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director’s letter

Where Does Time Really Go? Can you remember the last time you asked another professional in your own industry how to perform a specific task or job duty for the purpose of improving?

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

The reason I ask is that I’ve made an attempt over the last several months to better understand how company leaders manage their time and schedule their days in order to get more things done. My ultimate quest was to improve my own efficiencies as a leader and coach.

President Matt Hlavin, Thogus Products Companies

One of my most intriguing conversations occurred with Tom Duffey, owner of injection molder Plastic Components, Inc., located in Germantown, WI. Tom indicated that he had successfully amplified his company’s throughput levels and improved efficiencies by having all employees study their time spent on daily activities. What he and his staff discovered from this data was amazing and set a course to dramatically improve his operations.

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., LTD Scott Titzer, Infinity CleanRoom Solutions Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Rick Walters, DeKalb Molded Plastics Roger Williams, Royer Corp. Wendy Wloszek, Industrial Mold & Machine

I began an intensive time study to track my own activities for a period of approximately three weeks. Although an extremely cumbersome activity, I tracked every minute of my time and attached it to the task at hand. If I helped a MAPP Member locate a specific industry benchmark for 25 minutes on the telephone, then it was logged. If I spent 60 minutes with our IT professional troubleshooting MAPP’s new automated billing system, then it was logged. Time spent in weekly planning meetings, phone calls, opening and processing mail, etc. all were logged. Not even through my first week of systematic tracking, I began to see where large gaps of time were being used inefficiently. As an example, employees in the MAPP office generate new ideas about ways to better serve the membership on a daily basis, and it was our tendency to address these ideas at the time of generation. To stop work, listen to the idea, engage and create action plans was proving to be inefficient, so our staff now “pools” new ideas and communicates them in our weekly staff meetings. During this time study, I also realized that Members often need help with administrative processes on the MAPP website. To more efficiently deal with this issue, our staff has created a plan to develop short YouTube videos covering subjects like How to Post on the MAPP Message Boards, How to Send Emergency Alerts for Help and more. I felt that sharing this experience with the readers of Plastics Business was very important, because it exemplifies both the power of benchmarking and the different forms of benchmarking that exist. Most professionals are very familiar with numerical forms of benchmarking (finance and operational data), some frequently use activitybased benchmarking to improve processes (attending a plant tour event, as an example) and others tap into the experiences of others, like I did with Tom. ALL of these forms of benchmarking are integrated into MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices conference, to be held October 27th and 28th in Indianapolis, IN. The latest and most up-to-date Financial Benchmarks, Operational Best Practices and the experiences of others will be shared during this conference to give attendees the ability to improve themselves and their operations. If you begin a time tracking activity like I did, don’t forget to block out the best 36 hours of the year for MAPP’s conference, because it will positively impact you!

Troy Nix

4 | plastics business • summer 2011

Vice President Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics

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 Melissa DeDonder Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Contents Summer 2011

profile

features

6

trends

production

24

22

profile Pollmann North America: Driving Business Forward with a Committment to Automotive ................................................6 strategies Medical Injections Molding: Is it the Future for Your Molding Operation? ...........................................................11 solutions Laboratory Services Important for Quality, R&D and Safety in the Plastics Industry .............................................16

departments director’s letter ..............4 association ................... 20 product ........................ 34 advertisers ................... 38

production The View from 30 Feet: Plastic Components, Inc.’s Tool Crib System ......................22 trends Bio-based Material Development in the Polymer Industry ...24

Visit our Website:

plasticsbusinessmag.com

industry Assessing Sustainable Packaging through Life Cycle Analysis ...................................................................31 management Positioning Your Business ...................................................36 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


profile

Pollm Top row, left to right: Timo Yuckman – Business Development Manager, Andreas Reger – President, Michaela Kellner – Finance Manager, Roland Kuehtreiber – Engineering Manager Lower row, left to right: Andreas Miloczki – HR Manager, Andreas Klarmann – Operations Manager, Robert Lane – Quality Manager

R

ecent years have seen injection molders scrambling to diversify market offerings in order to mitigate the downturn in automotive production. At least one molder, however, evaluated its core strengths, took a hard look at the potential in the automotive market and shifted into overdrive with expanded marketing efforts and investments in equipment designed to strengthen its presence as an automotive supplier.

Following the Customer Pollmann North America (or Pollmann NA), Romeoville, IL, is a subsidiary of Pollmann International, headquartered in Karlstein, Austria. Originally founded in 1888 by Franz Pollmann as a workshop for high-precision mechanical devices and watches; the company entered the automotive market in 1980 by supplying mechanical speedometers to Ford in Europe and the United States. The first international subsidiary was founded in the Czech Republic in 1991, with Pollmann North America established in 2001 and Pollmann China following in 2006.

6 | plastics business • summer 2011

Pollmann’s core capability is injection molding, in particular the insert- and over-molding of metal components and leadframes for the automotive industry. In 1994, Pollmann started producing its first sunroof kinematics and today, Pollmann is the global market leader for these components. Other products manufactured for the automotive market by Pollmann facilities include door locking systems, transmission components, ECU housings, bobbins and several other molded components. “Our automotive customers drove the company’s global expansion,” stated Andreas Reger, president of Pollmann NA. “There was a conscious decision that we wanted to be an automotive supplier. By default, we had to follow our customers as the industry become more and more global. The establishment of Pollmann North America is a good example. Our European customers grew in the U.S. market and were looking to localize their supply chain. So if we wanted to maintain and grow our business with our core customers, we had to manufacture in the U.S.” Pollmann opened its North American manufacturing facility in Romeoville, IL. At first, the company leased manufacturing space, but the strong growth of the business led the company to invest in its own 35,000 square foot manufacturing facility, which opened in 2006. With manufacturing capabilities


ann North America

Driving Business Forward with a Commitment to Automotive by Dianna Brodine

geared toward high volume and high complexity components, the North American facility is highly automated, with robots assigned to each molding machine. Eleven machines range from 60 to 350 tons. “One of our biggest competitive advantages is the global footprint of our relatively small company,” Reger said. “There is a strong linkage between all of our branches, and we serve the same customers globally.” Some projects might be acquired and developed in one location and then produced in another. “We are small enough to have excellent communication between our branches, but large enough to leverage and benefit from the competitive advantage that our global manufacturing bases give us.”

The Economy Slams on the Brakes From its beginning, Pollmann North America had been managed by a team of Austrian expatriates. After seven years at the helm, the previous president returned to Pollmann Austria and the company decided to hire from the outside. In March 2008, it appointed Andreas Reger as its new president. Reger (a native of Germany) had been a business segment manager for the electro-mechanical product group at Siemens VDO (now Continental) in Troy, MI. Pollmann hired Reger to take advantage of his business development background and the management experience that he had gained working for a large automotive Tier 1 supplier. That experience became critical as Pollmann NA channeled all of its efforts into what every other molder with an automotive focus was doing – optimization of operations – as the economy and the automotive industry began its decline. With the economic downturn, Pollmann NA’s European heritage became a liability. “We were suffering more than most other suppliers from the strength of the Euro because

we purchased 85 percent of our components and raw materials in Austria.” The company, prior to 2008, had never gone back to a customer to renegotiate pricing. “But in 2008, we had to,” Reger explained. “The increase in raw material prices and the increase in the Euro/USD exchange rate were just too dramatic. We were dying a slow death and had no other choice but to go to our customers and negotiate price adjustments. That was the very first thing,” said Reger. Pollmann NA’s customers, understanding that every supplier was experiencing the same crunch, were willing – although not eager – to reevaluate their contract pricing and agreed to ‘share the pain.’ Next, Pollmann NA implemented rigid cost controls, with inventory control at the top of the hit list. Pollmann NA reduced its on-site inventory by almost 40 percent, and implemented an inventory management process based on actual and historic customer requirements. “Many of our components were coming from Europe,” said Reger, “and we were so concerned about our delivery performance that we would order enough supply to cover almost every eventuality.” With inventory control making an impact on cash reserves, Pollmann NA also restructured its organizational processes to reduce complexity. “We also approached the customer and said that in order to avoid the exchange rate risk, we would have to relocate some of our component purchases to the U.S.” Before 2008, up to 85 percent of Pollmann NA’s component purchases were from outside of the U.S. – that number is now less than 30 percent, with the majority of components sourced locally. The one thing Pollmann NA did not do was to cut salaries. “We looked at this option very carefully but decided against it. The savings would have been modest compared to the potential negative effect this measure could have had on employee motivation,” said Reger. page 8

