Department Profile – Process Technicians

Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the mobility industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ teams – its Departments. Meet the Die Setters Department.

Name of Department: Die Setters

The Die Setters consists of two Team Members, Scott Castle and James Siefert. Scott is assigned to the Day shift while James is the night-shift Die Setter. As Die Setters, their main responsibility is to changeover the molds used in the injection mold machine presses when production jobs are switched. This involves removing the mold currently being used and replacing it with the correct mold for the next production job.

How does your Department support Team 1’s Customers? Simply put, the Die Setters support the customers by setting up the molds and running the parts that the customers require.

How does your Department support Team 1? Typically, each Die Setter is assigned four to six changeovers in a 10-hour shift. Ensuring that these changeovers are completed safely and in a timely manner is how the Die Setters support Team 1. In addition, they fill in for Captains or Process Technicians if a shift is shorthanded. According to Hesham Yahia, Lead Captain for Team 1, “Their work ethic and hard work is very much appreciated.”

Describe a typical work day in your Department. At the beginning of their shifts, the Die Setters obtain a list of the scheduled tool changes from the Captains. They then determine the order of the changeovers. If there is a request from the Scheduler to start on a specific tool change, they will begin with that press. Otherwise, they will prioritize the order of the changeovers based on production orders and which presses are not currently running.

The basic process of a changeover involves shutting down the injection molding press (if it is running), extracting the current mold from the press, and storing it properly. Then, following the instructions of the Set-Up guide for the next part to be run, the new mold is placed into the press, and the press is configured for the new production job. Throughout the process, the Die Setters are often involved in troubleshooting the presses and robotics. At the conclusion of the process, the Die Setters start up the press, submit a first shot, and move on to the next changeover on their list.

Share an example of a problem/challenge that your Department encountered and how you solved it. A constant water flow is used to cool both the molds and the injection molding machine presses while the presses are running. A challenge that the Die Setters sometimes encounter is a blown water line which causes a “mini flood” on the plant floor. The Die Setters have to shut off the water flow, find the water leak, and fix the problem.

To make this challenge easier to deal with, Team 1 has installed a main shut-off value in Zones 3 and 4 that completely shuts off the water to the affected press and makes diagnosing the problem easier.

What is One Noteworthy Accomplishment by your Department in the recent? Having quicker and safer changeovers is a noteworthy accomplishment that the Die Setters have achieved.

Although it has been always important that changeovers were done safely, there is now a greater emphasis and focus on safety procedures — things like ensuring that the Die Setters are always wearing steel-toed boots and hard hats, making sure safety latches are correct, and ensuring that the wires on the crane are functioning. The Die Setters must verify that all the equipment they are using is safe.

There has also been a company-wide focus on the length of time it takes to perform a changeover. In 2017, the company began to time each changeover. It discovered that the average changeover took more than three hours. Putting together a cross-functional team which included Die Setters, the team set a goal of 60 minutes for an average changeover and then began the process of problem solving how the changeover process could become more efficient in able to meet the goal.

The Die Setters implemented several changes suggested by the team, and they have reduced the average changeover time from more than three hours to 75 minutes. This time reduction has also enabled the company to reduce the number of Die Setters from four to two.

What are the Current Goals for your Department? The Die Setters continue to have the goal to reduce the average changeover time to 60 minutes and are actively pursuing this goal. They are currently in the “process of doing new time studies for changeovers, testing and experimenting with different ideas for improving the average changeover time.”

What does your Department take pride in? The Die Setters said that they take pride in the fact that the work they do results in producing good quality parts for Team 1 Plastics’ customers.

Department’s Random Poll: (Warning this poll may have nuts in it!) Which type of Peanut Butter do you prefer?
           Crunchy
    2     Smooth
           Peanut Butter Yuck!

Contact Info

927 Elliott Road
Albion, Michigan 49224-9506

Phone: (517) 629-2178