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10/1/2019 | 3 MINUTE READ

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Top Shop?

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Check out the results of our exclusive benchmarking study to find out about those who do.

So what’s a Top Shop? It’s the elite in injection molding, those processors whose technical expertise and operational capabilities put them a cut above the rest.

So how do you get to be a Top Shop? To start, check out this story to learn what these processing operations are doing that you are not.

Top Shops is Plastics Technology’s annual benchmarking survey intended to identify best practices in injection molding and those molders that are, well, practicing them. The survey is a retooled iteration of the former World Class Processors study, last conducted in 2016. The main difference between the two is that Top Shops is focused on injection molding.

The survey is conducted by Gardner Intelligence (gardnerintelligence.com), a division of Gardner Business Media, the Cincinnati-based publisher and parent company of this magazine and other business-to-business publications that focus on discrete part manufacturing.

Top Shops in Injection Molding

In addition to demographic data, the survey asked for information on some key performance metrics, including areas like sales growth, sales per machine and employee, scrap rate, and setup time, among others. Scoring on 10 of these metrics was used as a means to separate 2019’s Top Shops from the rest of the respondents.

Plastics Technology Senior Editor Tony Deligio is the magazine staff member who works with the Gardner Intelligence team to direct this study. While his article in this issue gets into the nitty gritty, let me take a few moments here to offer what I think are some of the more salient finds.

For one thing, if you just shoot-and-ship, your customers may be looking at your competitors that have a wider range of services. This is not a new trend by any means, but the results of our survey reinforce the idea that molding is continuing to evolve into “contract manufacturing.” As Tony puts it, “Many molders have long ago added numerous skills and capabilities beyond what happens between the press platens. The Top Shops benchmarking survey focusing on injection molders shows that for the top performers, the evolution beyond a shoot-and-ship plastic part purveyor into a customer’s full-spectrum product manufacturing and logistics partner has accelerated.”

If you just shoot-and-ship, your customers may be looking at your competitors that have a wider range of services.

Broadly speaking, this means that Top Shop molders are bringing more value to the customer to create a true partnership, taking on services such as decorating and machining, offering 3D printing (additive manufacturing) capabilities, providing inventory stocking/logistics services as well as shipping/packaging/labeling.

Not surprisingly, Top Shops also offer a more robust training program for employees than do other molders. Top Shops also offer more in the way of benefits to their employees, according to our survey: By a two-to-one margin or more, Top Shops offered workers 401K plans, bonuses, safety/health programs and education reimbursement, with four times as many providing apprenticeships, leadership development, profit/revenue sharing and certification. Perhaps not surprisingly, the turnover rate at Top Shops was more than 40% lower than at other respondents.

On the technology side, Top Shops and other molders actually had more similarities than differences. One notable exception: automation. Some 94% of the molders designated Top Shops make use of automation in their plant, in contrast with 74% of other molders. Top Shops also tend to invest more in capital equipment (94% in 2018, compared with 46% for other molders) and people (94% of Top Shops maintained or increased worker rosters in 2019, compared with 13% for the rest of the survey respondents).

And Top Shops engage these people. Says Philip Katen, general manager and president of Plastikos Inc. in Erie, Pa., ““We believe that the open communication aspect of the process is very important to further grow and develop trust, transparency and accountability throughout the company, which in turn should also strengthen the buy-in and commitment among all members of our team.”

As our Top Shops benchmarking survey will be an annual endeavor, please be on the lookout for news—in the magazine, its various e-newsletters, and online—on how you can participate next year. Better yet, if you want to be notified directly when the next survey is live, shoot Tony an email at tdeligio@ptonline.com.


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