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The Manufacturing Career Path - Guest Post from our Tooling Manager

by Administrator8. June 2017 11:36

 

 

Guest post from Tooling Manager, Joe Karpinski

 

I joined Team Thogus a year and a half ago as the Tooling Manager.  My responsibilities range from estimating/quoting, customer service, vendor/supplier relations, design, quality, purchasing, prototyping, production support, machining, coaching/mentoring, and mold maintenance. It’s true – I wear a lot of hats! But that is the beauty of this career field.

 

With more than twenty-five years of experience in the plastic injection molding manufacturing industry, wearing those many hats, I’ve come to the realization that “you” can determine the success and future from a career in manufacturing.  

 

1. Innovation - Technology

 

Not trying to date myself but I remember creating drawings on a drafting board in shop class. Then, I was introduced to AutoCAD in the mid-80s, which was a huge advantage, because it opened opportunities for any job field that utilizes CADD (Computer Aided Drafting & Design).

 

Manufacturing isn’t working in a foundry pouring steel billets like my grandfather did decades ago, and like some people still do to this day. The industry has evolved with innovation and technology. For those that want to make chips on a milling machine or design the next innovative product using virtual reality, the opportunities are there – period.

 

Innovation goes hand-in-hand with manufacturing and always has. Power-generation systems using steam and water powered manufacturing equipment back in 1784. The assembly line introduction utilized electric back in 1870 to modernize mass production. In 1969, the first (PLC) programmable logic controller (or Robot) was used to automate production process. The future of manufacturing will be driven by (CPS) cyber-physical systems which allow for endless information to be shared in a manufacturing facility inside and outside their physical walls. The manufacturing industry and systems will not only optimize the process, but will analyze and communicate directly to execute tasks.

 

Going into manufacturing means you will experience innovation and technology. It’s not your grandfather’s factory.

 

 

2. Hands On

 

Most of the people that choose the manufacturing industry as a career path have either; taken something apart, tried to put to back together, sketched something on a piece of paper, grabbed a tool to fix something, visualized a product or process, or created something. Manufacturing reaches pretty much every aspect of our lives daily. So, I struggle when I hear that manufacturing has lost its appeal for the generations to follow because of previous views or perceptions of manufacturing. I will state, however, that the manufacturing industry is, and always be, a hands-on career, regardless of how you want to define hands-on.

 

The official definition of hands-on is, ‘involving or offering participation rather than theory.’ Is there no theory in manufacturing? Yes there is, but along with it, there are also people that must prove or disprove that theory. 

 

For example: You walk into your garage and pick up a piece of wood. You have a concept in mind or on paper to transform that piece of wood. Then, you survey the garage to find the tools to “shape/transform” that piece of wood. Finally, you perform the task necessary to generate the final product. Yep, you guessed it, that is ‘manufacturing.’

 

That is the beauty of this industry. You are part of ‘making’.

 

 

3. Longevity

 

The manufacturing industry will always need people to support this career field. The world revolves around people making stuff, creating stuff, and providing stuff to all the other people in the world. My best recommendation to those considering the manufacturing industry is: there are multiple paths to follow and you will get out of it what you put into it. The part I most enjoy about my job is delivering the final product and/or service to my internal & external customers.

 

I highly recommend considering manufacturing as your career destination. You can find resources to help you. I have had the honor to work with Lorain County Community College’s Engineering program. If you are interested in manufacturing but don’t know where to start, check them out! Below is a snapshot from Lorain Community College’s Engineering & Manufacturing Pathway. LCC also offers the RAMP program (Retooling Adults for Manufacturing Programs).







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Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics

An Insider's View - American Injection Molding Institute (AIM) Certificate Program

by Administrator28. March 2016 14:03

My name is William Allen. I have been around plastics injection molding my entire life. My parents actually met while working in an injection molding facility as young adults and I can remember recognizing the sounds and smells of a plastics plant as early as five years old. When I found myself on the hunt for a job in 2005 I made my way into the plastics world as well. Starting out as an operator I was able to see plastics manufacturing from many angles as I worked my way up through the ranks. My first formal training in the realm of processing came in the form of a two day class and a one month crash course from a newly hired engineer on staff at Nampac (North American Packaging) which, at the time, was located in East Cleveland Ohio. That was in 2007. At the time, I was strictly working with polypropylene making one product – buckets - in several sizes and colors on the 11 presses we had in house. It wasn’t until midway through 2008, when Nampac closed its doors, that I joined the Thogus Products family as a process technician. I immediately started to realize just how many different plastics there were, and how much processing variation could exist in a facility that ran so many custom jobs.

Over the course of the next six years I enrolled in three additional technical training programs and gained a great deal of invaluable experience. My experience expanded across many different machines, several types of robots and automation, and of course multiple types and grades of plastic. Fast forward to March 2015, I was then offered an opportunity to be among the inaugural class of the AIM Institute in Erie Pennsylvania - an opportunity I will be eternally thankful for and know I will benefit from for the balance of my career. 

