FAQ’s for Plastics Employee Training

Effective training of plastics production floor personnel has been shown to be the most cost-effective way to improve productivity. Employee knowledge and skill is the difference between the highly profitable plastics processor and the average plastics processor.

After 35 years, 5,000 plants and 50,000 employees trained, we've probably been asked pretty much every training related question you can think of. So here is the shortlist. If you have other questions, get in touch with us.

How do computer or on-line interactive training systems work?

All training is done interactively on a PC or via a web browser. High Definition video with 3-D animations of machinery are used to illustrate machine operation and what is happening inside the machine. Questions are asked throughout a training lesson to reinforce the knowledge being taught. Each employee is assigned the courses appropriate for his or her job level. Training records for each employee's training activity are maintained automatically. They can then be reviewed by supervisors to ensure that scheduled training is being taken.

What is taught in the Paulson interactive courses?

A complete range of information from basic safety and routine operations, to specifics of each plastic's process, plastics behavior during molding or extrusion, to advanced plastics processing, mold setup and problem solving. Training runs from absolute beginner level to expert level employees.

Is your training up-to-date and relevant with today's technology?

Absolutely. Paulson pioneered plastics industry training starting way back in the 1970's. Staying current with both plastics technology and training technology has been a constant throughout the years. We have the largest library of plastics specific training courses available anywhere. Our "4 plastics processing variables" approach to teaching which was born from pioneering research done by Don Paulson in the 1960's and 70's. It has now been adopted as the de-facto standard for teaching by most plastics educators.

How is production floor operation of a molding machine taught?

Typically injection molding simulation software is used. The simulator (Paulson's is called SimTech) accurately mimics an operating molding machine and mold. Lab Lessons that are designed around the training curriculum allow employees to learn the effects of each machine control on the part properties. One huge advantage of simulation is the ability to get instant results. A temperature change, for example, can be reflected in seconds on a simulator while it could take several minutes on a real machine.

What is a molding simulator?

It is software program that mathematically simulates the behavior of plastic in the machine and in the mold. It allows the user to make any changes in machine controls, plastic, or the mold that can be made on a real machine. The employee is shown the results of the changes visually and graphically. It is "hands-on" molding using a computer. Think "Flight Simulator" for injection molding.

Can I develop my own training program?

That is certainly an option. However, we have found that companies that initially see this option as appealing, quickly become overwhelmed with the various skill sets needed to produce a quality training course. So, when it comes to the "make" or "buy" decision, the foundation of your training should be "buy". The "make" portions are where training vendors can help in customizing to your specific needs.

Our new people learn from our experienced molders. What is the downside of our approach?

In the old days, yes, on-the-job training with an experienced employee was the default training method. It unfortunately still is at many companies. Today, the "art" of plastics processing is all but gone. Plastics processing is a science and should be taught and learned that way. New and experienced molders can learn and use a scientific training approach - systematic repeatable and with predictable results. At Paulson we routinely develop excellent molders in months instead of years.

What is a typical ROI for Paulson training courses?

Studies have shown that a typical ROI for our customers is 3 to 6 months.

How has ROI been measured?

There is only one way to accurately measure ROI. That is conducting a "before" and "after" training analysis of hard production metrics. If you don't have a firm grasp of your key production metrics before training begins, then ROI calculation is impossible. Key production metrics typically include changes in cycle times, downtime, and reject rates. Depending on your starting point, long term efficiency gains from a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce can range from 5% - 25% gains in total output.

What are the other benefits of training?

Less tangible but important side benefits of training are improvements in the personnel morale when the plant runs more smoothly, less conflict among the "experts" who each learned different (sometimes incorrect) lessons from their molding experience, on-time shipments, less mold damage and a long list of other benefits.

What are the benefits of production floor personnel training for managers and supervisors?

Managers and supervisors benefit because problems caused by poorly trained or untrained personnel don't happen. Additionally, supervisors benefit when the problems that do occur are solved without supervisor involvement. Problem solving is pushed down to lower level employees, overall problems are reduced and management becomes easier with a trained workforce.

Doesn't training take a lot of time? We're too busy to train.

Interactive DVD or online training is taken one lesson at a time by one person at a time (you can do more if you want). Disruptions to your production schedule are minimal. The advantages gained by training your workforce far outweigh maintaining the status quo of not having the time.. Some companies choose to pay employees extra for the time for they spend training outside their normal working hours.

What training records are gathered for each employee?

Complete records of training time and test scores for each employee are automatically kept in a secure, password protected database. Administrative level access to training records can be set for anyone who requires it. The reporting options are very extensive. They are useful for measuring training results, potential for advancement, and to as legal records of documented training should accidents occur. These records are also ideal for ISO and QS documentation purposes.

Can a standard injection molding course teach what my employees need to know?

If you melt plastic in a heating barrel, inject it into a mold, or extrude it, and cool the plastic, we teach the process. Plastic behaves according to known scientific principles. The actual part being molded, whether it’s a closure, automotive trim or a medical device does not change the laws of plastic behavior. Flow rate, cooling rate, heat and pressure are the only four variables that affect plastic behavior. Of course, the machine does not have 4 knobs for directly controlling those variables. That is where technical training bridges the gap.

If I invest in training for employees, won't they leave for another job?

Perhaps. But turnover is inevitable anyway. Also, people who work in a productive, well-run plant are much more satisfied than those who work in inefficient and chaotic production environments. Happy employees are far more likely to stay at their employer. In addition, the consideration and investment shown by management to employees when a training program is implemented creates a sense of loyalty and security that one’s interests are taken seriously and responsibly by management. Lastly, if an employee does leave, your in-plant training system can produce a new fully qualified and trained employee very fast.

Some of my employees do not want to take training.

That’s fine and can be addressed at a corporate policy level. It is a virtual certainty that employees who undergo training will be more valuable to your organization in the long term.

Is there recognition for the employees who complete training?

Paulson offers various Certification levels to employees that satisfactorily complete specific courses. Paulson certification is a recognized credential that you either have or will see on prospective employees' resumes. Certification is a great way to recognize accomplishment as well as create an organized hierarchy of employee skill sets that is fair to all.