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SPE Extrusion Group Annnounces Two New Scholarships

By: James Callari 26. September 2014

The Extrusion Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers announced recently the establishment of two new scholarships for student seeks to pursue advanced education in polymers.

 

The Ed Steward Ed Steward Scholarship will be awarded to students selected by the SPE Extrusion Division’s Scholarship Review Panel. The Division will award scholarships as follows: Once each academic year, the Extrusion Division of SPE will have a goal to award at least one $2,500 scholarship to a student meeting the scholarship’s criteria listed below:

• Applicant must be or become a SPE Student Member and be active in the local Student Chapter if their university or college has such a chapter.

 

• Applicant must be attending (or high school senior applying to attend) a U.S. or Canadian college or university.

 

• Applicant must be an undergraduate student enrolled in, or high school senior applying to, an associate degree or technical degree program, who is committed to becoming a “hands-on” workers in the plastics industry – i.e. students who are dedicated to careers as plastics technicians or engineers.

 

Preference will be given to:

 

• Students pursuing a career in plastic or rubber extrusion processing.

 

• Students of exceptional merit enrolled at a university or college who are focusing on polymers or Plastics Engineering

Students pursuing an associates or bachelor’s degree in Mechanical, Chemical, or Manufacturing Engineering and focusing on a career in manufacturing involving plastics.

 

• High school seniors or students in their first year in an engineering program at a college or university;

• Students with an academic record indicating a 3.0 grade point average or higher who are in good academic standing;

 

Students who are awarded the Ed Steward scholarship are to submit a testimonial report back to the SPE Extrusion Division as to the benefit that they were given by receiving the scholarship from the Extrusion Division.

Ed Steward (photo) was a long-time member of the SPE Extrusion Division whose screw designs are still operating at plastics plants around the world. After a long-stint at Davis-Standard, Steward joined with Bill Kramer to co-found American Kuhne Corp., Ashaway, R.I., which is now part of Graham Engineering Corp. Steward passed away in 2011.

 

The scholarship will be funded by contributions from of $1200 from the Steward family; $1800 from SPE Extrusion Division; and $6000 from American Kuhne.

 

The Russell J. Gould Scholarship, meantime, will also be awarded to students selected by the SPE Extrusion Division’s Scholarship Review Panel. The Division will award scholarships as follows:

 

Once each academic year, the Extrusion Division of SPE will have a goal to award at least one $2,500 scholarship to a student meeting the scholarship’s criteria. The conditions are as follows:

 

• The applicant must be or become a SPE Student Member and be active in the local Student Chapter if their university or college has such a chapter.

 

• The applicant must be US or Canadian citizen;

 

Preference will be given to:

 

• Students pursuing a career in plastics, rubber or polymer processing.

 

• Students of exceptional merit enrolled at a university or college who are focusing on polymers or Plastics Engineering

 

• Students pursuing an associates or bachelor’s degree in Polymer, Materials Science or Plastics Engineering and focusing a career in manufacturing.

 

• Students in their second or third year in their degree program at a college or university;

 

• Students with an academic record indicating a 3.0 grade point average or higher who are in good academic standing.

 

• Students who are awarded the Russell J. Gould scholarship are to submit a testimonial report back to the SPE Extrusion Division as to the benefit that they were given by receiving the scholarship from the Extrusion Division.

Gould died last December. A long-time member of the Extrusion Division Board and editor of its newsletter, he was an internationally known inventor and consultant and won engineering awards for his distinguished work in the plastics industry.

 

For more information on either of these scholarships, click here.

New Initiative Aims At Workforce Development

By: James Callari 26. September 2014

The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Tooling U have announced the launch of a new online training program aimed at closing the manufacturing skills gap in the plastics industry. Administered by Tooling U-SME, PlasticsU will serve the plastics industry by providing formal online training tailored specifically for the industry’s challenges and needs. Tooling U-SME is considered a leader in providing workforce development and training to the manufacturing industry,

 

“Our industry has some of the best and brightest workers, operating top-of-the-line equipment and technology,” said Bill Carteaux, SPI's president and CEO. “Unfortunately, many of the technological advancements made recently are being held back by a growing manufacturing skills gap, which is why SPI partnered with Tooling U-SME to launch PlasticsU.”