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 7


profile t page 7 Making a Commitment to the Market At the same time, Pollmann NA was exploring diversification outside of automotive, specifically into medical molding. With three automotive customers making up the majority of Pollmann NA’s sales, the company needed to become more diverse. The medical market, however, was not the answer. “What we learned after researching the market is that the needs and requirements of medical were not something that fit us well at that point in time,” Reger said. “We put the brakes on that very quickly.” Pollmann NA’s facility is designed around its ability to perform highly automated, highly complex manufacturing. Many manufacturing cells within the facility are dedicated to a specific project, with very little changeability from cell to cell. The approach requires a significant upfront investment, but revenue per employee is high compared to most other molding operations. While researching other markets, Reger discovered that only a

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“We were convinced that there would always be cars built in this country and in others around the world,” continued Reger. “Our company is 123 years old and has survived two World Wars, the Great Depression and many other crises throughout its existence. This does not mean that we cannot fail, but it does mean that we look at things from a very longterm perspective.”

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“We had a limited amount of resources and we had to decide on the best way to allocate those resources,” he explained. “Our decision was very clear – we allocated our resources into our core industry, which was automotive.” Pollmann NA focused its diversification strategy on growing within the automotive market through both its existing customers and with new customers. Despite the fact that the automotive market was in a decline in 2008 and 2009, Pollmann NA reinforced its marketing activities by bringing on three new sales agents at the end of 2008. “We made that investment because we were confident that automotive was the place for us to be,” Reger said.

“Begin with

few markets outside of automotive would fit the company’s operational model.

©

Accelerating into the Future Today, Pollmann NA is a healthy organization on the rise. Reger pointed to the company’s customer base – and its willingness to commit to automotive – as the reason for page 10 u


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its survival. “We took a long hard look at our capabilities, skills, resources and the markets that were available to us. This analysis led us to believe that in the short-term, customer diversification within automotive was more important for us than industry diversification. We also were fortunate in 2008 and 2009 that we had the right customers.” Having the right customers – those that were strong, financially healthy and well-diversified within automotive – has left Pollmann NA in its own position of strength, one that it now looks to capitalize on. With a robust balance sheet and growth opportunities with key customers, the company is beginning to look at strategic acquisitions. “In the long term, we are looking to expand our manufacturing footprint into other industries.” Reger explained. “But, we need to be smart and careful not to overextend ourselves. When you diversify you add complexity, and complexity can create its own problems.” Reger also continues to monitor the economy. “We are affected by the macro-economic environment just as anybody else is, and our only remedies are forward planning and material rate adjustment agreements with our customers. We also are still very concerned about the possibility of a double-dip recession or a prolonged weakness in the economic recovery.” he said. However, Pollmann NA is moving confidently forward, with a commitment to serve automotive markets both in the North American market and globally. The company’s survival through a difficult economic downturn has left it in a better financial position, with a deeper understanding of its own manufacturing strengths and a customer base that is comprised of the right partners for the future. n


strategies

Medical Injection Molding

Is it the future for your molding operation? by David Lessard, Cook Polymer Technology

D

uring the past decade, many injection molding companies, large and small, have been exposed to a rapidly changing business climate. The economic effects of a changing automotive market, electronics movement to the Far East and continued cost pressure from the current industries we all serve have us looking at ways to improve our operation. One of the resultant directions from these changes is to develop new customers by finding new markets. The most common question we hear is: “What do I need to do differently to get medical device customers?” We would like to explore what the medical molding world looks like and how you can prepare for this industry if you choose to service these customers.

Understanding ISO Standards Medical Injection Molding (MIM) is more than a plastics process. The medical molding process goes well beyond a machine, mold and material. Important factors of MIM are quality control capabilities and operational controls. Quality system compliance is one of the foremost requirements for medical molding. Many molders are using some version of the ISO quality system. The ISO standards focus on a quality system documenting how to create a level of control from incoming to shipping. Once a molder determines which level of ISO standardization they wish to achieve, annual certification will be required. Many experienced molders believe they have a top-of-the line automotive quality system already in place. We have visited many of these operations and found that they do have solid quality systems. The differences may be semantically explained, but your medical customers will expect ISO-13485 certifications – the medical device standard – when considering you as a future supplier. The ISO13485 standard is yet another level of control and compliance for the medical device world. Achieving this level of quality control system compliance will enhance your attractiveness to potential customers.

The following helps explain the primary differences between ISO-9001 and ISO-13485: • The ISO-13485 standard addresses issues pertinent to the medical device industry and related requirements. • ISO-13485 addresses requirements for regulatory purposes while ISO-9001 addresses requirements of the customer. • ISO-13485 does not require continual improvement because it is too subjective. Device regulations require you to maintain your quality system, not necessarily improve it. • ISO-9001 requires you to document, implement and maintain six (6) mandatory procedures. ISO-13485 requires you to document, implement and maintain procedures and is expanded to include requirements, activities and special arrangements. • ISO-13485 emphasizes the use of documented procedures to provide the controlled conditions for the activities and processes that are required to be performed. • ISO-9001 allows the user to decide how work is controlled, while the ISO-13485 standard requires more formal procedures and instructions. • ISO-13485 references 21 CFR 820 – Quality System Regulation for Medical Devices as its guidance document for regulatory requirements. • ISO-13485 implements a few more specific items: work environment controls are needed to ensure product safety; risk management activities are required during product development; and specific inspection and traceability requirements for implantable products are required. Annex B of the ISO-13485 standard details the specific, detailed differences between ISO-9001 and ISO-13485. Additionally, regulators have begun offering very strong opinion statements about the level of control at the component page 12 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 11


strategies t page 11 level (i.e., suppliers) for medical device manufacturers. This direction will bring about continued pressure on the molder to comply with current ISO standards. Quality control and regulatory compliance are key factors when considering suppliers. High levels of compliance improve your attractiveness from a quality system standpoint. Registration with the FDA or equivalent regulatory body as a contract manufacturer is an example of another level in your quality system. This type of registration would allow you to fully manufacture a medical device as an OEM for a potential customer. In addition to manufacturing a finished device, secondary operations may be necessary and viewed as valueadds by the potential medical device customer. Depending on the secondary operation, you may be finishing a device. Some examples of secondary operations would be stamping or printing, ultrasonic welding and various minor assembly methods.

