leading Competitive Advantages Plastics Processor Frontline Driven Conference! Employees: Best Ways to Improve Your Company Industry Benchmarks: How the Best Perform

Professional Networking Leadership and Its Positive Impact on Profits

MAPP

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


Construction Day Schedule (*Times Subject to Change)

Thursday, October 27: 8:00 a.m. 8:30 a.m.

10:00 a.m. 10:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 12:15 a.m. 1:45 p.m. 2:15 p.m. 3:15 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m.

A Community that Outlasts, Troy Nix (Executive Director) Building a High Performance Sales & Sales Management Culture, Jack Daly Community Building Break Expanding the Profitability Gap: How the Best Behave, Laurie Harbour (Harbour Results, Inc.) Benchmarks - Comparisons to Help Executives Improve Margins, Jeff Mengel (Plante and Moran) Lunch “Built to Last” in Real Life Breakout Exchange Sessions Community Building Break Creating an Innovative Company Culture to Erase Competition, Robert Rasmussen (LEGO Serious Play) Community Building Reception Dinner Lessons Learned from Working Undercover in My OwnOwn Company, Chris McCann (1-800 Flowers)

Premier Sponsor: M. HOLLAND COMPANY Pride In Plastics Since 1950

SM

ISO 9001:2008 Certified

Key Sponsors:

Friday, October 28: 8:00 a.m. 8:15 a.m.

9:45 a.m. 10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 12:45 p.m.

Lasting Impressions Vision Beyond the Numbers, Steve LeFever (Business Resource Services) Community Building Break Functional Area Roundtables Structure’s Built...Now What?, Troy Nix Conference Adjourned

During this explosive keynote address, conference attendees will have the distinct pleasure of interacting with Jack Daly, one of the nation’s leading experts on innovative sales strategies to grow profits. As an inspirational leader of people and builder of companies, Jack’s shared experiences have impacted and inspired executives for years. His approach to positively impacting sales, sales management, corporate culture, customer loyalty and personal motivation will leave conference attendees with a renewed sense of spirit and new ideas to implement immediately.

Robert Rasmussen, Co-Founder and main architect of LEGO Serious Play and renown expert in innovative thinking, will uncover methods advanced business leaders are using to separate their organizations from the pack. Employees possess an unlimited amount of creative thoughts and ideas that are literally an un-utilized resource in most businesses. Rasmussen will explain how tapping into the creativity of employees can virtually change the landscape of a company’s market position.

Although not a tactic available to most small to mid-sized business executives, going undercover and infusing yourself at the base level of company operations can reveal deficiencies that even the most astute leaders would miss. Join Chris McCann, President of 1-800 Flowers, as he shares his experience of working undercover in his own company to gain a better appreciation for strategies and tactics needed to reinvigorate and elevate the market presence of his organization. As seen on the highly televised CBS series, “Undercover Boss”, Chis will share valuable lessons he learned and will parallel his experience to highlight issues that might be occurring within your own organization.

Why do executives of world class companies compare themselves to industry benchmarks and take the time to understand business trends? ? Jeff Mengel, would say that knowing the true benchmarks and understanding industry trends allow company management teams to highlight productivity opportunities while successfully building on competitive differences. Laurie Harbour, a world-wide expert advisor to manufacturing executives and President of Harbour Results, Inc., will use a data intensive approach to link profitability to specific operational behaviors. Speed, adaptation, flexibility, and innovation, once enemies of American manufacturers, have e transformed into distinct advantages.


trends

Supply Chain:

What You May Not be Thinking About By David Landsman, MFG.com

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan put into stark relief an overwhelming, but largely un-talked about issue. Most organizations are unprepared for a major supply chain disruption. Companies don’t have supply chain continuity plans, they don’t ask themselves the right questions and basically have a policy of, “I hope that doesn’t happen to us.” If Japan has taught us anything, it should be that hope is not a plan.

What is the biggest risk facing a manufacturing company?

The biggest risk facing any manufacturing company is a sole source, single factory method of supply for a critical component. Sole sourcing anything should be a major red flag for a supply chain organization, but sole sourcing to a supplier with only one factory is a major roll of the supply disruption dice. Example: Apple. The major resin used in the battery for the iPad 2 is called Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF). 70 percent of the PVDF market is controlled by the Kureha Corporation in Iwaki, Japan, which is 37 miles south of Fukushima Daiichi. Additionally, Kureha’s export hub was the port of Onohama, which was more or less destroyed by the tsunami. The result of the disruption of the supply locale was that the 30 percent

Risks Facing the Supply Chain

of the PVDF global market not controlled by Kureha became 100 percent of the global market, and customers were thrown into disarray as they scrambled to secure additional supply. Six week waits for the iPad 2 became common as production ground to a halt in the wake of the tragedy in Japan. Mitigation: Have a backup supplier and if a backup is impossible, consider carrying emergency strategic inventory.

