Former Cheers TV series star, John Ratzenberger discusses the need for better STEM education and American Manufacturing with ABC News Anchor David Muir.
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Excerpts from a report by an advisory council of Team Pennsylvania Foundation
Following the challenges brought by the Great Recession, the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania is undergoing a renaissance. With gross state product (GSP) now reaching $71 billion, manufacturers in Pennsylvania account for over 12% of the total output in the commonwealth1. Pennsylvania remains the 6th largest manufacturing state in the United States (utilizing GSP as a benchmark). Pennsylvania outranks other historically industrial states including Michigan, Indiana, New York and New Jersey2. Pennsylvania is now producing more products than at any time in its history. For each of the last two years manufacturing employment has increased significantly and in 2011 alone 12,100 new jobs were created3. While employment continues to grow, the sector continues to experience measurable leaps in productivity driven by technology adoption and process innovation. Manufacturing productivity outpaces all other sectors with a staggering 259% increase over the last 40 years4.
With nearly 15,000 manufacturing establishments across the commonwealth, the outlook is bright for continued growth. Pennsylvania firms are building upon a proud heritage in manufacturing and have demonstrated new and creative approaches of integrating innovation into both products and processes. Recognizing the dynamics of the global marketplace, Pennsylvania hosts scores of multinational facilities exporting at record levels around the world accounting for more than 90% of all Pennsylvania exports.
Matt Baranoski, son of Rodon tool designer Mike Baranoski, is having a winning session at the track, the Velodrome track. This 2010 Elite National Keirin Champion and Junior World Medalist continued his dominance in the sport on Friday, July 28th at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center with another victory in the highly competitive Keirin Cup.
The Rodon Group was proud to participate in a recent film project titled "Made in the USA, The 30 Day Journey". A group of young filmmakers, led by Josh Miller, was determined to utilize only American-Made products for thirty days. This commitment made even taking a shower a real challenge. Many bathroom fixtures are not made in the US. Mr. Miller and team searched for and found a motel with an American-Made bathroom.
K’NEX Brands, the only U.S. construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™, and its sister company, The Rodon Group, a custom plastic injection molder, recently ramped up their advocacy efforts on behalf of American manufacturing.
In business since 1956, The Rodon Group makes billions of parts each year in its 125,000 square foot facility, including manufacturing over 30 billion parts since 1992 for the K’NEX building toy system. With over 105 injection molding presses, Rodon is one of the largest family-owned and operated injection molders in the United States.
A toy that’s “Made in the U.S.A.”? These days, that might sound like a contradiction in terms, what with so many playthings produced in Asia. Yet, it turns out that one of the most innovative, stimulating, and just plain fun toys in the stores is just that - made in America, with pride, unmatched quality, and total commitment to environmental responsibility, no less.
It’s K’NEX, a construction system comprising hundreds of different building blocks that children of all ages can use to create everything from fully-functional robots to model racetracks to working roller-coasters to ... well, you name it. And every single K’NEX rod, connector and brick - some 30 Billion - have been manufactured in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. They then travel to over 40 different countries around the world as the various K'NEX construction systems.
This marriage of fun and function started more than 50 years ago when The Rodon Group was founded as a company specializing in a manufacturing process called plastic injection molding. Injection molding was hardly new back then - it actually dates to the 19th century - but Rodon’s founders saw an opportunity to take the process to another level - to make it much easier, that is, to create large quantities of even extra-small parts with unheard-of quality. Until then, the small injection-molded parts were plagued by a host of flaws - bubbles in the plastic, imperfect shapes, and so forth - which greatly limited the yield, or portion of usable parts, in every manufacturing batch. That kept prices high and applications limited.
In today’s world, the green movement is more important than ever. No matter what the industry, it’s a company’s duty to make changes and choices that support the environment.
When you’re looking for a plastic injection molding company, there are several things you can check for to be sure you’ll be working with an environmentally responsible business.
ISO 9001 Certification is a way for companies to keep a close eye on their production processes. Meeting the International Standards for Quality Management ensures the company has been thoroughly audited and is fully in control of its’ procedures so that no part of the production process “slips through the cracks.”
Make sure the company you work with is minimizing waste. During the molding process, excess plastic is generated. What does the company you work with do with it? Look for a company that has a system to recycle all excess plastic.
What about boxes? The efforts of cardboard recycling make a huge difference. For example, 300 cubic yards of cardboard waste (approximately 3 football fields) were saved through recycling initiatives at The Rodon Group, a plastic injection molding company in Pennsylvania.
How is the virgin resin delivered? Ideally, it should be delivered in bulk and loaded into silos, minimizing the need for packaging. Find out how your plastic injection molding company has its’ raw materials delivered.
"Landfill-Free" Facilities and Energy from Waste
Did you know that waste could generate energy? Energy-from-waste technology is now available through companies like Specialty Waste Solutions, LLC, (SWS). In fact, The Rodon Group was one of the first molding facilities to be designated as a "Landfill-Free Facility" by SWS. This means all of The Rodon Group's waste gets processed into electricity. SWS generates enough electricity from waste to power tens of thousands of homes per day! See if you are working with a "landfill-free" facility.
Local Vs. Overseas Shipping
Questions to ask are, is the company importing materials or shipping production overseas? Or, is all work done here in the U.S.A.? Where do they get their colorant and other supplies? The more businesses can keep things local, the better.
Waste Minimizing Technology
The most eco-friendly plastic injection molding companies employ state-of-the-art machinery to assist them in minimizing waste, transportation, and packaging. The Rodon Group was able to go from packing 750 parts to 4500 parts per box by implementing a robotic packing system. Now, 15,700 fewer boxes are being used and 13 less trailers are on the road. Additionally, plastic waste is eliminated from the molding process through the use of high-tech equipment that transports it to a grinder so that it can be re-used.
A plastic injection molding company that thinks green is "landfill-free," and has the right certification, waste reduction, transportation and technology in place to minimize the impact on our planet. As a business owner, it’s your job to ask the right questions and make sure the company you work with is sustainable.