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FLEXO Magazine : February 2011
Plants & Processes InterFlex Group: Builds Skills of People & Competitiveness of Company FIrst certification of Press operators, Implementation specialists & the Plant, Will Drive Process Improvement By Duane Woolbright Seldom in today ’s world can anyone claim true “first- ever ” status, but in the small Appalachian foothill community of Wilkesboro, NC, a significant number of InterFlex Group Inc., employees can collectively say they truly accomplished that feat. This past December, InterFlex Group was informed by the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association that 20 press crew members, working within FFTA’s Virtual Campus, were the “first ever ” officially certified Level III FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifica- tions and Tolerances) Certified press operators! Having so many press operators complete FFTA’s Level III certification training, the capstone course for press operators, was a fact not lost on the management of InterFlex Group. “ We couldn’t have been more proud of this accomplishment by our employees,” stated Rick Zeber, vice president and general manager for North American Operations. To honor the hard work and dedication of its crewmem- bers in completing the training program, the company held a celebration dinner and recognition ceremony at one of the county’s top dining establishments. “You did a great job in taking on this training effort and the company certainly feels you deserve this special evening as the first to reach this plateau in our industry,” Zeber said in addressing the gathering. “This training represents one of the key elements of an ongoing process to improve the skills of our people and the competiveness of our company.” Zeber also thanked FFTA for developing the program that has become an integral part of the InterFlex Group training and employee development strategy. On hand to commemorate the milestone was FTA President Mark Cisternino and Education Director Joe Tuccitto. “Inter- Flex Group was one of the inaugural companies to embrace this training at Level I and now it has come full circle to com- plete all three Levels of the FIRST Press Operator certification training,” said Cisternino. “Many companies are now enroll- ing in the certification training, but there is always something special and appropriate in recognizing the first company to take the lead and accomplish such a goal.” During the informal “graduation ceremony” following the dinner, each operator came up to receive a certificate, a cap bearing the official logo of a FIRST Certified Press Opera- tor and, most notably, he saw his name added to a plaque that will be displayed in the plant to publically showcase the team’s accomplishments. Tuccitto, who facilitated the online training, handed out the awards and then addressed the new alumni, “You were the first group to do this anywhere!” he stated. I congratulate you all. It’s been a long road to get here, nearly three years since we started this process.” Tuccitto went on to say during the InterFlex Group training, FTA’s Technical Education Services Team (TEST) used the plant as a “beta site,” a working environment to fully develop this new content as part of the TEST Virtual Campus, the website that houses all online training and professional devel- opment courses. What took the InterFlex Group crew nearly three years to complete during development phases is now a seamless process that takes the user from Level I through Level III training and full certification in about 30 weeks. During the evening, Tuccitto pointed out several operators who had been especially keen at keeping him busy with ques- tions about various technical topics in their weekly discus- sion; an integral part of all Level II and Level III certification training. Such interaction was “a real commentary about how far they had come over the many months of training together,” mused Tuccitto. He went on to inform the 20 new experts in FIRST press operations that this is only the beginning for them. “FIRST is living, breathing and ever changing, just like our industry. With that, we want you to have access to every FIRST update via a special FFTA website link reserved for those with full certification,” elaborated Tuccitto. Going forward all operators with a current Level III cer- tification can view updates, review training modules and take ongoing professional development classes as part of the FFTA Virtual Campus within their company’s own online custom campus. As the evening drew to a close, the graduates gathered on the front porch of the once grand old home for a photo that would make an upcoming edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, A FIRST Cert First • Beta site for TEST Virtual Campus. • InterFlex Group created a model for how a company should approach FIRST certification. • 65 enrolled in six-week Level I class, expanded flexo knowledge and technical communication skills. • Consensus at InterFlex Group: Online delivery method for FIRST training is a winning combination, requiring no press downtime or work hours to com- plete, and offering an easy one-hour weekly training schedule. • Implementation Specialist and Plant Certification programs will soon result in considerable process im- provements as it applies FIRST methodologies across the entire operation. InterFlex Group’s team of 20 FIrst certified Press operators pose for a photo at the conclusion of an informal graduation ceremony recognizing their accomplishments. Members of the team stand as the first contingent of press operators to complete levels I, II , and III of FFta & test’s Virtual training curriculum. Photo(s): Wilkes Journal-Patriot 48 FLEXO FeBruary 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_Feb11_mech.indd 48 2/16/11 8:51 AM
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