This informative blog allows plastics professionals to discuss plastics training and technology. Brought to you by Routsis Training: the plastic industry's premiere training provider.

Looking to kickstart your company’s training initiative? Follow these 5 easy steps.

At first glance, launching a new in-house training system can appear to be a daunting task. But it’s often simpler than it seems. In short, the key to a successful training initiative is getting your employees involved in the process — keeping them excited and engaged.

Remember that most employees want to do a good job. They just need the knowledge, skills, and tools to do their jobs better. These 5 easy steps will help you build and maintain the momentum of your training initiative.

Make a Formal Announcement

A department or shift meeting is a great place to give employees an overview of your training plan and its goals. Let them know the results you are expecting and why it’s important to the company. It’s also important that they see the personal benefits of training: better job security, a safer workplace, more opportunities for promotion, etc.

Post the Training Plan

Use your company bulletin board to keep your employees informed of the training plan — as well as updates on the progress of each aspect of the plan. Although you cannot post specific information about individual employees, you can announce weekly updates and important milestones, such as ‘Congratulations tor all 1st shift setups for successfully completing the certification exam!’

Help Each Employee Develop a Professional Evidence Portfolio

Each employee should have a 3-ring binder or similar organizer to retain all their training records, certificates, and other accomplishments. The first item in their binder should be a letter from their manager — thanking them for participating in the training initiative and explaining the company’s investment in their professional development.

Post Company Metrics

It’s not enough to simply tell employees what the company expects to improve as a result of continuous improvement initiatives. There should be weekly or monthly updates to company metrics — so employees can see the results of their efforts and how this affects the company’s bottom line.

Celebrate Their Accomplishments

If your employees are truly working together to make things better, it is good to acknowledge these improvements. Milestones should be celebrated with something special such as a pizza party, coffee hour, or a cookout. Such activities help your employees feel like part of a team.

These are just five simple ways to help jump-start your in-house training initiative. Please contact us for more information — and be sure to check out our free template and instructional video for developing a Professional Evidence Portfolio.

Real Skills vs. Learned Behavior: What’s the Difference?

The truth is that there is a huge difference between a skill and a behavior — a difference too frequently ignored by plastics manufacturers, to the company’s detriment. Skills are what make effective engineers, technicians, and operators in your production floor — while learned behavior involves mimicking what a fellow employee is doing.

Are your employees developing skills or just learning behaviors from their fellow employees? That’s a big question that’s critical to your company’s success.

Real Skills

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines skill as ‘a learned power of doing something competently.’ Applicable skills contain many components — such as an understanding of how a task is to be properly performed, how things work, and why the task is done in that manner. Beyond the mere how-and-why, turning a task into a skill also requires practice.

Skills involve knowing…

  • Who is responsible for performing the task
  • How the equipment or system works
  • Why the task is done in the required manner
  • What is expected when it is done correctly
  • Where to turn if things go differently than expected

Skilled employees are the ones who can improve a procedure, identify an incorrect procedure, notice inconsistencies, and correct an issue. Furthermore, a skilled employee will recognize a problem they are not trained to handle — and they’ll inform the right person in order to resolve the issue.

Learned Behavior

Learned behavior is merely a compilation of responses to stimuli: an employee watches a fellow employee respond to a situation in a certain way and learns a response. The more times they see fellow employees do something, the more likely they are to respond in the same manner. Such a response does not involve much thinking as much as reacting with similar responses as their co-workers. The biggest downside to this process is that bad work habits are often transferred from one employee. This why shadowing should never be the primary method of instruction.

Learned behavior involves…

  • Shadowing others to learn their habits
  • Mimicking their behavior when possible
  • Relying on memory when things go wrong

Learned behavior is often the fastest way to get an employee on the production floor — doing something simple like sorting parts or moving material. Over time, plastics companies need to expand the knowledge and capability of their workforce. No company can expect to production improvements with learned behavior alone. Furthermore, employees training in this manner are incapable of quickly adapting to future changes in product, materials, equipment, or procedures.

Developing real skills is the only way your employees can quickly and confidently adapt to new equipment, products, materials, procedures, or processes. Routsis Training proudly delivers skills-based learning. Click here for more information about our company-wide training products and services.

The simplest way to review your employees’ knowledge, skills, and professional development

Employees who are developed and promoted from within tend to be more capable, contribute more, and stick around longer than those poached from other companies.

Throughout their career, your employees acquire a great deal of experience: solving problems, achieving goals, and developing skills. A professional evidence portfolio is a great way for managers to objectively review these accomplishments.

Degrees & Certificates

Certifications and degrees imply a certain level of knowledge. Classroom training certificates should include course syllabi or class outlines to provide a clearer idea of exactly what the certification indicates.

Specific Accomplishments

Documentary evidence of participation in work projects (i.e. implementing the 5S System, installing a new machine, solving a particular production problem, etc.) are important records to maintain. Evidence such as photographs, prints, or approvals help demonstrate tangible skills and professional capabilities.


Testimony from reliable coworkers, employers, and instructors speak to the skills, knowledge, and professionalism of the employee.

Skills Exercises & Worksheets

A structured training program, such our RightStart™ system, include job-specific tasks to help establish and maintain proper daily work habits. Once completed and approved, these worksheets are valuable additions to any portfolio.

Associations & Trade Shows

Any relevant trade associations, guilds, unions, or other industry memberships should be included — along with attendance to industry-related events, such as tradeshows, seminars, and conferences.

