The past few years have tested the faith of the most devoted plastics machinery salesperson. Everyone knows the bad news. But industry consultant John Bozzelli had some motivation for attendees at Summer Forum 2004, held June 23-24 at the North American headquarters of Krauss-Maffei Corp. and Berstorff Corp. in Florence.
His message: The U.S. plastics industry is poised to grow, thanks to its ability to raise the standard of living around the world.
But first, he said, research is needed from colleges and universities in the United States. Although plastics is the country's fourth-largest manufacturing sector, it is lacking the research to support it.
``We have 80,000 injection molding machines out there and there's not one of them that can properly measure melt temperature,'' Bozzelli said in his animated presentation.
``Not one. Don't think you can buy a probe, stick it in the nozzle, and find out what the melt temperature is. That's not going to work. Where's the research for us? I think we need to get our act together.
``More plastic will be used in cars; there are lots of Third World countries out there. Are they going to have porcelain toilets? I don't think so. How about running water? You want to do it ... with copper or are you gonna do it with plastic?'' he asked. ``It has to be tapped, and it's gonna grow ... the question is, will you be part of it?''
Bozelli, principal of consulting firm Injection Molding Solutions of Midland, Mich., encouraged molders to adapt rapidly, rather than try to predict the future.
He also suggested they implement creative management strategies like W. Edwards Deming's 14 points from ``A Theory for Management.''
``It has a proven track record, Japan's rise from World War II,'' Bozzelli said of Deming's strategy. ``It created Sony, Sumitomo, Nissei, Lexus and a multitude of others.
``It is not so much that ISO 9000 or Six Sigma are poor; they are not. They just do not address the implementation aspect Deming does. They also stifle creativity. Creativity is what grows a company.''
He warned of profit killers, including long cycle times, blocked cavities, finding rejects and excessive downtime.
When quoting jobs, provide bids with the costs of processing and resin; and charge a different price if they order four weeks out vs. two days, he said.
``We're talking your survival,'' Bozzelli said. ``If you're worried about China, after China it will be Africa.''
Manufacturers are battling a Third World War that is economic, he said.
Bozzelli, who was drafted into Vietnam and put on the front lines, highlighted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's 18 lessons.
``Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off,'' Bozzelli said. ``By treating everyone equally nicely, regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.''
And, Lesson 2: ``The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.''
The U.S. market itself has been slow to catch on to robotic implementation, said officials from Yushin America Inc., an injection molding robot supplier based in Cranston, R.I. Molders behind the curve in implementing automation are at a competitive disadvantage to other more advanced molders, low-wage countries and other industry sectors.
``A lot of the facilities have automated material handling, but very little in the molding process,'' said Dan Boutell, a Yushin Midwest regional sales manager.
The automation trends are standardization, high-speed extraction, in-mold labeling and enhanced controls, including remote trouble-shooting, he said.
``People don't want a hodgepodge of equipment in their plants anymore,'' said Chris Parrillo, Yushin's northeast regional sales manager.
The two-day event drew more than 400 participants for technical presentations, machine demonstrations and supplier booths, with officials vowing that business is looking up.
``Business is picking up all around,'' said Peter Lipp, national sales manager for Krauss-Maffei's injection molding division. ``The participation here wouldn't have happened if people didn't feel a new wind blowing.''
Injection mold builder StackTeck Systems Inc. of Brampton, Ontario, has a record backlog, said Jordan Robertson, general sales manager.
``Our plant is full of steel,'' he said. ``We have a lot of work.''
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From Gen. Colin Powell's 18 Lessons in Leadership
Lesson 1: Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.
Lesson 2: The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.
Lesson 3: Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites.
Lesson 6: You don't know what you can get away with until you try.
Lesson 7: Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't shrink from doing so [just] because you might not like what you find.
Lesson 9: Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.
Lesson 11: Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission.
Lesson 14: Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
Lesson 18: Command is lonely.
Source: Injection Molding Solutions, Midland, Mich.
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From W. Edwards Deming's 14 points - A Theory of Management
Point 1: Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
Point 2: Adopt a new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must ... take on leadership for change.
Point 4: End the practice of awarding business on the basis of the price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, in a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
Point 6: Institute training on the job.
Point 8: Drive out fear.
Point 9: Break down the barriers between departments.
Point 10: Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce, asking for zero defects, and new levels of productivity.
Point 11: Eliminate work quotas on the factory floor. Eliminate management by objective, by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
Source: Injection Molding Solutions, Midland, Mich.