Companies know their suppliers, but who supplies their suppliers?

It is impossible to speak to a senior supply chain officer without the word transparency coming up in conversation. Every company in the world wants greater visibility into its spend, but in a roomful of sourcing and supply chain professionals you will find very few who manage their supply base beyond Tier 1. Example: Major Automotive Manufacturer. At the inception of a program, an automotive OEM sourced a machined part that required a substantial heat treatment before implementation. The OEM did not have good visibility into its total supply chain and a few years into the program, the heat treatment company suffered a major furnace failure that kept it offline for a significant time period, substantially disrupting vehicle production. Bill Michels, C.P.S.M & CEO of ADR North America, says, “While many companies claim to develop risk management strategies to assure shareholders that plans are in place, the reality is that few of these plans are effective. Most companies fail to map the entire supply chain, and they limit their analysis to Tier 1 suppliers. They are essentially ignoring the risks downstream, which are where the potential supply disruption is likely to occur.” Mitigation: Take the time to map the complete supply chain. Identify risk factors before they occur and have plans in place should these foreseeable problems crop up. The price of the mapping activity will be much lower than the cost of remaining ignorant of avoidable risk.

22 | plastics business • fall 2011


Supply Chain Disruptions - Buy Side In the past three months, has your company experienced a significant supply chain disruption that caused you to investigate or select new suppliers?

Is the supply chain too long?

Bloomberg recently reported that since the beginning of 2010, over $20 billion dollars have been invested in North American automotive manufacturing plants as OEMs pivot to move production closer to consumption. Toyota announced that it will no longer export the Camry to the United States and will instead produce all units in country. Boston Consulting Group recently released a report that indicated the “Asian Manufacturing Advantage” would vanish by 2015. Harry Moser, founder of the Re-Shoring Initiative, thinks it will be sooner than that. MFG.com’s MFGWatch Survey of trending manufacturing data indicates that approximately 45 percent of manufacturing companies have either re-shored manufacturing work to North America or are investigating re-shoring. Example: Rapidly Growing Wind Technology Company. An executive mandate was handed down that this company would source molded components out of China to keep tooling costs low. The company found an amazing tooling price from a supplier in Tianjin. Unfortunately, when the components began to arrive they all needed reworking. Costs skyrocketed. The company pivoted quickly to get quality production. They found a North American supplier and when the rework costs were subtracted from the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO,) the company actually achieved a 10 percent savings by re-shoring the work. This is an unfortunate failure on two levels. First, the company didn’t ask itself what the TCO would be if there were quality problems. Second, the company didn’t verify quality in China before taking shipments of the components.

Mitigation 1: Seriously consider complete TCO before making an offshore buy decision. Mitigation 2: If a company does decide to offshore work, it should engage a 3rd party verifications specialist to make sure components meet specification before they travel thousands of miles.

Continuous improvement disruption

MFG.com’s MFGWatch Survey trends data on supply chain disruptions. Unfortunately, over the last eight quarters, an average of over 40 percent of responding companies have experienced a supply chain disruption that resulted in the need to find a new supplier. This may be the most depressing statistic we cover because it shows an egregious lack of planning. It seems like many companies do not take a risk management view of their supply chains, and the result is a constant game of “put out the fire,” rather than a streamlined flow of goods and services. Where does supply chain resiliency begin? It begins with not ignoring the fact that companies are suffering supply chain risk every single day. It begins with admitting that most organizations don’t have a plan and recognizing the need to make one. Resiliency has to begin at the top with the leadership in the organization asking the question, “What are our primary vulnerabilities?” Many times, after asking that question, the leaders don’t know the answers. It is critical to form a cross functional team and investigate the primary risk factors of the manufacturing page 24 u

fall 2011 | 23


trends t page 23 enterprise. If an organization doesn’t know where to begin, it is useful to try a simple exercise. Bring in leaders from production, sales, finance and engineering. Ask them a question:

assigning a risk value to each one based on team input, with the highest risk categories receiving high numbers and lower risk categories receiving low numbers.

How will ______ affect our business negatively if we or our suppliers suffer it in the next (6, 12, 24, 36) months?

