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Short Shots: From the Industry Floor 26567

May 1, 2008

6 Min Read
Short Shots: From the Industry Floor

Study finds shortage of skilled labor for manufacturing

In a time of poor economic conditions and a weak dollar, a recent story starting off a CBS Evening News series called “Hard Times, Good Jobs” reported refreshing but frustrating survey results regarding jobs in U.S. manufacturing. A survey by Manpower Inc. shows that 90% of American manufacturers are short qualified workers and are looking for skilled labor, but finding a drought in the labor pool. The survey finds that, with half the nation’s 14 million manufacturing workers nearing retirement, 26% of U.S. manufacturers are planning to add jobs between April and June.

CBS focused on Bison Gear & Engineering Corp. (St. Charles, IL; www.bisongear.com), a manufacturer of motors and gear reducers, with owner Ron Bullock reporting that his company has enough business to expand, but that they are currently understaffed with about a half-dozen openings. “Every one of these machine tools that we use is about the price of a Ferrari,” Bullock said. “So you need to have good computer skills if you’re going to work in high-tech manufacturing today.”

The story highlighted the dilemma that students leaving high school either don’t have the math or science skills required for manufacturing or aren’t interested in it. One student interviewed said he figured manufacturing “was a kind of out-of-date career path.”

To address the shortage of skilled entry-level workers, Bison Gear created a Skilled Workforce Initiative, which brings employers together with educational institutions and economic and workplace development -organizations to offer long-term stable employment for a talent pool of better-qualified employees. The National Assn. of Man-u-facturers (Washington DC; www.nam.org) is also targeting youth where they hang out online on MySpace, Facebook, and You-Tube with its “Dream it, do it” ad campaign, showing that jobs in manufacturing provide the chance to develop environmentally friendly products, while earning around $70,000 a year. —KD

Huge Engel machine making underground rainwater tanks

Nearly three years ago, Engel (York, PA; www.engelglobal.com) took on the task of designing an injection machine that could handle shot weights up to 150 kg (330 lb). Today the machine, a true giant, is in production at Otto Graf GmbH in Teningen, Germany.

Graf is in the midst of a market introduction for the 6500-liter (1717-gal) Carat underground rainwater collection tank that it molds on the Engel machine. Designed in two halves for easy shipping and assembled onsite, the tank is the latest rainwater recovery product from Graf, which has marketed such systems since 1974. The IM is also used to make logistics/material handling containers.

The two-platen Engel Duo at Graf has a clamping force of 55,000 kN (6182 U.S. tons) and three parallel injection units, each with a 260-mm screw. The 25m (82-ft) long molding machine weighs 585 metric tons (645 U.S. tons), and with the 160-ton mold added in, had to be sunk 2m into the ground. Engel was proud to note that the machine’s energy consumption, which is 0.34 kWh/kg, lets the machine achieve record energy savings. —RN

ProMold Plastics celebrates expansion

On May 5, 2008, ProMold Plastics (www.promoldplastics.com), a contract manufacturer specializing in close-tolerance molding and moldmaking, held an open house to show off its spanking-new facility in Portland, CT. Encompassing 43,000 ft2, the new plant more than doubles the company’s workspace compared with its previous facility in nearby Cromwell, CT.

The company was set up in 1967 as a one-man tool and die shop by an Italian immigrant, Riccardo Puglielli, and since 1999 has been run by his son, Richard Puglielli. The Crom-well facility opened in 1982, and grew from its original 5000 ft2 via two expansions to 20,000 ft2.

Richard “Rick” Puglielli, who was named one of Modern Plastics Worldwide’s “25 Notable Processors” in 2007, is understandably happy about the new facility, and even happier that the relocation went smoothly. “What seemed to be a big undertaking at first really turned out to be a breeze,” he says. He adds that, in some cases, contractors even exceeded expectations, which meant that the increased efficiency of the new plant could be passed on immediately to ProMold’s customers. —RN

Employee-owned Hansen announces new president/CEO

Roy Lilly, president of Hansen Plastics Corp. (Elgin, IL; www.hansenplastics.com), is also taking on the role of CEO for the 37-year-old employee-owned molding operation after former CEO Dave Watermann announced his retirement. Lilly worked his way up from starting as a molding foreman for Hansen in 1978, and believes that the company’s growth is due to the focus on employee education, along with the benefits of the employee-owner attitude and attention to detail.

In the past decade, Hansen has added medical, defense, and aerospace jobs to its client base of life safety, dental, automotive, and consumer product industries. Hansen runs 35 injection molding machines, including a new 275-ton two-shot press, and has 60 employee owners (see photo below) with an average of 10 years of employment. —KD

Perlos appoints new prez and CEO

Finland-based Perlos (www.perlos.com), a global product design and manufacturing company supporting the telecom and electronics industries, has appointed Cor Saris as its new president and CEO, effective May 27. Saris’ previous position was VP at Lite-On New Business Development. Lite-On Technology Corp. (Taiwan) owns more than 95% of Perlos. Saris is replacing Matti Virtanen, who is resigning for family reasons, according to the company.

Mold-Masters moves U.S. facility from SC to MI

Hot runner manufacturer Mold-Masters Ltd. (George-town, ON; www.moldmasters.com) says it is moving its U.S. facility from South Carolina to Michigan. “Our customers asked for a service center that would provide faster response times and part of that means closer proximity to our greatest concentration of custom-ers,” says Patrick Bennett, executive VP. —AC

Inkcups Now opens SW office

Inkcups Now (Danvers, MA; www.inkcups.com) recently opened a new office in Tucson, AZ to sell and support all its lines of pad and screen printing supplies and equipment in that corner of the United States. —RN

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