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.
In 2009, President Obama set a goal of doubling exports in 5 years. The President portrayed his initiative as a boon for small companies, likely because fewer than four percent of all service businesses export, according to the Small Business Administration.
I was interested to learn a little more about the relationship between listening and hearing at a recent seminar at the Grainger show in Orlando. The focus of this presentation was not on eliminating noise, rather, addressing the ways those affected could greatly reduce or eliminate the resulting damage that came with the prolonged exposure to high volumes.
Big data is not just for predicting election outcomes and mapping genomes. General Electric (GE) is betting on the so-called Industrial Internet — a term they coined — to help manufacturers boost performance, streamline processes and better compete in the global marketplace.
Most economists agree that the “Great Recession” of 2008 ended sometime around August 2009, and while the economy has been slowly recovering, unemployment still appears to be a stubborn problem. The headline rate is just a shade under 8 percent, which translates into a little over 12 million Americans out of work.
I’ve heard for years that “soon we’ll have solar panels on everything.” To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the hype because these magical solar panels that can fit on and inside everything never seemed to materialize commercially. But researchers seem to have made a real breakthrough in solar technology: thin, sticky, flexible solar panels that can stick to just about any surface or object imaginable.
The U.S. must soon decide whether to allow unrestricted liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to non-U.S. markets, or to enact limits on natural gas exports to keep more of the fuel in the country. Vast reserves of natural gas in the U.S. and newly developed extraction techniques have made it economically sensible to extract previously unviable deposits of natural gas.
It is a phenomenon that is referred to with a catchy rhyme: “the brain drain.” Older workers are leaving companies, taking their experience and knowledge with them. And, for various reasons, the reservoir is not being refilled at the same rate. Knowledge leaves, and the tank threatens to go dry.
The industry is still a global juggernaut; producing 18.2 percent of all manufactured goods which tops the list globally (still over half a percent more than China). But quite frankly, ‘dominant’ would be one of the last terms to sum up the past fifteen years of U.S. manufacturing, despite our strong presence.
It happens repeatedly. A company adopts a new technology platform that ostensibly will ease the workload, streamline operational processes and result in overall gains in efficiency and budget spending. The intention is spot-on but the execution is decidedly less so.
The air transport industry has been through many economic dips during the past four decades, yet it has always bounced back quickly with travel demand higher than ever. However, the increasing volatility of aviation fuel prices has a significant impact on airline operating costs and profitability.
Disasters come in many sizes and shapes and are often unexpected, which is why manufacturers must prepare for them, treating disaster recovery plans almost as an insurance policy. And they do happen, often at the most inconvenient times. By one count, their numbers have climbed 233 percent since 1980.
Last month Hasbro missed a golden opportunity to immortalize the importance of our country’s manufacturing sector, especially with the renaissance the sector is currently experiencing. Hasbro ran a poll to elect a new game icon to be included in all new editions of the game Monopoly, an All-American game if there ever was one.
As we immerse ourselves in continuous process improvement, we get in the habit of tearing down and examining everything that doesn’t meet expectations, go according to plan, or work efficiently enough. We get so focused on what’s broken, we forget to take time to figure out how we do the occasional thing exactly right.
A recent study authored by Deloitte LLP and the Manufacturing Institute says that “for years, manufacturers have reported a significant gap between the talent they need and what they can actually find.” In fact “67 percent of manufacturers reported that moderate to severe shortages of available, qualified workers exist.
The Starbucks Carson Valley Roasting Plant and Distribution Center looks swanky, with its glass-lined exterior; perched atop the entry is the familiar green siren logo. Like millions of Americans, I’ve become accustomed to taking my caffeine on the run, and Starbucks is one of the haunts on my regular route.