College, APICS Partnership Helps Montco Companies Strengthen Bottom Line

by Alana J. Mauger

Collegeville-based Packaging Progressions, Inc. took a multi-faceted approach to improving the way it handles inventory. After implementing a new ERP system, the company partnered with Montgomery County Community College and APICS – the Association for Operations Management – to help employees further develop their skills in inventory and vendor management.

In just under two years, that approach has made a significant impact. According company President Dante Pietrinferni, Packaging Progressions reduced the cost of managing its inventory by 23 percent, while increasing accuracy by 66 percent and reducing customer lead times by 72 percent.

Packaging Progressions designs and manufactures a full line of customized stainless steel packaging and processing equipment for food industry clients in more than 10 countries. It also maintains a parts department, and provides its customers with a full range of interleaving materials and consumables – making efficient inventory management a crucial part of its business model.

Pietrinferni and three of his employees took courses in APICS’ Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) program. The certificate program is comprised of five modules that help employees understand and evaluate production and inventory activities within a company’s global operations.

“We’re looking at a group of people who already know what they’re doing, but don’t necessarily have a formalized background in inventory management,” said Pietrinferni. “Additional training is always a good thing, because the more we know, the more we start thinking about ways to do things better.”

But, as Pietrinferni points out, the CPIM curriculum has value for upper management employees as well.

“We touched on this stuff when I was in college, but  never drilled down to this level. I had to go through [the courses] myself to understand how  best to implement the material,” he said.

In what Pietrinferni calls a “side benefit,” the CPIM courses also helped them to better understand and grow into the company’s new ERP system.

“We were trained on how to use the system, but not necessarily on the mechanics behind the scenes,” shared Ed Groff, shop supervisor. “The [APICS] courses helped me to better understand the terms I was reading in system reports. They connect to something I’m already doing at work.”

For Purchasing Agent Jesse Flower, the CPIM program helped him develop better communication with the company’s vendors.

“We’re in the middle of the supply chain, so it’s important to open the lines of communication,” he explained. “The [CPIM] concepts are easy to discuss with vendors. We explained what we’re doing and what we need from them. Vendors have been very receptive. It’s a win-win.”

The College is partnering with the Philadelphia Area Network (PAN) of APICS to offer two classes at the Metroplex in Plymouth Meeting this fall. The 30-hour Basics of Supply Chain Management course will be held Mondays Sept. 24-Nov. 26 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The 24-hour Master Planning of Resources course will be held Tuesdays Sept. 25-Nov. 13 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

While the target audience for APICS training has traditionally been manufacturing and supply chain management, it is also applicable to service industries and is growing in popularity among health care professionals.

To learn more about APICS training through the College’s Center for Workforce Development, visit www.mc3.edu/workforceDevelopment/programs/cpim.aspx or contact Dr. Brook Hunt at 215-641-6331 or bhunt@mc3.edu or visit or visit www3.mc3.edu/cpim.

Pictured at Packaging Progressions, Inc. are (from left) Lee Zimmerman, vice president of marketing, PAN APICS; Ed Groff, shop supervisor, Packaging Progressions; Charles Corallo, manger of manufacturing operations, Packaging Progressions; Dante Pietrinferni, president, Packaging Progressions; Jesse Flower, purchasing agent, Packaging Progressions; and Dr. Brook Hunt, Director, Center for Workforce. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

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