Upon taking the entrance test for the AIM Institute (strictly for the sake of gauging current level of knowledge) I realized two things. First, this was not going to be a walk in the park. Second, I simply did not know nearly as much as I thought I did in the realm of injection molding. I was a fair mixture of nervous and excited. But, since I only had a week’s notice before the first of the four classes I was not able to do any research on what exactly I had signed up for; and therefore possibly less nervous than I would have been. Previously, I had read many articles both written by and written about John Beaumont, Mike Sepe and John Bozzelli and recognized them as leaders and pioneers in their respective corners of the plastics world. Little did I know that they would be among the instructors that would be teaching the AIM institute classes. I was a bit star-struck to say the least when I first entered the classroom and saw their name tags on the desks. I remember thinking “I might be out of my league here.” Turns out the mix of students in that class ranged from product design, to tooling, to processing and even quality control. The class, thankfully, is designed to work for anyone in the plastics world.

Throughout the next year I learned plastics - starting at the molecular level and working all the way through tool design, processing and even part review and design. The classes, while very challenging (even for the Thogus, degreed plastics engineer who was taking the class as well), were not the usual “take your information and go” type of classes. There was an enormous amount of support not only during the class and on the homework assigned between classes, but on any day of the week at any time. The instructors were just an email away and their responses were always prompt and informative. They want the students to succeed and their passion for the plastics industry was always evident. I admittedly had rough patches in some areas, but I was never completely lost. When I needed help it was always available.

In addition to the support from the instructors at the AIM Institute, the time allotted to me by my workplace to complete the WebEx classes and homework assignments was pivotal in my completion of the certification as well. Without Thogus’ support and encouragement throughout the program I may not have done as well or even have been able to complete and pass the classes. Their investment in me made an enormous difference in my ability to do well and directly impacted how much I was able to digest and retain the information. 

After my grade for the final test came in and I received my certificate in the “Plastics Engineering and Technology” program I had a great sense of pride. I finished the class tied for the top grade, and while the class was not very large, I felt very accomplished. More importantly, I had a measurable increase in confidence. I was able to step up at work and take on a new role with new responsibilities. I bring a new understanding of troubleshooting to every situation and find myself narrowing in on a particular problem so that I can quickly investigate solutions. I am able to look at new designs and recognize potential issues before products are launched, which can make a world of difference once the steel is cut and processing begins. The lessons and education I was afforded by this program have made a world of difference for me in my day-to-day work. Learning real world applications from experts in a professional setting and having the homework and reinforcement between classes made the information stick. It was an experience I will never forget, and the confidence to challenge the industry standards, ask questions and strive to solve problems will be a staple in my career. 

AIM Certificate

 

Cleveland Is the City Where We Come From

by Caroline15. January 2016 10:35

 

 

Cleveland has been called a lot of things: Mistake on the Lake; the buckle on the rust belt; unhappiest place to work, most miserable city, dirtiest city – all thanks to Forbes magazine (they do not appear to be fans of ours). But to those of us at Thogus, Cleveland is the phoenix rising from the ashes. We are tough, we are resourceful, we are proud. Just like Cleveland, manufacturing in Northeast Ohio is the same. We are tough. We are resourceful. We are proud. 

The past few years have been a great time in Cleveland. Of course, most people know about our beloved son, LeBron James, and his redemptive return home which helped bring our Cavaliers back to a finals appearance in 2015. Cleveland was host to the 2013 National Senior Games, 2014 Gay Games, 2015 Content Marketing World, and will host the 2016 Republican National Convention. We are becoming a destination, not a stopover.

Our downtown and surrounding inner cities are booming with residents, restaurants, and retail. People are moving back to Cleveland more than they have in years! We are becoming a foodie destination due to chefs like Michael Symon, Jonathon Sawyer, Zack Bruell, Rocco Whalen, and Doug Katz.  Great Lakes Brewing Company, Fat Heads, and Platform Brewery are just a few of the local craft breweries you can find on the North Coast.

None of these would be possible without the manufacturers who drive our economy and create our jobs. Vitamix, Parker Hannifin, Eaton, Lincoln Electric, PolyOne, and Sherwin Williams are just a few examples of our strength as a destination of world-class manufacturing. We are makers. We are doers.

As we look towards the future, Thogus is keeping a steady eye on what possibilities are next. With the strength of our medical community we know that new innovations and technologies in medicine will be discovered right here. The tech world is seeing Cleveland as a new hub for activity and possibilities. We are home to world-class universities that are acting as incubators for up-and-coming companies. And Thogus will be helping make reality the ideas that these companies come up with. It is what we do. If you want to see what the next generation of manufacturing looks like, come see us! We will show you what the future looks like, today. 

