The View from 30 Feet

The View from 30 Feet: Industrial Mold & Machine’s iPads and Social Network

By: Plastics Business Magazine
Published: Fall 2012

Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big
picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however,
the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific
processes and procedures that make an impact now.
When those involved in plastics processing talk about upgrading
technology, they often are replacing outdated machinery on the plant
floor. At Industrial Mold & Machine (IMM), Twinsburg, OH, technology
upgrades have put iPads in the hands of 19 employees and are changing
the way the company communicates.
“Instant information – that’s how we’ve branded our goal,” explained
Wendy Wloszek, president of IMM. With 37 employees and 19 iPads, that
goal is being met for sales staff, CNC machinists, programmers and
five apprentices who use the iPads to access a social network created
by IMM. The network, dubbed IMM Connect, contains everything from
employee handbooks and MSDS sheets to logout/tagout information and
details about each job that runs within the shop.
Employees use iPads from wherever they are to log into IMM’s social
network and view current jobs running on the production floor or to
prepare for the next job. Each job has its own page on the network,
containing the steps that need to be taken to produce that piece,
detail drawings in both 2D and 3D and programming sheets.
“We’re changing the workflow,” Wloszek said. “We’re trying to cut the
ties from printed sheets of paper and blueprints.” When asked if the
goal for IMM is to be completely paperless in the future, Wloszek
pointed to the overarching goal of instant information. “If you have
to go look for a print, you’re wasting time. Paperless is just a
result of instant information.”
Wloszek admitted that the journey hasn’t been seamless “There’s not a
huge resource to look at and see how others have done it,” she said.
However, IMM continues to move forward, becoming a resource for others
who want to move toward a technology-based workflow. The next step is
an interface that will allow IMM’s social network to pull data points
from the company’s ERP system for clean and quick delivery of critical
information.
For Wloszek, iPads and social networks are part of a necessary culture
shift. “The apprentices we have now – the people who will be the
future of IMM – come from the technology generation,” said Wloszek.
“We’re starting this now to prepare the company for the next
generation workforce.”