As this article is being written, SPI is in the final stages of preparation for NPE - its triennial trade show. This is its 23rd year and is expected to be a record buster - surpassing the 1997 show, which set records for number of exhibiting companies (1,726), net exhibit space (1.015 million square feet.) and number of registered participants (82,634). We know many of you will be in attendance and we encourage you to stop by the SPI booth to say hello and to learn about all of the programs and activities we now have underway.
Much is happening at SPI as we continue to create and maintain member services that are relevant and useful. In the past few months we have undertaken a number of initiatives focusing on the moldmaking industry, which are explained below.
New Statistical Program Planned
A statistical program to gather vital information on the shipments of molds and mold components has been approved by the SPI Moldmakers Executive Board. The board voted to begin a quarterly statistical program under the SPI Committee on Equipment Statistics, which would gather orders and shipment data on molds and components used in the thermoplastic, thermoset plastics and injected metal industries. The program will include gathering data by injection and blow molding, as well as tonnage and end-use market. The Executive Board is working to finalize the reporting form and necessary documentation and moldmakers will be invited to participate later this summer. For more information contact Lori Anderson at (202) 974-5281 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Mold-Related Laws Posted
On a "Members Only" section of SPI's website a complete listing of all existing mold lien, mold retention and other lien laws, as well as the actual text of statutes, is available. The information is accessible through the Issues and Public Policy section of www.plasticsindustry.org. This section is part of SPI's new, extensive legislative monitoring and reporting system, which tracks all legislative initiatives and bills that may impact the plastics industry.
Trade Mission Targets Moldmaking
Moldmakers participating in a recent SPI trade mission had a firsthand look at moldmaking operations in Hong Kong, Southern China and Singapore (see related article on page 39). In a short time, they learned a lot about their global competitors in that part of the world, the business climate for American companies there, the potential for business alliances and the possibilities for new clients.
"The benefit of this particular trade mission," says Lori Anderson, SPI director of economic and international affairs, "is that it focused on just one part of the plastics industry - moldmaking. Therefore every activity was targeted directly at that segment."
The mission"s purpose, she continues, was to provide mold-makers with the opportunity to learn about a part of the world that has made advances in mold building, has increased its exports to the U.S. and about which little was known.
"The global marketplace is a reality," she says. "Other parts of the world are making inroads into U.S. markets and U.S. moldmakers are feeling the pressure."
The trade mission incorporated four key aspects, according to Anderson:
1. Business briefings by experts in the region.
2. Matching of participants with foreign companies that represented either customer or partnership opportunities.
3. Tours of moldmaking facilities and extensive briefings by company executives.
4. Visits to educational facilities.
Anderson says U.S. moldmakers taking part in the trade mission came to the conclusion that they can compete with Asia, but that some changes will have to be made for them to do so successfully. These changes, she said, include improvements in leadtime for mold delivery and the creation of association/industry/government partnerships to advance worker training. For more information contact Lori Anderson at (202) 974-5281 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distance-Learning Initiative Launched
In a move aimed at increasing the profitability and competitiveness of its members, SPI plans to launch the Plastics Learning Network (PLN)T, a distance-learning initiative. In that regard, the association has filed a U.S. trademark application to Plastics Learning Network (PLN)T as a service mark of SPI. The PLN distance-learning network brings together existing state educational resources, plastic industry content providers, the Educational Television Business Link and SPI. The PLN will create an infrastructure that will produce a long-term pool of workers with basic skills to perform at the level required by plastic employers.
A pilot program to validate the model of distance learning was undertaken by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Duke Energy, Mack Molding (Inman, SC) and Precision Southeast (Myrtle Beach, SC). The pilot consisted of 27 students taking classes on basic injection molding twice a week for one month. The instruction originated from the production facilities of WNSC-TV in Rock Hill, SC. The broadcast was live and students were able to ask real-time questions of the instructors, who were from the staff of the Polymers Center for Excellence. The exceptional results were the basis of the launch of the Plastics Learning Network.
A second successful pilot - also on basic injection molding - was held from January 18 to February 10, 2000. In that session, the PLN transmitted classes to 129 students at 12 plants and educational institutions in Florida and South Carolina. These courses addressed materials, molds, machine processing and auxiliary equipment. They were designed for injection molding machine operators, technicians, supervisors, quality personnel, scheduling, managers, designers, salespersons and moldmakers.
A third course - on basic extrusion and basic injection molding - is planned for the summer and SPI expects to launch the PLN officially in September.
"Our pilot programs have proven that the model works," says Richard Sturgis, regional director of SPI"s Southern Region, which has facilitated the initial broadcasts. "Our focus now is on getting industry support and state funding for future projects."
SPI, says Sturgis, "feels that the fourth largest manufacturing industry nationally is under served in process training. State assistance in this high-cost area should help our members" overall competitive position."
For more information contact Catherine Randazzo at (202) 974-5361 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Moldmakers Grant Assistance
The SPI Moldmakers Division has awarded $1,000.00 to The Rhode Island Plastics Partnership Council, Inc., as part of its Apprentice Training Grant Program.
Established by the Division in 1998, the Program works to promote the growth and advancement of the U.S. moldmaking industry. Through this effort, awards of up to $1,000 per year are made to selected institutions or organizations to supplement their resources and help them establish credibility as grant recipients. For more information, contact Walt Bishop at (202) 974-5230 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANSI Standard Draft Available
The SPI Machinery and Moldmakers Mold Safety Committee has completed draft version 11 of a proposed ANSI standard for molds installed in injection molding machines. In its meeting during the first quarter of 2000, the Committee also decided to expand the scope of the standard to include vertical injection molding machines. Copies of the standard are available for review by contacting Betty Drake at (202) 974-5340 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
And That's Not All
SPI is here to serve - both its members and the greater industry. How can we help you? As you attend NPE 2000 stop by and let us know.