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June 9th, 2019
I am writing this article as we approach the end of the second quarter ‘19. It is hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through this year.
We have a couple more weeks before we wrap up our slower time of year and enter our busiest time of the year. The first 5 months of 2019 have been better than the first half of 2018 in each of the can plants, although lithography sales have been down with our outside customers.
2018 was a challenging year for Independent Can due in a great part as a result of our ERP (Enterprise Resource Program) not performing as we had designed and planned. Over the past 30 years we have installed a number of systems that would be called an ERP but in reality they were glorified financial packages with a MRP (Materials Resource Planning) package.
The system that we have invested in this time, CSI (Cloud Suite Industrial), is a fully integrates system that allows total transparency
from order entry to shipping the final product shipment. This system will schedule production processes so that all components are available when needed on the can assembly lines.
We have come a long way in employee training and reporting processes. I have worked in our family business for 44 years and must say that this has been the most difficult project this company has ever undertaken.
Why did we go this direction and why now? Very good question.
Today, our economy is operating at full employment which means anyone that wants a job has a job. We provide all employees a track with many options and career paths. Through apprenticeships for electricians, mechanics, printing press operators, etc., we have significant number of high paying jobs available today.
We have employee engagement surveys and have had open discussions with them about what they want in their work day world and we are striving to deliver their requests.
From the data we have collected, turnover has slowed and the hiring of talent has become less difficult. People want to work where investments are being made in technology throughout the business.
Independent Can Company has always invested in equipment and talent with a long term view of the business.
Today, it is very difficult to forecast the future with our government changing the rules on globalization and the free flow of goods around the world. TARIFFS: I will not go into all of the challenges tariffs have caused although the administration has force steel costs up 25%. To service our customers well, we will continue to buy our steel based on the following this criterion: Quality, Service (on time delivery), and Price.
To offset increased costs of steel, we are investing in more manufacturing automation: robots, centralized production, centers of excellence and more effective processing plans which the new ERP is designed to provide.
Unless you live in a cave, you have heard about all of the plastic ending up in our oceans and landfills. To date, I have not heard of a plastic material that is truly biodegradable and those that claim that they are biodegradable require a special process. Additionally, the “biodegradable” plastics cannot go into the single stream recycling process as they contaminate other plastics, therefore end up in the landfill. Plastics companies claim their products can be recycled and what they are really saying is that there are applications for second and third uses of plastics. In reality, 100% of plastic material will either end up in a furnace (causing damage to the atmosphere), landfill (covers our natural land with garbage) or in the oceans (into our food chain through seafood).
Cans, whether they are steel or aluminum, are recycled at an ever-increasing rate and are reprocessed into new first-quality materials. This happens with no loss of material properties. If metal cans do end up in a landfill or in the ocean, they will rust away back into the environment in years, not hundreds of years.
Please think of our environment first and choose products that are packaged responsibly.