Injection Molding Production Problems Or Injection Molding Training Problems?
There’s a saying in manufacturing that goes something like this… “Either train your employees, or they’ll train themselves”. It applies to any business – like injection molding – or extrusion, blowmolding and thermoforming.
Most people in the plant who are responsible for production know that there is a lot of truth in that saying. They live it every day. Of course, we all train ourselves in something each day. Learning is part of living. But in the manufacturing world in particular, it is very important to minimize the amount of “self-learning” that goes on. And with today’s learning technologies, it’s easy to eliminate the “learn from your mistakes” training model.
In the plastic’s manufacturing industry, the stakes are high when you show up with a less than optimally trained workforce.
Whether you’re an injection molder, extrusion company, blow molding company or thermoformer, one or more of your competitors will snap up your customers if you can’t maintain the quality standards, deliverability expectations and communications that today’s customers require.
We’ve recently talked with some major automotive companies who feel their injection molding suppliers are letting them down…
… in delivery times, part quality and careless, avoidable errors. Those suppliers run the risk of “getting fired” by what is probably one of their biggest customers. And this situation can be avoided so easily if these suppliers would correct the broken systems that are causing the plastics production problems in the first place. On-going, employee training systems at every level should be the norm.
Whether you use an outside vendor like Paulson to build your training foundation or decide to build your own training systems, it must be done in order for your company to thrive this year and in coming years.
Just today, as I write this, two prominent plastics industry publications have feature articles on the skilled labor gap (see links below). The only viable solution available to plastics manufacturers right now is to (a) poach employees from competitors or (b) grow their own skilled labor force with training systems. By selecting (b), your company is taking the first step to building injection molding employee training systems that free you from the skilled labor shortage and can produce an amazing ROI.
Recognizing that different injection molding companies have different systems to address employee training, we have expanded our delivery platforms to include CD/DVD in-plant network delivery, cross-platform on-line delivery (laptops tablets, iPads, Android devices, etc.), seminars in a city near you and now a state-of-the-art injection molding Technical Training Center in Tampa, FL.
Our newest seminar, Data-Driven Molding (D³) is a completely new way to teach injection molding
Our first class is running this week, January 26-29, 2016. This seminar is only offered at our Tech Center in Tampa because of the resources needed to deliver this level of training. D³ is a 3 week certification course taken over 4-6 months that is 80% hands-on at-the-machine learning.
All aspects of the molding process are taught. Students have to install and remove tools, disassemble and assemble tools, bring a machine from cold start to good parts and a stable process. The third module of D³ consists of much more machine time and then a rigorous final exam for certification (our version of “hell week” but much more fun). Nothing is held back. We will even customize this seminar for you if your company would like to send key employees for a week and have the entire training center to yourselves.
The important issue, and one that smart injection molders should take away, is that “good enough” is quickly becoming a losing proposition.
Customers expect more. Sure, there are some markets where “good enough” is good enough, but those are usually low-profit, commodity type jobs. The profits are in the challenging jobs that require in-depth understanding of injection molding “from the plastics point of view” and a relentless pursuit of improvement.
Below are the links to the skilled labor shortage articles I mentioned above. Articles with this “skilled labor shortage” theme can be found in pretty much any plastics industry publication on a regular basis. This concern is even more prevalent in our own visits to injection molders.
As a company, Paulson training experts are inside an injection molding company (or other plastics processing company) somewhere in the country almost every day. So we learn a lot about the reality of the company’s skilled labor situation. What keeps injection molding company owners and managers up at night? What they tell us, and the interview in the Plastics News link below reinforces, is the lack of qualified employees and lack of a blueprint for correcting the problem long-term (see Plastics News link below).
And if your company is going to be in the top 20% of molders, where 80% of the profits are made…
… you will have to have a reliable, repeatable, proven training system in place that produces the level of skilled employee you need, when you need them. Don’t let your operators, Set-up Techs, Molding Technicians, Troubleshooters or any other employee that impacts production and quality train him or herself. It never ends well.
Skilled Labor Shortage articles from just this week (January 25, 2016)…
Plastics News (Jan. 25, 2016) – What Keeps You Up At Night?
Plastics Today (posted in LinkedIn) (Jan.16, 2016) – Managers Struggle to Find Skilled Employees
Plastics Today (Jan. 25, 2016) – Two Injection Molding Companies Alleviate Skills Shortage