Rotomolding Executive Preaches Flexibility & Consistent Improvements
Ken Bather is currently the plant manager at the Hedstrom Plastics factory in Dunkirk, Ohio. It is there that he’s surrounded by one of his favorite things in the world: rotational molding, or rotomolding.
According to PlasticsNews.com, Bather recently outlined some of the reasons why as well as tips for industry insiders during a presentation at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Rotational Molding Conference, which was held in Cleveland June 5-8.
“Rotomolding is a very strange bird — I loved it ever since I first saw it,” Bather said. “I am passionate about the people that work on the shop floor.”
Rotational molding is an extremely unique and specialized manufacturing process, which involves using heat to fuse plastic resin in a mold. The four-stage process is unique from other similar molding techniques in that no pressure is used throughout.
One of Bather’s points was the fact that sometimes companies get too attached/stubborn when it comes to their molds and operations and how some seem too reluctant to make changes or improvements, especially when it comes to the specific molds.
“Why do you hate your operation so much? Why make them suffer with a bad mold?” Bather asked. “One size doesn’t fit all in rotomolding. You have to take as deep breath. Please have people sit and use their eyes before they use their mouths.”
According to Bather, too often rotational molders will convince themselves the way they’re doing things is the only right way. People will argue about using bolts vs clamps to hold the mold, for instance, when in reality it really depends on the specific situation.
It’s clear Bather is an employee-first type of executive. In addition to always starting his new factory employees as part finishers – where they can see first-hand problems that can come from bad molding work – he believes actually listening and responding to the machine operators on the “front lines” is crucial.
“When I walk up to a machine, I go up and treat it as if it’s their office,” he said.