By investing in equipment, computerization and worker training, thermoformer Alga Plastics Co. expects to stay on top of its customers' packaging needs. Last month the Cranston, R.I., company added an Armac 3033 servo-driven thermoforming machine, a fully computerized ZMD vacuum former for sampling, and three-dimensional computer-aided design software.
The equipment is part of a 21/2year investment that totals $2.8 million and includes five thermoformers in all and a pharmaceutical-grade floor that inhibits bacteria growth. The floor is an important part of the company's 35,000-square-foot clean-room operations for medical and electronics plastics packaging, said Steve Taglianetti, president.
``Medical is still 60 percent of our business, but electronics is growing very, very fast,'' he said.
In 1995, the 33-year-old thermoformer won a Blue Chip award for maneuvering into those more-lucrative markets, after many years of making plastic and flock packaging for cosmetics and costume jewelry — once a huge in-dustry in its home state.
Last year was Alga's best in sales, so far — about $10 million in static-dissipative rigid clam-shells, mainly for electronic circuit boards, and medical packaging. But Taglianetti expects 1996 to top that by 30 percent.
``My two biggest things are quality and computerization. We've spent a lot of money upgrading the computers in the last two years. And we put a big premium on training employees,'' he said.
Kaizen team exercises have cut mold development from 50 to 25 days, reduced setup time, eliminated 18 temporary workers and resulted in other ``dramatic improvements.'' Alga's 54 em-ployees have more than a workaday interest in operations, since they own 49 percent of the company. Gregory and Joan Parkos own the majority interest.
The minimachine from ZMD International Inc. of Long Beach, Calif., will do prototyping, keeping 10 other thermoformers available for full-time production. The 3-D CAD capabilities, an upgrade from its 2-D software, give Alga access to customers' parts files, so it can redesign packaging almost as quickly as customers redesign parts.
It also has added two Pro/Engineer stations, a computer programmer and two design engineers.