Safety in Rotomolding

Safety in Rotomolding presents some unique challenges. From heat stress to head injuries there are multiple opportunities to go out on “injured reserve” as they say in the big leagues. SCI is looking at ways to prevent injuries through training and engineering solutions as opposed to simply providing the appropriate PPE.

Safety Platform

Platform around RS3000 shuttle machine

New hires are walked through a checklist of safety related items which includes safety training on the band saw. Machine platforms are also constructed to provide maximum safety features. With the purchase of our new Ferry RS3000 shuttle machine, we had the opportunity to design a state of the art platform that completely surrounds the arm and hydraulically retracts when the tools are loaded and the arm is ready to move into the oven. The 2 piece platform, with a full safety rail, completely surrounds the grid on the straight arm.

Safety Platform

Safety Platform completely surrounding grid

There is also a fixed portion on the platform to hold the resin which can be lifted into position with a forklift. Calibrated scale and operator controls complete the setup reducing operator fatigue as much as possible. A gantry hoist surrounds the platform to assist in the demolding process.

SCI is approaching one year without a recordable injury making rotational molding a safer job (not to mention a lot more fun) than having a position on a major league sports team.

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Spring Ahead!

Spring AheadMany of you are thinking of the upcoming spring/summer months and all the things you want to do:  swimming, biking, camping, fishing…  Our summer months get busy and we need to enjoy every minute of the beautiful weather we get.  Before you know it, the cold winter months will be upon us again.

Stern Companies is here to help you get out and enjoy the sunshine just a bit more!  We are a single source provider of all polymer components.  Meaning you can come to us with any type of rubber or plastic part and we will work on sourcing that part or parts for you in one easy process.  We are able to review your project and help determine the best manufacturing process for your part.  Our job is to make sure we recommend the process that makes the most sense based on a number of criteria such as volume, material, environment, etc.  Then, once you are ready to get started, we will work with you on your project from beginning to end.  No hassles or worries.  We will manage it all!  The industries we have helped serve throughout the years have included: Agriculture, Construction, Recreational, Marine, Waterworks and Waste just to name a few.

We can also help you consolidate your current supply base.  This process can help drive improvements in pricing by reducing transaction costs and other reductions such as unnecessary logistics and warehousing expenses.  Businesses also see increased focus on product development, quality and overall service responsiveness.  By consolidating your current vendors, we can save you time and money by not having such a huge vendor list to manage.  We can even work with your current suppliers during the “switch” to make things go seamless as possible.

So go on, hit the lake a bit earlier this season to catch that “big one” and let us handle your next polymer project.  Contact us today!

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Kaizen 改善

Pic_LogoKaizen, also known as continuous improvement, is an approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality.  The word Kaizen translated from Japanese simply means “good change”.  And we are making good changes here at Stern Companies!

By observing continuous improvement best practices, companies can figure out ways to continue business as usual while analyzing improvement opportunities along the way.  That is exactly what we’re doing here at Stern Companies using the A3 Problem Solving process.  A3 is a problem solving approach, a communication tool for workers to report problems and improvement suggestions to management.  In using this process, our employees are engaged in collaborative, in-depth problem-solving.

Employees at Stern will discuss amongst each other what project to devote time and effort to.  Once they come up with a process or workflow they feel would most benefit some improvement, they will form a team to brainstorm ideas and a series of steps to begin the improvement process.  Once all the opportunities for improvement have been identified and mapped out for review, the team works together to create a new and improved process.  The new process is communicated to everyone who is impacted with the new improvement approach.

Continuous improvement has become second nature here at Stern Companies.  We have created an environment where employees take ownership and pride for the improvements they have implemented within the company.

Continuous improvement is a great way for companies to identify opportunities and integrate improvements into the day-to-day workings of the company.   The Kaizen philosophy is to “do it better, make it better, improve it even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do.”  That’s a philosophy Stern Companies is living by!

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What is Stern Companies Selling?

ServiceStern Companies is not here just to sell you a rubber or plastic part.  There are many sources that can develop and produce polymer components of any kind for you.  We are here to sell you our Service.  Stern Companies provides a service that not only helps you, but helps your company grow in the direction you need it to.  We can make your sourcing for the right part at the right price easier for you and your company.  We take the worry away from “how are we going to get this part produced”, we provide the convenience of us sourcing your product and delivering the part you’re needing.