After taking the first step and acknowledging company risk factors, take the next step and begin planning to mitigate them. Start with the highest risk on the board and investigate how the company would manage the realization of that risk.

Fill in the blanks with some or all of the following: • • • • • • • • • •

Product tampering Exchange rates Patent infringement Legal issues Political issues Fire/explosion Counterfeit products Product recall Credit/financial Bankruptcy

• Business interruption • Product liability • Prolonged equipment breakdowns • Natural catastrophes • Environmental impairment • Regulatory issues • Security breaches

Have the cross functional team add categories they feel are germane to a supply chain risk discussion. Once a comprehensive list of categories has been created, begin

It is critical during the mitigation planning stage that organizations are realistic in their plans, specifically around business continuity during a natural disaster. FEMA statistics state that 40 percent of small businesses disappear entirely after a natural disaster. A majority of these losses can be attributed to loss of contact with employees and the consequences therein. A company might think it has the most committed employees in the world, but people will realistically think about their families first. Account for this in the appropriate categories. If leaders feel like the plans they are receiving from the cross functional team aren’t realistic, it is important to push back. “Would this really happen?” is a legitimate question to ask.

Are you measuring the correct risks?

Obviously, asking the right questions is always important. The latest MFGWatch data has “The Ability to find Qualified Suppliers” as the biggest risk organizations are facing right now, followed closely by product quality, logistics and energy concerns. Only 18 percent of respondents think supplier solvency is an issue. Marsh & McLennan recently reported that 68 percent of supply disruptions take place because of supplier insolvency of some kind. Are companies worrying about the wrong risks?

Risk management isn’t for me!

Some organizations think they are too small for risk mitigation planning and feel like hoping for the best is a good course of action, while others are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Whether a two-man company or 200,000, say this out loud: “If _________ happened, we would be completely shut down.” Take that one risk point, break it down and plan what to do if your worst supply chain fear comes to life. n David Landsman is director – strategic alliances at MFG. com. With 10 years of experience in high-volume, low-cost country and domestic sourcing, he is a globally recognized expert on supply chain disruption, continuity planning and risk mitigation. Landsman can be reached at dlandsman@ mfg.com, 678.556.2966 or @mfgsourcing on Twitter.

24 | plastics business • fall 2011


product

Conair Doubles Capacity of Material-Handling Control The FLX material-handling control system from The Conair Group, Cranberry Township, PA, now is available in a new larger configuration to serve up to 64 loaders and 20 vacuum conveying pumps. This top-end capacity is double that of the original FLX system. Designed to be affordable and easy to install and expand, a processor could start with an FLX system to manage just eight loaders and two pumps (one primary pump and one backup pump), and then increase capacity and capabilities in manageable increments when necessary, simply by adding input and output cards. The system can include such high-level functions as multi-source/multi-destination loading, purge, ratio loading, ratio loading with purge, reverse conveying for regrind recovery, loader fill sensing, output sharing between FLX control panels, Ethernet communication and more. For more information, visit www.conairgroup.com.

Frigel Announces Joint Venture to Begin Manufacturing in Asia Florence, Italy-based Frigel Firenze SpA has announced its intention to form a joint venture with Hong Kong-based ChudleighSutch Technologies Co., Ltd. and Osaka, Japan-based Matsui Mfg. Co., Ltd. to form Frigel Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. The new company will be based in Bangkok, Thailand and will provide centralized sales, service and manufacturing support for all of Asia Pacific. In addition to Frigel’s industry leading expertise in the design and manufacture of process water cooling equipment, Frigel Asia Pacific will add Chudleigh-Sutch’s turn-key systems and customized automation handling equipment product lines to Frigel’s global product portfolio. Filippo Dorin, CEO of Frigel Firenze SpA, commented, “By combining our existing process cooling product lines with Chudleigh-Sutch’s industry leading expertise in systems and automation handling and Matsui’s strong business network in the region, we are now perfectly positioned to offer our customers a more complete solution for their factory expansion needs.” In addition to forming a joint venture to commence operations in Asia Pacific, Frigel has recently announced plans to begin manufacturing in both North and South America, to complement their existing established sales and service channels. For more information, visit www.frigel.it.