 

He adds, “The plastics industry will not realize its full capacity for growth and production unless companies take an active approach to workforce development. PlasticsU offers these companies flexibility and convenience to make this process easy.”

 

As recently as 2013, a vast majority of U.S. manufacturing companies reported being challenged by a moderate shortage of qualified workers for skilled production, as reported by SME. Volume alone is no longer the sole solution to increased productivity. Highly technical and specialized skills are required not only to meet increased demand, but to maintain growth into the future.

 

“By instituting a training program, companies can ensure they remain competitive today and into the future,” said Jeannine Kunz, managing director of SME’s Workforce and Education. “Creating a well-trained workforce can help improve quality, cycle time, communications, reliability and safety, while reducing costs and downtime/rework.”

 

Because SPI represents and supports such a wide range of the companies throughout the entire plastics industry, it partnered with Tooling U-SME to develop PlasticsU and provide a customized selection of courses and programs for areas specific to as many stakeholders as possible. With levels ranging from a basic introduction to the most advanced studies, courses include Interpreting Blueprints; Creating a Milling Program; Principles of Injection Molding; Measuring System Analysis; Rigging Inspection and Safety; and CNC Controls: GE Fanuc, Haas and Mazak.

 

Click here to learn more about PlasticsU and to sign up.

 

In another somewhat related development, DME Company, a leading supplier of hot runners, mold bases and a variety of other mold components based in Madison Heights, Mich.,  has awarded a $1,000 DME Plastics University scholarship to a senior student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Teng Yang (photo below), who hails from Oshkosh, Wis, received the scholarship for the fall 2014 semester at UW-Platteville. It is the second time Yang has been named a recipient of the scholarship. He is the second student to be awarded the DME Plastics University Scholarship twice since the program's inception.

 

Each year since 2008, DME has offered this scholarship program to help finance, encourage and support the future of qualified students who have interest and potential in moldmaking, plastics and related career fields.

 

“DME is committed to advancing training and education within the plastics industry by continuing to support the DME Plastics University Scholarship Program,” said Dean Froney, DME v.p. and GM. “As one of the preeminent leaders in the industry, it’s both our obligation and in our best interest to help develop and groom tomorrow’s moldmaking and plastics industry experts.”

 

o qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in a plastics program at any accredited trade school or university with a two-year certificate, two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s degree program. Applicants who are enrolled in related coursework are also considered if they demonstrate a strong academic emphasis and interest in plastics.

 

Along with an application, students are required to submit a transcript, personal statement and recommendations for review. The DME Plastics University Scholarship Program selection committee considers a variety of factors including academic achievement, interest in the field and personal qualities to determine the winners.

 

DME and other major manufacturers continue an attempt to combat the trend of students shying away from manufacturing disciplines. With an aging population of skilled workers, the plastics industry is facing a major human resources challenge. The scholarship program is just one of the ways DME is taking action to support the ambition of college students who have shown interest in the plastics industry.

 

The company also offers grants and scholarships to its customers for continuing education, an extension of the popular DME Plastics University on that was created to aid new plastics industry students and professionals.

 

DME scholarship applications for the spring 2015 semester are available here.

 

Capital Equipment Investment: To Lease or Borrow?

By: James Callari 16. September 2014

 

As the economy continues to improves, more processors are making capital investments to help them expand their current business and/or penetrate new markets. The question becomes, how should they finance this investment? It's a particularly relevant question around when processors start putting together their capital equipment budget for the upcoming year.

 

“When business owners and managers consider acquiring equipment, they often think of their payment option as a ‘lease versus buy’ decision,” states William G. Sutton, CAE, president and CEO, Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. “In any economic environment, when preserving owner or shareholder capital is an important goal, financing equipment through a lease or loan will enable your business to preserve its cash.

 

“Whether you finance equipment through a lease or loan, each has its advantages,” Sutton says. “In evaluating your options, it is important to look at each alternative to determine which will best balance usage, cash flow and your financial objectives.”

