Polymermedics Ltd in partnership with G&A Moulding Technology Ltd accomplished the 2 year-long training programme for all members of the Technical team. Entire injection moulding process was optimized: as the result of the training, we gained the industry’s top level of OEE, improved the tool validation process, reduced the scrap rate and our carbon footprint. For its significant impact, our programme was nominated for the annual Plastic Industry Awards of 2012.
In 2009 Polymermedics Ltd (formerly Polymeroptix UK Ltd, part of the West Pharmaceuticals Group) embarked on a programme of training in partnership with G&A Moulding Technology Ltd to increase the skill level and approach of all its Technical Staff.
“In order to make the plant more profitable and efficient something needed to be done to address this and bring stability to the manufacturing processes”
All members of the Technical team had previously been trained in generic injection moulding techniques which focussed on the wider needs of the plastics industry, with no focus on the intricacies of the mould tools and processes within this manufacturing plant. The skills learnt with this type of training were quickly lost when returning to the plant as it was too easy to slip back into previous bad practices and forget what had been taught.
Also, with new KPI’s (Key Performance Indices) being put in place the plants overall equipment effectiveness and scrap levels were not in control and in order to make the plant more profitable and efficient something needed to be done to address this and bring stability to the manufacturing processes.
The management team of the Plastics plant decided to try a different training approach and discussed these options with G&A and the offerings that they had were a perfect fit for the direction that the business wanted to go in.
In order to deliver real tangible benefits from the training the following points were deemed the key deliverables of the training:
The training was delivered over the course of 2 years with all process technicians being moved to a dedicated shift pattern to enable training to be delivered and the time to put what was learnt into practice. All Process Technicians were given injection moulding processes to improve with the objective of improving performance capability, component quality, overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and raw material utilisation by reducing downtime and scrap, which gave ownership to them for these processes.
The programme of training was given in stepwise blocks, commencing with a detailed understanding of the basic constituents within the injection moulding process. Upon fully understanding these principles, a series of modules were delivered covering in detail the important elements:
During and after each module, each technician was expected to implement the knowledge gained and the results of their efforts measured in terms of performance outputs. The format of the training programme was based upon 30% theory and 70% practical. Project work and tasks between modules at selected timescales within the programme workshop and/or clinics were arranged to discuss the outcome of the project work and address any issues.
Below you could see a graph of the OEE from 2008 to 2011 showing the rising trend. Polymermedics gained World Class manufacturing levels.
With the reduction in scrap rates year on year since the training began we have managed to reduce the number of scrap components be sent from the plant as waste. Our scrap has reduced by approximately 3.2t per annum.
With the new found efficiencies and the fact that we can produce a bigger number of parts on fewer machines this has had a positive impact on the amount of energy required to produce parts. Taking averages across the plant, we have managed to reduce the annual consumption annually as shown in the table below. This has not only managed to prevent our power costs increasing due to the price hikes that energy companies have been giving to customers but we have reduced our carbon footprint which is helping us to meet the criteria for the ISO 14001 accreditation.
|Year||KWH Per Annum||Reduction KWH|
Not only have scrap rates reduced and OEE levels increased, Polymermedics also improved the tooling validation process. We have incorporated the G&A PRO-OP into all new tooling validations and tooling verifications to ensure that the tool is absolutely as it should be. In previous years there has always been the discussion with the toolmaker as to whether the tool is at fault or the process. This is no longer the case. As we can guarantee that the process is stable we can highlight much more effectively tooling issues that are apparent and make tooling modifications knowing the outcome. Reducing time and cost when validating new tooling.
“In 2008 Polymermedics produced approximately 1.3 billion parts from a fleet of 28 moulding machines. In 2011 we produced 1.5 billion parts from 18!”
The training programme that we have embarked on has shown massive benefits to our processes and efficiencies. We now have a skilled technical workforce who all have the same understanding of injection moulding processes and tools and who all approach problems in the same way.
In 2008 Polymermedics produced approximately 1.3 billion parts from a fleet of 28 moulding machines. In 2011 we produced 1.5 billion parts from 18! This has enabled to business to become more cost competitive and reduce operating costs due to the reduction in power usage to produce the parts, less scrap and less material usage. Without this training the business would be in a much more dire position and with the current economic climate potentially not in business.