26 | plastics business • fall 2011

Stratasys Introduces Cross-Over 3D Printer

Stratasys, Minneapolis, MN, has introduced the Fortus 250mcTM production 3D printer, a rapid prototyping and production machine designed to give users the convenience of a Dimension 3D printer with the flexibility of a Fortus production 3D printer. The Fortus 250mc combines the ease-of-use and affordability of Stratasys’ Dimension 3D printers with the control of Insight Software, used to drive the Fortus line of production 3D printers. With Insight, users have added control of build speed, part accuracy and feature detail. The Fortus 250mc has a 10x10x12 in. build envelope and offers three build layer options. To create parts, the machine uses ABSplus thermoplastic, which offers excellent impact, tensile, flexural and bonding strength. For more information, visit www.stratasys.com. n


FlexAbility More than 6,000 thermoplastic products, custom stocking programs, access to leading global and domestic suppliers, and blending and repackaging services.

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ReliAbility The support of a dedicated account team, leading-edge software that streamlines inventory management and allows real-time ordering, and a 99.2 percent on-time delivery rate.

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AccountAbility Empowered account managers, a commitment to understanding your needs and outrageous customer service.

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AccessAbility Two-hour callbacks and the quickest written response to quotes in the industry.

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strategies

Are You Neglecting Your Brand Touchpoints? by Teresa Schell, Strategic Marketing Partners, LLC

M

y what? For plastic processors, it’s not an everyday water cooler conversation that evaluates the effective use of the company’s touchpoints, which is the image that is formed as a direct result of the experience customers have as they engage with your company and your brand. How your customers perceive you and how they choose to speak of your unique offerings during word-of-mouth or networking experiences deserves a moment of your time. Many small- to mid-size manufacturing companies don’t consciously think about branding because they think it’s a concept for consumer markets, not business-to-business markets. However, branding is important to your company and should be a part of your water cooler conversations. Your brand, as recognized by the best critics – your customers – is the sum of all their interactions with your company. Every place a customer can interact with your company is a touchpoint, and that touchpoint affects how you are perceived. A dreadful experience with one touchpoint can negate all the brand equity you built through other touchpoints. You might recall the marketing snafu that happened with Burger King in 2008. The company spent millions of dollars traveling to Greenland, Romania and Thailand searching for hamburger-illiterate people to try the Whopper in an on-thespot comparative taste test against the Big Mac. Burger King was criticized for not being more sensitive in acknowledging that hunger exists in some of the areas where they filmed, citing Thailand in particular, where 30 percent of people would never be able to afford a hamburger. Touchpoint management is a strategic approach directed toward high level awareness to a company’s marketing performance across all touchpoints. For the plastic processor, touchpoint experiences fall into three categories: pre-purchase order, usage and post-purchase order. Pre-purchase order touchpoints include websites, word of mouth, direct mail, public relations, sponsorships or advertising. Usage touchpoints would include how the customer perceives the PPAP submittal process, sampling and receipt of plastic parts. Obviously, the post-purchase touchpoint would include the maintained level of satisfaction the customer receives years

28 | plastics business • fall 2011

after the program is in place through customer service, quality or customer loyalty programs. All these factors contribute to a customer’s impression of your brand. To create and manage your brand – that is, to make your audience think and feel what you want them to – you must create your brand through all these touchpoints.

Challenges in Touchpoint Communication To better serve your customer base and more effectively acquire new customers, manufacturing companies need to examine the details of specific interactions to understand the relationship between each customer touchpoint and the value it brings to customers. After all, value may be built through a series of positive experiences, but it is preserved through consistently meeting those needs and expectations of your customers during the customer experience. Three challenges need to be understood: 1. A single communication channel will not reach all your customers and prospects. Touchpoints must be delivered in multiple media channels ranging from Internet, sales staff, tradeshow strategies, direct mail or advertising and even social media approaches. 2. Organizational obstacles may exist. Be cognizant that many companies operate in departmental silos, when customers actually experience companies evenly across all organizational departments. 3. Understanding metrics brings increased touchpoint awareness. Many organizations are uncertain as to why the touchpoint strategies are ineffective. Apply a metric and record a historic log to track overall strategies that enhance your marketing and customer experiences. I’ve interviewed hundreds of OEM customers to realize that the most effective resource for finding a new plastics supplier is by word of mouth and networking with peers. Our customers are our most powerful communication channel. So how do you get people to talk about you? How does an organization go about identifying which touchpoints works best in the customer decision process?


To better serve your customer base and more effectively acquire new customers, Defining and Establishing Your Touchpoints The core of a brand lies in the key messages from the brand platform. Once a clear position is defined, typically from a combination of internal perspectives and external views from your customer base, a brand can effectively target specific market segments, go after those customers and build loyalty through touchpoints. Defining touchpoints can be developed after answering the following questions: •

How is your company different? What offering do you deliver that your competition does not? An attribute.

What experience or value do you guarantee to your customers? A promise.

