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  Manufacturing Insights   |   March, 2007
Molding and Extrusion Require Skilled Labor
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

Julie Maydew, vice president of ResourceMFG, the leading manufacturing placement organization detailed some of the core personnel challenges in the plastics sector.  According to Maydew, “The plastics industry utilizes a wide variety of skills in its production units with emphasis on processes and equipment setup used to make the product.  Molding and Extrusion cover a wide diversity of products and in order to find skilled personnel they must be recruited from other plastics industries.  With the exception of entry level machine operators and secondary operations staff, molding and extruder specific experience are required; couple that with the variety of raw materials the profile for the ideal candidate is often unique to the hiring company.  The matches must be made with candidates that have comparable process and material familiarity and experience.”

 

 

Since much of the molding and extrusion has been sent offshore, the specific skills required have migrated to other process industries and have adapted outside of plastics manufacturing.  With fewer production facilities in the US, the pool of prospective recruits has diminished significantly.

 

 

Maydew insists that the plastics industry face unique pressures from other sectors:  “Pressure from other process industries (primarily food, pharmaceutical, hydrocarbon, and chemical production) has taken the Process Technicians, Extruder/Molding Setup Operators and Maintenance Technicians away from the dwindling US plastic producers.  The accelerated reduction of the factory that produces plastic products increases the competition with foreign manufacturers more pressing.”   

 

All process industries utilize maintenance mechanics and maintenance electricians along with skilled personnel that can readily change over the production equipment, the plastics industry has suffered as opportunities abound in the other segments.

 

Due to the placement segmentation ResourceMFG is involved with all aspects of manufacturing and is distinctly aligned with the skilled employees that are utilized within the plastics sector;  the relationships with other process industries is used to transition highly skilled employees into plastics process operations.  Through special partnering methodologies the firm is able to provide evaluations that are specific to each company. 

 

A ResourceMFG plastics client illustrated the capacity to address the sector.  “We provide precision plastic injection molding and extrusion employees to Sercel, Inc. in Houston, TX and have for the past fifteen years.  We recruit for maintenance techs, operators, process techs, and secondary operations staff in the Geophysical equipment manufacturer.  The background matching and manufacturing readiness assessments allow us to assure that each placement is the right fit.  Our understanding of the process issues and the production volumes and schedules allow us to mesh with Sercel to become a partner in their production,” according to Maydew.

 

Globalization has deeply impacted the hiring processes of plastic mfg plants in North America; the movement of many plastics producers to other countries has impacted businesses and for the remaining, it becomes essential to pursue lean concepts and Six Sigma tools to improve their competitive advantage.  The reduction of waste and defects in processes bring these surviving companies to higher levels of competitiveness.  Maydew suggests, “By training internal staff to understand lean and six sigma concepts allow the placement firm to align with clients in a particularly effective way.  The global economy and increased competitiveness have guided ResourceMFG to perform at higher levels in our screening, as we more clearly understand the importance of waste and defect elimination in clients’ processes.  It is often more than just a job filled, but it becomes a job filled with both the essential skill competencies as well as a global understanding about the delivered quality and schedule.”

 



Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide – www.trcutlerinc.com. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of twenty seven hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is also the author of the Manufacturers’ Public Relations and Media Guide. Cutler is a frequently published author within the manufacturing sector with more than 300 feature articles authored annually; he can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com.

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