Holmes Community College Ridgeland (Mississippi) Campus recently signed a contract with local processor Delphi Packard Electric to establish an in-plant injection molding training program for 300 employees. Delphi Packard, a unit of General Motors Corp., makes electrical connectors, cable and wiring harnesses for the automotive industry and operates 226 presses at its 750,000-square-foot plant in Clinton, Miss.
James Hemphill, who is retired and former owner of a custom injection molding plant in Jackson, works for Holmes as a technical consultant and industry liaison for the school. Hemphill, who was inducted into the Plastics Pioneers in April, helped establish the school's plastics programs. They include a two-year course and four-day short courses in various aspects of molding, extrusion and computer numerically controlled machining.
Hemphill recently gave a three-hour presentation to Delphi trainees from across the United States at a workshop at the Clinton facility. The meeting came as a result of an intracompany technology exchange held biannually.
Nick DiNardo, plant general manager, said he hopes the new program will become a model for other Delphi plants.
Russell Williams, in charge of all in-house training programs and apprenticeships at Delphi, said that although the company had been sending employees to Holmes for the short courses, Delphi decided it wanted an in-house program.
All of Delphi's molding operators will participate, as well as some mold-making personnel and some recently hired hourly employees, Williams said.
The 20-hour program includes such topics as plastic theory and basic machine concepts, introduction to plastic processing, plastic processing behavior, tool care, quality and housekeeping. The program will begin in mid-September.
Under the contract, Holmes will provide Delphi with an instructor, Robert Elwell, a plastics engineer and former Delphi employee who now works as an independent consultant.
Williams also will set up a mold-making apprenticeship program in conjunction with Holmes that will begin this fall. The company recognized that a majority of its 90 mold makers and machinists will retire during the next seven years.
That, along with Delphi's increase in business (the company added 60 presses during the past two years), will mean a greater need for mold-making personnel.
Delphi and Holmes are in the first stages of discussion about a work/study co-op program in which a person could obtain a two-year degree in plastics technology while working part-time at Delphi. DiNardo said the programs aim to fill the technology void that exists between the molding press operator and the plastics engineer.
Training already has paid off for the firm. Delphi has increased its production output by 60 percent over a three-year period, with a 10 percent reduction in its hourly work force.
When you can keep that productivity level and maintain that degree of control with fewer salaried supervisors, that's where we're seeing the tangible results, DiNardo said. ``That's why we see the need to get the knowledge to the people who actually have their hands on the machines.
Russell said: If these programs succeed, it will not only help us, but the entire plastics industry in the state of Mississippi.