What’s your brand’s definition in the marketplace? A position.

What does your company ultimately deliver for the price? A value.

Do customers care about your offering? Does it matter to them? A significance.

manufacturing companies need to examine the details of specific interactions to understand the relationship between each customer touchpoint and the value it brings to customers.

Customers are looking for indications that tell them they made the right choice in selecting you as a plastic processor, so how you map and present those touchpoints will build loyalty over time. 1. Appoint a team. Select a champion to lead and enlist the support of others in the accomplishment of your company’s marketing touchpoints. Each employee must be a brand ambassador for your company. Marketing defines the brand promise through its communications. Ultimately, a successful brand shapes customers’ experiences by embedding the fundamental value proposition in every touch. Your entire organization should then fulfill the brand promise.

page 30 u

M. HOLLAND COMPANY Pride In Plastics Since 1950

SM

ISO 9001:2008 Certified

STYROLUTION

Corporate Office: (800) 872-7370 www.m-holland.com

400 Skokie Blvd, Suite 600 Northbrook, IL 60062 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 29


strategies t page 29 2. Identify and measure the touchpoints. From awareness to advocacy, all activities within the customer experience require touchpoints in a print or electronic interaction. Optimize effectiveness by updating your printed and online communication touchpoints. Eliminate redundancy and measure your success. Customer retention is imperative. 3. Rank the touchpoints. Manufacturing companies should be able to detect which communication strategies are most important to their audience and how these can be influenced to optimize the business relationship for mutual benefit. The touchpoints being delivered should drive customers closer to realm of influence and persuasion. Companies utilizing the correct communication channels distinguish when to promote via print or electronically and in the proper order. 4. Use the right message and right media. It’s important to recognize that not all customers are equally important to current and future revenue growth. Since a company’s focus is on customers that are currently profitable or have the potential to become so in the future, it’s important

?

Does your MARKETING PLATFORM get you

noticed

SMP STRATEGIC MARKETING PARTNERS

Let’s Get Started.

Let SMP define a road map for change for your organization! Client Business Analysis

Branding & Communications Strategies Market Approach via Media Channels Teresa Schell | Marketing Director

tschell@strategicmarketingpartnersllc.com

www.marketingformanufacturers.com

30 | plastics business • fall 2011

that touchpoint analysis be connected to the customer experience. 5. Discover and acclimate. Developing a touchpoint plan is a journey, not a destination. Moving forward, effective communication will require ongoing reviews and refinements. Pay attention to what touchpoints really matter to customers because a focused approach to building your brand touchpoints will reinforce the positive and successful experience of your brand. Your newly appointed touchpoint team should continually measure, learn and adapt. Your brand will stand out if it delivers a positive customer experience – whenever and wherever the customer interacts in the plastic product buying cycle. Keeping customers, adding new ones and creating connections with all customers is verification of the overall achievement of the customerexperience focus. Companies with a successful marketing approach will define the touchpoints, refine how each touchpoint reinforces the brand and create harmony across the communication strategies. Manufacturing companies that strive to stand out from the competition value the brand investments that are most likely to establish new opportunities. The most effective touchpoints encourage customers to get closer to your company. Ineffective touchpoints can suffer needless expense or even push customers away. Your customers buy into your brand if they perceive a true differentiation, a high level of service and consistent value. That’s why the touchpoints in the customer experience are critical at multiple levels of engagement.

Is Your Marketing Working? For marketers, essential touchpoints must be critiqued continuously. Changing customer needs or competitive threats almost always ensure that the strategies that worked in the past will not work in the future, thus requiring revisions in how your plastic processing is marketed. Realizing the kinds of results you want will likely require changing processes, addressing marketing and sales alignment and improving overall messaging strategy. If you’re willing to make the necessary investments, you will capture the benefits of implementing a marketing touchpoint platform. n Teresa Schell is the marketing director for Strategic Marketing Partners, LLC, a consultant to marketing platforms and communication strategies for manufacturing companies. Schell can be reached at tschell@strategicmarketingpartnersllc.com.


F O R PL AS T I C S P R O C E S SO R S, S T R ATASYS I S A G A M E C H AN G E R . Fortus 3D Production Systems from Stratasys are changing the ways plastics processors do business – cutting costs, gaining production floor efficiencies and creating new sources of revenue. With a Fortus 3D Production System, you can create critical components such as end-of-arm tools, jigs, fixtures and even molds for prototype tooling. For Matt Hlavin of Thogus, Stratasys helped redefine his business: “Now we can take a product right from the beginning, through prototyping and development into production. Stratasys helps us get back the one resource we can’t buy – time.” Become part of this remarkable manufacturing revolution. FREE offer for MAPP members: Send us your part design and get it back printed in 3D. Visit stratasys.com/mapp.

