Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Molders Division conference, held Feb. 17-20 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
SPI sees success with certification program
The Washington-based SPI is promoting the new National Certification in Plastics program for press-operator competency, proficiency and excellence, and provided Molders Division members with a program update at their recent conference. SPI developed the program over six years and offered it initially in September.
Of 650 examinees, more than 600 passed to become ``NCP Certified Operators,'' Dale Reichhart told meeting delegates. The certification is valid for four years, ``a half-life of the technology shift'' in today's plastics industry, he said.
Reichhart chairs a board of governors overseeing the NCP business unit of SPI. He is vice president and general manager with Cherry Corp.'s electrical- products automotive-controls group in Waukegan, Ill.
SPI members pay a fee of $195, and nonmembers, $235, to take the 21/2-hour, 150-question test through a local Sylvan Test Center. Those failing can try again after six months.
Test versions for blow molding, injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming have 80 percent commonality.
Retention program in final development
An innovative ``Orient Me!'' employee-retention program is moving through final development. The initiative has repaid SPI seed money of $200,000, used principally for software programming.
In a presentation, Maureen Steinwall said the program's aim is to lower employee turnover and related costs.
Seventy companies, including 65 plastics industry firms, have signed up, Steinwall said. A discounted price of $4,000 applies to the first 100 sales, after which the price is $5,000 for SPI members and $10,000 for nonmembers. The program originator is owner and president of Minneapolis injection molder Steinwall Inc.
Beta tests began in November, and initial segments went to customers in February for company customization.
``By the end of 1999, we will have the whole set done,'' Steinwall said.
Total development cost is about $400,000.
Recognizing a potential risk, management messages must reflect the organization's culture and be truthful, Steinwall said in an interview.
Turnover will increase ``if they orient someone to have one set of beliefs and that same individual goes onto the floor and experiences another set,'' she said.
A company must communicate ``what truly is of value,'' not what it wants the message to convey, Steinwall said.