The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) brought nearly 600 manufacturing professionals to Indianapolis from October 10-12, 2018. MAPP held the record-breaking 2018 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. The theme for this year was Be Extraordinary.

Professional keynote speakers had direct, intense messages for audience members, and 82 industry leaders from member companies shared best practices and lessons learned from within their own facilities. The level of learning and engagement was unbeatable.

You can face any “what” if you have a big enough “why.”
Troy Nix, MAPP Executive Director

Troy Nix
Troy Nix, MAPP Executive Director

In his highly anticipated opening, MAPP Executive Director Troy Nix took the stage on the first morning of the conference to reflect on the lessons he has learned through 20 years of association leadership. From the power of sharing the “why” behind a company’s founding to the weight of a promise, Nix spoke passionately about how articulating the goals that seem like a stretch can help them come true. It is his belief that leaders who take the time to discover and communicate their professional “whys” are leaders who get people on the bus.

The biggest cost in any organization is a lack of trust.
David Horsager, Trust Edge Leadership Institute

David Horsager
David Horsager, Trust Edge Leadership Institute

Trust is a fundamental, bottom line issue. Without it, leaders lose teams; salespeople lose sales; and organizations lose reputation and revenue. But with trust, individuals and organizations enjoy greater creativity and productivity. Horsager used academic research and firsthand experience to demonstrate how little things, done consistently, add up to huge results. Horsager reminded attendees that doing what they say will do is one of the keys to building trust with employees and customers, but too many people set goals without having a specific plan to achieve them. He said three key words provide clarity on every issue: How? How? How? Asking “how” three times whenever a goal is expressed forces a detailed plan for achievement.

Where do you focus: the crevice or the ladder?
Alan Hobson, Climb Back

Alan Hobson
Alan Hobson, Climb Back

A member of three self-guided, self-organized and corporate-sponsored expeditions to Mt. Everest, Alan Hobson spoke to attendees about the Brilliance of Resilience. Hobson’s first expedition missed the summit by 3,000 vertical feet and his second by just two city blocks. Finally, on his third expedition, he reached the peak. But, Everest was not his toughest climb. Three years later, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and given less than a year to live. Hobson connected the everyday challenges in plastics processing to the obstacles encountered on his attempts on the mountain. In life or death situations – whether related to the climb or his illness – Hobson encouraged the audience to follow his lead, focusing on the path to goal achievement rather than the hurdles in the way.

Photos courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.

The BC Labs – conference sessions led by members of the plastics molding community – had the potential to change the way business is done in the facility of each attendee. In each of these 35 sessions, organizational leaders in manufacturing companies from across the US shared their successes with 3D printing, training best practices, visual inspection systems, seamless project launches and more.

There’s no way to cover content from all sessions in these pages, but among the multitude of ideas, strategies and tactics discussed were the following:

  • Identify “baby steps” when adding robotics and cobots on the manufacturing floor. Don’t make a purchase and expect immediate results while staff is still exploring the equipment’s capabilities.
  • Don’t overcomplicate defect tracking: Systems can start with a tick mark on a “reasons” list, and a friendly competition between shifts can lead to significant reductions.
  • Creating an in-house vision inspection system can be as simple as adding cameras to equipment and ensuring lighting is consistent and adequate to identify flaws. Start small and add to the complexity as needs change.

BC Lab: The Bottom Line to Growing the Top Line
Many plastics companies are focused on efficiency from the operations floor but aren’t demanding the same efficiency from sales staff. How should sales team performance be measured?

In one of the 35 BC Lab sessions, three plastics industry leaders shared sales strategies that have improved profit levels at their companies. Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics; Doug Drummond, Revere Plastics; and Brad Krupa, Thogus Products, offered the following:

  • Traditional sales goals are activity-based, but don’t hold salespeople accountable. Getting specific – understanding how many calls it takes to close one project and how many new projects are needed to hit a revenue goal – helps to drive the right behaviors.
  • Before creating a performance improvement plan, it’s critical for sales staff to work with the manufacturing floor to understand the true cost to produce new business. Too often, a salesperson closes a deal that will ultimately not be profitable.
  • Look at the prospects working in adjacent industries to current customers. Core competencies in one industry often are similar and become natural outreach opportunities.

Save the date

2019 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference October 2-4, 2019