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.

Maximizing Profits with Employee Training, Part 2: Improved Product Quality

Poorly skilled employees are the root cause of most quality-related losses. Our customers typically realize reductions of over 61% in scrap and rework while eliminating most customer returns. All of this was a result of improving the skills and confidence of their workforce.

Here are 5 quality-specific areas of improvement where proper training of production staff has a direct effect on your company’s profitability.

Lower Scrap Rates

Every operation needs to document scrap percentage and rework time. This includes the actual cause and which necessary corrective actions were taken. More capable processors will help troubleshoot more efficiently and effectively — with a reduced overall scrap rate over time.

Fewer Defects

With the right skills and scientific documentation, your technicians will be able to better duplicate and maintain the standard documented process. This will give faster and more consistent startups — with more reliable runs from first piece to last piece.

More Consistent Part Quality

As your processes become better defined and your technicians understand how to use this information, they will be better at maintaining the standardized and approved process, shift-to-shift and run-to-run.

Highly Repeatable Processes

Skilled process technicians become will develop processes that are more capable of handling normal variation. There have been many advances in our industry’s best practices and your technicians need to be skilled in scientific process development, documentation, and troubleshooting.

Process Optimization

A processor needs to understand the material, part, mold, and machine along with the scientific molding process to develop a capable, reliable, and repeatable process. Once developed they leverage what they learned in the development process to optimize critical process parameters to improve the process without sacrificing quality.

Processing is a science, not an art. Quality assurance in plastic processing relies on a company being able to verify that they’re using the same process to manufacture the same product — each and every time the job is run.

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

Maximizing Profits with Employee Training, Part 1: Lower Production Costs

A recent industry survey revealed most plastics manufacturers lose over $250,000 dollars in scrap and downtime every year. The companies that participated in this survey attributed most of these losses to daily mistakes made by an under-skilled workforce. This is true even in facilities that utilize the latest processing technologies.

While modern machines are much more capable and accurate, your production personnel need proper training in order to take advantage of these technologies. Here, we’ll share 6 specific areas where proper training can directly improve your company’s bottom line.

Decreased Machine Downtime

Every operation needs to keep accurate records of uptime & downtime. You also need methods of differentiating between different types of downtime, such as changeovers, troubleshooting, maintenance, or when there’s just nothing on the schedule.

Some downtime is helpful, such as process development, maintenance, or mold trials. Other downtime, such as troubleshooting and repairs, directly affect your profitability. You can quickly improve this with proper training.

Improved Troubleshooting Time

Your operation should document exactly why a process requires troubleshooting and how long it’s down. You can typically find this information in a process log, which is kept at each molding machine. It’s important to measure this time, but it’s even more important to measure the number of times a process needs troubleshooting. This information will help you determine if techs are using an effective scientific approach to troubleshooting or just pushing buttons.

Faster Machine Startup

Establish startup times to determine specifically what outside influences contribute. For example, tracking and properly documenting delays such as materials not properly prepared or dried, tools unavailable, hot runner controller maintenance, and auxiliary equipment not ready will let you know where to improve.

Shorter Cycle Times

Through proper training, a technician or process engineer can systematically develop a robust process that will lead to shorter cycle times without sacrificing part quality. Keep in mind just a 2% improvement in cycle time gains you an additional week of production capability each year.

Quicker Changeovers

This point was often brought up when we ran our survey of 42 plant managers. They noted a huge improvement in changeover time — especially when tracking the entire changeover from last shot to first piece approval. This metric covers not only the capability of the techs but also the ability of everyone in the production environment to work together, from planning to quality.

Since changeover time is typically the biggest contributor to downtime, it stands to reason a more capable workforce can coordinate better to get one job out and the next one up and approved.

More Energy-Efficient Processes

YYou can easily measure the cost of energy with your company’s monthly electric bill. This may be adjusted based on the percentage of machine utilization, but also note that proper training will ensure you have much greater percentage of productive uptime vs. non-productive downtime.

As an example, let’s say your part removal time is 1 second longer than it needs to be. That means your molding machine will operate 27 hours longer than necessary to produce 100,000 parts. That’s a lot of energy-consuming machine time.

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

New Certification Programs for Injection Molders

Routsis Training has updated and expanded their industry-leading certification programs for injection molders. In addition to the Injection Molding Professional and Advanced Scientific Processor certification tracks, Routsis now delivers training, examination, and certification specifically targeted for Mold Setters, Quality Inspectors, and Maintenance Personnel.

