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Who Do You Really Work For?

injection molding nozzle leakThis is a bad case of a leaking nozzle. We’ll get to that in a minute…

So, who do really work for?
Most employees of an injection molding, extrusion, blow molding or any other processing company will name their immediate supervisor. But is that correct?

If you are an injection molding or extrusion supervisor or manager you should look at your job this way. If the people under you do a good job, that reflects well on you. So it is certainly in your best interest to make sure they have the knowledge and skills they need to do the best job possible.

If you do look at your job that way you should conclude that at least on some level, you work for them. If your injection molding operators or technicians are not doing a good job, that also can reflect on you. And this is probably something you would like to avoid. So how do you create a “win-win” out of this? A good management rule is organize your team to solve plastics production problems at the lowest level possible.

If your injection molded parts start developing sink marks, the machine operator should find them first not your Quality Control department.

If an injection nozzle starts leaking and it is not noticed right away, the hot plastic will cover the nozzle heaters and any thermocouples (like the mess above). That will require an unplanned machine shutdown. Then you will have to try to remove the nozzle, possibly destroying the heater band and thermocouple in the process. This is the type of molding problem that can be averted by a well-trained operator. It could save you thousands of dollars. Multiply these kinds of mistakes over the course of a year, and you’re talking serious profit loss.

There is no reason that lower level personnel like machine operators, material handlers, part handlers or anyone walking by the molding machine can’t be trained enough to at least notice problems like a leaking nozzle. Paper or dirt in the raw material? Will you hear about it when contaminated molded parts start showing up? Somebody at a lower level must have seen the problem. Some companies will hesitate to train because they may think that lower level personnel just don’t care enough about production problems. If you think that is the case in your plant, try incentivizing these employees. What if you paid out $100 to an employee who noticed a leaking nozzle (like the photo above) and reported it? That $100.00 could very well save you thousands of dollars. You would definitely get more problems noticed by lower level employees much faster than before.

Train your production team to solve problems at the lowest level. If these kinds of problems come to you as a manager, you are going to have to waste your valuable time on something that a lower paid employee could have fixed.

General Eisenhower once said that the best leaders are those who don’t hear about most problems because they are solved by lower ranking officers or even enlisted soldiers .

Are you convinced yet that your company needs an effective employee training program?

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