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Manufacturing | Northeast Ohio

Accelerating Cleveland’s Growth

by Caroline1. December 2015 07:25

 

On Thursday, November 19, President and CEO of Thogus Matt Hlavin joined Mark Avsec, Vice-Chair of the Innovations, Information Technology and Intellectual Property Practice Group at Benesch and Rick Pollack, president of MakerGear at the Association of Corporate Growth (ACG) event regarding the 3D Printing Revolution. In keeping with the ACG theme for the year, “Accelerating Cleveland’s Growth,” ACG designed a panel discussion around 3D printing technology, its uses and limitations, and the legal implications surrounding it now and what may be coming down the road. 

 

The evening began with both Thogus and MakerGear greeting guests at tables where guests could touch, feel and see how 3D printing works, and how it can be applied to the commercial space.

 

The panel discussion was orchestrated in such a way that guests began their journey learning about Rick Pollack’s motivation for starting his company MakerGear and how he had designed his system to really help the professional consumer, or “prosumer”, start to propagate their ideas for validation and/or commercialization. Rick’s units sell into all 50 states and he struggles to keep up with demand. But, he stressed the importance that his technology is not your kitchen counter unit for anyone – you need to have the skills to operate the same programs an individual would need to run a traditional CNC machine.

 

ACG Panel Discussion

From MakerGear, the discussion transitioned to Matt Hlavin, President and CEO of Thogus Products Company. Matt shared a video on Advanced Manufacturing that demonstrates the transformation of traditional manufacturing through the use of 3D printing. Matt shared his insights on 3D-printing that stem from the company’s original investment in additive manufacturing back in 2009 to today. He elaborated on how the technology has not only allowed him to experiment with the technology and how it integrates into traditional manufacturing at Thogus, but to also create a stand-alone company to focus on a full-service offering of additive services from prototyping to development to rapid manufacturing. 

 

Committing to additive manufacturing has also allowed Thogus to expand its capabilities to traditional manufacturing companies, while attracting top talent into the industry. Matt elaborated on the limitations that have yet to be overcome – material development and availability, in-process quality monitoring, and repeatability. When asked if the technology would every replace CNC – Matt made it clear that it isn’t one technology or the other, but it is a choice as to what is the right technology for the application. Matt’s final comments with regards to all of this, were that this is not a 3D Revolution, but really should be seen as an Evolution. We will continue to learn how to leverage this technology, apply it in ways we can’t yet envision, and the industry will have to learn how to collaborate and adapt to allow us to fully realize its potential.

 

This played really well into Mark Avsec’s position on IP protection and IP law with regards to this evolution. From Mark’s experience in music in his early career, he was able to draw strong connection with what happened in the music industry to what is happening in the manufacturing/additive space. From his view, 3D printing technology will transform the way companies conduct business, affecting manufacturing processes and disrupting the supply chain, with substantial implications for intellectual property. This topic brought to light a whole new perspective for the audience on the implications of investments and the concerns with managing how these technologies are shared or accessed. File sharing for printing is a huge part of how information is exchanged for 3D, and with the availability of 3D scanners it is easier more than ever to knock off someone’s IP and manufacture it yourself. Kitchen counter consumers are not the concern necessarily, but individuals or companies with access to a critical mass or channel to market do need to be monitored. Caterpillar was a highlighted example. Caterpillar currently has 3D printers in-house that are used to manufacture spare parts. They are considering allowing these printers to be set up at distributors, but how will they control the use of their IP around their part design. How do you ensure brand integrity once it is release? Liability issues?

 

 

The guests had many questions that continued the discussion until almost 7pm. Most of these questions centered on the workforce and how these companies make money.


We are very excited to have participated in this event, and we will continue to talk about of how additive manufacturing is beneficial to a variety of manufacturers and not detrimental. These technologies can create a symbiotic relationship that is mutually beneficial to each other.

 

 

 

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Thogus mentioned in White House Press Release

by Dana Foster19. January 2015 17:47

 

On January 9th, the President announced the latest in a series of partnerships aimed at boosting advanced manufacturing, fostering American innovation, and attracting well-paying jobs that will strengthen the middle class. After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is coming back, adding 786,000 new jobs since February 2010. Today’s new action is the kind of investment we need to build on this progress, creating the foundation needed for American manufacturing growth and competitiveness in the years to come.

Thogus is proud to be at the fore front of the manufacturing industry! Thogus creates The Edge of manufacturing with investments in the latest technology, people and solutions for key partners.  

Click here to read more.

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How Matthew K. Hlavin fosters his evolving business and creates Advanced Manufacturing Solutions...

by Christie Reznik11. September 2014 16:06
Crain's Cleveland Business featured Matt in a recent article where he talks about fostering a spirit of innovation, developing culture, engaging employees and the importance of attracting the next generation workforce of manufacturing. Ultimately, innovation creates value all around. Through the power of advanced manufacturing software and technology, and the enhanced capabilities they provide, companies like Thogus are entering into a new age of manufacturing, with their CEO Matt Hlavin, leading the charge. 

Click below to read the full article:

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Director of Happiness- Lisa Lehman

by Dana Foster15. February 2013 15:14

Director of Happiness? Yes, it really is my job title.

How did this role come to be? Well, that’s a long story.

 

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