Indianapolis — A plastics processing firm has to work together at many levels for a product launch to be successful, speakers said at the 2019 Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors' Benchmarking & Best Practices conference.
"There used to be a blame game between different departments — the project engineer, the CEO, the COO — if a product launch didn't go right," said Richard Hines, business development operations coordinator with Globaltech Polymer Solutions, a custom injection molder in Fife, Wash.
Globaltech operates 13 injection molding machines, with room for seven more at its 43,000-square-foot location, he added. The firm does most of its molding work in aerospace, medical and transportation.
Hines said that Globaltech divides its new product work into three stages: introduction, development and release. He added that at the development stage, changes can be made to cycle times or other areas of production.
When working on a product launch, it's also important to understand the process, according to Kyle Bender, technical director with Falcon Plastics in Brookings, S.D.
Falcon is a custom injection molder that also does some blow molding and sheet foaming work. In addition to Brookings, the firm also has production sites in Madison, S.D., and Lexington, Tenn.
"You also have to be willing to scrap the current process and start from scratch," Bender said. He added that it's important to have a value stream map that can analyze the current process, get waste out of the processes and improve efficiency.
Choosing a process model, such as stage gate or lean startup, also is important, Bender said, because doing so breaks the project into measurable and manageable steps.