Material and Environmental Controls Once we have achieved the appropriate level of quality system certification, we need to consider other controls in the operation. The key variables would be raw material and

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lot number control, process parameter controls, mold control and record keeping and environmental compliance. These variables can be very broad in scope and depth of detail. Let’s take a high level perspective for this section. The certification requirements discussed previously will include sections dealing with each of these variables. The level of process control used in the automotive or electronics world may be sufficient to meet ISO standard compliance. Most injection molders should and do have some system of control for their materials, molds and processes. A system of testing and verification for your process and material control must be considered. Therefore, a review of raw material control is critical. Once raw materials and or formulations are approved with your customer, no changes are allowed without prior approval from the customer. The level of control required would include all elements of the formulation, including base material, colorants, processing aides, stabilizers, etc. Within the topic of materials control is the crucial aspect of supplier and compounding lot control. You will need a very robust system for lot number control and record retention. Specific material grade and formula ingredients must be maintained and controlled while linking with shipment information as a key variable. A significant difficulty with this level of control and discipline is volume. Many medical device components have small volume usages when compared to the electronics and automotive worlds. This tends to be a significant challenge for the molder looking to fill machine hours with profitable parts using the same approaches that worked in your old business model. Low volumes may require smaller cavitations and tonnage machines than previous projects. Once you understand the differences, profitability can be achieved. The environmental controls aspect of your operation also needs serious consideration. Many molders believe they need to jump immediately into clean rooms and consequent certifications for these production spaces. Let’s review the requirements and look at how you can achieve performance without breaking the bank. The intent of a clean room is to keep your production space clean. A certified clean room is designed to have a space with air control that meets a particulate count (e.g., class 100,000 clean room) and a minimum air volume turnover for the controlled space. The intent behind a clean room is to produce products in a clean and controlled space. The behaviors used in a clean room can be emulated throughout your operation without the expense of a certified clean room and yielding many of the same benefits. Clean is the key word in this discussion. Once you understand the amount of particulate that is migrating throughout your production spaces, you can begin addressing them one at a page 14 u


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strategies t page 12 time. Examples of negative behavior or environment would be open doors and windows into production spaces, employee’s personal hygiene, cardboard – any cardboard, dirty machines (e.g., oil and lubricants in excess, etc), regrind, dust and pollen, packaging materials, etc. Understanding these aspects of your operational environment can help you attain success with your environmental control. Installing a clean room without modifying the aforementioned behaviors will most likely result in disaster. Also, use of certified clean rooms in a plastics processing environment can have its own built-in challenges. Particle count maintenance is a requirement of your certification. Failed particle count measurement usually requires significant corrective action steps before recertification or, more specifically, running production. Particle count measurement can include certain fumes and odors in the measurement, causing a negative reading. The problem here is that these fumes and odors may be present in processing plastics normally (e.g., fumes from PVC or Delrin/Celcon processing). Basically, be sure you understand the customers’ requirements and expectations as you develop a facility, operation and environmental plan.

Value Add Services Now that we have discussed some fundamentals, you should have your quality system in place, your certifications should be up to date and your environmental system controls should be acceptable. With all of this current, you have met baseline requirements for the medical customer. So, what is next? How capable are your part and mold design skills? The majority of automotive customers have already designed their parts and sub-assemblies. The converse is probable with the medical design customer. Some device manufacturers have complete designs, but most do not. Design becomes yet another opportunity to contribute, or another thorn for your already burdened resource pool. A significant opportunity and focus can be helping the customer modify a design for moldability. The concept we are alluding to is full service – design to approved part. The engineers you may work with will have a variety of needs from you, not just providing toll house molding service. They will need part design expertise, prototype generation, assembly assistance (i.e., design and assembly), mold design expertise (i.e., prototype and production level), materials expertise and knowledge, to name a few. Turn-key service is nice, but very few companies can pull it off. Therefore, a company will need to develop external sources for anything they can’t provide internally.

14 | plastics business • summer 2011

We have spent considerable time discussing a host of topics vaguely related to the injection molding process. So, let’s spend some time looking at technology. As good processors using the injection molding process, technology initiatives would be the same for MIM as it would for other industries. Process control, cleanliness, data retention/control and ancillary equipment integration all would be considerations when looking at the injection molding process. The machine selection and options choices should be part of your considerations once you have addressed your environmental approach, as we discussed previously.

Evaluating Your Strategy We have discussed and considered many of the key aspects of Medical Injection Molding. The following should be considered when developing a strategy to convert some of your operational hours to medical device customers: What quality system do I have in place and what standard(s) are my new customers expecting of me to achieve compliance? If unsure, should I hire a consultant to review my system and recommend changes? What services do I currently provide and how do these match with the medical device community? Consider the following: design, materials expertise, mold design and building, machine diversity (e.g., barrel size, small tonnage versus large tonnage, etc.), secondary operations, etc.). What can I outsource? How do my housekeeping procedures match with a level of environmental control that will satisfy the medical device customer? In conclusion, MIM can be a very appealing and desirable business. After reflecting on the information we have reviewed, some hard decisions will need to be made. We have discussed a proposed best approach to MIM. This does not preclude you from getting customers without all of the points discussed. However, without the approach discussed, you may find you cannot keep this business long-term. As the standards and requirements grow, your ability to maintain and grow with them will become a medical customer expectation. Do your homework, understand the regulations, prepare your quality system plan, implement your plan and prosper. n David Lessard is vice president and general manager of Cook Polymer Technology (formerly known as Sabin Corporation). He has 25 years of experience in the medical device industry as an engineer, manager and executive. Lessard graduated from University of Lowell and has BS and MS degrees in Plastics Engineering. Cook Polymers Technology has been a MAPP member since 1998.


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Laboratory Services Important for Quality, R&D and Safety in the Plastics Industry By Chad Jones, Sherry Laboratories

A

quick glance at one’s surroundings and one can find a widening variety of plastic products in both consumer and industrial applications. This increase in the use of plastic materials is partly enabled by advances in material science and technology, and partly enabled by the continuing need for cost and weight reduction. New applications, and in some cases new materials, can benefit from the evaluations and analysis offered through commercial laboratories. Innovations in plastic materials and additives are allowing for new and exciting applications. Take, for instance, the work being done to introduce nanotechnology into the field of plastics manufacturing. These materials are being engineered so they can be processed using the same steps as typical formulations, but include some unique and improved material properties. Scientists have found ways to use nanoscale fillers and reinforcements to increase such properties as transparency, strength, thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity. Another area of growth is in the use of engineering thermoplastics plastics. Engineering thermoplastics are used for applications that demand higher performance such as higher strength, heat resistance, chemical resistance or fire resistance. Materials in this category include polyamides, polyimides, polycarbonates, polyesters, polyacetal and others. The aerospace, automotive and petroleum industries are heavy users of these advanced materials and new applications continue to be developed. New materials and new applications require thorough R&D and engineering review in order to support long-term success of the products. Some of these newer materials are for highly engineered

16 | plastics business • summer 2011

and critical applications. Once in the marketplace, additional inspection and evaluation of the product is usually required. Significant effort is involved to make sure existing and new products will last, that they are safe and that they can be trusted. Ineffective quality and engineering efforts can result in products that may disappoint or endanger. Consumer disappointment results in a tarnished image of the product, the manufacturer or distributor. If safety has been compromised, then the rebuilding of consumer confidence will require a long term effort and carries the potential of costly litigation consequences. Injection molders and other plastic processors dealing with new materials or processes can use outside laboratories for routine quality control testing. Many organizations require testing to determine conformance to material specifications. More complicated projects can involve contamination testing and failure analysis. In many situations, obtaining test results from a third-party laboratory is often a necessity, especially when testing for safety. Testing for routine quality control can involve a range of standardized tests. Many molders benefit from receiving inspection tests designed to confirm material before it is processed. These tests can be physical or mechanical in nature (e.g., density, tensile strength, impact strength). In the absence of internal specifications, parameters listed on the supplier’s lot certification can be checked to confirm the properties. It also can be worthwhile to prepare infrared spectra “chemical fingerprints” of materials to document consistency and establish baselines.


