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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Plants & Processes include pouches in various sizes, shapes and structures, with options such as press-to-close and slider zippers. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING When InterFlex Group employees set their sights on achiev- ing a goal, whether it’s meeting production numbers or com- pleting the first run for a new customer, they ’re empowered by their understanding of the work. According to Jeff Zeber, senior vice president, that wasn’t always the case. “ Previous managers would give the opera- tors a new set of tools and teach them how to print by the numbers,” he says. “But they didn’t necessarily explain why [staff] had to do things the way they had to do them. We were good at teaching them how to do their jobs, but we didn’t always close the loop.” Other training took place on the job, either through visits from vendors or discussions with supervisors as questions arose. Now that staff has received training via FIRST, they ’ve become more engaged in their work, says Tom MacInnes, print operations manager. That engagement has led to im- provements in both products and processes, with a decrease in scrap and return and with press operators actively seeking ways to work more efficiently. “If there is a question, they will ask, and if there is a prob- lem, they will jump right in to fix it, where before the training, they might have hung back,” MacInnes says. Zeber adds that self-paced training has saved the com- pany quite a bit of time, particularly as the training required no press downtime. “I ’d say that’s the biggest benefit. It’s a pretty big issue in today ’s manufacturing environment, where it’s so competitive and so lean,” he says. “For example, Tom [MacInnes] and Larry [Ryland] don’t have the time in a nor- mal day to physically sit down with employees and conduct a training program. Instead, when employees learn at their own pace, managers can interface with them, talk about what they ’ve learned and reinforce it. It takes a lot less time.” n www.flexography.org april 2011 FLEXO 35 UNIvERSAl lANGUAGE Q&A with Tom MacInnes, Print Operations Manager, Shane Miller, QA Manager, Larry Ryland, Printing Department Manager and Jeff Zeber, Senior Vice President Q: What prompted the decision to have InterFlex Group staff go through FIRST training? Miller: We realized that we needed an organized way of training that had better documentation, as opposed to training on the job. Q: What was your goal in having staff enroll? Ryland: We wanted to be among the first in setting industry standards. Everyone recognizes that there is a universal language to the industry, and FIRST helped develop that language. It was a great opportunity to help lead the industry to an understanding of the ins and outs of flexo. Q: How many people on your staff have been through FIRST training? Zeber: In total, 43 of 200 employees in North America. Q: How has the staff responded to the training? MacInnes: They have been extremely positive from the start. Before, they didn’t understand how they were affecting the process, but now they know what they are doing. They can see how what they do affects the numbers. Q: How has the training improved your processes? Ryland: It has enabled us to develop a set of standards. Now staff has the ability to set the presses up according to those standards. Zeber: We’ve become more regimented. We all work in the same manner and we have standard operating procedures. It takes the process from art to science. Q: How has the training helped you meet your customers’ demands? Zeber: You can see the improvement in the prod- ucts leaving the facility. Q: If colleagues were to ask you about the pro- gram, what would you say? Ryland: FIRST helps you set up parameters for the way you print. It gives you guidelines, and you use them in your operation the best way for you. MacInnes: Get ready, because your employees are going to start asking questions. Once they understand what they are doing, they become more interested in it.