The world of manufacturing and the soldier seem very far apart at first glance, but they both operate in uncertain and rapidly changing environments. The workforce goes to work, while the military goes to war. Thankfully, in the work environment, people do not often die, but companies can fail and people’s livelihoods can be destroyed through bad decisions.
Root cause failure analysis is a technology for objectively identifying all potential failure causes, and then objectively and systematically identifying the likelihood of each potential cause. This article describes how root cause failure analysis identified and eliminated recurring Apache main rotor blade rejections.
Here’s a test. Go into your parts storeroom and try to find a part that you can’t match to any piece of equipment in your plant. It’s a very rare plant that doesn’t have a box of parts that no one is quite sure exactly where they go, but the storeroom is keeping, “just in case.”
Incremental improvements are more or less feel good measures that say to management “there was a problem and we did this to solve it.” In reality, most continuous improvements have come from technology advancements, not from employee performance advancements. Has the continuous improvement mentality caused manufacturing to settle for mediocrity?
Baxter’s ability to work side by side with human counterparts has many people worried. What if he and his robotic buddies stop dancing and take over all the manufacturing jobs? What if people – and the wonderful human qualities they bring to manufacturing – become passé?
Variable speed control compressors can be an important component of an optimized system provided that it is properly applied. Variable speed is not, however, a simple panacea for instant compressed air system efficiency. The dynamics of the control must be understood and the machines properly sized.
The right thing to do is to enforce invention and innovation rights. These rights create jobs, economic benefits, and profits for our society, while our patent-piracy tolerance destroys the economic benefits we seek. If an American-made business model is destroyed by the cannibalistic capitalism of our marketplace, what products can survive to create jobs in our society?
Recently, Kiplinger released a forecast of its own, and it’s a direct and complex identification of both the good and the bad elements facing manufacturers and the economy as a whole. Notably, Kiplinger cites that, despite losing some steam this year, manufacturing will still power the economy and continues to outpace gains in the economy as a whole, both this year and next.
After years of advice, prodding, urging and incentivizing, manufacturers are greener than ever, and so are their pocket books. According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average retail price of electricity for industrial customers has risen steadily from 5.05 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2001 to 6.82 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011.
Perhaps one of the most significant contributions the Internet has made to our daily lives is the ability to find the rock-bottom price for just about anything we need to purchase easily. With a quick search on the right keywords, we can find exactly what we’re looking for and save a lot of money to boot. Or so it would seem. The truth is that strategy works for some items but not others.
As we grow up, we often get wonderful gifts from mom and dad. Gifts such as intelligence, passion, communication and leadership skills. We also get gifts from different mentors, which can complement the ones from our parents. As adults, business leaders bring these childhood gifts — or lack thereof — to the companies they lead.
2012 saw the widespread acceptance of cloud computing, “including the validation of the model by some of the largest software companies in the world.” So as leading vendors continue to invest the resources in making this technology smarter, more reliable, and easier to use, manufacturers can do their fair share by giving these innovative solutions a little attention as well.
Manufacturing floors don’t have Lego stations and pool tables – and yes, OSHA may take issue with throwing empty cans from the mini bar into the same bin as the scrap metal from the lathe, but that doesn’t mean that the industry has any fewer engineers flocking to it.
Industrial work environments requiring physical labor pose a variety of risk. Injuries can occur from lifting, straining or moving, but also from contact with irritants and chemicals in the warehouse or distribution center. The safety and security of employees should be the number one priority of any business.
As manufacturing processes become more automated, it is essential for companies to invest in partnerships with local technical schools to maintain a qualified, knowledgeable workforce. In June 2011, President Obama launched a national effort to revitalize American manufacturing.
The food manufacturing industry defines the kind of variable, often-extreme working environment in which a rugged tablet PC thrives. Refrigerated areas must be at or below 45 degrees, freezers at or below zero, and hot food must remain at 140 degrees or just higher. Rugged tablets have to endure these highly variable temperatures and move among them as needed.
When Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor for President Obama was asked what the two most pressing issues that kept him up at night, he replied, terrorist attacks and the US declining national competitiveness. The backdrop of 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs at a time when unemployment is near 8 percent has most certainly been his nightmare in the making.
Maybe, in comparing the benefits of working on a plant floor against the benefits of working at Facebook, engineers chose the latter. Because let’s face it — OSHA wouldn’t be too happy to see a ping pong table alongside the stamping machine.
The Lean methodology of process improvement defines at least 7 classical forms of waste. Going through notes, over and over again, as to the root cause of wastes we experience indicates that indecision often drives waste, even if it appears to be a circumstantial cause and not a regular or systemic cause of the system.
The fact is that our trade and economic policies – or lack thereof – are the primary cause of stagnant manufacturing growth in this country. We in and of manufacturing find ourselves in an environment of two camps, vying on many fronts for supremacy & influence. And, these days, it sure seems like the inmates are running the asylum.