Pyramid People: Meet KD – Kaivalya Shah, Industrial Engineer at Pyramid Plastics
Kaivalya Shah (known as KD by friends and coworkers) began his career in manufacturing when he was a young man in India, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He says he always knew he would work in this industry.
“Working in manufacturing was always the goal,” he says, adding that he was inspired by the challenges and skills required to bring a product from an idea in someone’s mind to reality. “You can see the result of your hard work; and it is endless. You can make anything, from a small toy to mass producing airplanes. You can say, ‘I made that!’”
When he arrived in the United States, KD began working at a molding company in Alabama. While there, he worked as a research assistant, focusing on such things as Lean/continuous improvement training for the plant, inventory management systems, SMED (quick changeovers), cost reduction through continuous improvements, standardization of molds, implementation of a CMMS system for maintenance, and 5S training and projects. At the same time, he attended Auburn University to complete his master’s degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. He then earned a certificate as a Six
Sigma black belt.
“I gained a lot of practical knowledge from my research assistantship in Alabama and in 2019, when I started working at Pyramid Plastics, the support from the management team boosted my experience. The culture at Pyramid Plastics is to grow together,” he says. And grow he did. While he joined the Pyramid Plastics team to lead the engineering department his duties have expanded over the last three years. “My responsibilities include layouts, specifying the types of molding machines needed, conducting feasibility of parts, making sure parts are up to specifications, ensuring that the cost of manufacturing the part is in line, and even account management to provide customer support and make sure that every project is launched correctly.
“By ensuring good project launch, I help my team, our suppliers, and our customers to grow,” he adds, explaining that helping to lower manufacturing costs help Pyramid’s sales team achieve higher closing rates; and by ensuring that the layout and the machines are to spec, he helps the company to be more efficient on the shop floor. KD says these are the kinds of challenges he thrives on. “Finding ways to overcome challenges is probably my favorite aspect of my role here,” he explains. “The challenges help keep the mind sharp and overcoming them helps a person to grow.”
One challenge everyone in manufacturing can relate to is the way the Covid-19 pandemic affected the day-to-day operations and supply chain. KD says Pyramid was not as affected as some companies because they were deemed an essential business for manufacturing medical devices. However, supply chain issues threw a few bumps into the processing arena. “Many of our suppliers’ plants shut down. This created a lot of problems for our customers. Since we were not able to get material to make their product, their production was in danger,” he says. “From my role, I helped by looking at the product, its usage and the properties of the materials needed to mold them. Then, I helped source new, suitable materials which were available to ensure that our customers’ lines kept running.”
He adds that Covid raised the bar on lead-times because Pyramid had to find ways to turn molding projects around more quickly. “A few manufacturing companies were severely impacted and had to shut down, leaving their customers in a serious position. We took on multiple new customers and had one day lead times on sampling their molds once everything was in order. This was achieved through perfect planning, engineering, and teamwork from all the departments.”
For KD, Pyramid’s culture, being a family-owned business, helped retain employees even during the pandemic. “Because of that, and because our team is very versatile when it comes to overcoming restrictions and challenges, it gave us an edge over our competition and provided more business.”