Stern Companies manages a growing network of “Stern Certified Vendors”, both domestic and international, with capabilities in all plastic and rubber manufacturing processes.  We provide to our customers, the “service” of being the one vendor they can go to and rely on to provide the product they are looking for.  We work as a team here at Stern, we take pride in getting our customers questions answered as quickly as possible.  We know the power of good communications.

We are even able to go a step further and manage your current supply base while working with you to source new suppliers when needed.  Stern has years of experience in assisting customers with reducing their vendor base, creating benefits in:

  • Purchasing Costs
  • Quality and Performance
  • Agility
  • Relationship Management

And another, if not the most important service we offer, is our quality assurance.  With our quality assurance expertise and experience, we can save you possible down time and money by filtering out quality issues before you receive your product.

We take the time to carefully listen to our customers and understand their needs and wants.  We have the resources to solve any issues when it comes to sourcing and producing a polymer part.

Contact us today and learn what we can offer you!

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NSSR Speed Run Series

We are excited for winter here at Stern Companies!  SCI is going into their second season of sponsoring the Johnson/Cleary Race Team participating in the NSSR (National Straightline Snowmobile Racing) organization taking place on Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes this winter.  NSSR is a professional snowmobile racing organization that specializes in 1000’ speed runs.  These speed runs take place on the frozen lakes during the months of January and February.  There are several different classes that run in these races.  It all depends on weights, engine size, and ages of the snowmobiles.

The NSSR Speed Run Series officially began in 1986.  Many snowmobile manufacturers would put their  sleds in a race to show off their new stock production sled, where they were in hopes to capture a world record speed.  The first world record speed at the 1000 ft. length was clocked in at 168 mph.  Today, there are over 50 classes that hold world record speeds.   The fastest pass zooming in at 183.439 mph.   To learn more about the history of the NSSR series, check out the following link here.

There are 5 to 6 races planned during the two month time-frame.  All races are on a 1000 foot shaved ice track with a minimum of 2000 feet of shaved shutdown to slow the sleds down after reaching optimum speeds.  All races are planned to be on a Saturday with Sunday being the “backup” day if needed.  There is a point system for each race.  At the end of the year, the team with the most points takes home the points championship and trophy for their class.

IMG_4547SCI is also excited to showcase their new logo in support of the NSSR Racing Team.  We’ve got high hopes of continued success with this crew taking on the frozen lakes this year.  Good luck to all the racers and be safe!

If you’re interested in taking in a race or two this winter, check out the 2016 Race Schedule.

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Cause-Driven Competition

The Reason for the Season - Giving!

The Reason for the Season – Giving!

Stern Companies Inc. and its employees have embraced the spirit of the holidays by raising more than $6K through the course of the year for The Salvation Army.

SCI employees enjoyed a friendly competition over the past two weeks raising money and collecting non-perishable food items for the local food shelf here in the Brainerd Lakes Area.  Between the two facilities we collected a total of $903.00 and 167 pounds of food over a two week span.  Our employees really stepped up to the challenge and we can definitely say there is no Scrooge to be had here.  There was a winner named, but in reality, we all felt like winners knowing we are helping so many people in our local area this holiday season.

And what’s even better, over the course of the year our employees were given the opportunity to contribute through payroll deduction and were encouraged to give through a dollar for dollar match by the company.  With that, we were able to donate $6,125.50 for The Salvation Army.    A huge thank you to all of our employees for their generous donations throughout the year!

Also, our thanks go out to The Salvation Army for the service they provide the community.  Merry Christmas to all!  We wish love, laughter, joy and giving to all this holiday season!

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‘Tis the Season of Giving

Canva 1With the holiday season upon us, almost everyone is touched by a nonprofit organization in one way or another.  Hearing the Salvation Army bell ring, Toys for Tots, or the Make a Wish Foundation by helping a child’s dream come true, the list goes on and on of the wonderful organizations out there that are here to help children and families in a time of need.  We can all make a difference when giving the gift of time or money this holiday season.  Giving is what it’s all about!

There are many ways to give this season.  Sometimes you need to think outside the box when coming up with what to give.  If you’re budget does not allow for a donation, contact your local charity organizations and ask for ways you can help.  Anything you are able to provide will make a difference in someones life.  And that’s what matters most.  When we all come together, we can make a change.  The holidays are a great time to get involved and give back to others.

