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Panel Processing Awarded Over $10k to Increase Employees Skills

Trainee, Cory Heath
Trainee, Cory Heath

For over 40 years, 100% employee owned Panel Processing has been a fixture in the Coldwater community. They are a wood processing company servicing the retail store fixture market offering a variety of custom manufactured, wood store fixture products. With the expansion of online stores in recent years, the retail environment has become very competitive, so Panel Processing has realized the need to do more with less in order to survive the recent economic downturn. The key to their success has been their loyal "employee owners" and ensuring their training needs are met.

Panel Processing worked with Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium to secure 2017 Skilled Trade Training Funds in the amount of $10,306, which they used to train 11 employees. The training included Heian CNC Router Maintenance and Troubleshooting training and Homag Edgebander Operation and Preventative Maintenance and Troubleshooting training. Those receiving the training were Panel’s most skilled and hardest to fill positions. As one of the larger employers in the region, Panel Processing says it’s vital that they have skilled workers to run their Machine Centers, and finding and developing local talent is an excellent way to accomplish this.   

Panel Processing has survived through some rough economic times, and they continue to search for new ways to remain competitive against much larger companies and maintain their growth. The training provided by the STTF award will help avert layoffs, and at the same time, increase individual worker skills and potentially increase wages.

“Instead of sending our maintenance personnel to Stiles Machinery for classes, we had the instructors conduct training at our site, on our equipment. This gave our people hands-on experience troubleshooting, making adjustments, and gaining a thorough understanding of how the machines were intended to operate. It was a very open forum, with a great exchange of ideas and information,” reported Panel Processing Industrial Engineer, Bob Fitch.

Bob continued, “The instructors covered a lot of topics that were brought up by our people through their daily experiences and our guys came away with a much better understanding of the equipment. The hands-on demonstrations also allowed our guys to get more comfortable with one another and build team comradery.”

“The [Homag Edgebander] class went through each section of the edge bander from start to finish, giving me a much better understanding of what each part of the machine is supposed to do,” said trainee Cory Heath. “By the end of day one, I was making a list of areas that needed to be addressed on our machine to make it run more efficient. With what I learned through this training, I can better troubleshoot problems more directly.”

“[The Heian Training] class was very informative, providing extensive information on maintaining this equipment,” said trainee Randy Stebelton. “I learned procedures that I did not even know existed that will provide a more reliable machine for a longer period of time. With this new knowledge, I will be able to provide more in-house service to the equipment, thus lowering the cost of having a technician provide the same service. Down-time should be reduced with the proper preventative maintenance procedures being performed.”

Created on Wednesday, October 11, 2017