Precision injection molder D&M Plastics LLC of Burlington, Ill., takes safety seriously.
Through Feb. 22, D&M had logged 1,255 work days without a lost-time accident, and the count continues.
Safety is "something I have been personally focused on since I bought company" almost six years ago, Peyton "Chip" Owen Jr., CEO and president, said. "For me, safety of the people is absolutely the most important thing."
Owen believes safety and quality "are inextricably linked" and notes that the operation has a low external defect rate at 17 parts per million. D&M has data showing that most companies of its size can have an external defect rate of 1,038 ppm.
In analyzing safety practices in the workplace, Owen researched several professional and academic reports in technical journals and proceedings, and he secured experiential data from 20 companies.
"There is not a large body of work around this [subject]," he noted.
Some scholarly findings corroborated Owen's view regarding the connection between safety and quality.
"We place the safety of our team members above everything else, and our employees know it," Owen said.
"We try to promote safety all the time," he said. "It may be as simple as noting it may snow and warning people to be careful."
Routinely at the beginning of each shift, the first question is, "Has anybody seen or experienced an unsafe condition?" Any relevant matter is discussed in detail even if it has been brought to the attention of a supervisor.
"If necessary, we will shut down production in order to address a safety concern," he said.
D&M had an earlier streak of 611 work days without a lost-time accident, but a longtime employee hit an elbow against a wall in taking items off a shelf. The employee initially resisted getting treatment primarily because "he had smoked marijuana the evening before," Owen said. Predictably, "testing at the hospital found an extraordinarily high THC level" in his body, and the employee was terminated.
Without that interruption, D&M would have 1,866 work days without a lost-time accident through Feb. 22.
D&M counts work days as any day that machines are running with personnel in the building. During the week of Feb. 17, for example, D&M counted five days. Two years ago, D&M was running seven days a week so all seven were included.
As a result of the safety focus, D&M has one of the lowest worker compensation modification factors in Illinois, Owen said.
Owen said D&M recorded 2018 sales of about $8 million and he projected that 2019 sales would be similar.
During 2019, "we are winding down a couple of automotive programs, and we expect to add in the medical arena," Owen said. Other end markets involve electrical and industrial components.
The business was founded in 1972. Owen bought ownership control of company in Kane County, west of Chicago, in May 2013.
He works closely with a partner, Scott Hagen, chief operating officer. Hagen joined the company in 2000, became COO in 2009 and runs the day-to-day operations, Owen said.
D&M occupies 56,000 square feet and operates 29 injection molding machines from 38-310 tons. Five are all-electrics, five are hybrids and the remaining 19 are hydraulics, including two hydraulic vertical rotaries.
"We have not added to the total number of presses, but over two years we have invested in two 110-ton Toyo electrics, a 110-ton Sodick electric and a 40-ton Arburg hybrid," Owen said. A corresponding number of presses were removed from service.
A mobile ISO Class 8 clean room can house one of the larger presses or two of the smaller presses.
The company employs 50 with the longest tenured individual at 36 years of service.
D&M was certified under the ISO 9002 standard initially in April 1993, and the company received its first ISO 13485 certificate in August 2007.