PLASTIKON TRIES TO STAY ON TRACK

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Plastikon Industries Inc. is wending its way through several major improvements this year and, for further expansion, bought 3.5 nearby acres in a land-scarce area of Hayward, Calif.

In the midst of change, Plastikon attempts to stay on its prescribed path as a just-in-time precision molder of automotive and medical-diagnostic parts, according to Fred Soofer, president.By the end of April, Plastikon will complete a 3,000-square-foot Class 10,000 controlled production environment. Also, the firm will improve business offices and expand its engineering department, ``and we are adding more power, more chilling equipment and a new truck dock,'' Soofer said.

Building permits are close to issuance for construction of a 6,000-square-foot building addition that will increase Plastikon's space to 38,000 square feet on its 2-acre site. Groundbreaking may occur in June.

Plastikon shelved last year's plan to relocate the plant and, for now, will make do with 27 injection molding presses with clamping forces in the 50- to 1,200-ton range. The building addition will allow for six to 12 more presses depending on tonnage and size.

Plastikon's just-in-time operations use Toyota Motor Co.'s production system.

Daily deliveries of resin and components are transformed into finished goods and shipped out every two hours.

``TPS has enabled us to expand our floor capacity for additional machinery by practically eliminating inventory,'' Soofer said. ``Nothing is left to chance. When implemented, TPS works on its own.''

Plastikon supplies the Fremont, Calif., facility of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a joint venture of Toyota and General Motors Corp., and the Cambridge, Ontario, facility of a Toyota manufacturing unit. On a twice-daily schedule, the TPS team picks up parts at Bay Area suppliers including Plastikon and ships loads in railroad piggyback containers to the Toyota Canada plant near Toronto.

``We would like to maintain our ratio of 50 percent automotive, 40 percent diagnostics and 10 percent other,'' Soofer said.

Sister company Injex Industries Inc., also in Hayward, is dedicated only to automotive parts.

Plastikon employs 145 and recorded 1996 sales of $15.2 million, of which molding accounted for $14.1 million.