The Mold Shop Puzzle
Finding good employees has always been the key to success in any business. Taking care of employees and their families is one of the best ways to ensure that a solid employee stays with a company. In essence, each employee must feel they are wanted, appreciated, needed and essential for the success of your company.
Currently it is almost impossible to find trained moldmakers. There are very few formal apprenticeship programs available today, and the expense to create one in a shop is usually only affordable for larger shops. Shop owners must be creative when looking for new people. For several years the trend has been to train specialists in certain areas to take advantage of the advancing technology. This technique makes great sense, but with the age of our average worker getting closer and closer to retirement, we still need people who understand the entire scope of molds, and the ways to be creative in building the entire mold not just separate operations.
The aptitude of a younger employee to embrace new technologies is amazing. Most younger people grew up with computers, cell phones and gaming systems as part of their early developmental years. This needs to be harnessed within your own shop’s thought process.
Find a young person with aptitude and grow your own moldmaker. It is not hard to set up a training program using the technology that these young people embrace. If your local community college does not have courses available, there are several online groups that can help your shop. Working with the AMBA, NTMA or SME can help give you resources that will point you to the programs that are right for your shop.
Each shop is different, but one common thread is that education is needed to survive. Moldmakers cannot be viewed as simple workers; but as cell managers who create an overview of the entire build process while doing other functions. The only way to get these superstar employees is to create them ourselves through very well-defined, individualized training. Shops may have to combine with others to convince their local community colleges to hold classes, but the return on this investment is tremendous.
Keeping hard-charging employees should always be a top priority. It is cheaper to keep a superstar than to start over and train a new one. Making sure that they have the basics in life is the easiest way. Health insurance and medical costs keep skyrocketing and it seems hopeless to stay ahead of these expenses. Each shop must be creative by using Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, savings plans and employee reimbursements to attempt and achieve a balance that will work for each particular shop.
Many shops have gone to higher deductibles and pay part of the deductibles themselves in combination with an FSA. Depending on what is available locally, the dreaded HMOs can be a great solution at a lower price and protect an employee from undue burden. Other shops have purchased health insurance that covers basic needs and then purchased supplementary insurance in case of a tragic event that would cost the employee too much out-of-pocket. Generally, these supplemental insurances are cheaper to obtain and provide security for the employee.
No matter how you look at your people, they are your greatest asset, and if you do not take care of them and provide job security, training and family care, they will look elsewhere and you will have to keep re-inventing new people to fill your holes.
Valve gate installations must be made to manufacturer specs to obtain the advantages necessary for competitive production of injection molded parts in today’s marketplace.
Reducing changeover times will eliminate waste, moving a shop closer to becoming lean.
Using aluminum tooling instead of traditional tools steels reduces cycle time and costs, but requires up-front, open communications between moldmaker, molder, material supplier and hot runner manifold supplier.