©2011 Stratasys, Inc.


management

Understanding Workers Compensation

The Role of Frontline Management

by William Wahoff, Scott, Scriven & Wahoff, LLP

I

n today’s workforce, it is now more critical than ever to educate and train your company’s frontline supervision in understanding workers’ compensation and how to minimize company losses as a result of workers’ compensation injuries. This article will address how educating your frontline management can reduce work- related injuries, promote a safe workplace for your company’s associates and avoid litigation.

Immediately and Thoroughly Investigate Incidents First, immediately and thoroughly investigate incidents/ injuries. Frontline supervision must be trained to properly investigate any workplace incidents and/or injuries that occur within their supervisory roles, i.e., associates they directly supervise, incidents and/or injuries eyewitnessed, and/or incidents and/or injuries reported to them by associates or “heard through the grapevine.”

state allows such suits. If a prompt and proper investigation takes place, then there is a better ability to properly defend the supervisor in the lawsuit. If no investigation takes place, then it will be difficult to determine what was done at the time of the incident and/or injury as there may be little or no documentation that exists about the incident and/or injury. Supervisors should have standard witness questions. When there is an explanation of the incident, make sure it is explained so that a third party could understand it (i.e., if the floor was dry, take a picture). It is sometimes difficult to predict what course legal claims will take, so training frontline supervision in potential legal liabilities, particularly their own potential liability or the possibility of a criminal case against them, will make it more likely they will be diligent in their investigation.

Enforcement of Safety Rules Frontline supervision must be trained to enforce safety rules. Everyone knows safety rules are in place for a reason and should be strictly followed throughout the plant. As soon as an injury or citation occurs, the associate’s failure often is cited. One can raise an employee misconduct Once an incident and/or injury has been reported, an incident defense to an OSHA citation; however, the defense can fail investigation must be commenced immediately. This is if supervisors are not trained in the employee misconduct necessary because memories defense or the rules are not can fade fast. It is important being enforced throughout to get an accurate picture the plant. An employee of how the incident and/or misconduct defense to Supervisors/management injury occurred, exactly what OSHA violations has four must emphasize to was happening at that time different required factors: and who was involved in the the first is to establish a associates the importance incident and/or injury before reasonably specific rule to of timely reporting for any memories fade and records are prevent safety violations; destroyed. Supervisors must the second is to adequately injuries and/or incidents. be trained in detail about why inform employees of the prompt incident investigation rule; the third is to take steps is essential. to discover non-compliance; and the fourth is to effectively enforce safety rules when A prompt investigation is necessary because if it is a workviolations are discovered. If there are no written warnings related injury, then the investigation will help determine if the or other discipline documented, the defense can be difficult. claim is valid. It also is important because a specific process may need to be re-evaluated and improved to prevent further Frontline management must be educated about the OSHA General incidents and/or injuries or to take any disciplinary action. Duty Clause, which states each employer “shall furnish…a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards There also is a possibility that a current or former employee may that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical sue his/her supervisor after an incident and/or injury if your harm to employees.” Within the last year, OSHA has increased

Supervisors/management must emphasize to associates the importance of timely reporting for any injuries and/or incidents. Emphasize that it does not matter how minor the injury and/or incident may have been – it always is important to report the injury and/or incident in a timely manner.

32 | plastics business • fall 2011


its enforcement of the General Duty Clause. If OSHA can find proof of your or your supervisors’ knowledge of a condition that is recognized as a hazard, OSHA believes it can issue a citation under the General Duty Clause for almost any safety hazard.

Strictly Observe Medical Restrictions Another critical training point for frontline management is the method for appropriately handling any medical restrictions given by treating physicians or company physicians to associates. If an associate is given medical restrictions by such a physician, those restrictions must be followed exactly. If the supervisor has questions regarding the restrictions, those questions must be brought to the attention of upper management; but the supervisor must not disregard or question the restrictions given without instruction to do so. If an associate insists he/she does not require restrictions, but the supervisor has restrictions on file, then the associate must be told to obtain a full duty release from the doctor before those restrictions can be lifted. Evaluation Points for Frontline Management It is obvious that having full support and participation of the company’s frontline management is necessary for a safe

