Today’s trend of Midwest manufacturing declining is due to a triple hit: a Chinese ordering slowdown, a languishing European economy, and the domestic U.S. fiscal direction being up in the air with the presidential election. As a result, it’s no surprise that the ability to sell and grow the movement of manufactured goods is suffering, especially on international markets.
Great things are possible when bright, ambitious young people have the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge to real-world applications, and contribute meaningfully to the growth of a company, a sector — and ultimately the economic vitality of our nation. To engage this new generation, we must restore — and elevate — the U.S. manufacturing brand.
The dream of every manufacturer is an operations planning process that has high forecast accuracy, is very responsive to changes in demand, results in well-balanced supply and demand, and maximizes revenue. A plan created by such a process ensures that the organization is able to meet customer order metrics at the lowest delivery cost.
Engineers and programmers have been trying for decades to teach computers and other electronics to recognize handwritten text. Only in the last few years have the world’s largest software companies made significant progress teaching smartphones and tablets to adequately recognize handwriting and translate it into typed text on the screen.
Just because you have chosen to go with a cloud solution or a SaaS application doesn’t mean you will have guaranteed project success. The risk of IT failure still exists. As a result, organizations must realize that cloud does not mitigate improper project management procedure.
Recently, a metal worker made headline news, but not because of the quality of her craft or the dedication she showed on the job — she made headlines because she’s, well, a she. The skeletal remains of a female metal worker have been found in a grave in Vienna dating dating back to the Bronze Age (which began more than 5,000 years ago). Previously, it was assumed that only men worked in such fields during the Bronze Age.
Sometimes, when we decide to engage in process improvement or business improvement endeavors, we feel like we need to hire or contract people with special skills. The truth is, we probably have the right skills already inside of our businesses.
For many decades we have been in an information age dominated by engineers, computer scientists, programmers, and other left brain thinkers. In Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, he makes the case that we are in transition from an information age to a conceptual age, and from L-directed thinking to R-directed thinking.
We wore pedometers and tried to make the walking into a game, but after three days and 35,000 steps (over 17 miles!), it was a little less fun to see those digits tick as I trekked across Chicago’s McCormick Place for September’s IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show) 2012. I don’t care if they don’t go with my dress clothes: next time, I’m wearing my hot pink Nike running shoes. Luckily, the IMTS show was worth it.
A recently posted video entitled Are Droids Taking Our Jobs? explores the job market and how the recession is affecting workers, as well as robot welfare. As our society progresses, robotics and algorithms are becoming more advanced. This has been apparent for quite some time. So, are droids really taking our jobs?
Is this next bit of technology worth exploiting in engineering? There are certainly applications to visualize a specific part within its associated surroundings or to simulate placing a part, making sure everything fits. There are certainly applications, but how practical, useful, or needed it is will remain to be seen.
Regardless of the process improvement, business improvement, or innovation methodology training, almost all of them focus on teaching us tools and methods. They don’t teach us how to lead the implementation. Here is a short list of the things we change leaders need to do to succeed.
Some buy American because they, as Americans themselves, think it’s simply the right thing to do. Some buy American because, to them, seeing the “Made in America” label means that they’re getting a superior product. Others, because they’ve heard the statistics outlining the importance of a strong manufacturing base in the U.S. Whatever the reason, I don’t think it can ever hurt to support an economy that makes such a difference.
Whether it comes from a senior executive, a mid-level manager or new-hire, TIP allows ideas to be shared with a broad audience of potential collaborators through an online platform. Ideas move through a rate-and-review process, and the best and most promising ideas are developed further and considered for funding.
Most of us do some form of testing or other validation of our designs and production systems before we initiate production of our products. For some of us, especially those of us who produce products related to safety, we must prove to a regulatory agency that our products are safe and meet regulations. I’ve yet to witness an environment where testing of products is not a delicate balance.
A brand has one layer, a brand story has two. Both have outer layers consisting of functional benefits or the results that can be achieved by using a given product. However, the brand story has an additional inner layer that gives it distance and longevity. The brand story's inner layer is more than just air. It's made up of very real values and beliefs.
A common belief held by manufacturers is that price discounts can be justified because even at lower prices, the additional volume covers overhead. A review of the CM explanation earlier will show that this is true only if (1) the firm is operating above its breakeven sales levels and (2) that the proposed discounted project in fact possesses a positive contribution margin.
I love this Alliance Rubber story mostly because the innovations are interesting, fun products — and in the age of Facebook and Pinterest, potentially buzz-worthy — but they’re also the results of the efforts of a team that sees the challenge of improving upon an age-old product, and doesn’t hesitate to move outside of the box.
Have you heard of Nikola Tesla? I’m sure most of you have. Just in case you haven’t, Tesla is arguably the most underrated and overlooked engineer of all time. He developed the alternating current, invented the bladeless turbine, built the first induction motor, and innovated the use of X-rays, to name just a few of his contributions. So, why is this guy just a paragraph in history books?
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of flying across the Pacific to visit Thailand and to tour the county’s burgeoning automotive industry. The trip was at the behest of Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) agency, which has developed a number of policies and incentives to help bring more manufacturing into the country, regardless of industry.