Taking Advantage of New Technologies – a MINNCOR Case Study

By Dale Peterson, Vice President of Business Development, MINNCOR and Brad Barondeau, Business Development Manager, 3M

“MINNCOR leaped headfirst into adapting manufacturing processes and procedures with the desire to improve customer service, provide added value and with the goal of streamlining our operations,” says John Galzki, Industry Director, Minnesota Correctional Industries (MINNCOR).

This comment fits in nicely with MINNCOR’s mission statement, which reads:
MINNCOR Industries strives to provide a safe working environment within the prison system and successfully transition off enders into the community at no cost to taxpayers. MINNCOR’s mission is to be a customer-driven business that contributes to a safer Minnesota by providing:

• Sound management that ensures financial self-sufficiency
• Delivery of quality products on time to build a loyal customer base
• Efficient reduction of inmate idleness
• Work skills training that prepares the offender for release

“Adapting 21st century technology to our processes is critical to our customer-driven business model,” says Galzki. “Our customers demand quality products and services at a competitive price, and they want the fastest turn-around and delivery time possible.”

As an example, MINNCOR turned to digital methods of production and managing information. In particular, license plates and vehicle validation tabs are now produced digitally at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Rush City. One million pairs of license plates were produced in an 11-month period with waste being reduced from a high of 15 percent to less than 2 percent. In similar fashion, 13.5 million vehicle validation tabs were produced, while incurring less than 1 percent waste.

Digital production processes enable information to flow easily. Orders for license plates and tabs are sent and received electronically, the registration documents are produced digitally, and electronic production reports are generated. Furthermore, “We adopted a digital inventory management system that not only allows MINNCOR to track inventory, but also helps our customer, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Division of Vehicle Services (DVS), to track the inventory of finished plates around the state,” Galzki says. “We can anticipate when DVS will need plates, how many they need, and what types of plates need to be replenished.”

The inventory management system keeps a history of license plate sales that helps establish sales trends and identifies how quickly or slowly a particular plate type is moving. For example, bus and moped license plates are sold infrequently and, as a result of this information, MINNCOR may send just a few of these plate types to a small DVS office rather than sending a full box of plates that may take well over a year to sell. DVS is able to monitor inventory of finished license plates around Minnesota through the inventory management system. MINNCOR is then able to schedule deliveries based on this information and incorporates even more efficiency by delivering these orders on a regional basis.

Due to the technological adaptations MINNCOR has made, production time has improved by eliminating process steps such as embossing, roll-coating, and the drying/curing of plates. Turn-around time has also improved significantly, and production can now take place “on-demand.” Inventory management is an integral part of MINNCOR’s processes and has increased efficiency while reducing costs for both MINNCOR and DVS.

Implementing these changes, impressive as they are, would not have been possible without one key success factor: communication. “The working relationship between MINNCOR, DVS, and our contract vendor 3M is outstanding. The key to success in our transition was frequent, candid communication to overcome project obstacles. This communication is ongoing and critical to our continued success,” says Galzki.

The “MINNCOR model” includes new technology, cost savings, improved efficiency, increased service for the public, and outstanding cooperation and communication with stakeholders. The MINNCOR model is an impressive one indeed.

For more information about MINNCOR’s digital production process, please contact John Galzki, Industry Director, MINNCOR at 651-361-7500.