 

To help determine the most appropriate option, Sutton has compiled a list of 10 questions processors should ask themselves before proceeding: 

 

1. How long will the equipment be required?

 

“Generally speaking, if the length of time the equipment is expected to be used is short term (which usually means 36 months or less), leasing is likely the preferable option, “ he says. “Equipment expected to be used for longer than three years could be a candidate for either a lease or a loan.”

 

2.  What is the monthly budget for the equipment?

 

“As with any ongoing business expense, consider the monthly cost for a piece of equipment and how it fits into your budget," he states. In general, leasing will provide lower monthly payments.”

 

3. Will the equipment become obsolete while it is still needed for the operation?

 

Sutton notes, “Protection against obsolescence is one of the many benefits of equipment leasing, since the risk of obsolescence is assumed by the lessor. Certain lease financing programs allow for technology upgrades and/or replacements within the term of the lease contract.”

 

4.  Is the equipment going to be used for a specific contract or can it be used for other projects?

 

“Often, the business objective of equipment is for it to be revenue-producing. If a piece of equipment has limited use within a specific contract and won’t be used for other projects, it’s not ideal for it to be idle while you continue to make payments on it,” Sutton explains. “It makes sense to stop the equipment expense when the income from it ceases, which you can do with a lease.”

 

5. How much cash would be required up front for a lease and for a loan?

 

“Leasing can often provide 100% financing of the cost of the equipment as well as the costs for transportation, delivery, installation set-up, testing and training, and other deferred costs (e.g., sales tax),” states Sutton. “Loans usually require a down payment and don’t include the other cost benefits. Ask how much of a down payment is needed and assess the availability and desirability of allocating company capital for that down payment.”

 

6.  Can the company use the depreciation or would the company get a greater benefit from expensing the lease payments?

 

“The tax treatment of the financing arrangement is an important consideration in choosing between a lease and a loan,” Sutton says. “A loan provides you with the depreciation tax benefit; with a lease, the lessor owns the equipment and realizes the tax benefit, which is usually reflected in a lower monthly rent payment for your business as well as the ability to expense the payment. In many instances, if your business cannot use the tax benefit, it makes more sense to lease than to purchase through a loan because you can trade the depreciation to the lessor in exchange for better cash flow.”

 

7. How will a working capital facility be impacted?

 

“Many businesses have an aggregate line of credit through a bank that they can use for inventory purchases, improvements and other capital expenditures,” Sutton elaborates. “Depending on the lending covenants, it is often possible, as well as preferable, to preserve your bank working capital by leasing equipment through an equipment finance provider.”

 

8. How flexible does your business want the financing terms to be?

 

Notes Sutton, “A lease can provide greater flexibility, since it can be structured for a variety of contingencies, whereas with a loan, flexibility is subject to the lender’s rules. If your business has continuing use for the equipment at lease termination, extended rentals, purchase options, trade-ups and return options are available. The lease term allows your business to match all expenses to the term of the equipment’s use, including income tax expense, book expense and cash expense. Most importantly, as mentioned previously, the expense stops when the equipment is no longer required.”

 

9. Do you anticipate the need for additional equipment under your financing agreement?

 

“If your business is planning for growth, you can enter into a master lease that will allow you to acquire multiple pieces of equipment under multiple schedules with the same basic terms and conditions,” Sutton explains. “This provides greater convenience and flexibility than a conditional loan contract, which must be renegotiated for additional equipment acquisitions.”

 

10.   Who can help me evaluate what's best for my business?

 

“Whether you finance equipment through a lease or loan, each has its advantages. When making the decision between a lease and a loan, it is highly recommended that you consult with your accounting professional, as well as draw on the resources of your equipment financing provider to enable you to secure the best possible terms for your lease and/or loan,” Sutton says.

 

These are some of the key considerations that should go into the lease versus loan decision-making process. For a lease/loan comparison and online tools, click here

A True Pioneer Passes

By: James Callari 29. August 2014

 

I was saddened earlier this week to learn of the passing of Frank Nissel, who revolutionized the sheet extrusion business when he co-founded Welex in 1966, and was elected to The Plastics Hall of Fame in 2000 during NPE.  Frank passed away Thursday, Aug. 28. He was 89.