Stern Companies along with our employees are bringing together the spirit of Christmas – Giving.  We have been helping the local Salvation Army with their needs throughout the past year.  This holiday season we are taking it a step further by conducting a food drive competition between our two facilities.  We are challenging each facility to bring in the most pounds of canned, non-perishable goods to donate over the holiday season.  We are also working with the Salvation Army to make a family’s Christmas just a little brighter with gifts and food for Christmas Day.

Are you buying or giving this holiday season?  We would like to challenge you to give whenever possible and encourage you to give more in the year ahead.  No matter what you do or how you do it, we hope giving is included in your holiday plans this year.

Merry Christmas!  All of us here at SCI wish you a very Joyous and Happy Holiday Season!

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What is Plastic Rotational Molding?

Rotomolding Canva2Rotational molding is a process for manufacturing hollow plastic products.  The process consists of introducing a known amount of plastic (in powder, granular, or liquid form) poured into a hollow, shell-like mold.  The mold is rotated about on two principal axes at relatively low speeds as it is heated so that as the plastic melts it adheres to the mold surface.  The mold rotation will continue during the cooling phase as well so that the plastic retains the desired shape as it solidifies.  Once the mold has cooled, the part can be “demolded” and any secondary work such as trimming/assembling can take place.

Rotational Molding has several benefits including the ability to produce thicker walled parts than blow or injection molding by simply increasing the amount of resin introduced to the mold. Another advantage of rotational molding is the molds/tools are much more economical to produce than blow or injection mold tooling. One disadvantage of rotational molding is the time necessary to produce parts which lends itself to components with lower estimated annual units (EAU’s).

Stern Companies Incorporated (SCI) produces rotationally molded plastic products in our 50,000 sq. ft. production facility located in Brainerd, MN.  We currently run four Ferry RotoSpeed machines in our facility 5 days a week / 24 hours a day.  Industries we support are in the agriculture, recreational, marine, waterworks, snow removal, as well as a variety of other industries.  We have engineers on staff to help answer questions you may have regarding your roto-molded project.

SCI has a full assembly shop as well with the ability to procure and assemble components to customer specifications.  SCI is ISO 9001 certified and has a strong supplier base providing customers with quality product, delivered on time, at the lowest achievable cost.  Contact us today and let us help you with your next rotationally molded project!

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Supply Base Consolidation

Consolidating your supply base can be a very rewarding process.  Businesses can realize a competitive advantage by relying on fewer approved suppliers, therefore, many companies are looking for ways to consolidate.  The consolidation process can help drive improvements in pricing by reducing transaction costs and other reductions such as unnecessary logistics and warehousing expenses.  Businesses see increased focus on product development, quality and overall service responsiveness.  These are just a few benefits when companies start implementing supply base consolidation.

At Stern Companies, we take pride in and promote our ability to successfully consolidate the supply base of our current as well as our new customers.  Rather than managing dozens of vendor relationships, our customers can narrow their supply base and turn that task over to us.  Done correctly, vendor consolidation provides immediate benefits to their organizations.

Purchasing ModelHow does the consolidation process work with SCI?  We work with several vendors in the polymer world representing many different processes.  We start by analyzing the smoothest transition and with our customer’s involvement, consolidate their current part(s) under our management.  If it is determined that the part(s) need to be re-sourced, our longstanding relationships with many ISO certified manufacturers allow us to confidently find a suitable new supplier.  Let us help with your supplier consolidation, as we have for so many others through the years.

Stern is a single source of supply for all polymer components.  When you reduce your supply base, you lay the groundwork for reducing the costs to run it.  Contact us today and let us help you with your supply base consolidation efforts.

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A Celebration of Workers

Labor Day SCILabor Day, the first Monday in September, is an annual celebration of workers and their achievements.  To many Americans, Labor Day marks the end of summer, one last chance to relax and enjoy a day off with family and friends.

The first Labor Day was observed in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882.  It was a tribute to working men and women.  In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making Labor Day a national holiday.  Americans celebrated the first Labor Day holiday with a parade, picnics and fireworks.  Today, the traditions continue with picnics, backyard barbecues or just some good rest and relaxation.

This year Stern Companies celebrated 20 years in business.  Throughout the years, Stern has built strong relationships.  SCI would like to take this time to thank the many individuals we get the privilege to work with each and every day.  Our employees, vendors and customers that have made our company who we are today – we can’t thank you enough for all the hard work and dedication that you have given to Stern Companies.  We value all of you and look forward to continuing our relationships.

This Labor Day, remember to take some time and pay tribute to the workers who have made America what it is today.  Have a Safe and Happy Labor Day!

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