The 3 most common production problems in extrusion – Part 2

The extrusion of pipes, profiles, sheets, films, solid and hollow rods or other semi-finished products can cause a wide variety of problems that can impair the economic efficiency of the processes. These problems may concern the production itself, but may also have arisen from the market or external circumstances. We will show you the most common causes of errors and offer approaches to avoid them.

(please visit also the 1st part of this article)


Production Problem #2: Staff Availability & Know-how

Nowadays it is often not easy to find skilled workers and in many cases external employees are often employed in production. If other aspects such as demographic change or a not uncommonly high level on illness are taken into account, these can be the cause of high productivity problems, which can also pose economic risks.

Particularly in view of this initial situation, dealing with internal know how is a particularly important aspect. In some companies there is a mentality that employees hoard their personal knowledge and if possible do not allow anyone to participate. Instead of showing a colleague the important steps for problem solving, this wealth of experience is kept secret or preserved by incomplete passing on of information. From the point of view of the respective employees, this behaviour often results from different reasons. In some cases it is the desire for recognition or appreciation (“Our Mr. Müller always gets the system up and running!”. In other cases, it is the fear of a job loss (“If Mr. Müller were not the only one who could use the plant, we would have already parted with him long ago.”). However, there may be other reasons for this, such as a lack of opportunities for knowledge transfer, lack of sympathy between the participants or a general corporate culture that promotes the “strongest” and excludes the “weakest”.

Looking at the general figures on the development of the average age of the population, another component becomes clear. While the average age of the world’s population in 2000 was about 26 years, today it is already around 30. Forecasts assume that it will rise to over 36 years by 2050.

This development can also be seen in many production plants. The average age of employees is rising, many know-how holders are on the verge of retirement and there are only a few young employees who would be able to compensate for this loss of know-how. At the same time, the profession of a plastic molder is gradually losing its appeal in the minds of many young people, although this can be an extremely diverse and varied activity.

But there are ways to reduce these problems.  It is important to understand the situation of a company and to identify what causes the personnel problems. Training and further education of employees as well as the establishment of a functioning “internal knowledge transfer” are essential factors in this respect. In addition, in the age of industry 4.0, there are many possibilities to support production with digital systems. The aim should be to relieve the employee so that simple and monotonous tasks are no longer necessary and the employee has the time to take care of the essential content.

In our following articles we will discuss topics such as these:

  • Use internal know-how to produce better product quality
  • Robust processes by qualified and motivated employees
  • Identify optimal process parameters and anchor them as a recipe
  • Environmental influences – how to reduce them
  • Digitisation of extrusion – reducing the workload of employees
  • Process data to increase transparency
  • Industry 4.0 in plastic processing – assistance systems for extrusion
  • Compact knowledge of plastics – basic tools
  • Compact knowledge of plastics – basics of follow-up equipment
  • Compact knowledge of plastics – basics of conveying and dosing
  • Troubleshooting extrusion

In our download area you will find among other things, a checklist to check your initial situation and additional information on employee motivation.

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