Fielding Manufacturing Plastic Molding Inc., a custom molder based in Providence, R.I., said it has achieved a 30 percent increase in productivity with a new team management approach it put in place a year ago. At the same time, the company has invested $400,000 this year in plant improvements designed to speed work flow and reduce energy consumption.
Fielding, which expects molding sales of $5 million this year, has changed to what President Steven P. Fielding calls a team-based system.
Each of the three shifts overlap so that employees can meet for 30 minutes with the incoming shift and discuss production goals and molding work in process. On every shift, the company has named a process technician, set-up person and shift coordinator. One team leader, akin to a general manager, is responsible for scheduling and resolving problems.
``This is a major system and cultural change,'' Fielding said. ``We've been on this journey for about four years now and it's just now really beginning to pay big dividends.''
Because of the shift overlap, the company's 50 full-time and 20-40 temporary personnel are working a minimum 421/2-hour week. But Fielding said the overtime is justified to ensure that the new system runs across all shifts in a ``seamless'' fashion.
The team approach demands greater responsibility and accountability from employees. To help build a pool of qualified workers, Fielding is participating with the Community College of Rhode Island in a recently launched Plastic Process Technician Apprenticeship and Associate Degree program.
Fielding's headquarters are located in Cranston, R.I., where the firm also operates a zinc die casting plant. The company builds dies and molds with a staff of 12 toolmakers.
Outside of its recent spending on plant renovations, Fielding invested $200,000 last year in two new Toyo injection presses, one with 150 tons of clamping force and the other with 200 tons.
The company has a total of 20 molding machines, ranging in clamping force from 50-400 tons. Its markets and products are diverse and include textile spools, hardware, automotive, plumbing and electrical equipment.