 

I remember the first time I met Frank. It was in 1988. I had just joined the now-defunct Plastics World Magazine as senior editor in charge of reporting on extrusion. I didn’t even know what extrusion was at the time. My boss back then, current plastics blogger Doug Smock, explained it to me this way, to my recollection: “In extrusion, plastic pellets are melted and conveyed by a rotating screw through a die to form a part.” A light bulb went on over my head that would soon be extinguished. I replied, “Oh I get it, so the plastic is somehow colored?” “No,” Doug said. “It’s not d-y-e, it’s d-i-e.” I’m not sure if learning that made matters better or worse in my mind. Was extrusion a process where plastic pellets went to die?

 

So with that “background,” I was soon off to Blue Bell, Pa. to meet this regal, larger-than-life figure that I had heard a little bit about beforehand. I don't know how tall Frank was. Maybe 6 ft or a bit more? But he seemed a lot bigger. When he stood up his back was perfectly straight, his shoulders were thrust back, his shirt was crisp and his suit immaculate. I remember thinking, "This guy is a giant."

 

I was not working on an article about sheet when we met, as I recall; I just wanted to sit down and talk with someone who knew stuff and pick his brain. Pick his brain? Who was I kidding?  I was scared. I knew nothing, didn't even know what questions to ask, and realized I wouldn't understand the answers anyway. And I had heard that Frank, well, could be a bit intimidating and didn't suffer fools gladly.

 

But Frank could not have been more accommodating. He was pleasant, charming, friendly, and funny. Very funny. He called me Mr. Callari, which was disarming and immediately put me at ease. And he was patient. (I came to discover later that he wasn't always patient!) I learned more about his personal trials and tribulations, his outside hobbies and interests, and his opinions about this and that (including plastics magazines and editors) during that meeting than I did about the nuts and bolts of sheet extrusion. But that was more because a lot of the technical stuff he told me went over my head. Somehow he realized that (I guess it was the glazed look in my eyes), teased me about it, waved his hand and suggested that I close my notebook, told me to relax and assured me that at some point sooner or later some of this extrusion mumbo-jumbo would make sense to me (later, as it happens) if I kept at it.

 

One thing I found out soon enough was that a lot of people in a lot of places all over the world had his equipment. "That article you wrote about (so and so)...100% Welex," he'd quip.

 

Over the years, meeting at his office, at trade shows, at SPI/SPE events, Frank and I became friendly. Oh, he'd poke me every now and then about this article or that, but Frank was one of those guys who once he decided he liked you…that was that.  He enjoyed pulling my leg. "What’s new?” he’d ponder, repeating my question. “We painted our machines a different color. Write about that.” But he was truly a font of information about anything related to polymers and processing, and not just extrusion either. "I read that article you wrote last month," he'd say. "That (whatever) that you reported was new is actually about 25 years' old. It didn't work then, it won't now."

 

Excuse the cliches, but Frank was in no uncertain terms an industry icon, a legend, a pioneer, a giant, an immortal. Frank was to the world of extrusion what Robert Schad has been to the world of injection molding. Now, if God has any questions about seven-layer sheet extrusion for thermoforming drinking cups, he knows who to ask. Heck, they might be stringing up a line now.

New Guide Offers Tips on Speeding Changeovers

By: James Callari 27. August 2014

 

Time, as the old adage goes, is money. This is certainly true for custom processors, who in large part are able to pay their bills based on how quickly they are able to transition from one job to the next. It makes no difference whether you are involved in injection molding, extrusion, blow molding or any other process; you don't make money if your not making parts.

 

There’s some help along the way. Check out  How to Reduce Changeover Time and Increase Throughput, available on line from Polymer Ohio and its subsidiary, OH!Manufacturing.

 

Does $1.8 million sound like a lot of cash. According to the guide, that's what it costs for a one-hour daily changeover on a fairly significant packaging project with the line running 240 days per year. Many manufacturers don’t even realize how much money is slipping out the door because they aren’t measuring properly. Maybe there are techniques where you can cut that time in half.

 

Can you improve your changeover procedures? Click here and download the PDF.




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