Thermoformer Productive Plastics Inc. is benefiting from recent investments in training and equipment geared toward seeking new markets a giant step during a recession, according to its top official.
On the equipment side, the Mount Laurel, N.J., firm went for used machinery.
Productive purchased a 7-by-9-foot three-station automated rotary thermoformer from auctioneer and used processing equipment dealer Stopol Inc. of Solon, Ohio, and it hired Maac Machinery Corp. of Carol Stream, Ill., to retrofit the machine.
We acquired and upgraded the thermoforming department at about 60 percent of the cost of adding a new machine in less than two months, said Hal Gilham, Productive's president and CEO.
Productive may have spent $250,000, but we ultimately saved another $250,000, if [machinery had been] purchased new. Our staff researched the best controls, heaters, quick-change techniques and implemented that technology into this equipment.
Productive's employees underwent Toyota Production System instruction at the urging of Raymond Corp., a Greene, N.Y.-based lift truck manufacturer owned by Toyota Industries Corp. of Kariya, Japan, that is one of Productive's biggest customers. Raymond requires that its top 30 suppliers be trained in TPS.
New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development provided a grant to aid the retraining effort, Gilham said. Prodictive's workers completed the program on a voluntary basis, and some gave up their weekends to do so.
These employees were hired with minimum production experience three years ago and through extensive in-house training, our employees are trained in supervision, process improvement, documentation reduction in rejection rate ... As a result, Productive Plastics is a lean and efficient operation, said Bob Harrison, quality control manager.
Some of Productive's other equipment is being upgraded or will be refurbished.
The future of thermoforming is in the ability to become more competitive with other processes, Gilham said. Even within our process, our competitors do not see the need to add the tools and training to accomplish this.
The company also is pursuing new markets and customers.
Traditionally, we supplied product to the medical, electronic and original equipment manufacturer industries, said John Zerillo, vice president of sales and marketing.
Recently we [have seen] competitive cost opportunities with larger thermoform applications in the agricultural, heavy truck and mass transit industries.
An important development during the recent retooling and retraining was in upgrading Productive's ability to handle assembly projects for customers, he said.
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