workplace. Leniency among frontline supervisors about safety issues is prevalent in workplaces because supervisors can be fearful that strict enforcement of safety rules can result in poor relationships with the associates. Topline management must therefore clarify that it will not tolerate violations so that the supervisors are “forced” to enforce the rules. They should be evaluated on the enforcement of safety rules along with other criteria so that it affects their compensation. Therefore, supervisors must be trained to use calendars, notepads, ledger books or specific forms to make it convenient to document events and enforce the rules. The limits of frontline discretion must be clear. At times, safety rule enforcement can result in suspension or termination. Management should ensure that terminations are reviewed by a legally knowledgeable and responsible person in the company. At times, there is a failure to investigate or to discover sufficient facts internally to make an informed employment decision. Review by an uninvolved management official can assist in completing the record. Training supervisors to enforce policies on the immediate reporting of injuries can greatly reduce workers’ compensation page 34 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 33


management t page 33 abuse. First, make sure there is a policy requiring immediate reporting of injuries (i.e., within the same shift or part of shift). Then, with that policy posted everywhere in the workplace, give written warnings to those who do not comply. Continue to follow up with progressive discipline for multiple offenders. In conjunction with the employee’s failure to immediately report injuries is the failure of the supervisor to immediately investigate and document reported alleged injuries. If a policy is in place requiring the immediate reporting of injuries, but your supervision delays the investigation of incidents, then the policy and enforcement will not have credibility. It is vital that supervisors and managers understand that when an employee comes to them with an incident, they are to obtain the employee’s statement immediately and conduct an investigation. Again, this should be an evaluation point.

Employees Training Employees A prevalent workplace problem is systems that rely on employees to train other employees without meaningful checking by management. In those systems, the company is exposed to claims for which it may have an impaired defense. Ensure all new employees know all of the safety aspects of

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34 | plastics business • fall 2011

their job; use individual sign-offs by employees on specific safety points considering their specific jobs. Managers and supervisors must be educated in the OSHA requirements. Supervisors should have at minimum the OSHA 10-hour course. Lock Out/Tagout (i.e., control of energized circuits), machine guarding, personal protective equipment, evacuation plans, occupational noise exposure and recordkeeping are some of the areas most cited by OSHA in this industry. Specifically with machine guarding, it is essential to double-check that all machines are guarded in accordance with OSHA standards. In some states, companies/management possibly can be presumed to have committed an intentional tort, allowing an employee to sue, if a guard has been “deliberately removed.” In any case in which a guard that has been present is absent, the company is exposed to citations by OSHA and possibly lawsuits that will need to be defended in the event of an injury.

Termination of Injured and/or Disabled Employees Sometimes companies make decisions without thoroughly considering all the consequences in terminating employees who have had severe injuries. Even if some accommodations have been made, any termination should be thoroughly reviewed with legal counsel. Worrying about small details, such as return of uniforms or other materials and then withholding funds until such items are returned, can motivate former employees to sue the company. While the company should not give up management’s legal rights in the process out of fear of being sued or having a claim filed, actions taken must be carefully considered before a decision is made. However, if the company is sued, damages are more often reduced if the employee is still employed, so assisting the injured employee can reduce exposure to the company. Conclusion Acquaint, educate and train your frontline management in their role in your safety and health and workers’ compensation programs. Have them understand their precise responsibilities and the limits of their decision-making authority. Train them in why it is in their personal interest to enforce safety rules, enforce rules about the immediate reporting of injuries and immediately investigate incidents. n William J. Wahoff, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of Scott, Scriven & Wahoff, LLP. The firm represents public and private sector employers in labor and employment law, specializing in workers’ compensation, OSHA and intentional tort defense. Wahoff can be reached via email at bill@sswlaw.com or by phone at 614.827.6404. The firm’s website can be accessed at www.sswlaw.com.


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production

The View from 30 Feet: Industrial Mold & Machine’s iPads and Social Network 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. When those involved in plastics processing talk about upgrading technology, they often are replacing outdated machinery on the plant floor. At Industrial Mold & Machine (IMM), Twinsburg, OH, technology upgrades have put iPads in the hands of 19 employees and are changing the way the company communicates.

