At The Plastics Group of America (TPG), we are always striving to optimize our manufacturing processes. This includes installing new machinery designed to both accelerate and refine our production capabilities, creating the safest possible work environment for our employees, and introducing practices and procedures that will make TPG the best place in which to work.
A Brighter Environment That Produces Greater Savings and Increased Safety
TPG recently replaced 80 Metal Halide Lights (MH) with LED’s in their River Street production facility. Replacing 80 lights is a significant investment and required a trial phase to ensure the LED lights would be a benefit in TPG’s main production facility. Four trial LED’s were installed, replacing the existing MH lights in key production areas. The impact of the LED lighting was immediate. Unlike the MH lights the LED’s provided direct and brighter lighting to the areas operators needed it most.
The benefits of changing to LED lighting from Metal Halide are numerous. LED’s are reported to provide up to a 30% savings on energy used, the light is more directional and does not rely on a fixture with a reflector as the MH light does to focus its omni-directional light to the areas needed, LED’s last longer and maintain their light output for a significantly longer time, LED’s require less maintenance and it is reported that MH lights would need to be replaced upwards of five times before you would replace an LED, LED’s produce less heat than Metal Halide, and rebates are available through most Utility companies.
Based on the results of the trial phase TPG replaced all Metal Halide fixtures with LED lighting. The cost to do so was $30,000 and a considerable investment. Fortunately, TPG’s utility provider, Nation Grid had a rebate program in place for switching to LED lighting, which helped offset the initial cost.
TPG can report a measurable 27% savings in energy after switching to the LED lights. Additionally, the quality of light throughout production facility has improved considerably. Pun intended, the difference is “Night and Day.” All work areas are well lit, the entire plant is brighter increasing visibility and safety, and surprisingly, the atmosphere of the work environment is significantly better. All employees have commented on the dramatic positive impact being able to do their job better and safer has had on them.
TPG was initially skeptical of the benefits reported for LED lighting, but we can now state those benefits are true and the installation of LED lighting has measurably transformed our production facility. Based on the success of LED lighting at our River Street location, TPG is now moving forward to install LED lighting in its Fairmount facility as well.
TPG Elevating Its Safety Program
TPG has worked hard to keep its award-winning safety program progressive and moving forward. TPG believes even the best safety programs can become complacent and stagnant. TPG has found over the years that a fresh set of eyes outside the company is integral to a robust and successful safety program. OSHA’s annual evaluations have been crucial to keeping our safety program and the well-being of our employees at the forefront of our efforts to have an exemplary safety program. In keeping with TPG’s vision on safety, we recently hired safety consultant, Maureen Hoffmann, to evaluate our safety program and procedures. Not only will Maureen be another set of eyes to review TPG’s systems, compliance, and ensuring TPG is meeting regulatory requirements, but she will also be tasked with providing training for all employees at TPG. Maureen’s first recommendation was to setup an employee safety committee to facilitate increased employee involvement which will be beneficial in educating all TPG employees. Everyone will have an opportunity to serve on the safety committee as we rotate members over the course of time. This initiative is an excellent example of how someone outside the company can greatly impact TPG’s safety program for the better. TPG is excited to have Maureen on board and is looking forward to her input on how TPG can improve and strengthen its safety program.
The Evolution Continues at TPG’s Distribution Center
TPG’s Fairmount facility continues to evolve into an integral part of our business and ability to supply our customers with high quality services and products. Fairmount has hit many milestones during its evolution from an abandoned facility in 2012, to our central distribution center in 2017. The investment to increase Fairmount’s capabilities continues. New loading docks and a vertical lift system are nearing completion. Each of these improvements will allow TPG to increase efficiencies in our shipping receiving processes and capabilities. In order to support these developments TPG is also expanding our forklift fleet. New forklifts will allow TPG to improve offloading and product movement capabilities in the warehouse, allowing us to enhance our order fulfillment abilities for our customers.
To decrease the amount of waste oil and the impact it may have on the environment TPG has installed a 250,000 BTU heater which can utilize the waste oil generated by TPG as fuel. TPG will use all of the waste oil generated by our day to day operations and estimates at least 1000 gallons of waste oil will be used as fuel for the new heater in the first year.
Customer Centricity Drives TPG’s Improvements
TPG’s success is directly related to our customers and as such, it is TPG’s goal to provide for their current and future needs. Often times, it is a customer inquiry or request which will drive improvements to meet the customer’s new application or submission. Other times, when TPG is actively working on continued improvement, systems and processes currently in place are evaluated with an eye on improvement, developing optimization, and enhancing quality for our customers.
All aspects of TPG’s operations are integral to meeting and maintaining our customers’ requirements and product quality. Equipment and processes are a part of this equation but neither would function without personnel. TPG utilizes a 360° approach when conducting evaluations of our systems and processes. This is a thorough assessment of all systems and process with an objective to ensure all developments are centric to our customers’ needs and requirements. This process insures that all aspects, including personnel competencies and abilities, are considered when reviewing customer requests and continued improvement initiatives.
As an example, one of TPG’s objectives is to reduce order lead times. The answer seems simple - increase production throughput. This is possible on some products and production lines but after conducting a full 360° review, it becomes clear that producing material faster may negatively impact quality. It can also stress equipment enough to cause premature failure resulting in downtime, increase operator responsibilities which may impact their ability to do their job properly, and, introduce unseen safety issues. The 360° evaluation provided insights that were not readily obvious and determined the best approach is to quantify operational efficiencies for each production line, product, and employee to meet our customer’s needs and maintain product quality.
Ultimately it is TPG’s objective to always meet or exceed current customer requirements and expectations, to grow with our customers and expanded our production capabilities and product offerings, and maintain the safest and most productive work environment possible for our employees.