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Pennsylvania Companies Profit From Global Certification Program

The Plastics Manufacturing Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology ­ partnering with A. Routsis Associates Inc. and Mid-Atlantic Plastics Partners Inc. recently conducted a pilot training program to certify employees in Pennsylvania’s plastics industry.

In the internationally recognized Global Standards for Plastics Certification training, which featured 342 employees from 16 companies, significant gains were demonstrated in production efficiency and safety, along with a reduction in scrap rates, employee turnover and customer complaints.

The GSPC training is funded by a Pennsylvania Plastics Initiative grant from the state Department of Labor & Industry. The participating companies were sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp.

Originally developed in Great Britain in the 1970s as an apprenticeship qualification, GSPC is a comprehensive curriculum that has evolved to become the most rigorous and comprehensive certification system available to the plastics industry.

GSPC provides credentials for employees and a competitive advantage for companies. Training is conducted through computer interactive modules and simulators, featuring internal-trainer and group-training at the company site, specific to the company’s procedures and operations. Employees are certified by an independent verifier upon successful completion.

During the two-phase pilot program, qualitative and quantitative data was collected. Measurements were collected before the certification process to provide a baseline of data and after the certification to measure changes.

The data include:

  • Employee test-performance results
  • A “soft skills” survey to measure management’s confidence in employees’ ability to perform
  • Interviews with 96 employees and managers describing the impact of the program
  • Identification of specific business metrics for each company

Overall, the certification program had a positive impact for the companies in terms of morale, camaraderie, speaking a common language, and communication between management and hourly employees.

The program has also shown many tangible results for measurements such as improved production capabilities and increased quality, as well as a decreased scrap rate and fewer customer complaints.

Data relating to business improvements include:

  • 100 percent of the employee-turnover metrics improved
  • 100 percent of the customer-complaint metrics improved
  • 80 percent of the quality metrics improved
  • 75 percent of the production output/efficiency metrics improved
  • One company reported a cost savings of more than $70,000
  • One company reduced customer complaints by 5 percent
  • One company reduced monthly scrap rates by more than $1,200 a month
  • One company raised production output from 56 percent to 81 percent
  • One company reported throughput efficiency increased by $1,000 per month

Research also indicated a significant improvement in employee performance and company profits.

Managers and employees expressed a strong positive regard for the program, with visible results for those participating in the computer modules. Employees said they gained a greater understanding of their organizational role, and some sought higher-level positions that were opened to them upon certification. Managers said communication with employees became easier, and they identified skill gaps previously not detected.

Looking to improve efficiency and effectiveness, several companies developed new policies, procedures and training methods, creating standards where none existed to educate employees on what to do, and how to do it correctly.

One company changed its entire training philosophy. Instead of rushing employees directly into jobs and expecting instant perfection, it now employs a standardized and systematic approach to training that helps both the company and the employees.

Research also showed effective safety education and improvements in safety awareness. Employees and managers indicated that organizations are safer because of the certification program.

Companies recognized the competitive advantage of GSPC training for improvement in business operations and publicity. Several companies are sharing news of their certification and training efforts with customers and trade publications to differentiate themselves within their client base.

The extensive data collected shows that the program is providing companies a substantial return on investment and positioning them for current and future manufacturing success within the globally competitive plastics industry.

The training is offered by the Plastics Manufacturing Center for company-specific consortium training and dislocated-worker certification. For more information about the training program, call the PMC at 570-321-5533 or e-mail .

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