Canadian Plastics

Internet sites and business issues relevant to Canadian processors and moldmakers (April 01, 2000)

By Cindy Macdonald, Associate Editor   

SECRETS OF MANUFACTURING REVEALEDIt's not quite the Caramilk secret, but I found out how M&Ms are made at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers "Manufacturing is Cool" web site (1). Have all the teen...


It’s not quite the Caramilk secret, but I found out how M&Ms are made at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers “Manufacturing is Cool” web site (1). Have all the teenagers you know check this one out. Manufacturing is Cool provides information and insights about the career possibilities in the manufacturing sector. Engineering skills tests, virtual tours and contests will entice younger visitors, but there’s also information for parents and counselors about scholarships, curriculum resources, and college programs.

Unfortunately, the info for parents and counselors all pertains to the U.S.

Back to the M&Ms: Actually, the tour is pretty bland, but the Bic pens tour shows more of what employees do, and even describes injection molding. There aren’t any tours specific to plastics processing operations or mold shops on the list though. Does anyone have a virtual tour of their plant prepared? Promoting career opportunities in plastics and moldmaking may be another use for it. Another neat feature of the site is the extensive list of links to sites that offer games, puzzles and quizzes for kids of all ages.




Your intrepid Web explorer has done another comparison of various Web sites. This time I visited used machinery marketplace or auction sites in search of molding and extrusion equipment, and metalworking equipment.

Most of the auction/marketplace sites provide end-to-end services that relate to the sale, such as financing, shipping, installation and servicing. Another common feature is automated e-mail notification of bid status if you are involved in bidding for an item. VerticalNet (2) and iMark (3) also offer the option of having their organization search for an item if you don’t find it on the site.

VerticalNet provides vertical communities for various industries, including manufacturing and metalworking, and food and packaging, but none for plastics. Each community has its own site, with plenty of content but there was little in the way of used equipment on the machinery and metalworking site.

iMark is much more of a marketplace, with extensive listings for metalworking equipment (481 machining centres, and 20 EDM machines) and a few for molding and extruding equipment. This site has an excellent demo and is a good example of the industrial marketplace style. (4) is a recent start-up that is strong in listings for machine tools and manufacturing equipment. It had 486 vertical machining centres for sale when I visited.

Plastics Equipment Auction (5) is not as glamorous as some of these other sites, but it is dedicated to machinery for our industry.

Also strong in plastics listings, (6) had 18 machines listed under “injection molding machines, granulators and blow molding machines”, and 504 vertical machining centres.

I stopped briefly at, but found out that it covers consumer goods, not industrial machinery. If you want a laptop computer or a Pokemon toy though…








A good resource for keeping an eye on European affairs is Trhubnet. This internet hub covers packaging, printing and plastics industries, including news and press releases, company information, machinery for sale, forums, legislation and web resources.

On the topic of international sites, I noticed during this month’s research how similar all Internet sites look. There are few visual clues to a company’s origins. Web pages produced in Germany look remarkably similar to those produced in France or in Canada.

It seems that the web browser interface is having a homogenizing influence on business communications. Web browsers (such as Explorer and Netscape) are being used for more than just accessing the World Wide Web; they are now cropping up as an interface with machine control programs due to their ubiquitous presence on PCs and familiarity to users.

There are certainly benefits to a global, standard interface for business communications, but let’s not lose individuality and personality along the way.



There’s a site for everyone on the Internet. Last month I was told about a site dedicated to information for manufacturer’s representatives. The Manufacturers Representatives Education Research Foundation (MRERF) site (9) presents training resources geared specifically to multiple-line selling; a searchable database of representatives; and some free publications. The freebies include:

Evaluation of prospective rep and principal

Guidelines to planning a business year

Guidelines to negotiations between representative and principal

Sample contract



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