These are just five important factors in an employee’s professional development.  This information greatly helps managers and human resources objectively evaluate an employee’s skills & capabilities — as well as highlight opportunities for improvement and development.

Please check out our Professional Evidence Portfolio page, which includes a free template and instructional video.

The Importance of Proper Mold Venting

It is important to understand that all the air in the mold cavity must escape to atmosphere in order for the plastic to properly fill the mold cavity. Inadequate venting is an extremely common cause of molded part defects. At Routsis Training, customers sometimes ask us how many vents a particular mold should have. It’s a simple question to answer:

Q: “How many vents are required?”
A: “As many as possible.”

While this information is obviously critical to mold designers and mold makers, it is also important for production personnel to understand this concept when troubleshooting molded part defects. Let’s review what is happening with the mold, plastic material, and your process with respect to venting.

Air Volume = Plastic Volume

The moment you start pushing plastic into the mold, air must escape the mold cavity. This means the more avenues the air has to escape, the faster and easier the material can enter the mold. It is important to allow the volume of air in the cavity and runners to escape the mold to atmosphere so it can be effectively displaced by the incoming plastic.

Mold designers often indicate an end-of-fill location as the best place to vent, but this just one of many vents you must cut into your mold. In fact, you should vent the runners, sprue puller, cold slug, slides, bosses, lifters, ejector pins, ejector blades, stripper plates, start of fill, middle of fill, and the end of fill.

All these vents must have a clear path out of the mold to atmosphere. When the plastic resin enters the cavity, you want an even, uninterrupted flow. Venting everywhere ensures this.

Aqueous Volatiles

Plastics have all sorts of additives, moisture, stabilizers, plasticizers, lubricants, low molecular weight chains, colorants, etc. When the plastic pellets are subjected to the heat and sheer during the molding process, they give off gas — resulting in aqueous volatiles. You often see this as a waxy buildup along the vents and the ejector pins.

Over time, these volatiles collect on mold surfaces, causing inconsistent part finish and gloss, and decreased surface texture quality.

Internal Stresses

If most of the air does not escape, the part will have internal stresses and will deform after it is ejected from the mold. This often results in cracking, crazing, and part warpage. Looks for signs of bad venting such as consecutive circles or a cloudy area at the gate, shiny spots at the parting line, as well as inconsistent gloss.

Narrow Process Window

Your process window is greatly affected by the range of pressures in which you can fill and pack the mold cavity. If a great amount of pressure is needed to push the gas out of the mold, you have a very small process window between filling the mold cavity and flashing the tool. It is not uncommon to see molds where the venting is so inadequate that the mold cavity cannot fill without flashing — because the escaping gas forces the mold open.

We hope this information has helped educate you on the important of proper mold venting. Tooling personnel can learn more from our Mold Design & Moldmaking Series. The importance of venting is also discussed in Scientific Troubleshooting for Injection Molders.

Maximizing Profits with Employee Training, Part 3: Boosting Your Bottom Line 

Bottom Line ROI for Plastics Manufacturers

Today’s plastic parts are more complex and processing equipment is more advanced — while highly skilled and experienced employees are becoming harder and harder to find. This is costing plastics processors a lot of money at an increasingly faster rate. Because of this, most plastics manufacturers lose thousands of dollars a month in scrap, downtime, and equipment damage.

Here are five specific areas where in-house skills-development training will directly increase your company’s bottom line.

Reduced Mold Damage

This damage can occur before, during, or after it is run as well as during storage. This is typically reported as a mold repair cost, but much of this cost can be avoided when proper handling, storage, and maintenance skills are implemented.

Fewer Accidents

Your employees are coming to work each day to do the best job that they can. Most accidents occur when employees do not properly understand the equipment, machinery, environment, or process. Many times, they take short cuts because they do not fully understand the consequences of their actions. For example, there have been many burns that occur when an operator or technician pulls a stuck runner from the sprue and some hot pressurized plastic is released at the same time. To avoid this the employee needs to be properly trained to back the carriage up, thereby not allowing pressure to build before reaching into the mold area, because there is pressurized plastic behind sprue when this is not done.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Everyone wants happy customers. The best approach to customer satisfaction is through Quality Assurance. In plastic processing Quality Assurance relies on a company being able to verify they are using the same process to manufacture the same product each and every time your customer’s job is run. This provides the highest confidence in shipping quality product to your customer each and every time.

Extended Tool & Machine Life

Things wear and break, but improper procedures, handling, and maintenance will always affect your bottom line. For example, when the mold is properly handled during setup, production, and storage, the likely hood of damage is significantly reduced. It’s when an improperly trained employee pries a part from the mold with a screwdriver that you encounter completely avoidable damage which is very costly.

Lower Employee Turnover

When you train one employee, they are likely to leave because they do not have the co-worker support, they need to improve. If you properly train your workforce, then they all have the knowledge and skills to support new processing methods and make improvements that affect the bottom line. Training your entire production workforce results in much more confident and capable employees who will prefer to work together with their fellow employees rather than take their chances somewhere else.

It’s important that you leverage the skills of your entire production workforce and take advantage of the equipment that your company has already invested in. A skilled, competent workforce is the key to success.

Routsis Training offers a wide range of products and services that can help increase the profitability of your plastics processing operation. Please visit our website to learn more.