Examining material for contamination and determining root cause of failures are important and valuable services offered by commercial laboratories. Contaminations issues that have plagued materials and processes often can be resolved rather easily when the investigative tools of a laboratory are applied. A thorough documentation of an investigation into a failure will help support solutions to preventing further occurrences. The use of external testing laboratories is an excellent way to evaluate the efforts of product development and manufacturing activities. Often an in-house laboratory is geared to accomplish a few tasks using methods or protocols developed sometimes decades earlier. However, a commercial testing and engineering laboratory can offer an extensive array of resources and capabilities for the evaluation of many types of materials and products using the most recent technology and procedures. Obtaining information about the important performance properties helps to ensure the plastic components and assemblies will be safe, function well and last for many years. Testing for safety may not simply be ensuring adherence to internal standards, but also determine conformance to a variety of regulations. Multiple government agencies, federal and state, evaluate and monitor plastic products for compounds determined to be harmful. Careful attention to current and developing regulations is important for molders, distributors and suppliers of plastic resin and products. It is imperative that products containing regulated components have those compounds at levels below permissible limits allowed by the regulations. Some of these regulations result in big headlines, and consumer awareness can be high. A few years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was put in place to provide more stringent toy safety requirements, most notably for content of lead and phthalates. In fact, part of the regulation is being phased in this August with the enforcement of the 100ppm limit on lead in children’s products. Safety is not only important for the consumer, but also is a concern for the molder. A recent report by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) highlighted two compounds familiar to the plastics industry. The NTP, through the Department of Health and Human Services, released the 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The report included the addition of six substances to the list. Of the 240 compounds, it now lists formaldehyde and styrene as known or potential carcinogenic compounds. page 18 u

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solutions

t page 17 The addition of styrene to the RoC list has caused significant concern due to its prevalence in the plastic industry, mostly as utilized with thermoset plastics. The report highlights the risk for workers in the reinforced-plastics and styrene-butadiene rubber industries. Molders of thermoplastics should know that styrene is the precursor to polystyrene and the two should not be confused. No claims have been made that polystyrene is unsafe for consumers, where it finds significant use in the food packaging industries. Government regulations for styrene exist from the DOT, Coast Guard, EPA, FDA and OSHA. Formaldehyde is another compound familiar to the plastics industry. It is used in the production of urea-formaldehyde, melamine-formaldehyde (melamine), phenol-formaldehyde (phenolic) and polyacetal. It also is commonly used as a chemical intermediate. Formaldehyde-based products are commonly used as adhesives and binders for wood products. Government regulations are plentiful for formaldehyde and include those issued by CPSC, USDA, HUD, DOT, EPA, FDA, OSHA and the MSHA.

Being aware of regulations and reports regarding the safety of products and molding materials is important for molders. Taking action to ensure compliance to regulations is an important and preventative measure to negate financial risks down the road. Commercial testing laboratories play vital roles in providing data in this regard. The technical services offered from commercial laboratories can greatly assist plastic molding companies and suppliers in efforts to introduce and keep high quality products in the marketplace. Whether it is for routine quality tests, compliance testing, contamination analysis, failure analysis or testing for safety, these services are well worth the time and resources required to complete. n Chad Jones is the manager of nonmetallic testing for Sherry Laboratories, Broken Arrow, OK. He can be reached at 918.258.6066 or chadj@sherrylabs.com. Visit Sherry Laboratories at www.sherrylabs.com.

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association

MAPP Community: Members Helping Members The MAPP office received a phone call in the late morning of May 15th from Steve Lemper of PRD, a 14-year Member of MAPP. Lemper’s situation was nearly impossible to fix but Troy Nix, MAPP’s executive director, told him to send out an emergency request on the MAPP website, asking the professionals in the MAPP network for help in solving a very difficult engineering challenge. Amazingly, four MAPP Members from across the United States responded to Lemper’s need within hours and were able to immediately solve his problem. “People who have never tapped into the MAPP network really cannot understand its true power,” stated Matt Hlavin, MAPP’s president and owner of Thogus, a national provider of injection molding services located in Avon Lake, OH. “I’ve specifically used MAPP’s alert system and message boards to solve my raw material needs and to improve my internal business methodologies.” According to Hlavin, MAPP’s network has expanded greatly in the last several months as Members are uniting with one another to expand their knowledge bases and to improve manufacturing efficiencies. “My staff just visited PCI in Germantown, WI, to exchange ideas on how to improve utilization of the IQMS ERP system we both use, and the MAPP office is constantly fielding calls from members looking to unite for benchmarking reasons.” In other community news, Roger Williams, president of injection molder Royer Corporation located in Madison, IN, and MAPP Board Member, has taken the lead on an initiative to investigate MAPP’s ability to pool resources in order to reduce health care premiums. “Health care premium rate increases are nearly doubling inflationary rates,” stated Williams. “To combat this, our health care committee has spent the last 18 months investigating the feasibility of banding together to form one large purchasing group. In June, we held several town hall meetings with MAPP Members in the state of Indiana to determine interest levels of forming a single health care trust. Executives from over 40 MAPP Member companies have invested the time and effort in attending these meetings and nearly 100 percent have agreed to provide census data to determine the overall health of a group which should easily exceed 5,000 employee lives.” According to

20 | plastics business • summer 2011

Matt Hlavin, the Board of Directors approved the engagement of the pilot program in the May board meeting. “We selected the most populated membership state to test the idea of pooling premium dollars, and our leadership team feels that if we can effectively make it work in Indiana, we can take it to other states as well. The response during the town hall meetings has been overwhelming, so we feel like we are definitely addressing a priority need of our members. It will be our goal to fully understand the feasibility of this process in the next 90 days,” Hlavin expressed. The MAPP community’s genuine camaraderie is one of the essential reasons as to why the network is the most powerful in the plastics industry.

MAPP Welcomes Its Newest Manufacturing Members! Accent Plastics, Inc.

Corona

CA

Admo, Inc.

Elgin

IL

B & G Products Co., Inc.

Grand Rapids

MI

Currier Plastics, Inc.

Auburn

NY

Deluxe Plastics

Clintonville

WI

Energizer Battery Manufacturing

Garrettsville

OH

Entegris, Inc.

Colorado Springs

CO

Entegris, Inc. (Chaska)

Chaska

MN

iMark Molding

Woodville

WI

Interplex Plastics, Inc.

Lexington

KY

Lorentson Manufacturing Co., Inc. Kokomo

IN

Marman Industries, Inc.

La Verne

CA

Mossberg Industries, Inc.

Garrett

IN

Pittsburgh Plastics Manufacturing, Inc. Precision Plastics, LLC

Butler

PA

Neenah

WI

Southwest Mold, Inc.

Tempe

AZ

Tailor Made Products

Elroy

WI

Western Kentucky Plastics, Inc. Bowling Green

KY

Wisconsin Plastics, Inc.