All of Routsis’s certification programs are based on current industry standards and best practices, according to Routsis Training’s Vice President, Daniel Stephens. “Our certification programs are the perfect way to guarantee your employees know what they’re doing on the production floor.” Mr. Stephens also explained that the preparatory training for each track ensures injection molding personnel understand why they’re doing it. “In all honesty, that’s just as important,” Mr. Stephens continued.

“Our new certification tracks ensure injection molding personnel have the knowledge and skills to succeed in our industry. A certified workforce instills confidence in management and customers alike — letting everyone know that your workforce can meet the challenges of a modern manufacturing environment and continuously improve quality and efficiency.”

Daniel Stephens, Vice President of Routsis Training

Each of the 5 injection molding certification exams has a corresponding training package to help individuals prepare for their exam. Routsis’s Professional Certification Portals provide a convenient, cost-efficient way for injection molding companies to train, benchmark, and certify all their employees.

Certification for Injection Molding Professionals

Routsis Training’s globally recognized Professional Certification demonstrates a broad understanding of the injection molding industry. In order to attain certification, candidates must have a working knowledge of injection molding safety, machinery, processing, tooling, materials, quality, and current industry best practices. This certification track is ideal for machine operators, technicians, supervisors, engineers, managers — or anyone working in the injection molding industry.

Advanced Certification for Scientific Processors

Moving beyond the foundational concepts covered in the Injection Molding Professional exam, this certification level requires an advanced understanding of Scientific Molding. Participants must also demonstrate hands-on skills in order to attain certification. While the Advanced Certification is geared toward engineers and technicians, anyone involved with developing and optimizing Scientific Molding processes can benefit from this enhanced certification.

Certification for Injection Mold Setters

To attain this certification, injection mold setters must have a working knowledge of injection molding safety, die setting, robotics, drying, machinery, materials, purging, processing parameters, and tooling. Successful candidates must also demonstrate a solid understanding of the injection molding industry’s best practices. Anyone who performs or assists in mold changes should strongly consider taking this certification exam. In particular, every setup technician should be expected to understand the body of knowledge covered in the test.

Certification for Injection Molding Maintenance

Routsis Training’s globally recognized Injection Molding Maintenance Certification demonstrates a broad understanding of important maintenance considerations, concepts, and procedures. In order to attain certification, candidates must have a working knowledge of injection molding safety, robotics, drying, machinery, materials, purging, robotics, parameters, hydraulics, and maintenance — and demonstrate a solid understanding of current industry best practices. Maintenance technicians, managers, and engineers should consider taking this exam. Managers should offer this certification to benchmark their team — ensuring that maintenance personnel are confident, capable, and knowledgeable.

Certification for Injection Molding Quality

Delivering high-quality molded plastic parts to your customers is the main goal of any injection molding operation. In order to pass this exam, the candidate must demonstrate working knowledge of injection molding and quality assurance. Test topics include important safety concerns, the molding process, injection mold basics, plastics materials and drying, plastic part quality, mathematics, print reading, and the use of measuring tools for quality inspection. Quality inspectors, technicians, managers, and engineers should take this certification exam. Quality managers should strongly consider offering this certification as a means of benchmarking their personnel — ensuring they have a confident and capable quality assurance team.

Plastics Business Magazine: “Future Proofing” Your Production Workforce

In the latest issue of Plastics Business Magazine, Routsis Training’s Vice President Daniel Stephens discusses the importance of “productive uptime” and how plastics processing facilities and toolmakers can maximize this crucial variable.

In the article, Mr. Stephens explains that maintaining a confident, skilled, and knowledgeable production team — from management on down — is the key to handling the (often unpredictable) changes and challenges all plastics manufacturers will inevitably face.

“Every company that has survived for more than a few years has endured change. Many plastics processors started out decades ago doing something completely different than their current core competence. The key to not only survive but thrive is a company’s ability to handle change and preserve a state of profitability.”

Daniel Stephens, Vice President of Routsis Training

Mr. Stephens continues with a discussion of how to effectively use hands-on mentoring, benchmarking, and other tools to develop a highly-skilled workforce that’s able to adapt — not only to cope with impending change, but to take advantage of the opportunities such challenges present.

Click here for the complete article.

iOS and Android App Updates Available

New versions of our Scientific Molding Guide and LMSBridge™ apps are available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. These updates offer improved stability and support the latest mobile operating systems.

While many users have automatic app updates enabled on their Apple or Android devices, other may need to manual update these apps. We strongly recommend upgrading to the latest versions. Both apps are available free of charge for all users.

Our free Scientific Molding Guide app is available to the general public and puts critical processing information at your fingertips. Click here for more information.

LMSBridge™ was developed exclusively for Routsis Training’s customers — to enhance their learning experience on mobile devices and tablets. In order to use this app, you must have an active account and login credentials. Please contact us for more information.