The Processes Drive the People
Robots and other automation have helped streamline operations at Graphic Tool. However, as detailed in the article, making the most of technology required a more concerted effort.
Rich Burman remembers the days when a mold largely represented the ingenuity--and much of the sweat--of a single toolmaker. Selected from the most seasoned personnel at Graphic Tool, where Burman is president, individual project leaders bore the brunt of the responsibility for bringing jobs from quote to delivery. This role wasn't just supervisory, it was hands-on. Project leaders could often be found plotting tool paths or machining electrodes while core and cavity work occupied the shop's workhorse equipment.
Those days are gone—and for Graphic Tool, that's a very good thing, Burman says. Today's more streamlined operation is characterized by standardized processes, developed in advance with input from throughout the shop and followed to the letter. As plant manager Don Smith puts it, "We've moved from mold making to mold manufacturing."