“Instant information – that’s how we’ve branded our goal,” explained Wendy Wloszek, president of IMM. With 37 employees and 19 iPads, that goal is being met for sales staff, CNC machinists, programmers and five apprentices who use the iPads to access a social network created by IMM. The network, dubbed IMM Connect, contains everything from employee handbooks and MSDS sheets to logout/tagout information and details about each job that runs within the shop. Employees use iPads from wherever they are to log into IMM’s social network and view current jobs running on the production floor or to prepare for the next job. Each job has its own page on the network, containing the steps that need to be taken to produce that piece, detail drawings in both 2D and 3D and programming sheets. “We’re changing the workflow,” Wloszek said. “We’re trying to cut the ties from printed sheets of paper and blueprints.” When asked if the goal for IMM is to be completely paperless in the future, Wloszek pointed to the overarching goal of instant information. “If you have to go look for a print, you’re wasting time. Paperless is just a result of instant information.” Wloszek admitted that the journey hasn’t been seamless “There’s not a huge resource to look at and see how others have done it,” she said. However, IMM continues to move forward, becoming a resource for others who want to move toward a technologybased workflow. The next step is an interface that will allow IMM’s social network to pull data points from the company’s ERP system for clean and quick delivery of critical information. For Wloszek, iPads and social networks are part of a necessary culture shift. “The apprentices we have now – the people who will be the future of IMM – come from the technology generation,” said Wloszek. “We’re starting this now to prepare the company for the next generation workforce.” n

36 | plastics business • fall 2011


results

Job Compensation Study Reveals Interesting Trends by Troy Nix

M

uch like the housing market of yesteryear with the always anticipated three percent annual increase in property value, recent trends for compensation and wages have nearly followed that exact path. Wage freezes and compensation decreases during the time periods of late 2008 and throughout 2009 have created many perplexing trends in many different job functions. To capture some of these very perplexing trends in salary trends, MAPP’s 2011 Wage and Salary study examined over 50 different job classifications from 170+ plastics industry related firms. These job classifications represent over 11,875 employees in the plastics industry, with survey participation growing by 30 percent over the 2009 report. From a demographic standpoint, the majority of survey participants represented firms between $5M - $15M in annual sales revenue, and the most predominate processes represented were injection molding followed by extrusion.

Benefit Highlights:

• Employment Growth: For the employment outlook in the plastics industry, there is optimism that growth will continue as 77 percent of the 171 survey respondents anticipated workforce growth through new hires over the next twelve months.

provide some type of 2nd shift pay differential, and 27 percent provide employees between 26-50 cents more per hour for working on 3rd shift. • Medical Insurance: Although 89 percent of the surveyed population provides medical insurance to their employees, this represents a nearly 10 percent decrease since the 2009 study was conducted. A total of 86 percent provide medical insurance for dependents; 43 percent provide medical Flexible Spending Accounts; and 76 percent provide dental insurance to employees. • Vacation Requirements: Over 79 percent of the employers in the 2011 survey require a minimum of two years of service or more in order to obtain two weeks of vacation. To obtain three weeks of vacation, 25 percent of employers require ten years of service, while 36 percent require five years of service.

Compensation Overview:

As a continuation from the 2009 study, historical trend data has been logged on several job classifications. This historical salary trend data combines information over MAPP’s last four compensation studies showing total median salaries in the ‘average wage category” from 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011. • Pay Differentials: Over 46 percent of those reporting data in By examining several years with of data in one snap shot, it this year’s survey operate a three-shift/five-day operation. now is possible to measure wage progressions/digressions of With this said, 75 percent of the surveyed population specific job classifications. As an example, a general manager’s incremental salary increase over the last nine years was approximately 29 percent or an Compensation Highlights average annual net gain of about 3.22 percent. With this type of analysis, it became plainly Percent 2011 Job Name 2009 obvious that some job functions have not kept Average Pay Rate Average Pay Rate Change (MEDIAN) (MEDIAN) pace with even the most conservative rates of inflation. From this data, one also may be able $14.50 $15.25 5.17% Administrative to recognize that a wide majority of plastics Assistant professionals continue to feel the impact of $28.50 $31.40 10.18% Information the wage freezes, or in some cases, wage cuts Systems Manager that occurred 18-36 months ago. n $12.00 $12.42 3.50% Material Handler / Fork Lift Operator Process Technician Set-up Technician

$18.38 $16.00

$19.50 $16.67

6.09% 4.19%

To purchase the full report, visit www.mappinc.com. www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 37


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38 | plastics business • fall 2011


Research & Experimentation Tax Credits for the Plastics Industry “I have found working with Mueller Prost PC to be a very rewarding experience. They are thorough, thoughtful, consummate professionals who bring a strong understanding of manufacturing to their tax work. They have made it their business to fully understand the unique details and characteristics of the R & E Tax Credit, and how the benefits of this tax law can create tax credit opportunities for firms/owners in the plastics industry. I recommend them without reservation.” Tom Duffey President, Plastic Components, Inc. Board President, MAPP

Is your company...

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