(July 14, 2008) — Domestic plastics companies have taken notice: India and China continue to capture an increasing amount of the overall market. In addition, plastic components designed today are increasingly complex. U.S. manufacturers must create a skilled and efficient workforce so they can compete in the global marketplace.
A small group of plastics manufacturers are tackling this challenge by adopting a training program called Global Standards for Plastic Certification. Plastikos Inc. is one of those firms.
The leadership at Plastikos, an injection molder and toolmaker in Erie, Pa., recognized the tremendous value of such a program. We believe GSPC will help to firmly position our firm as a world-class supplier of close-tolerance and highly engineered components.
GSPC is a rigorous training program based on a set of internationally recognized standards, to ensure that employees possess a well-rounded knowledge of production, safety, quality and other aspects of a business. The GSPC program was created 14 years ago in Great Britain, and is now being implemented in Indiana and Pennsylvania by domestic firms. GSPC is the only structured certification program in the world for the plastics industry.
With the administrative guidance of Indianapolis-based Mid-America Plastics Partners Inc., the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., is spearheading the GSPC program in the state, launching three pilot groups to implement it at 19 facilities, including Plastikos.
The pilot companies received grant funding that they match with their own investment and with a commitment of internal resources, to create company-specific training materials and implement the program.
GSPC is available for many processing techniques and has three certification levels.
* Level I focuses on general knowledge of the facility, with minimal processing training.
* Level II is a more sophisticated understanding of the production process, and the ability to monitor and maintain product quality.
* For Plastikos, Level III centers on an in-depth knowledge of injection molding and the ability to apply this knowledge on the production floor.
Each level requires an increased understanding and responsibility of the company's specific process and the facility as a whole. Advancement to the next level requires an employee to pass an oral standardized test, administered by a company trainer and a verifier provided by Penn College.
The road to completing these levels of certification is neither short nor easy. But with results repeatedly seen — ranging from a decrease in employee turnover and improved morale to less scrap — Plastikos will continue to implement GSPC. Executing this program efficiently will allow our firm to increase productivity, safety awareness and quality in order to maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Philip Katen is general manager of Erie, Pa.-based Plastikos Inc., Dan Snyder is technical sales and marketing associate, and Rob Cooney is manufacturing manager. Elizabeth Webster coordinates Plastics SourceNet, a technology and training network financed by the state of Pennsylvania.