Tag Archives: lean manufacturing

Universal Polymer & Rubber: Examining our Acquisition Strategy

Who Did We Recently Acquire?

UP&R is proud to announce that we have just completed our fifth overall acquisition, and third in the last four years. Our continuous acquisition strategy has cemented our position as one of the largest non-mixing polymer fabricators in the United States. At UPR, we are always actively looking for additional polymer parts manufacturers that fit our perpetual approach.

Who did we acquire this time? Gasko Fabricated Products of Medina, OH! Gasko is a high-volume, die-cutting converter of polymer and hybrid materials for gaskets, seals, and diaphragms. Such modules are used for power take-off and transmission, and engine management/fuel delivery system applications in the automotive, marine, and outdoor power equipment markets.

Over time, the Medina facility will transition to our Tallmadge, OH facility, attaining synergies, economies, and shared die-cut expertise.

John Zielinski, our Executive Vice President, commented, “Customers and prospects have been asking for a wider variety in our converting, and through this acquisition, we will now be able to provide for the market’s need.”

What Sets Us Apart from the Competition

 With about two handfuls of competitors within a 50-mile radius, we unremittingly set our self apart from the many other polymer companies in Northeast Ohio. Acquisition numbers from our wide-range of capabilities allow us to achieve a high-level stature. Our competitors include other rubber molders who tackle tarp straps, but similar manufacturers have limited capabilities that lead to our success as a business. At UPR, we have four different types of tarp straps including our own brands, and multiple layers to each brand.

Through our assortment of brands comes a fluctuation in price point too. Businesses, both small and large, will be able to find an answer that fits their needs.

Additional competitors include extrusion and molding, but the competition only supports one focal point – either, or – not both. Here, at Universal Polymer, we have the support to focus on rubber molding, rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions, tarp straps and gaskets, because of the diversity of our qualified, in-house, team experts. We are a one-stop-shop for all of your polymer solutions for the transportation and cargo control market, construction and pipe manufacturers market, automotive OE supply chain as a Tier II and Tier III, and the general industrial market that comprises several well-known global manufacturers.

Our one-stop-shop doesn’t only serve the end product of a tarp strap, a pipe gasket, window gasket, tire or more. When we say everything is done in-house, we mean it. From die-cutting to fabrication, both your polymers and rubbers start and end with us. UPR beats out the multiple stops that you would have to take to buy extrusions from one manufacturer and your required molded parts from another.

As a robust and elite manufacturer, there’s no worry, no wasted downtime, no hassle. All of our different parts are preplanned, engineered, designed, and already taken care of with you in mind. Every piece you need already fits perfectly together. With UP&R, you get all of the aspects of a small business manufacturer with the quality of a big manufacturer, meaning all of your bases–quality AND quantity, are covered “under one roof.”

With the Gasko acquisition, we continue to supply and have increased supplies for the automotive, marine, and outdoor power equipment industries, plus further industrial markets too.

Immediate customer-facing benefits include:

  • Both locations, Medina and Tallmadge, have historically specialized in fast turn-around, high-mix, high volume production, making them highly complementary. Plans include the move of Medina’s manufacturing into our Tallmadge location, an IATF-16949 and ISO-9001 certified production facility.
  • A Stronger Product Line for Customers – The Gasko product line, when added to our already broad product line, will enhance the total basket of goods that UP&R offers to our current customer base, and further, to market.
  • Enhanced Capabilities – While UP&R and Gasko have shared similar historical focus’, each excels in specific, but complementary areas. We look to offer Gasko customers a more full range of offerings – molded and extruded rubber parts, and die-cut parts, from IATF16949 certified facilities – that will provide vendor consolidation opportunities in a lean manufacturing world.

Our Ideology at UP&R

Because we put continuous improvement into our day-to-day, we get better each day. Started in 1970, we have continuously operated since inception. In 2018, our staff is proud to say that we are wiser today then we were just yesterday. And with additional resources now onboard, we’ll be able to continue forward with our successful business model.

Today, UPR stands ready to help your company compete and grow. At UP&R, we are committed to providing you first-rate service, timely service, and quality – every single time!

How We’ve Grown Since the Beginning

 Universal Polymer & Rubber started out as a tarp strap and pipe gasket manufacturer. We have remained true to our roots by building upon that initial foundation. Starting off as a smaller size business, we leveraged our expertise in pipe gasket development and manufacturing, to gain business in other interwoven product applications including window gaskets, tote gaskets, and tires. Currently, we have branched out into other markets, and through our market diversity and versatility, we have been able to learn from all markets to apply best practices from each market application to the next.

To this day, we remain one of the largest suppliers of pipe gaskets in North America.

Look for more information on the many industries that we cover by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. We update them almost daily!

For any questions on our wide array of gaskets, moldings, extrusions, or company in general, simply contact us today. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

UP&R is ISO/TS 16949 Certified

There are many reasons a company would want to be ISO/TS 16949 certified. ISO is the acronym for the International Standards Organization, which is a non-governmental, independent organization. The ISO publishes standards which lets consumers know they are getting the best products, services, and systems. The ISO also facilitates international trade, with consumers in all countries understanding they will get the best in quality and efficiently produced products, all while being made within specific safety standards. ISO certification is completely voluntary but has gained widely in popularity.

ISO certification

To date, the ISO has published over 21,000 standards in a variety of industries: from food safety to technology to agriculture and everything in between. ISO/TS 16949 is a technical specification which was developed to help aid with quality management systems. It allows for continuing improvement, while addressing defect prevention with the reduction of waste along the automotive industry supply chain. It is based on the ISO 9001 standard, and is a valuable certification to obtain if a company is looking to work with automobile manufacturers.

