By: Christina Fuges 28. September 2016

A Temp Turnover Solution

Manufacturing, including moldmaking, continues to face the lack of a skilled workforce, but there is another aspect of labor they also must contend with: temporary labor turnover. Mold shops, especially those involved in molding, employ temporary workers, so they know the effects of this challenge.  With training, loss of productivity and the costs associated with finding and evaluating new talent, reducing turnover can have a far reaching impact, according to Revere Plastics in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Here is their story: Revere implemented a retention strategy that enabled them to work with temporary staffing partners to implement positive changes. This reduced its temporary workforce turnover rate of more than 40 percent.  Working with staffing firm Nesco Resource, Revere was able to achieve this improvement through a range of new policies that ranged from increasing pay to opening a dialogue with temporary workers.

The Revere team knew they needed to take many factors beyond pay rates into consideration.  Carol Fountain, manager of Human Resources for the Revere Jeffersonville plant explains the big picture perspective that her team took to addressing the challenge, “We wanted to implement a strategy based on real information from the temps themselves. We implemented an exit survey to see what issues were driving temps to leave a job and what motivated them to stay.” Surveys revealed some key areas beyond pay, namely better communication about the job prior to assignments, a more robust onboarding process, more direct management of temporary workers, and a graduated pay scale.

One key to the success that Revere has seen in reducing turnover rates has been through communication prior to assignment.  Surveys revealed that if workers were informed of key details about the job before beginning, retention rates improved significantly.  The jobs at Revere, which are a mix of inspection and assembly work, usually involve standing, bending, and also cell phone are prohibited on the facility floor.

The operators are the eyes of the plastic’s plant, checking to make sure Revere is delivering quality parts to their customers. They inspect the parts and then apply the appropriate label, cut gates off and pack parts out. Operators also use a pallet builder system to create labels and scan the products into their inventory when they are completed. Some other jobs available at Revere include assembly, such as placing filtering screens in products, welding pieces together, and then running the products through leak testing.

“We found that people who come informed of the job’s parameters to stay longer,” says Fountain.  “The upfront communication at the staffing firm helps ensure that workers are walking into the plant with as few surprises about the job as possible.”

Once workers arrive at Revere’s plant, they are immediately assigned a mentor for their first shift of work.  This “buddy system” allows for temporary workers to ask questions and to feel comfortable about the work that they are performing.  By the second shift of work, the mentor is still available close by, but the worker is given more independence.  Carol Fountain points out that the system not only serves to train employees, but it also helps develop a culture of trust, "The jobs are generally not overly complex, but the process and the environment are new to temporary employees.  We want them to feel that they’re part of a team and the buddy system is key to creating that atmosphere.”

The mentor also provides the workers with a brief history of the company and the products that it produces as well as outlines the basic rule of the facility and information on breaks, location of bathrooms, and break rooms.


By: Christina Fuges 27. September 2016

SLIDESHOW: Technology Showcase, Additive Manufacturing

                        Mazak's VC-500 AM is a hybrid multitasking machine that combines full five-axis machining and direct metal deposition in a single setup." />                         Methods 3D's ProX DMP 320 is part of the company’s growing line of direct metal 3D printers from 3D Systems." />                                                 Renishaw RenAM 500M additive manufacturing system builds metallic components directly from CAD using metal powder-bed fusion technology." />                         Autodesk’s Netfabb software is designed to take additive manufacturing beyond prototyping and plastics to create production-grade parts at scale." />                         Trumpf’s TruLaser Cell 3000 is a five-axis laser machine for fine cutting, precision welding and additive manufacturing." />                         Vader Systems ' commercial liquid metal jet 3D printer is the Mk1 Experimental." />                         Linear AMS provides metal 3D printing, CAD-based technologies and traditional manufacturing services to produce metal prototypes, pre-production, production parts, tooling/injection molds and conformal cooling inserts." />                         Sodick 's OPM250L combines DMLS technology with high-speed milling to produce finished components." />                         Viridis3D 's robot-driven 3D printing system accommodates variable part sizes for sand molds and cores." />                                                 Elb-Schliff's Mill Grind, a hybrid machine tool, combines deposition welding with grinding and milling capability." />

New at IMTS earlier this month was a small pavilion dedicated entirely to additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, for making production parts. Although this is a new application for AM, it is growing especially within the aerospace and medical industries. In addition to that, AM is being used by manufacturers in all industries, including moldmaking, for producing jigs, fixtures, molds and other production tooling. That pavilion was just a sampling of some of that technology; here is some other current AM products and equipment.

By: Cynthia Kustush 26. September 2016

Manufacturing Day is an Opportunity for our Industry

This is a section of a marketing flyer that can be used to promote a Manufacturing Day event. It was developed by Manufacturing Day sponsors and partners.


How are you celebrating our national day, Manufacturing Day, this year? October 7 marks the fifth year since Manufacturing Day was established in the US, Canada and Mexico, and the mold manufacturing industry should embrace the opportunity to spread the message that moldmaking is cool!