WI

Green Bay


NEW Technology Savings Program MAPP is excited to announce the creation of a new technology cost savings program for members. MAPP has partnered with CompSource, a company that focuses on offering the best value on computer and electronic solutions for business. CompSource was founded on the principle, “Improve the customer service.” American owned and operated, the CompSource family is determined to earn MAPP Members’ loyalty and make the purchasing experience as easy as possible. The company offers over 350,000 items with very competitive prices. This partnership offers MAPP Member companies substantial discounts on a multitude of products. MAPP understands the importance of getting great technology at incredible prices. Also important is customer service and the ease required to purchase the items needed. We feel strongly that CompSource is the right partner for the MAPP organization. Not only are its prices competitive with large national companies, but CompSource also offers FREE shipping on almost every product. To learn more about this Member Benefit, please visit MAPP’s website at www. mappinc.com and go to Cost Reduction under the “Member” tab.

MAPP’s 2011 Wage & Salary Survey Yields Record Participation The MAPP organization, known for its quest to provide best-inclass benchmarks and data to the plastics processing business community it serves, is preparing to unveil its most recent study focused on compensation levels and trends for plastics manufacturing job functions. For nearly a decade, MAPP has provided company leaders with the most focused wage and salary data in the United States plastics processing industry. “Our 2011 compensation survey represents nearly 8,000 different employee data points, outlining over 50 different job classifications,” stated Rick Walters, MAPP Board Member and president of Dekalb Molded Plastics, Butler, IN. “This represents the largest compensation survey that MAPP’s leadership team has conducted since our inception,” he stated. MAPP will release the final results of the 2011 compensation study in the August time frame, which will include historical trend analysis of major job functions along with wage/salary rates of each employee category, including average tenure, starting rates and average pay.

MAPP Members Preparing to Engage on All Fronts MAPP Member company professionals soon will be able to engage in functional area networking to include, but

not limited to, human resources, engineering, purchasing, sales & marketing and more! MAPP Vice President Kelly Goodsel, owner of Viking Plastics in Corry, PA, explained in a recent interview, “It is vital for the professional staff of MAPP Member companies to be able to readily communicate with each other to solve problems, find information, locate resources and simply expand their own business networks.” MAPP soon will offer the ability for all staff professionals to electronically discuss issues relative to their own job functions, send out emergency requests for help and participate in open cross talk engagements to enhance learning and professional development. “There is no reason to reinvent the wheel every time one of our staff members has a problem,” stated Goodsel. “The combined intellectual capability and resource connections of the entire MAPP Member network is virtually limitless.”

Plant Tour: The Guts Behind Profitable Success Date: Thursday, August 18, 2011 Location: Viking Plastics, Corry, PA To uncover the “guts behind profitable success,” MAPP will host its next exclusive plant tour event at Viking Plastics in Corry, PA. Plastics professionals attending this Plant Tour Event will learn about the strategies Viking Plastics has utilized to survive and flourish through difficult economic times. To meet the requirements of some of the most demanding customers in the automotive, medical and electronics marketplaces, Viking has adopted state-ofthe-art business systems in the areas of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), and has perfected its focus on machine/process reliability in order to maximize utilization and eliminate quality defects. This tour event will have something for everyone, so management teams of all sizes are welcome to attend. To register for the Plant Tour, please visit www.mappinc.com or call 317.913.2440.

Special Thanks to M Holland for sponsoring this event and providing lunch for attendees.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


production

The View from 30 Feet: Plastic Components, Inc.’s Tool Crib System 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. With more than 200 tools, Plastic Components, Inc. (PCI), Germantown, WI, needed a more efficient way to organize its tooling. Implementation of the Stak System by Stanley Storage Systems, purchased through Birkeneder Material Handling, LLC, has made PCI’s tooling easily accessible, saving both time and space.

“We used to have several heavy duty die racks stored around the facility,” said Bob Allcox, operations manager for PCI. “You’d go from rack to rack to rack trying to find the equipment that you needed. It was a lot of wasted time.” PCI has implemented a simple system, comprised of adjustable shelving and a crane. A chain hoist allows the crane to pick up a set of forks, which can be used to move any of the shelves for access when tooling is needed. The shelves stretch 12 to 13 feet high under PCI’s 17-foot roof. Each shelf can be taken out separately and the pallets are detachable. The rack is essentially a large frame with hooks that the pallets hook onto, at varying heights. “All of our tools are stored in that area now,” explained Allcox, “which freed up a lot of space on the floor. We can stack the shelves higher than we would have been able to with a traditional storage system.”

22 | plastics business • summer 2011

PCI labels the dies and shelves, and then that information is entered into the IQMS system. When tooling is needed, the molds can be searched by die number or by shelf number. “Initially, we put all of the tools on the shelves and recorded their location,” said Allcox. “Over time, we’ve moved the commonly used tools toward the front. There’s a weight concern per shelf, too, so we reorganized as time went on. It was quick to implement and use, and then we got more efficient.” The system is working out so well that PCI recently ordered three additional sections of racking system to provide more storage. “We’ve seen a great increase in efficiency in terms of getting and replacing tools on the production floor,” Allcox explained. “It operates with just one person, so we don’t have multiple personnel required to get in there and get the right tooling for each job.” n


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trends

Bio-based Material Development in the Polymer Industry By Marcel Dartée, Global Marketing Director for Biosolutions, PolyOne Corporation

A

number of factors – soaring oil prices, worldwide interest in renewable resources, growing concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions and a new emphasis on waste management – are creating renewed interest in biobased polymers. New processing technologies, coupled with investments in world-scale manufacturing operations, are making biopolymers more cost competitive, as well as improving material performance properties. Mounting environmental concerns and legislative incentives, particularly in the EU and Japan, have stimulated interest in bio-based materials. There are three major biodegradable polymer groups in the market – the family of PHAs, PLA and thermoplastic starchbased polymers, and two types of bio-polyesters: PHA and PLA. All are bio-based. Thermoplastic Starch-based Polymers (TPS) are derived from corn, potatoes, wheat, tapioca and others. Starch is relatively abundant and cost effective, but the performance properties and moisture sensitivity are generally poor. In most cases, other polymers are added to create useful products. PLA (polylactic acid) is polymerized from lactic acid derived from beets, corn, potatoes and others. Lactic acid is produced through fermentation of sugar feedstocks. Moderately priced, PLA offers a number of interesting properties, including excellent clarity, but it suffers several performance challenges, including marginal heat distortion and poor barrier performance. PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) is produced within a selected strain of bacteria and stored as “fat.” The fat can be harvested, purified and utilized to create a family of biopolymers. PHAs have limited availability and are relatively expensive, but do offer enhanced heat and barrier performance. A growing class of polymers is not biodegradable, but is at least partially bio-based. This group ranges from the well-established castor oil-based polyamides to polyethylene derived from sugarcane. This class also includes polymers made partially from bio-based raw materials, such as PET made with biosourced ethylene glycol, thermoplastic urethanes (TPU) made

24 | plastics business • summer 2011

Aftermarket cell phone cover for a Droid phone molded in a biobased material (reSound from PolyOne) gave the manufacturer a “greener” product to market to eco-conscious consumers. with bio-sourced phenols and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) produced using bio-sourced polyols. New technologies being introduced will make even more bio-sourced polymer building blocks available. There are three key issues hindering the growth of biodegradable plastics today: Credibility – Companies want to understand that a decision to use these new polymers is truly more sustainable and defensible from a total environmental impact vantage point. Performance – While each material has its own set of strengths, there are still many weaknesses to overcome to develop acceptable processing and part performance as compared to traditional resins. Cost – Biopolymer products typically run 3-5 times the cost of traditional commodity polymers. In addition, most biopolymer resins are “heavy” or have a higher specific gravity, which means that more pounds are required to produce the same number of parts as compared to a traditional material. page 26 u


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trends

t page 24 Yet, many companies and consumers value the benefits of renewable polymer systems and are willing to support the economic differential.

