Tour Takeaways

Strohwig Industries Engineering Manager Jeff Schaller explains their new techniques for faster tooling setups.

The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA),  sponsored its 13th “Plant Tour Workshop” at Strohwig Industries of Richfield, WI on August 1, 2013. Fifty members of the mold manufacturing community from as far away as California came to learn from industry leaders at this impressive facility.

The Plant Tour Workshops have been hosted by progressive AMBA member companies around the USA to share best practices and hone participants’ skills. For this tour, special areas of focus included research and development and customer-focused solutions. After brief presentations by a number of managers, attendees split into smaller tour groups, facilitating more personalized attention to any and all questions. After touring the facility, those taking part shared their impressions, providing Strohwig’s owners and management helpful insights from industry peers.

Plant Tour Workshops have been designed to be win-win, benefiting both visitors and hosts, confronting current industry challenges and sharing ideas. To date, more than 500 mold-industry professionals have attended, gaining valuable insights. Justin McPhee, VP of Engineering at Mold Craft in Willernie, Minnesota, summed up the tours well, “Our company hosted the first tour when the Plant Tour Workshop concept was born in June 2011. We really didn’t know what to expect letting friendly competitors into our shop, but in the end through the red card/green card process, we felt we learned more from the visitors than we gave away. “One improvement that we made as a result of hosting a tour was implementing visual scheduling at each machine.  The immediate improvement was to add white boards at each machine. After seeing a fully-integrated social network on another company’s Plant Tour Workshop, we took our own visual scheduling to the next level, transforming it to a web-based, real-time format accessible from anywhere inside or outside of the shop where there is internet. More than 2 years later and our company is better because of the insight we gained from our tour as well as the tours we have attended. If you take away one idea and implement it back at your own shop it is worth a lot more than the price of admission! Equally important to me is visiting with friends I've met at previous tours, and meeting 30 to 50 other moldmakers just like us.””

For more information on the AMBA or the next Plant Tour Workshop, November 7, 2013 at Ameritech Die & Mold in Mooresville, North Carolina.