The Manufacturing Institute, which is one of the co-producers of Manufacturing Day, says the national event was created for the purpose of answering a dire need: the ever-present skills shortage. Studies show the way to do this is by holding events that dispel students’, educators’ and parents’ misperceptions about the industry and illustrate the variety of viable careers available.

I should mention that the other sponsors of Manufacturing Day include the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association; National Association of Manufacturers; and National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Additionally, Deloitte is the source of several studies having to do with the skills gap and the effect that Manufacturing Day activities have on those who attend them. According to the Manufacturing Institute, one conclusion drawn from the firm’s recent perception survey, said, “Manufacturers need to engage people through community, educational and government programs in order to improve the perception of the U.S. manufacturing industry.” (Access more detailed 2015 event survey results here.)

So let’s do this, moldmakers! Even if October 7 is just around the corner, many manufacturing companies are using the month of October and even November to schedule open houses, plant tours, block parties (some companies are partnering with neighboring manufacturers!) and even webinars. Truth be told, events like these can be held any time of year – the sky is the limit for how you can reach out and connect with folks who need to discover modern, advanced manufacturing. Remember to invite your local members of congress and your state representatives, too.

The Manufacturing Day website is a great resource for companies looking to prepare for and host events in their communities. Just look under the “resources” menu item for ideas and tips for getting started. You’ll also find a calendar filled with events that are being held this year and can search for specific companies and organizations or just look to see who is participating in your state or across the country. I found the American Mold Builders Association’s Chicago Chapter under Illinois, as well as OSG USA, Caterpillar, Davies Molding, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Fisher Unitech, GF Machining Solutions, Mold-Tech Midwest and many more.

If you’re planning a Manufacturing Day event, please let me know. Snap some photos and send them to me and tell me about your event. Don’t miss this clear opportunity to proudly strut your stuff.

Happy Manufacturing Day!

By: Cynthia Kustush 23. September 2016

Wearing IMTS Like a Badge of Honor

Oliver Leopold, 13 (second from right), YouTube sensation, poses with his Smartforce Student Summit team, Robotronics First Lego League. This is already Oliver’s second IMTS.


On opening day of IMTS, in the east hall, an engineer named Jim Allemann was recognized by show organizers because this year marked his 25th consecutive IMTS. His first event was in 1965, he said, and his employers understood the importance and benefits of sending him to IMTS to see and learn about what’s new in manufacturing technologies so that they might incorporate it in their companies.

Also honored in the east hall during that opening ceremony was a 13-year-old student named Oliver Leopold. This was his second IMTS and he was attending with his Robotronics First Lego League team. For many, his attendance at such a young age put an emphasis on the future of both IMTS and manufacturing.

Throughout my week at this larger-than-life event, from hall to hall, I witnessed several attendees and exhibitors alike announcing how many IMTS events they’ve attended, including one friend of mine in the machine tool sector who told me proudly that this was his 22nd. I’ve attended six IMTS events over the years, but this was definitely my favorite one because I never met so many enterprising and engaging people there before now. Undoubtedly this had a little to do with the fact that I am an editor for a metalworking publication and it’s my job to visit exhibitors to find out what’s new and exciting, but I also know this industry’s character – and it’s a wonderful and welcoming one.

It should be noted that on the main concourse between the north and south halls on opening day, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was a featured speaker. She said, “There are three key reasons why Made in America remains the best brand in the world: our people, our business climate and our capacity to innovate.” I am inclined to agree. She also reminded attendees that October 7 is Manufacturing Day and she urged companies to invite students and career advisors from their local schools to tour their facilities and learn about advanced manufacturing and career opportunities that are available. I’d like to add that inviting parents may be just as important, since they are strong influencers with regard to career and education direction.

The IMTS Insider newsletter, which came out on Wednesday, released the final figures for the show, which are as follows: 115,612 registrants were tallied (third largest ever); a record-breaking 2,407 exhibitors occupied 1,270,256 net square feet of exhibit space (third largest ever) – and McCormick Place was 76 million pounds heavier after the exhibitors moved all of their equipment and wares into the building!

Be sure to mark your calendar to attend IMTS 2018, which will be held September 10-15 in Chicago. No matter how many times you’ve attended previously, wear that distinction like a badge of honor because this show is like no other in the world.

By: Christina M. Fuges 22. September 2016

Throwback Thursday: IMTS Then and Now


IMTS 2016 just closed its doors last Saturday, so I thought this Throwback Thursday I would revisit what we discovered at IMTS 2014 and then use this slideshow to highlight what we saw this year.

During IMTS 2014 moldmakers were looking for technology to optimize their processes and to help them get a part off the machine with a bench-free finish. They want to save time and money without sacrificing quality. Two main areas of interest for moldmakers were automation and additive manufacturing. These two areas definitely grew in two years. Here is a quick look at 2014 technology


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