ISO/TS 16949 was drafted by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) along with a technical committee made up of ISO members. This technical specification was designed to bring about regulations that are country specific when dealing with quality management systems. The ISO/TS 16949 certification is valid for three years.

As a custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions, and rubber moldings, Universal Polymer and Rubber understands the importance of being ISO/TS 16949 certified. Not only does being certified streamline the manufacturing process, but it ensures any risks or problems are addressed during the process. A benefit of this is that customers are able to have a higher rate of satisfaction by knowing they are getting a quality produced piece that was manufactured using the best methods of safety and efficiency. By using more efficient processes, which translates into a lower cost for production, which in the end saves our customer’s money. For more information on the services we can offer you contact us.

Universal Polymer to Make the Most of the Six Sigma Methodology

Six Sigma is the information driven methodology through which business stakeholders and employees can work together to optimize all possible processes and activities related to manufacturing. It works by using quick and accurate identification of inefficiencies, and by improvement of domains that are not utilizing raw materials and resources to the best of their capabilities.  Carefully developed by great thinkers like Bill Smith, Mikel Harry, Shingo and Taguchi it is a popular manufacturing concept.

Six Sigma

The Core Concept of Six Sigma:

The basic goal of Six Sigma is to ensure cooperation and collaboration between the pillars of a business. Employees are trained in the art of using known statistical tools to eliminate waste and redundancy. The leaders ensure that these employees (who hold belts) have access to the data they need to reach their conclusions. The subject matter experts stand by to provide the employees with context assistance to help them understand the results of applying Six Sigma’s statistical framework to the company’s data.

The Advantages of Using Six Sigma:

  1. The first thing that Six Sigma does is it identifies the activities which directly impact production and the indirect processes that can be optimized later. Thus employees and workers find themselves focusing on tasks that automatically contribute to increased output of the manufacturing unit and improved productivity.
  2. Six Sigma is the basis of lean manufacturing. It uncovers resources – both people and raw material which can be diverted from indirect processes and allocated to high priority tasks that have a positive impact on the bottom-line of the company. Through Six Sigma’s ability to spot trends and patterns and manage inventory, instances of over ordering, over production and just in time orders are reduced.
  3. Six Sigma has two frameworks – The Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control which takes existing processes to ‘entitlement’ or perfection and Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify which ensures that processes that have been optimized are executed without glitches. This two pronged approach increases both market share and ultimate profitability.

Universal Polymer is all set to adopt the Six Sigma methodology in April. With its new task force of yellow belt Six Sigma experts it will follow international players like GE, DuPont, Bank of America and LG on the path of process and quality control to provide better service and pricing to its loyal clients.  For more information on our capabilities and Six Sigma process please contact us here.


Earth Day

In 1970 an event was first held to honor the Earth and draw attention and support for environmental protection.  This event is known today as Earth Day, and is celebrated around the world on April 22nd.  With over 190 countries participating and hosting their own events, it is one of the largest civic observances in the world.  In 2016 the global theme for Earth Day is “Trees For The Earth”  and the goal is over the next five years to plant 7.8 billion trees which will absorb excess and harmful carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and help to produce more oxygen.

Earth Day

This year on Earth Day over 150 world leaders are at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to sign the Paris Agreement.  The Paris Agreement is an arrangement between the world leaders to minimize greenhouse gases emissions.  The goal of the agreement is to reduce global warming and air pollution, and to improve the global climate.  The governments signing this agreement agree to reducing emissions, being transparent with the public on how they are doing to meet pollution reduction targets, and to support the efforts to reduce emissions in developing countries.  This is the first ever universally adopted, legally binding global climate deal, and is a big step forward in helping to protect the environment.

At Universal Polymer & Rubber we understand the importance of doing our part to help the environment.  One way we do that is to recycle our cured and excess rubber.  That rubber is ground up and used in other applications including asphalt and playgrounds to limit the harmful environmental effects of rubber.  Another way we try to help the environment is by using Six Sigma techniques to cut back on the excess waste we produce.  Using Six Sigma helps us improve the quality of our manufacturing process by minimizing the variability of our business and manufacturing processes.

As a manufacturer of rubber molded parts, rubber extruded parts and plastic extruded parts we recognize how important it is to limit pollution and waste that could harm the environment.  For more information on our capabilities and our policies to help the environment contact us here.

The Progression to Lean Manufacturing

If you were to travel back in time to manufacturing facilities from twenty years ago, you would notice the vast differences between those facilities and today’s facilities. Back then, each manufacturer focused on their own skills, and businesses had a larger amount of employees. Now, as we have seen even in our own business, small to medium sized manufacturers have a smaller group of employees who wear multiple hats within the business.

Since the recession hit in 2009, businesses, especially manufacturers, were forced to delegate business in a leaner manner. Lean manufacturing, as defined by the EPA, is “a business model and collection of tactical methods that emphasize eliminating non-value added activities while delivering quality products on time at least cost with greater efficiency.” Lean manufacturing, as stated in the article, has quickly been implemented by a plethora of industries in recent years.

Today, as more and more younger people are heading on different career paths and there is an increased use of automation and technology in the manufacturing process, businesses are learning to do more with less; we certainly have. However, we are hoping that as manufacturing continues to grow and come back, more college-educated people will see how other disciplines fit into the field and choose careers in the manufacturing world.

We know we aren’t the only ones faced with these challenges. Instead, lean manufacturing and the idea of working with you have has become widespread throughout the industry. Not only have businesses been forced into this survival mode because of the recent economy, but the introduction of new technologies has also lent itself to lean manufacturing. Together, we are all becoming more lean and adaptable to the quickly-changing industry.