One of the strongest requirements within the processing skillset is a solid understanding of the molds in house. Use your moldmakers to develop your processor’s tooling strengths. One of the best ways to do this is to put your processor in the tooling department for a number of weeks and receive training in disassembly, cleaning and assembly of the molds. This type of training helps to develop the processor’s understanding of the molds he is troubleshooting and can help him to develop an understanding of the most common tooling problems associated with individual molds. In addition, give him some exposure to small repairs, such as replacing broken pins and masking off/sandblasting texture, so he can build himself mentally and be able to recognize opportunities on the floor for in-press mold repair. In addition, it imparts a better understanding of what each mold component is for, as well as the unique identifiers for each component (such as heel blocks, support pillars and such). This will improve his ability to communicate tooling issues to the moldmakers for better and more complete tooling repair or modifications.
Not all facilities will have a tool design department, but if the opportunity is available, let your processor spend some time with your design team. Having a better understanding of how tools are made and the design features that affect molding properties is a great asset to any processor’s portfolio. For instance, support pillars are something a designer may have to improve if a situation arises where high pressure is causing a plate in the tool to flex. Molders may also benefit from a basic understanding of Moldflow, another tool used by designers to calculate material flow and watering applications. By giving your processor exposure to the different facets of designing, he will be better able to make suggestions regarding potential tooling modifications that may help in particular molding situations.
All in all, there is a vast assortment of training tools available within the confines of your facility that can exponentially benefit the progressive training of the processor you are developing. Take advantage of the tools and expertise that exist within your overall manufacturing unit. There are many different venues outside the plant that can offer specific training approaches. But, overall, the real education comes from within the walls of your plant. By consistently exposing your processors to the various skillsets within your plant, over time you will build weaknesses into strengths. Develop a complex skill matrix that outlines the skillsets your technical support team needs to possess, and then use that matrix to plan a training approach specifically tailored to each of your processors. As the technical background of your team matures and grows, so will your profits and efficiency.