Let’s face it. Sometimes the biggest roadblocks to process improvement are people and their attitudes. Likewise, as much as we politely don’t discuss it, sometimes the biggest sources of waste, especially in office environments, are not processes, but people and their expectations and demands and decisions.
Successful metal fabrication companies are always on a mission to improve their lead times to cut down on operating costs and to increase customer satisfaction. Many managers may try to analyze what the company does or doesn’t need, or which of the available suppliers might be cheaper and/or faster, yet provide them with their company’s specific needs without sacrificing quality in their products.
It has become a popular meme that “robots are destroying our jobs.” How else do we explain today’s persistent high unemployment? But this notion that technology, automation and productivity lead to fewer jobs and higher unemployment is simply wrong. First, there is no logical relationship between job growth and productivity.
How do you get from the vision to actual sales growth? Many articles on the wonders of vision statements imply that if a manufacturer writes a good vision statement that somehow it will be implemented (the rain dance myth). In my experience, visions and goals are never realized unless someone develops a plan that shows every department and manager what they must do to reach the goals.
A reader recently sent me an email lamenting some of the big business-big labor tensions that had been peppering IMPOmag.com’s news section. Paul’s point was about compromise, and how give and take was the necessary component to everything — whether it be tense negotiations in the workplace, or even a discussion with your family about how to spend your Saturday.
Those of you working with a desktop, take a moment and look at the fans on the back of your PC. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Not a pretty sight, I imagine. If you are like most people - even those working in an air conditioned office - you are seeing a nice patina of dust covering your blades. And if you are in manufacturing, you are likely seeing something much uglier: the genesis of a huge suck of time, money and resources.
Politicians love promoting "made in America" during an election season but tend to forget about it once the dust settles. And so, for all the praise of American manufacturing in the last campaign – by Democrats and Republicans alike – very little has actually been done. So what happened to a real competitiveness – and – jobs agenda?
If you had a chance to “drive” to work tomorrow without having to touch the steering wheel or press down a pedal, would you do it? Think of the amount of time commuters everywhere could gain back – without having to actually think about driving, commuters can now safely take a phone call, catch up on the news, or maybe even nap (if you’re the type to put complete trust into driverless technology).
A topic that doesn’t seem to come up, at least via outlets that are 3D-printer friendly (which are in a powerful majority at this point), is the proliferation of piracy thanks to the quickly emerging 3D-printer market. Much like Napster brought a slapped major record labels across the face, 3D printing is poised to make major manufacturers shake in their boots… maybe.
Each of us has a nemesis process; that process that we engage regularly and that drives us crazy because of its inefficiency, its guarantee to waste our time, and some variety of reasons that prevent it from being reasonably improved. Some of us have more than one.
Is manufacturing coming back to the U.S.? Some may be returning, but the single best answer is “No”. No, there is not a mass movement to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. No, we are not moving away from global supply chains. No, the U.S. does not have a large workforce waiting to take low paying jobs.
Why is it that the most important, most powerful, most effective methods, tools, or practices are also the most difficult? Answering that question might be a challenge to keep the philosophy professors busy for a good, long time. For now, accept your grandfather’s axiom that what is worth doing, is worth taking our time to do.
Since Detroit pleaded bankruptcy, we have been hearing all kinds of things about what killed Detroit. For one thing, high labor rates in Detroit have been touted. Volkswagon is opening a plant in Tennessee. But there are other theories. One is that engineers killed Detroit.
Throughout my manufacturing career, I’ve spent many hours in customer waiting rooms, where I would always read the company mission statement if it were mounted on the wall. I must admit that I have never been comfortable with the idea of mission/vision statements because I always thought them to be statements on what the company would like to do — not what they are really capable of doing.
As the rise in temporary workers continues to affect our industry, it’s important that plant managers have a strategy for managing this new crop of personnel. Many plant-wide initiatives, like a strong safety culture, for example, are grassroots efforts that come from the ground up. They succeed through repetition and camaraderie; through consistent training and knowledge of and respect for the equipment in use.
Few organizations achieve truly continuous improvement in spite of extensive training programs, language and cultural changes, and setting expectations of improvement results. Why is that? It seems especially puzzling considering that each of the continuous improvement methodologies I have studied insists that true success comes not from organized events, but from everyone exercising the improvement methodology every day.
No, the aforementioned Hyperloop isn’t some kind of science fiction-esque teleportation device. Sorry to disappoint. Although with Elon Musk’s background in companies that push the boundaries of what’s possible in the private sector, it wouldn’t have been completely out of the blue. Instead, Hyperloop is what Musk calls the “fifth mode” of transportation, as an alternative to cars, planes, trains and boats.
The tolerance assignment approach used by most organizations offers opportunities to reduce cost and improve quality through tolerance relaxation. While quality improvement based on relaxed tolerances seems counterintuitive, a quick look at how tolerances are assigned and the consequences of overly-stringent tolerances reveal why this is so.
The city of Detroit's bankruptcy is an American tragedy and an entirely preventable one. The downward spiral began decades ago when deindustrialization led to depopulation, crime and declining public revenues. Corruption and mismanagement may have exacerbated the problem, but they weren't the root cause.
Rumor has it Twinkies are space age products made from such resilient ingredients that they last for decades. The shelf life of Twinkies is the stuff of legend, but beyond the myth and behind the silliness is a kernel of truth; If Twinkies can indeed achieve a fabled longevity, it will have more to do with savvy business practices and innovation than secret, Frankenstein recipe formulations.