Imagine your job didn’t involve climbing silos, guesswork or inventory shortages. Instead, each day you stayed safe; and inventory was convenient, accurate and reliable. That’s what level sensors and software can do for your plant – easily and affordably. In most cases, the most important job of a level sensor in a resin silo or hopper is to ensure adequate resin is flowing through the system to avoid process interruptions and reduce cycle times.
Jedd Smith, the director of quality and operations at EirMed in Menomonie, Wisconsin, spoke recently about applying lean manufacturing solutions to real life at EirMed, specifically about using the gemba walk to identify sources of waste. Westerners may associate gemba with the quality practices of Japanese automakers like Toyota, but gemba has other connotations in Japan. To Japanese detectives, gemba is the scene of a crime, and when newscasters in Japan report from gemba, they are reporting directly from the scene. And in manufacturing, it’s all happening on the plant floor.
Last spring when much of the world shut down, people stayed home, often rediscovering long-lost hobbies, streaming binge-worthy shows or taking time to try to relax while chaos ensued outside… But not Heather Meixel, CEO and president of Bamar Plastics, South Bend, Indiana, custom injection molder for the medical and automotive industries. “I never just sit down and do nothing; I’m super high-energy,” she said. With the extra time on hand, Meixel decided to reinvigorate a side project she’d been working on since she took over the company about five years ago – the STEPsaver mobile cart.
While the resin shortages are affecting supply chains all over the world, one Indiana molder’s venture into repelletizing scrap materials turned out to reap rewards for the company and its customers. In the spring of 2020, Noblesville, Indiana-based Metro Plastics Technologies, a custom injection molder, learned how to repelletize scrap materials and put its money where its mouth was.
Automation is hailed as the answer for those looking to add operational efficiencies to their manufacturing floor, but adding robots has implications for safety, too. While line-side robotics have received significant attention for the ability to automate repetitive tasks in production, safety benefits in the warehouse and material handling areas are garnering additional interest.