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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Plants & Processes Empowering Employees with Knowledge at InterFlex Group Pioneers in FIrst training see Improved Productivity, engagement InterFlex Group employees love a challenge. When staff at the Wilkesboro, N.C. plant learned that their facility was to be a beta site for Flexographic Technical Associa- tion’s (FTA’s) new virtual campus, they were only too happy to bombard FTA Education Director Joe Tuccitto with questions and commentary. Twenty press crew members enrolled for online coursework to become certified in Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST). Three years later, they were the first in the entire industry to com- plete Level III training. They completed the training on their own time, one hour per week, from a computer station at the facility, their own home computers or, if they had no Internet access of their own, computers at the local public library. “ We wanted to be among the first in setting industry stan- dards,” says Larry Ryland, printing department manager at InterFlex Group, which has been an FTA member since 1998. “Everyone recognizes that there is a universal language for the industry, and FIRST helped develop that language. It was a great opportunity to be a part of that, and to help lead the industry from a knowledge base to an understanding of the ins and outs of flexo. ” Ryland notes that FIRST training has enabled staff to de- velop procedural standards. Such standards come in handy at a company the size of InterFlex Group, which is a supplier to Fortune 1000 global packaged food companies. In North America alone, InterFlex maintains four facilities split be- tween Merrill, Wisc. and Wilkesboro, totaling 177,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. (InterFlex Group also has sites in the U.K . and Brazil.) Presses at the sites run up to 10 colors to produce a wide range of packaging options, from thin-gauge shrink and stretch films to multi-layer barrier laminate structures. Offerings in specialty flexible packaging Photos: laura earnhardt-auman 34 FLEXO aPrIl 2011 www.flexography.org Lessons Learned • Greater understanding of the flexo industry, its equipment and its processes promotes employee engagement. • FIRST training and certification leads to standardiza- tion and greater efficiency. • InterFlex employees were the first to obtain Level III FIRST certification.