Wanted: A Clear Definition Credibility is a key issue in the growth of biopolymer use. Because the biopolymers industry is young, there has been a lack of clear definition of terms such as “biocontent” and “biodegradable.” Some companies have used these somewhat vague terms to promote their products, raising concerns about “greenwashing.” As the biopolymers industry provides more clear definition and classification, supported by evidence from scientific studies, the industry should gain greater credibility and companies can have greater confidence in their claims. Classification of biopolymers should encompass three dimensions: Beginning of life – Are they produced from renewable or nonrenewable resources? End of life – How will they be disposed of? Are they appropriate for composting, biodegradation or incineration? Environmental performance – What is their carbon footprint or life cycle inventory?

Leader in Product

Figure 1. Carbon cycle Renewable resources are those that can be renewed or regenerated in a relatively short period of time. Bio-based polymers – whether or not they are biodegradable – are sourced from renewable resources or “new carbon,” as compared to petrochemical-based polymers, which are sourced from nonrenewable, fossil resources or “old carbon.” Figure 1 illustrates how polymers sourced from biomass can complete the carbon cycle, which makes them renewable.

Three different expressions are used in describing the content of bio-based materials. Bio-based or biogenic carbon content, as defined by ASTM Decorating 6866, refers to the percentage or fraction of carbon atoms that are plant-derived or organic versus those that are petroleum derived, and can be measured using the radioactivity of carbon atoms. Renewable or bio-derived content indicates the fraction of contemporary (non-fossil or “new”) biological resources of all organic material in a composition. Organic content is a definition used in organic chemistry to indicate carbon atoms linked with hydrogen and oxygen atoms. This can include starch, cellulose and glycerol, but also polymers like polypropylene (PP).

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“Bio-based” must not be confused with “biodegradable,” as only some bio-based polymers also are biodegradable as an end-of-life option. In biodegradation, microbes consume the polymer and release water and carbon dioxide. This process occurs at different rates depending on the environmental conditions. Thus, when


defining biodegradability, the environment (soil, marine, home composting or industrial composting) and conversion rate must be specified. Composting, which is a special type of biodegradation under certain conditions, generally refers to an industrial composting facility with an environment of 140 °F and a relative humidity of 98 percent minimum. For compostable packaging, the ASTM 6400 standard calls for 60 percent conversion into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass within 180 days in this environment, and the EN 13432 standard calls for 90 percent conversion in the same time period. Compostability also is constrained by thickness. Table 1 shows the maximum thickness at which common biodegradable polymers meet the ASTM and EN standards for compostable packaging. The compostable plastics also must disintegrate, leaving no visible or distinguishable material, and have no ecotoxicity, so that the resulting compost can support plant growth.

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Both the beginning and end of a material’s life contribute to its overall environmental impact, which is an important piece in the analysis of a material’s sustainability. Two measures of environmental impact now commonly used are carbon footprint and life cycle analysis (LCA). Carbon footprint is a measure of the greenhouse gases produced to make a material and is described in mass per carbon dioxide equivalent. LCA is a technique used to help decision-makers by evaluating the potential environmental impact of a product over its whole lifecycle, including raw materials, manufacturing, production, use and waste management. Bio-based plastics offer industry the opportunity to reduce carbon footprint, improve overall LCA and fulfill sustainability targets. Bio-based polymers exhibit a reduced carbon footprint compared to fossil fuel-based polymers, with typically page 28 u

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trends

t page 27 40 percent less carbon dioxide emissions and 30 percent less fossil fuel consumption.

Bio-based Polymers for Durable Applications While at first biopolymers were primarily used in relatively short-lived applications such as packaging, shopping bags, biowaste bags, mulch film, disposable cutlery and foam packing materials, applications today are being developed for more durable sectors such as automotive, electronics and textiles. Most of these applications have more demanding physical property requirements, which can be met through blending and additive technologies. Compounds that combine engineering thermoplastics with bio-derived polymers can increase the biobased content compared to engineered thermoplastics alone, while increasing the performance compared to bio-based polyesters alone. These compounds, often priced in the same range as engineered materials, also can solve the issue of cost and availability. Compounding and formulation technologies also can improve the performance of TPEs with bio-based content that are targeted for applications such as shoe soles, bumper profiles, wheels and cables.

While bio-based and biodegradable polymers represent an exciting dynamic in the polymer industry, there are many considerations in selecting and commercializing bio-based solutions. Chief among them are cost, availability and performance requirements. Additionally, it is important to define objectives such as biodegradability vs. bio-content. Finally, it will be critical to understand and market the true environmental impact of any choice relative to traditional alternatives. While applications will be “niche” to begin with, technology advancements and scale investments will broaden the capabilities and reduce the cost of biomaterials, opening more market space and growth opportunities in the years ahead. n Marcel Dartée is the Global Marketing Director, Biosolutions for PolyOne Corporation. He is recognized as a leader in the emerging field of bioplastics, and currently serves as a board member on the SPI Bioplastics Council, the European Bioplastics Organization and the Dutch Bioplastics Association. As the leader of PolyOne’s biopolymers team, Dartée works across business units to establish a worldwide strategy and drive commercial excellence with customer-facing programs. He can be contacted via email at Marcel.Dartee@polyone.com.

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industry

Assessing Sustainable Packaging through Life Cycle Analysis by Chandler Slavin, Sustainability Coordinator, Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

S

ustainability is a concept commonly defined as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission of the United Nations, March 1987). Since the early nineties, “sustainability” as concept has been integrated into how we understand different processes of production and consumption, products and services. As the Sustainability Coordinator for a medium-sized familyowned and -operated plastic thermoforming company, I believe my employment speaks to the extent to which “sustainability” has percolated industry. By taking an informed, systemsbased approach to sustainability, I believe plastic processors can develop truly sustainable packaging options for their customers. What follows is a discussion of some of the tools, materials and resources available to those that wish to embark on the journey towards sustainable packaging. It is important to understand, however, that there is no “silver bullet” when discussing sustainability; compromise is required whenever assessing how certain materials or processes will inform the overall environmental and economic performance of a given product or service.

Assessing Environmental Profiles

Life cycle analysis is a popular approach to understanding the environmental requirements of different products and services. By considering the entire life cycle of product – from material extraction to production, distribution and end of life – one can begin to understand its sustainability profile. This type of assessment provides quantified scientific data, which can be used to facilitate sustainability improvements across

the supply chain. Discussion of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s life-cycle-based comparative packaging assessment software COMPASS will make clear the importance of LCA and how such intelligence can aid in sustainability improvements in packaging systems. COMPASS is a design-phase web application that provides comparative environmental profiles of packaging alternatives based on life cycle assessment metrics and design attributes. Created by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) – an industry-working group dedicated to a more environmentally robust vision for packaging – this tool provides the environmental data needed to make informed packaging design decisions early in the developmental process. COMPASS assesses packages on resource consumption (fossil fuel, water, biotic resource and mineral), emissions (greenhouse gas, human impacts, aquatic toxicity and eutrophication) and attributes such as material health, recycled or virgin content, sourcing and solid waste. Dordan began its subscription to COMPASS in 2010 in response to inquiries from clients into the sustainability of one material vs. another, one design vs. another, etc. Because COMPASS contains life cycle impact assessment data (LCIA) from raw material sourcing/extraction, packaging material manufacture, conversion, distribution and end of life, the COMPASS assessment details the life cycle impacts of different packaging systems in a comparative format; this allows the practitioner to understand the environmental performance of package A vs. package B, which allows for informed design decisions and results in quantified marketing claims. page 32 u

