June 30th, 2014
Where Are the Answers???
Working in manufacturing my whole career in technologies as diverse as hydraulics, electronics, electrical components, aerospace and for the last decade at BondCote, one common trend connects them all (and every other manufacturing concern). The people that make the company’s products are the heart of the organization.
Engineering can document processes, maintenance can put together preventive schedules, management can drive implementation of quality, lean, or other systems. BUT, over the years I have found the largest source of solutions to problem identification, root cause and continuous improvement lies with the manufacturing team member. A person running a machine or performing a process does this job eight hours a day, 250 days a year. They can tell when a bearing is wearing out weeks before it does. They have ideas all the time on how to make the process/product better. The question is: “How do you harness this experience?; How do you get this person to engage?” These peoples’ concerns are issues which management doesn’t put on the top of the list…and in the team members’ eyes these concerns could become roadblocks to the success of any project. Here are a few…”I think the certified quality system you are implementing is just an excuse to document what I do so you don’t need me anymore”; “If we are more productive, you won’t need as many of me and my friends”; “I don’t get rewarded for my ideas”; “my supervisor will take the credit”; “If I say anything to management my supervisor will write me up and try to get me fired”; My coworkers will call me a brown nose”; “Nobody in management asked me before”; and the best was…”I hope you are here longer than the last president”.
Building a common mission is the goal. Recognition is key. Factory management is really no different than being a football coach. You have a lot of people on the team, many different positions and skill sets within a position. To win long term, everyone has to contribute. The challenge is getting everyone focused on common goals, being willing to contribute, and give their best. Finally it’s a must to acknowledge the effort of the team and then raise up those who had the great plays. You don’t create much of a team if after winning the game, you just say “Wow, didn’t the quarterback do a great job in getting us that win.” The answer is: The team got the win, not a player.
March 28th, 2014
Manufacturing Resurgence and Congress
Everyone has read in the news about the projected resurgence of manufacturing in the USA. As this trend accelerates, we will all benefit in increased business. Great news…but long overdue. From 2000 to 2013 the US has lost 5,129,000 (29.9%) jobs in manufacturing. More importantly, 520,000 jobs (47.6%) in textiles and apparel are gone since 2000. Even with our sector of manufacturing being down, it is interesting to note that we still have more employees in textiles and apparel (570,000) working than aerospace (503,000), semiconductor and electronic components (376,000), oil and gas extraction (195,000) or computers and peripheral equipment (156,000). We are also in the top10 employment of all sectors. I wonder if our representatives in Washington know these facts.
As an industry we need to take the time to talk, write, email, visit our congressmen, educate and voice the issues that affect us whether it is supporting manufacturers in regulation, trade, healthcare, tax, etc., or with the primary goal of increasing employment. The only way for us to get noticed is to speak in numbers because we don’t have the pockets Wall Street and Madison Avenue have. A letter from you to them is worth ten from a company president or an unknown amount of donations from a special interest PAC for only one reason, your vote really counts! Or better yet a letter from ten of your friends or family.
* The above figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; US Department of Labor