|Miltronics & Skye (Painesville, OH) is no stranger to the ups and downs of contract manufacturing. Founded in 1984, the medical manufacturer at one time employed more than 100 people before falling on hard times. A late-2002 acquisition by Trust Technologies, another northeastern Ohio precision contract manufacturer, marked the beginning of a turnaround for Miltronics & Skye.
"We are not the same old company," says site manager Jack Hostutler. He ticks off the changes that have occurred at the company since the end of 2002: new owner, new president, new sales staff, new continuous improvement programs, new training methods, new customer focus.
Militronics & Skye's Jack Hostutler (standing) and Doug Paoletta work through an online training course from Tooling U.
Miltronics & Skye uses CNC turning and milling, laser marking, electropolishing, and passivation processes to produce components for orthopedic implant manufacturers from titanium alloys and other materials. After training key employees in lean principles, Miltronics launched lean implementation teams that reconfigured the plant layout, creating cells around part families. Other initiatives included a 5S program.
And, Hostutler adds, all shop employees now receive in-house Certified Operator Training based on online training courses from Tooling University (www.toolingu.com; Cleveland, OH). "Online training classes are the main body of knowledge used," he says. "We looked into several different training options, such as local tech schools and colleges, but Tooling U gave us the biggest bang for the buck. It's also the most flexible as far as when the employees could train."
Miltronics & Skye requires five Tooling U classes plus other training as a base of knowledge for operator certification. Training is ongoing, and Hostutler says online learning fits in well with the company's overall training philosophy as well as employees' busy schedules. "With Tooling U, any computer with Internet access becomes a training center," he says. "At work or at home, employees have access to training 24/7."
Results from operator training have been impressive, according to Hostutler. Internal quality, measured in defects per million, has improved almost 92% from a year ago. "Our largest customers are medical device OEMs, which means we must conform to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Good Manufacturing Practices [GMP] regulations," Hostutler says. "The GMP requires manufacturers to establish procedures for identifying training needs, to ensure that all personnel are trained to adequately perform their assigned responsibilities, and to document the training.
"Our training files used to be a weak point during ISO 9002 or GMP audits, but with Tooling U and our Operator Certification program our training files are impressive," he concludes. Training files are generated from the Tooling U Administration Center, where managers can quickly set trainee schedules and monitor employee progress and performance.
Online training has boosted Miltronics & Skye's shopfloor lean initiative and facilitated continuous improvement.
Miltronics & Skye will soon consolidate in a new 67,000 ft2 (6200 m2 facility, essentially doubling its current space. Hostutler says Tooling U training has been a key component in the company's revitalization. "Online training has been instrumental in developing a lean approach on the manufacturing floor as well as in the continuous improvement of both quality and delivery metrics," he concludes.