Plastics processors complain about too few vocational programs at local schools, but one area of plastics education keeps growing dramatically, if quietly: satellite offices opened by machinery companies. Machinery manufacturers traditionally have hosted short courses at their headquarters for employees of their customers. Now training has been decentralized to technical centers. These new facilities have brought hands-on training to areas where college-level courses are scarce.
The courses are popular, according to injection press makers.
``Normally we have waiting lists. We turn people away,'' said Georgia Hansen, office manager and sales coordinator at MC Machinery Systems Inc., which sells Mitsubishi presses.
Class sizes are limited to 15 people. MC Machinery offers courses at three locations - its headquarters in Wood Dale, Ill., and at technical centers in Cypress, Calif., and Columbus, Ind. The two technical centers opened this year.
Toshiba Machine Co. America of Elk Grove Village, Ill., also opened its newest technical center earlier this year, in Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. Courses also are scheduled in Elk Grove Village; Pine Brook, N.J.; Ontario, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio. Tak Kamiyama, vice president, said Toshiba Machine Co. America provides training in how to run presses and machine maintenance.
Van Dorn Demag Corp. is holding its first courses at a newly opened customer service and demonstration center in Mooresville, N.C., just north of Charlotte.
Having hands-on facilities closer to customers makes sense economically, said Alfred D. Tolliver Jr., manager of application engineering and customer service at Van Dorn Demag.
``We've found over the years that not everyone will spend the dollars to send someone to [company headquarters in] Strongsville, Ohio,'' he said.
Also, shop floor personnel like to learn on the same machines they run each day.
Van Dorn Demag's courses usually run three to five days.
``They go from basic machine operation through more in-depth, hands-on training more for maintenance and troubleshooting,'' Tolliver said.
Hansen said MC Machinery wants to expand its courses to include advanced training, and separate courses for maintenance workers. The importance of educating press operators is easy to understand, she said, when machines cost $100,000 to $1 million.