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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

What Black Belt Training Doesn't Teach

September 26, 2012 8:11 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

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.


Sitting With America

September 25, 2012 8:13 am | by Rachel Leisemann Immel, Associate Editor, IMPO

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.


Construct Your Own Innovation Pipeline

September 21, 2012 8:17 am | by Mike Schmidt. Associate Editor, Manufacturing Business Technology

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.


Some Tribulations Of Testing And Truthfulness

September 19, 2012 8:16 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

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.


Does Your Product Have A Lasting Story?

September 18, 2012 8:16 am | by Jim Signorelli

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.

Making Sense Out Of Costs And Margins: Part 2

September 13, 2012 11:29 am | by Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing

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.


Innovation To Beat The Band

September 12, 2012 4:02 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

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.


Trumping Progress – How Money & Politics Corrupt Innovation

September 7, 2012 8:06 am | by Chris Fox, Associate Editor, PD&D

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?


Visiting The 'Detroit' Of Southeast Asia

September 4, 2012 8:07 am | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor,

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.


Is The Ongoing Mortgage Crisis Harming Our Manufacturing Skills Crisis?

August 31, 2012 8:46 am | by AJ Sweatt

I’m not going to get into who or what caused the housing & mortgage crisis in this country. And I’m not gonna offer any recommendations on what we could be doing to fix it. What has me curious is why we’re not seeing more concern in manufacturing about its impact on hiring and the lack of talent to grow manufacturing and accelerate reshoring & innovation in the US.


Top Challenges In Electronics Manufacturing

August 31, 2012 8:09 am | by Mike Roberts

The rate of change and advancement in the electronics industry can be startling, especially over the past few decades. The names at the top of the industry today were brand new companies just ten years ago. To survive, an electronics company needs to be as flexible as it is quick. And to excel, that company must be able to overcome both existing and emerging challenges in the market.

Why Cheaper Warehouse Equipment Isn’t Always Less Expensive

August 29, 2012 8:06 am | by Carol Thorsen, Manager of Wynright Corporation’s Inside Sales

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, or a visit to megasites such as or eBay, we can find exactly what we’re looking for and save money to boot. Or so it would seem.


Social Technology In Manufacturing & Supply Chain

August 28, 2012 8:06 am | by Dylan Persaud, Managing Director, Eval-Source

In today’s world, the term social is used to describe the simplest task or component and often is more a marketing term than anything else. For all the social interactions written about social and sharing, they have mostly referred to a B2C business model. The social aspect works well for this scenario. What has been forgotten and overlooked is the lack of communication and social aspect as it pertains to the B2B model.


Manufacturing Is Getting A ‘Kickstart’

August 27, 2012 8:06 am | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor,

Maybe you’ve heard of Kickstarter before. It’s a relatively simple service in theory: It helps inventors, artists or designers (and other professionals) get funding to transform their designs into real products when they don’t have the up-front cash. The web service has definitively taken off in the last year or two, with many projects gobbling up millions of dollars in “investment.”


U.S. Industrial Markets Remain Resilient In A Challenging Time

August 24, 2012 8:06 am | by Jim Dieter, Cushman & Wakefield National Industrial

The resiliency of industrial real estate is showing itself noticeably heading into the second half of 2012. Key markets nationwide continue to experience healthy demand, declining vacancies and positive absorption, which are beginning to push rent growth and foster the return of speculative construction.


The Cloud: Still A Work In Progress

August 22, 2012 8:40 am | by Mike Schmidt. Associate Editor, Manufacturing Business Technology

The cloud computing "ecosystem" failed Mat Homan, and his plight should serve to remind individuals and companies that store sensitive data in “the cloud” that the technology (while oozing with upside and potential) remains very much a work in progress.


Imagining The Future Of Lean & Six Sigma, Part 2

August 21, 2012 8:40 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

Now let’s discuss Six Sigma. Six Sigma, too, attacks a very real demon. That bad guy is named “variation.” It is a real and true deficit to our businesses to expend resources, time and energy desperately trying to control outcomes that are continuously changing and unpredictable. The aim of Six Sigma is to control processes well enough that their outcome is always stable and always predictable.


Imagining The Future Of Lean & Six Sigma, Part 1

August 20, 2012 8:40 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions LLC

A friend and colleague asked me a difficult question recently. He queried, “What do you think the future of Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) will be? Will it continue, or is it a dying idea?” I did my best to offer my personal perspective while caught a little unprepared for such a thought.

Is Your ERP Ready?

August 17, 2012 8:36 am | by Bob Vormittag, CEO and President, VAI

Bolstered by new innovation, ERP has become an even stronger business asset, and this is changing how mid-market customers define successful ERP implementations. Key mid-market industries – such as manufacturing, retail, distribution, food, and services – are eager to harness the power of cloud computing to implement cost-efficient IT solutions that ultimately drive improved bottom-line benefits to their organizations.

From Need-To-Know To Need-To-Share

August 15, 2012 8:36 am | by Abbigail Kriebs, Associate Editor, Industrial Distribution

Do you have the right strategy that improves productivity, keeps your corporate information secure, and protects you from liability?


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