Petoskey Plastics

Success with The Center

PETOSKEY PLASTICS: Restructuring the Plant Floor to Eliminate Overtime

Our comprehensive Lean Champion training proved to be valuable for implementing our associate’s suggested improvements to our manufacturing process. The small group of companies in the class helped facilitate the learning process. We bonded easily, and sharing ideas and information became as normal as breathing. Not only was the training invaluable – it was fun, too!
-- Allan Hopkins, Plant Manager

Petoskey Plastics ( began operations on April 1, 1970, with only five employees and one machine that converted plastic film into plastic bags. Since then, they have grown into a multi-state operation with more than 5,000 customers and 500 employees – 190 of whom work at their Petoskey, Mich., location. Now an innovator in the manufacturing and recycling of blown plastic film, bags and resin, Petoskey Plastics’ core competencies are can liners and trash bags made with 70 percent post-consumer recycled material. Complete with in-house design capabilities for specialized products, Petoskey Plastics’ key markets include automotive, industrial, institutional, retail, construction and home improvement.


Following an employee’s suggestion, the management team at Petoskey Plastics identified an opportunity to restructure the production floor. The current system had one operator per two extrusion lines (six in all) with one lead technician on each shift. Operators were responsible for all aspects of production on those two lines, from quality control to job changes, with the lead technician assisting where the need was the greatest. However, challenges arose when they lost an operator and had to fill the vacancy with overtime from the opposite shift. Additionally, training a new operator would take approximately nine months to complete.


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Petoskey Plastics is involved with the Lean Learning Consortium, a group of northern Michigan manufacturers dedicated to sharing lean best practices. Through this group, Plant Manager Allan Hopkins learned about the Lean Manufacturing Champion certification course at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – Northern Lower (The Center-Northern Lower), which could help Petoskey Plastics make much-needed improvements to their production floor.

Focal points of this lean project included shortening the required training period, exposing the new operator to all extrusion lines and reducing overtime and its associated costs when there is a vacancy on the production floor. A3 Problem Solving tools and Value Stream Mapping were key to reorganizing the floor, allowing the staff to see the breakdown of technical tasks, quality tasks and shared tasks. “The visual nature of the A3 was so crucial,” said Hopkins.

As a result of this reorganization, workers are now divided into two groups on the production floor: a technician group and a quality group. When a vacancy occurs, one team of three operators (plus the trainee) performs all technical tasks on all extrusion lines. The second team, meanwhile, performs all quality tasks. As a result, the new hire is trained on all 10 extrusion lines by three technician operators, ultimately reducing the training time needed and eliminating overtime expenses.


  • $187,180 in overtime savings due to the new training process and re-working of production floor operation
  • 19% reduction in turnover in the operator trainee position
  • The synergy created by this lean endeavor resulted in the entire manufacturing operation finishing the year 3.5% under budget