Thermoformed bio-resin samples were provided to Dordan’s customers, helping them to understand each resin’s physical properties, environmental profiles and cost. Photo by Sean Slavin, Dordan Manufacturing.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 31


T

industry

hese groups have a variety of publically available and membership-only data, which provides a concrete base for understanding the various issues that apply to plastics processors in the context of sustainability.

t page 31 To utilize COMPASS, one needs the following information: the weight of the various packaging material constituents of the primary and secondary packaging for both the existing and proposed packaging; the conversion process (i.e. calendaring with paper cutting vs. thermoforming); and the data set (i.e. US vs. EU vs. CA -end of life data is geographically specific). COMPASS data output consists of colored bar graphs corresponding to the existing and proposed designs, indicating the emissions generated and resources consumed as listed above. COMPASS was created by stakeholders in industry, academia, NGOs and environmental organizations and funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The LCIA data is taken from the two public life cycle databases available, the US Life Cycle Inventory Database and Ecoinvent, a Swiss life cycle database. This tool should be incorporated into the package development process in order to facilitate more sustainable designs that allow for informed environmental marketing claims. Examples of claims Dordan has made as result of COMPASS utilization includes: “25 percent reduction Plastics Ad 3_2011:Layout 1 3/2u8/11 3:01 PM Page 1 in GHG equivalents emitted throughout life cycle when

Plastics Industry Expertise Select Investment Banking Transactions

Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC): Research available includes Environmental Technical Briefs of Common Packaging Materials, Sustainable Packaging Indictors and Metrics, Design Guidelines for Sustainable Packaging, Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology, Compostable Packaging Survey, etc. Walmart Packaging Sustainable Value Network: a working group comprised of Walmart suppliers and their supply chain partners, academics, NGOs and industry associations who look to aid Walmart in achieving their sustainable packaging goals Global Packaging Project: a working group of packaging stakeholders that look to create a global language for assessing the sustainability of a package Sustainability Consortium: a working group in relation to Walmart and academia that looks to develop science-based tools for assessing product sustainability AMERIPEN: a new organization modeled off EUROPEN, which looks to “advocate for the packaging value chain with a ‘material neutral’ perspective” Also consider the work of the following organizations: Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers National Association for PET Container Resources American Chemistry Council Canadian Plastics Industry Association WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme, United Kingdom)

Sell Side Advisor

Sell Side Advisor

Financial Advisor

CalRecycle U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Sell Side Advisor

Mergers & Acquisitions

Financial Advisor

■■

Capital Raising

Sell Side Advisor

■■

Strategic Advisory

Michael D. Benson David M. Evatz mbenson@srr.com devatz@srr.com +1.248.432.1229 +1.312.752.3328 www.srr.com SRR is a trade name for Stout Risius Ross, Inc. and Stout Risius Ross Advisors, LLC, a FINRA registered broker-dealer and SIPC member firm.

32 | plastics business • summer 2011

compared with previous package” or “40 percent reduction in biotic, mineral and water resources consumed when compared with previous package.”

Investing in Sustainability Education and Research

In addition to investing in a life-cycle-based systems approach to packaging sustainability as manifest through subscription to COMPASS, it is important to invest in industry-specific sustainability R&D. Because each industry is unique in its demands and applications, it is difficult to speculate on what type of sustainability service will resonate best with each demographic. As thin-gauge thermoformers, Dordan found that “bio-plastics” were something in need of investigation because of the feedstock/end of life sustainability implications. By being proactive and sampling each available bio-based/


biodegradable/compostable resin as it came to market, Dordan was able to provide its clients with a variety of options that may aid in the attainment of their sustainable packaging goals. Resins sampled included PLA, PLA & Starch, Cellulous Acetate, PHA, TerraPET and Aeris InCycle. A comparative spec sheet detailing each resin’s physical properties, environmental profiles and cost as understood through density and yield was provided, alongside the thermoformed samples, allowing for a holistic representation of this new class of resins. Don’t let your efforts stop with industry-specific sustainability R&D. Sustainability is a complicated concept and one that requires full time investigation and participation. In order for plastics processors to capitalize on packaging sustainability in the context of environmental and economic savings, it is helpful to divert resources to sustainability education. Dordan began its sustainability education by joining the SPC, which offered a variety of research crucial to discussions of sustainability. In joining an industry alliance dedicated to developing more sustainable packaging systems, Dordan was introduced to all the issues that concerned not only the thermoforming but also the larger packaging industry; in doing so, it illuminated the obstacles faced and the opportunities available. Now, Dordan is proud to be participating in the ever-evolving dialogue around sustainable packaging. Only through education, supply chain collaboration and industry initiatives can we begin to develop truly sustainable packaging systems that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. n Chandler Slavin is the Sustainability Coordinator of thirdgeneration family-owned and operated custom thermoforming company, Dordan Manufacturing Inc. Slavin served as the colead of Walmart Canada’s PET Subcommittee of the Material Optimization Committee and has spoken at industry events on her research on recycling thermoformed containers. Slavin is the author of RecyclablePackaging.org, a high-trafficked blog on packaging and sustainability, and contributes blog content to SupplierHub, the closed-portal site for private label suppliers to Walmart. Dordan Manufacturing is headquartered in Woodstock, IL, and provides custom thermoformed packaging solutions to a variety of consumer goods industries. Visit www. Dordan.com for more information.

Follow the QR code to read reports from Dordan’s research on sustainability and packaging or visit www.dordan.com/ sustainability_research.cfm.

We Know Plastics 2011 Plastics Processors Conference & Workshops Please join us forA the 7th annual CMAAI Plastics Processors Conference. •

A review of the PE, PP, PS, EPS, ABS, PET, PVC, PC, Nylon and APBT markets

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product

Fast Heat Offers Hot Runner Temperature Controller Fast Heat, Inc., Elmhurst, IL,

the Ion Series system has an

seals by heating the largest

has released a new modular

easy-to-navigate user interface

mass of steel – the manifolds

controller for hot runner

and PID software that takes

– first, then the drops. The Ion

systems, designed to help

temperature readings 30 times

controller reduces peak energy

molders reduce maintenance,

per second, using that data to

demand by distributing power

scrap generation and peak

maintain temperatures within

across all three phase legs.

energy demand. With the

narrow tolerances. The system

For more information, visit

ability to control up to 24 zones,

helps prevent damage to heater

www.fastheat.com.

DME Offers Two New Unitized Hot Runner Systems

New Report Available for Injection Molding Markets Plastics Custom Research

from various industry trade

DME Company, Madison

are pre-wired for reduced

Services (PCRS), Advance,

organizations and interviews

Heights, MI, has launched

set-up time and simplified

NC, has released a new report

with officials at a selection of

two new unitized hot runner

installation. The Galaxy hot

entitled “The Markets for

regional injection molders,

systems, pre-wired and pre-

runner systems are suited for

Injection Molders: Review

PCRS projects the likely

assembled for both the Stellar

caps and closures, cosmetic

and Outlook,” which looks

trends of injection molded

and Galaxy lines, specifically

packaging, cutlery and small

back over the production of

output in these key markets

for customers that want a pre-

medical, electronic and

regional injection molded

out to 2014. For more

wired manifold system without

automotive parts. The Stellar

output – in the aggregate

information on this report,

plates. Unitized hot runners are

hot runner systems are better

and in all the major markets

contact Dr. Peter J. Mooney

available for both open gate

suited for micro-part molders.

