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Plastics processors and mold makers had a nice showing in Frost & Sullivan’s 2013 Manufacturing Leadership (ML) 100 Awards, and share the spotlight with some of the biggest and best global companies.

Clare Goldsberry

March 1, 2013

8 Min Read
Processors and moldmakers win big in ML 100 manufacturing awards

“In a world of intensifying global competition and accelerating change, recipients of the ML 100 Awards have distinguished themselves by embracing breakthrough innovation and enabling their companies to anticipate and respond to customers with unmatched agility,” said Frost & Sullivan of the Award winners. “Now in their ninth year, the ML 100 Awards honor companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing.”
Nominations across 11 categories are vetted and evaluated by a panel of expert judges. Seven of the ML 100 categories celebrate outstanding projects undertaken and completed by a manufacturing company. Four categories recognize the achievements of individual manufacturing executives.
Leading rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing and 3D printing service provider, In’Tech Industries Inc. was recognized in the Game-Changing Technologies category with some of the world’s most renowned manufacturers such as Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., GE Aviation Systems, PACCAR Inc., The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Missile Systems.
In’Tech’s Virtual Translation Manufacturing division is one of the largest privately owned rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing service providers in the U.S., according to In’Tech. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it is sometimes called, has been identified as a technology with the most potential to enhance American manufacturing abilities. In’Tech recently purchased the rapid prototyping business of Vista Technologies, and expanded its Ramsay, MN facilities by 32,000 sq ft to accommodate the acquisition.
Also named a winner in the Game-Changing Technologies category is Thogus Products Inc., an Avon Lake, OH-based injection molding company that also does rapid prototyping and manufacturing (rp+m), product development, and custom molding and moldmaking. The company has two divisions, Radiation Protection Technologies and Jalex Medical, and makes a variety of products for its customers. Thogus’s Matthew Hlavin, won in the Manufacturing Entrepreneur section of the Individual category.

IQMS, supplier of the ERP system at Erie, PA-based molder Plastikos Inc., nominated that company for in the Operational Excellence category. Philip Katen, president and GM of Plastikos, told PlasticsToday that the company worked with IQMS to complete the application. “One of the projects we submitted, the Automated Production and Tool Tracking system, won. We’ve continued to build on that project.”

Daniele Fresca, director of marketing for IQMS, told PlasticsToday, “We love it when our clients win things and they don’t often toot their own horns. We regularly ask clients to let us nominate them or their projects for awards. IQMS pays the nomination fee, if applicable, and often helps write the nomination after client interview.”

Katen explained that the Automated Production and Tool Tracking system is a custom solution to count and weigh product as it comes off the press. The data is tied into the IQMS system and pulls all relevant data from the system including part number, customer P.O. and other detailed information and uses that to customize the label that goes onto the packaging. 

Plastikos further expanded that idea with a bar-code tracking system that uses scan guns to scan all the molds and mold frames so that the molds can be tracked throughout the plant, whether in the vault, in a press, or in the tool shop for repair and maintenance. “The system simplifies and tracks molds and frames quickly, and can even tell us how long the mold has been in the press so we can target it for scheduled preventive maintenance,” Katen said. “We can also track tools that have been in and out of the press too often, see what the problem might be with the mold and track the root cause. Definitely by utilizing IQMS and the data available, we’re able to improve quality, time, efficiency, and scheduling and to get more insight in that whole process. We’re very honored to receive this award and proud for the recognition.” Additionally, Plastikos received an award in the Sustainability category for its Environmental Sustainability Initiative. 

Also receiving an award in the Sustainability category is KLW Plastics Inc., a blowmolder of 3.5-7-gallon tight-head containers and injection molded caps in Monroe, OH. The company’s practices include recycling and an internal awareness and commitment to continual pursuit of sustainable solutions for the company and its customers, according to KLW’s information. The company also uses sustainable “product innovation to achieve more energy and material efficient contains to make, ship and use.”

Another custom injection molding company receiving an award in the Operational Excellence category is Nicolet Plastics Inc., of Mountain, WI. Bob MacIntosh, president of Nicolet, told PlasticsToday that the company’s focus on Quick Response Manufacturing was the project that won it recognition for the ML 100 Award.

“The University of Wisconsin School of Engineering has a Quick Response Center and they’ve pioneered this approach to manufacturing,” he said. “The focus is on reducing time throughout the entire manufacturing process and the results we were able to achieve were to take seven days off our lead time last year. We’re trying to take another seven days out of our lead time this year by taking waste out of the time it takes us in the manufacturing process by balancing the work flow and achieve greater velocity, which is sales divided by current assets. 

For Nicolet’s larger accounts, the company has committed to 14 days from receipt of order to parts shipment. There are some ranges of time given the number of parts, but anything that Nicolet can do to impact velocity the company continues to try to improve its numbers. “We average 80 to 120 mold changes a week for low to moderate volumes with 17 presses, so our run sizes are shorter than the typical molder, which means that every minute is precious,” said MacIntosh. “For higher volumes we’ve created ‘swim lanes’ that are run separately and in a lights-out condition. It’s an operation within an operation.”

Plastic Components Inc., a custom injection molding/contract manufacturing company, also was named a winner in the Operational Excellence category. Tom Duffey, president of PCI, told PlasticsToday that the submission was based on the launch of PCI’s second facility that opened on 11/11/11. “We maxed out capacity at our existing facility in 2011, and made the decision to add capacity. We found a building for sale here in the industrial park in Germantown where we are located. It was a 15,000-sq-ft building vacated by a metal fabricator that had gone out of business,” Duffey explained.

"I said to the PCI management team ‘take all the things we did right over last 20 years and all the things we did wrong over the last 20 years and create the molding facility of the future,'" he said, as the renovation work began in June 2011. “Since the plant’s opening on 11-11-11, it has been running around the clock, fully automated 23 hours and 30 minutes each day, with no one in the building. In 2012 we molded 148 million parts.”

People come in for about a half-hour each day to load the full boxes onto the conveyors and put the empty boxes back on the conveyors, or do a mold changeover. PCI uses RJG technology to monitor the processing and digital cameras to monitor the plant. Full electronic linkage allows PCI’s production control manager to watch what goes on in the automated facility from his desk. “This is the future of the American injection molding industry,” Duffey stated emphatically, “taking the science and technology available to us to remove the direct labor. This plant has exceeded our expectations, and that’s the model for our future, and the future of the American manufacturing universe.”

Ray Coombs, president of Westminster Tool Inc., a mold manufacturer in Plainfield, CT, was selected in the Individual category in the Advocacy sub-category for his work in mobilizing manufacturers in his area to help community colleges and trade schools get the resources to service the needs of local manufacturers for skilled workers.

“There are talkers and there are doers, and I’m a doer,” Coombs told PlasticsToday. “Being a small business is tough, so I got a bunch of other manufacturers together to work on it with me. Through the Quinebaug Manufacturing Institute (QMI), we’ve managed to do some exciting things to make a difference in our area with regard to educating our workforce. QMI is my passion.”

Currently there are 22 companies in the QMI that form a “unified voice and help us obtain government funding to support manufacturing degree programs at the community colleges,” said Coombs. “The CAD course, which we started five years ago, now has 75 students registered. Owners have to get involved if they want change, and if they want skilled help they have to put in the time to get there.”

The Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leadership Council is a member-driven global business leadership network, dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry. Its mission is to help senior executives define and shape a better future for themselves, their organizations, and the industry at large. Awards for the ML 100 will be presented at the annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit – Bold Ideas for a Better Future – May 14-15, 2013, at The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL.

For more information on Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, visit their site at www.MLCouncil.com.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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