April 24, 2013
Matrix combines a variety of conservation efforts in our goal to be environmentally responsible. Currently, our company-wide recycling program includes: plastic beverage bottles & food containers; glass bottles & jars; metal cans; paper, including newspapers, magazines, office scrap, junk mail and cardboard boxes.
Designated bins have been set up in multiple locations for the collection of these items, making it easy for all employees to participate. The recyclables are deposited into a separate recycling dumpster provided by Groot Industries, our waste management contractor. Adopting this simple system has allowed us to reduce a significant amount of our waste by diverting it for recycling. Our “waste not” mindset even carries over to the used coffee grounds which a few employees take home on their own to use in their garden compost.
We also address the recycling and/or proper disposal of materials that are not included in our general curbside program. Electronics including printers, cartridges, desktops, monitors, battery backups and cell phones are collected. Every 6 to 12 months, arrangements are made with an electronics recycling company that donates any usable items to Chicago Public Schools.
With respect to our manufacturing waste stream, we contract with Safety-Kleen, a leading re-refiner, to recycle our cutting and lubricating fluids. While plastic re-grind can be used in specified amounts on select projects, excess scrap plastics and metals are sold for use by other manufacturing facilities when possible.
In addition to diverting waste, we are always looking for new ways to conserve our resources upfront. Paper consumption is reduced in the office by electronic billing and storage of documents, and electronic data models nearly eliminate prints in the shop. Our company news updates and most of our training records have also gone paperless. In recent years, we have replaced energy inefficient metal halide lighting with high output T-5 HO fluorescent lighting. This has resulted in better quality lighting with lower energy usage and longer bulb life. Other energy saving lighting upgrades continue. Carpooling has also increased with several employees riding to and from work together on various days of the week, reducing both fuel consumption and auto emissions.
Put simply, Matrix is committed to a daily awareness of our impact on the environment and our continual efforts to reduce it. New ideas for how to improve in this area are always considered. The smaller footprint we leave, the better.
April 15, 2011
For anyone in manufacturing today, we have had the luxury of being handed a rich tradition in how to make things. For over 125-years, the United States has honed its skills as a manufacturing destination for making products sold world wide. Add in the knowledge gained by being thrown into two World Wars, where many businesses were asked to support the military effort. These wars required a rapid response and high volume production from our existing manufacturing plants, it was truly a national effort to support our military.
Today, we are faced with global competition that has a younger work force, one willing to work at greatly lower wages, and they are using the same equipment and software that we use. While this seems to be a competitive threat that would be tough to beat, we have one huge advantage over them. Our legacy of making world class products here is something significant, and not to be squandered. Much of China's manufacturing base in high end products is less than twenty years old. Having the latest and greatest equipment gets you just so far. The ability to win an endurance race such as the Indy 500 is more about the best and brightest technicians building an engine that not only performs well, but does it under the most grueling circumstances. While a stock engine might make it thru the race, someone committed to winning will only accept the best. And the fact remains that the best tooling comes from countries with long traditions of making things. Not the most populous regions with large groups of young people using the latest technology.
We have a duty to continue the legacy of manufacturing that was handed to us. What was passed on to us must be passed on to the next generation. We absolutely must invest in our youth, in our infrastructure and equipment. If not, the one huge advantage we currently enjoy will be gone. And once it's gone, playing catch up will be tougher than anything we've faced in the way of competition thus far.
October 13, 2010
It's been said that training is the lifeblood of an organization. Yet over the last few years, finding money for training and educational purposes has been a challenge. As our economy struggles to its feet, it's high time we realize that the only way an American manufacturer is going to thrive (or even survive) is to throw every available resource towards ensuring that his employees are better coached than the competition's. We can't wait for our government to level the playing field when it comes to free (and fair) trade. The core of the free market concept is rooted in competition driving us to improve quality and innovation, lower prices, and thus be able to sell more and grow. Our competitors in low cost manufacturing locations are using the same equipment that we do. In many cases, their workforce is younger, more hungry, and certainly more plentiful. How do you compete with that? By making sure your employee is thoroughly trained, in both the latest technology, and old world craftsmanship that can be passed down from the senior toolmakers and designers who built tooling prior to the age of computers. Old world craftsmanship is often not available in these low cost manufacturing countries.
The opportunity to get involved at the ground floor is an opportunity not to be missed. Apprenticeship programs are struggling, and if they are allowed to fail, we have failed. Opportunities abound in local vocational and career training programs for mentoring, donating time and resources, and ensuring that there is an influx of future talent for hire. Our company is active in numerous trade associations, including the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA), the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA), the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), to name a few.
So as manufacturers, we are left to our own devices to stay in the game. But without training, we are certain to have a more difficult time competing in the future than we currently do today.