– from 2000 to 2010. Based

at plasres@AOL.com or visit

and valve gate systems. All

For more information, visit

on information gleaned

www.plasres.com.

heating and sensing elements

www.dme.net.

34 | plastics business • summer 2011


product Conair Debuts Alternating Temperature Control Unit and during the polymer injection portion

Pantone Helps Designers Match 3,400 Colors in Plastic

of the machine cycle. Then, on a signal from

Pantone LLC, Carlstadt, NJ,

which increases efficiencies,

the molding machine, valves

has announced the availability

reduces costs and accelerates

in the TCU switch so that cold

of large-format Pantone®

speed to market. Created using

water is pumped to cool the

Plastic Standard Chips, which

polypropylene, Pantone Plastic

The Conair Group, Cranberry

molded part prior to ejection.

will allow designers across

Standard Chips include both

Township, PA, has introduced

The TW-ALT system includes

multiple industries to match

gloss and matte finishes in a

the new TW-ALT mold

one temperature control unit

all 3,400 standard colors

large 3 x 1 7/8” format. The

temperature control unit to help

with hot and cold circuits

in the Pantone Plus series

new chips are tiered, ranging in

reduce cycle times and improve

each containing the same

and the Pantone Fashion +

thickness from 1mm to 2mm,

part quality and surface finish

fluid. The system is equipped

Home color system libraries.

making it easier to visualize,

in injection molding. It is ideal

with an external valve station

The Plastic Standard Chips

measure and match Pantone

for parts used in appearance-

that switches each circuit

provide an internationally

colors in plastic. Chips include

critical applications and

from bypass mode to mold

recognized color language

color names and/or numbers,

components requiring optical

temperature control mode

for all industries, making

along with the corresponding

clarity. Unlike conventional

and back again as needed at

the coordination between all

pigment formulations and

mold temperature control units

different stages of the molding

materials – from products and

spectral data information.

(TCUs), which are designed to

cycle. Controls are PLC-based

packaging to advertising and

Custom color matches also

maintain a relatively constant

and feature a panel-mounted

collateral – simple and reliable.

are available. For more

mold temperature at all times,

touchscreen operator interface.

Pantone Plastic Standard

information, call 201.935.5500

the TW-ALT system raises the

For more information, visit

Chips are sold individually,

or visit www.pantone.com.

temperature of the mold before

www.conairgroup.com.

Sun Plastech Announces New High Temperature Purging Compound Sun Plastech, Inc., Parsippany,

temperature range of 518°F

was specifically designed to

NJ, has added a new

- 788°F (270°C - 420°C).

provide excellent cleaning

high temperature grade,

The PX Grade is suitable to

at higher processing

ASACLEAN PX, to its

purge super-engineering resins

temperatures while emitting

product line of ASACLEAN

such as PEEK, PPS, Ultem

low smoke and odor. For more

purging compounds.

and LCP from thermoplastic

information, call 800.787.4348

ASACLEAN PX is a glass-

injection molding machines

or visit www.asaclean.com. n

filled grade offering a service

and extruders. The PX grade

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 35


management

Positioning Your Business By Ed Rigsbee, CSP

V

endors are a dime a dozen, but partners are hard to find. You can greatly influence your chances of success in an uncertain economy if you position yourself as a partner to your customers. Learn to get on their side of the table. Learn what they perceive as valuable to them and what is not. Be clear about how you want the market to perceive you. Before I consult with an organization, I generally ask the management team to answer the following positioning questions. Answer them for yourself. Do this and your chances for success will dramatically increase.

1. Who are my customers? a. Who do I want them to be? b. What must I do to get them? c. Who has chosen me? d. What are their demographics? 2. Where are my customers? a. Geographically? b. Industry segments? c. Social/economically? d. What publications do my target customers read? 3. How do my customers find me? a. Word-of-mouth, snail mailings, emailings, phone solicitations and specialty magazines are possibilities. b. Maybe they’ve heard of you through a media interview or article? c. How about the Internet? By now, your organization should be web-centric. 4. How do my customers perceive value (benefits) when selecting a supplier/vendor with which to partner? Technological capability, knowledge, overall service/ unbundling of services, integrity, selection, price, geography and a cadre of other factors will affect their selection process. 5. How do my customers prefer to do business? a. Do they walk the partnering talk or just talk it? b. Can I live with their reputation? c. Can my company survive the potential pitfalls? 6. Who is my competition? Generally, any business that can pluck dollars from the pockets of your potential customers is absolutely your competition! Specific to your situation, who has similar products and/ or service capabilities? Who is willing to make a stronger commitment to offering the greatest total value package? Explore both direct and indirect competition.

36 | plastics business • summer 2011

7. What are the benefits that my competitors’ customers believe they are receiving from my competition? Spending time thinking about solutions to customers’ problems and challenges from your competitors’ point of view will serve you well. Know how your competition thinks and acts. You can learn from them! To win customers, you must know your competition better than they know themselves. Be careful not to select copycat positioning – rarely is it successful. Adapt rather than adopt. 8. What is it about my company that really gets me excited? Find your company’s uniqueness and passionately sell through that window with all your energy. Can’t find it? Either you’re not looking hard enough or you’re in the wrong place! Those with purchasing power will seek out specialists who can solve their customers’ problems by truly fulfilling their customers’ needs, wants and desires – physically and mentally. Decide to position your company in this select group and then make the necessary commitment to get there. 9. What is my personal uniqueness? a. What is it that you bring to the table? b. Is it your personality traits, the area in which you excel or the one thing about the way you do business for which customers are always complimenting you? Find this and you’ve struck gold! c. People prefer an original whenever possible – can it be you? The answers to the above nine questions will assist you in defining a positioning strategy upon which you can successfully increase sales and build your business. This may well be a new strategic direction or simply an adjustment to your current sales and marketing strategy. Entire industries are giving way to new technologies, resulting in a new or dramatically changed paradigm for their industry. It is happening before your own eyes. Can you see it? Ed Rigsbee, CSP is the author of PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances and The Art of Partnering. Additionally, he has over 1,500 published articles to his credit. Ed travels internationally to deliver strategic alliance keynotes and workshops. When you need a speaker on partnering with your customers, Ed can be reached at ed@rigsbee.com or visit www.rigsbee.com. Copyright 2010 Ed Rigsbee.


M. HOLLAND COMPANY Pride In Plastics Since 1950

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MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking Conference October 27-28 Indianapolis Marriott North, Indianapolis, IN

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Improve operations and tactics Impact bottom-line profits Understand best practices data Identify industry trends and benchmarks

Join more than 300 processors at the conference for the plastics molding industry.

www.mappinc.com 38 | plastics business • summer 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...

 Improving customer part designs to improve manufacturability?  Designing tools, molds or dies?  Developing prototypes or models (including computer generated models)?  Applying for patents?  Testing new materials?  Testing new concepts or technology?  Implementing robotics or production control software?  Streamlining or improving production and manufacturing processes to achieve higher standards in quality and productivity?

If you answered “YES” to any of these activities, your business may qualify! For details, contact Michael J. Devereux II or Adam J. Herman, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA, ASA at 314.862.2070 or e-mail mdevereux@muellerprost.com.

®

Advising with Vision

314.862.2070 muellerprost.com/re


confidence.

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Plastics Business - Summer 2011  

Plastics Business - Summer 2011