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Analyze, refine and rebuild to keep your plant competitive

Jan. 6, 2014
In this Plant Profile, MRPC proves that it is not just another rust belt molding shop.

The headquarters for MRPC (mrpcorp.com) in Butler, Wisconsin, occupies three buildings totaling approximately 85,000 sq ft. Most of the floor space is cleanroom manufacturing with five cleanrooms, a sixth under construction, and two dedicated work cells. The cleanrooms are certified to ISO Class 7 and Class 8. The customer base consists of local, national, and international companies.

MRPC characterizes itself as a single-source provider of innovative medical device components and assemblies. Before the days of the Great Recession, when it was a general rubber and plastic molder, MRPC was just an acronym for Molded Rubber and Plastic Corporation.

The transformation to MRPC’s new identity was much more profound than a simple name change. General process-based manufacturers in big, rust belt cities are generally stuck producing commodity parts. They usually compete on price against dozens of other vendors who are able to make the same products. General manufacturing can provide a good living in good times, but it’s a tough life in the 21st century.

Single-source providers of innovative products, on the other hand, do not earn customers by offering the lowest prices. Customers choose them because they can do a quality job of complex parts that most people just can’t handle. In this environment price is a secondary consideration. MRPC’s specialties are in silicone molding, two-material molding, and micro-molding. Its molding experience, combined with its commitment to innovation, means engineering and manufacturing services are on the leading edge of technology.

“During MRPC’s transition from a company that served a multitude of industries to an organization focused primarily on the medical and healthcare industries, we made many changes,” says Tom Hartmann, vice president of facilities management at MRPC. “These changes within the organization were a result of SWOT analysis, refining areas of strength, and rebuilding areas that needed improvement. Other tools included lean initiatives such as 5S, eliminating more than 90 years of accumulated clutter, and managing the business with the essentials.”

SWOT analysis is a time-tested analytical tool that’s based on a review of corporate capability, comparing the company’s strengths and weaknesses to the opportunities and threats in the business.

Effectiveness and efficiency

“Our goal is to improve the lives of our employees, customers, shareholders, those who are in need of healthcare, and the communities where MRPC is located,” says Hartmann. “Profitability is accomplished with this in mind and by providing an affordable product of the highest quality to our customers. The growth in the medical markets is constantly pushing manufacturers to develop processes that are reliable and repeatable. Working with our suppliers, MRPC has engaged equipment manufacturers to accept the challenge and provide enhancements that allow us to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”
MRPC has added 40 new employees in the past 18 months, bringing the total to 120.

Corporate citizenship

“Safety is a continuous journey, and MRPC places great emphasis on it,” says Hartmann. “The company takes pride in our safety record, employee-driven safety committee, and a ‘mod’ level that has workers’ compensation providers knocking on our door wanting to do business with us. Ecology is a resource that we cannot take for granted. MRPC makes every effort to remain in compliance with all local, state, national, and international regulations. We exceed regulations whenever possible.”

J. Stanton McGroarty, CMfgE, CMRP, is senior technical editor of Plant Services. He was formerly consulting manager for Strategic Asset Management International (SAMI), where he focused on project management and training for manufacturing, maintenance and reliability engineering. He has more than 30 years of manufacturing and maintenance experience in the automotive, defense, consumer products and process manufacturing industries. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Detroit Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in management from Central Michigan University. He can be reached at [email protected] or check out his .

Best practices

Tom Hartmann offers his favorite practices for safety, ecology, and goal-setting. “For safety, know the rules,” he says. “Ignorance of law and codes is not acceptable. The financial and legal ramifications can be disastrous to any company, regardless of size. Train your employees and make them part of your safety program and initiatives. Empower the employee to be the solution and hold them accountable for transgressions.”

Regarding ecology, this planet supports life. “Our lives,” says Hartmann. “If we do not treat our ecosystems with respect and take measures to improve our planet’s environment none of us survive. For goal-setting, understand your business by knowing your strengths and weaknesses and take measures to correct the deficiencies. Develop a matrix to monitor those metrics that will help you improve and grow your business. Take action where needed. Data on a report filed in a drawer is wasted time and money.”

A successful business is not a destination, explains Hartmann. “It is a journey,” he says. “Do not become complacent with your accomplishments, but rather continue to raise the bar, take joy in your successes, and look forward to the next challenge.”

Read Stanton McGroarty's monthly column, Plant Profile.

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