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Friday, January 15, 2016

The ROI of Workforce Training

One consistent issue impacting metalforming companies across the country is the lack of qualified, skilled employees.  Since it is challenging to find qualified employees, metalformers must make sure to create an environment that encourages their employees to remain loyal.  Training can be a key tool to engage, strengthen and attract your most valuable assets – your staff.

Training Engages. As said most eloquently by Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”  Winning in the workplace requires engagement.  What does an engaged employee look like?  Engagement is not tangible, it is an emotional connection.  An employee is truly engaged when he is fully committed to a company and its goals.  An engaged employee will go above and beyond to ensure that goals are met.  He feels loyal to the company and is emotionally connected.  Training can be a key part of engagement, he will feel valued because the company is making an investment in him.  Improving employee engagement will help your bottom line, as well as retain employees. According to a Gallup poll, companies in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed those in the bottom-quartile by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability and 21% in productivity. 

Training Strengthens.  Expending all of your efforts to fill empty positions is short-sighted.  By encouraging and assisting your staff to continually grow, you will improve performance.  Your employees will become more confident in their skills and comfortable with their roles in the organization.  They will be more apt to think of new ideas and make process improvements to keep your company competitive and at the top of its game.  By building a team of highly skilled, confident employees your company will not have to rely on a few “star” employees, but instead will have a pool of highly qualified and motivated “stars.”

Well-trained employees also are safer.  Good training boosts awareness of safety procedures and will encourage compliance, thus reducing injury.  By making your staff aware of proper safety procedures and regulations, you can create a safer work environment and reduce lost-time injuries.

Training Attracts. Is your company attractive to applicants?  Investing in training will support your current employees, but also will help attract new ones.  By implementing a culture that encourages and supports ongoing training, your company will attract high-quality people.  The most skilled and motivated employees want opportunities to grow and advance.  They seek out employers who value them and help them grow.

The bottom line. Making money is the proverbial “bottom line.”  For those who watch the budget, remember that companies that invest in training have a 24% higher profit margin than companies that do not.  That’s some ROI.

Address your training needs with seminars offered by the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).  Our complete Winter/Spring calendar is now available for download.

Sources: Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, Forbes, Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The challenges of higher-strength steel and lubricants

By: Jeff Jeffery

Among the challenges facing the metal stamping industry is the increased use of high-strength steel (HSS).  Because of the lower cost and greater ease of welding and processing, HSS platforms continue to be attractive to automotive makers.  While HSS substrates offer many positive aspects, these alloys can be challenging in the pressroom. These alloys possess higher work-hardening rates, higher tensile strengths, and can be thinner than conventional steel.  With increased use of more advanced and ultra-high-strength steel, press shops face much higher deformation temperatures, causing more tool abrasion, galling, edge cracking and other issues solved by using “honey oil”.
Historical practices would dictate the use of oil-based lubricants or products heavily fortified with chlorine and sulphur-based EP additives.  While these methods may address the forming of the parts, welding and pretreatment processes may be negatively impacted by the increased amount of oil, and cause difficulty in cleaning.

The EPA has begun the process of banning the use of most chlorinated paraffins.  A specific end date has not been announced, but an alternative to the product will be necessary in the near future.  With the increased use of HSS, press shops have increased the use of chlorinated paraffins that have been the “go-to” solution for these issues for more than 60 years.  The EPA considers 99 percent of chlorinated paraffin used in the United States as hazardous and the ban includes their use and import in all metalworking fluids.  Lubricant manufacturers are offering new chlorine-free products to help solvesthe issues caused by increased use of HSS and still comply with the latest EPA regulations.
Many companies have been using products containing chlorinated paraffins for a considerable period of time and their operations depend on it.  These companies must evaluate their use of these products and adjust both the types of lubricant used and the customary use of these products.  By addressing both the bad habits of over-application and transitioning to chlorine-free paraffins, your press-room can be compliant and effective in addressing issues caused by stamping HSS.

Jeff Jeffery is the CEO of IRMCO, a leading lubricant manufacturer.  The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) appreciates and relies on Jeff’s expertise.  Join Jeff and other experts at the Deep Draw Seminar, February 23-24, 2016.

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