Department Profile – Production Molding

Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation 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 Production Molding Department.

Name of Department: Production Molding Department

Team 1 Plastics’ Production Molding Department is divided into four teams. Each team works a different 12-hour shift and consists of a Team Lead Captain and three Production Assistants. Each team is supported by a Die Setter and a Process Technician. (Look for the Die Setters and the Process Technicians to be featured in a future article.) The Production Molding Department’s key roles are to produce plastic parts and to package the parts for delivery to the customer.

How does your Department support Team 1’s Customers? Each of the Team Lead Captains echoed the same message, “We support our customers by producing quality parts. We try to deliver them on time and to 100% of the customer’s satisfaction.”

How does your Department support Team 1? There are many ways that the Production Molding Department supports Team 1, including coming to work every day, doing the best job possible, and maintaining a clean and safe working environment. Hesham Yahia, C Team Lead Captain, mentioned that when Team 1 produces quality parts, the customers are likely to want to continue to do business with Team 1, ensuring continued business for the company and employment for Team Members.

Describe a typical work day in your Department. Work days for the Team Lead Captains differ from the Production Assistants because each position has different responsibilities.

The Team Lead Captains arrive fifteen minutes before their shift begins to do a walkthrough with the Lead Captain from the previous shift. Patrick Campbell, B Team Lead Captain, described the start of his typical work day. “A typical work day for me would be going in, doing my walkthrough, making sure everything’s running. and seeing what’s not running. Then I usually check to see the upcoming work – for instance, if there’s a trial for a new part that’s due the next day.”

After the walkthrough, the Team Lead Captain meets with his/her Production Assistants and gives them their work assignments. Team 1’s production floor is divided into three zones. Two of the Production Assistants are assigned to different zones. One of the Production Assistants is assigned to be a Packager.

Tonya Sheldon, A Team Lead Captain, described what happens after a Production Assistant is assigned to one of the three zones. “You sign your name into all of the presses and check the parts. You walk your floor all day long. You’re walking from one end of the building to the next, checking every press as you go. When you get to the end, you turn around and do it again. You’re also printing labels, getting taskets and/or boxes out [to place parts into]. If a job is running that requires manual packing, then you’re constantly walking by that press, packing some parts, going to check some other presses, coming back to that press, and packing some more parts. Then, you go the other direction and check the other presses, come back, and pack some more parts.”

A Production Assistant who is assigned to be the Packager will, according to Starr Step, Production Assistant on A Shift, “… come in and look around and see what the other shift left you. Then you print your report and start packaging.” Hesham said that the Packager may also be assigned to a “partial zone – probably the slowest zone that only contains a drop job.”

As part of their responsibilities throughout their shift, the Team Lead Captains will verify that tool changes have been completed correctly, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and ensure that the Team Members get their breaks and lunches.
Then, toward the end of the shift, everyone gets ready for the next shift. They ensure their areas are clean and that there is enough production packaging ready for the next few hours. The Team Lead Captain does a walkthrough with the incoming Lead Captain, and then the Production floor switches to the next team.

Deborah Browning, D Team Lead Captain, summed up the typical work day, “We come in and go about our business. We do our jobs with no errors. We make it fun. Then, the next shift comes in, and we go home.”

Share an example of a problem/challenge that your Department encountered and how you solved it. Incorrect packaging labels were a problem that was causing inefficiency for Team 1 Plastics. For example, left-hand parts were being packaged in containers with a label that identified them as right-hand parts, and vice versa. Reports produced by ProMon, Team 1’s production monitoring system, were not matching what the label scanners were producing, causing Team Members from the Quality Department to have to manually search for the missing parts.

Solving the issues with incorrect labels became a point of emphasis for the Production Department and was accomplished using several different approaches. The first approach was to change the color of the labels for left-handed parts to green. Previously, all the labels were white. Now, left-handed parts use green labels. Another approach was a greater emphasis on correct labeling during the Orientation training of new Production Assistants.

And, Team 1 changed the way that the parts come out of the presses. Patrick explained, “Previously on our conveyor belts, you’d have a left-handed part and then you’d have a divider, and then you’d have the right-handed part. Now, we have it separated to where the left-hand part comes out one end of the machine while the right hand is coming out on the other side, using a totally different conveyor.”

All of these changes, combined with Team Members who pay attention to detail have made a huge difference. Deborah said about her team, “I have three people who actually pay attention. They look at the manufacturing standards for each part – which is what they’re supposed to do – it’s just a matter of paying attention to what you’re doing.” She added that her shift has gone over five months without a label error. “And considering that we couldn’t make it through a week without having a label issue, that’s really good!”

What is One Noteworthy Accomplishment by your Department in the recent past? Each of the Team Lead Captains mentioned the improvement in the accuracy of packaging labels as a noteworthy accomplishment by the Production Molding Department. Another accomplishment is that the department is experiencing longevity of its Team Members. “All the Production Assistants, Captains, and Process Techs have been with the company for a while,” said Hesham. “They are very experienced people and know how to handle the products.”

What are the Current Goals for your Department? Hesham said that becoming a 5S company is a current goal for the Production Molding Department. According to Wikipedia, “5S is a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. These have been translated as “Sort”, “Set In Order”, “Shine”, “Standardize,” and “Sustain.” Deborah explained 5S as “having a spot for everything, and everything in its spot.”
Hesham said, “We have been working on this for the last two months. We have been eliminating any unused items. We’ve moved things into new locations to make it easier for people. We’re still moving a few items, but I think we’re about 70% completed.”

What does your Department take pride in? “Teamwork – big-time teamwork!” said Deborah, “They’re really good at helping each other out. If they don’t have something going on in their area, they go over and help somebody else.”

Tonya agreed, “They all work as a team. It’s not just one person getting stuck with all the work. If someone gets behind, everybody helps out. We don’t want anybody to fail. If they see somebody struggling, they lend a hand.”

“And,” Hesham said, “when there’s an issue that faces us, we get together and figure out how can we solve it. But we don’t just try to solve it ourselves, we try to get Quality and the Maintenance Departments involved. We work together with other Departments to make progress with an issue that we’re facing, and we all solve it together. Working together is definitely the number one key.” He then used the analogy that “one hand can’t clap – you need two hands.”

Patrick also mentioned that the Production Molding Department takes pride in “… making sure that everything is packaged right, producing quality parts, and making sure the customer gets them on time. We’re all about customer satisfaction at Team 1.”

Department’s Random Poll: Do You Ever Talk to Yourself?
     1     Never! – Deb said, “David said, ‘Never,’ but I can verify that’s a lie! I’ve heard him!”

     7     Sure do – Comments from Team Members included “When I need an expert’s advice!” and “Not all the time, but sometimes!”

     2      Yes and it’s embarrassing – A comment from a Team Members included “I don’t care who knows — I am funny!

     4      It’s the only way I get to speak with someone intelligent

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Contact Info

927 Elliott Road
Albion, Michigan 49224-9506

Phone: (517) 629-2178