Content By Steven Brand

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By: Steven Brand

Manufacturing Day, an initiative designed to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, arrives Oct. 4, 2019. The annual MFG Day (which can be held anytime during the month) involves thousands of manufacturers across the country holding events, tours, activities, and more. Last year, in California alone, more than 250 sites registered as event hosts, and more than 330 manufacturers and support organizations participated in or sponsored events throughout the month of October.

One of the great benefits of participation in MFG Day is recruitment, which is vital to the survival of many of today’s small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). Why is recruitment so important? Because today, nearly 90 percent of these manufacturers can’t find the employees they so desperately need, according to new data from SCORE, a nonprofit resource partner and mentoring service associated with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

How do you know if your election vote is really counted? How do you know the person you’re chatting with online really is who they say they are? And how do you know if a product you purchase has really met quality standards?

These three scenarios may not seem like they have much in common, but there is a common thread: blockchain, a decentralized, open-source ledger that could hypothetically be applied to each to give you the certainty you want in each situation.

The business value-add of blockchain is projected to grow to more than $175 billion by 2025, and exceed $3 trillion by 2030, according to Gartner, a leading global research firm. But do you really know what blockchain is? Before delving into its benefits for manufacturers, here’s an explanation of blockchain.

Blockchain explained

Mention blockchain, and some people immediately tune out. So I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. Even if you determine that blockchain has no place in your small or medium-sized manufacturing business, it’s still good to have a basic understanding of the concept because it’s sure to come up sometime in conversation with others in your industry.

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

Each year, billions in funding for research and development as well as workforce initiatives is available for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to help them get off the ground or aid in expansion efforts. Here are eight organizations that can help your business flourish in today’s competitive manufacturing environment.

Eight organizations that can help SMMs

Export.gov
Developed by international trade specialists and economists, Export.gov helps SMMs succeed in today’s global marketplace by providing market intelligence, practical advice, and business tools. The organization collaborates with 19 U.S. government agencies to help SMMs and others navigate the maze of government regulations and get answers to questions while providing expert knowledge in international sales.

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By: Steven Brand

Virtual reality (VR), sometimes referred to as augmented reality (AR), is shaking things up across all industries, including manufacturing. Although the technology is currently being employed mainly by large manufacturers, like additive manufacturing and the cobots before it, growing acceptance of the technology is likely to cause prices to drop, allowing small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to take advantage of its powers as well. So what do you need to know about VR before it comes your way?

VR is defined by the Virtual Reality Society (VRS) as “a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.” So how is VR benefitting the manufacturing sector? By improving worker safety, creating better products, and saving manufacturers money.

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By: Steven Brand

While manufacturers have traditionally been hesitant to invest in their operations due to cost, a recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) survey of more than 500 manufacturers reveals that 65 percent plan to increase capital spending during the coming years. Where is the money going to go?

Experts predict most manufacturers will look toward revamping their facilities to adapt to the demands of today’s digital world. This adjustment, which many call the “fourth industrial revolution” or smart manufacturing, will move manufacturers from mass production to customized production via a digital supply network.

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By: Steven Brand

Many consider 2017 the “worst year ever” for data breaches and cyber attacks, largely due to the rise in ransomware, and IT experts predict it’s only going to get worse. According to the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a nonprofit that works to develop tools and best practices that enhance internet security, cyber attacks targeting manufacturers and others nearly doubled in volume from the previous year.

The worst of the worst? WannaCry, which struck in May 2017, infecting approximately 300,000 computer systems, encrypting files and demanding a Bitcoin payment to decrypt them.

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By: Steven Brand

By 2025, nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population is expected to be 60 years of age or older. With this demographic preparing to exit the workforce and enter retirement, what can be done to retain their knowledge and pass it down to the next generation of employees? After all, a good portion of the knowledge that our “employee elders” possess is not written down or stored within a computer—it’s stored in their heads. And this is especially true within the manufacturing sector.

A term first coined within the Six Sigma community, tribal knowledge is described as knowledge that is known, yet undocumented. It can consist of decades worth of valuable information and hands-on experiences, and losing this knowledge can be damaging to any organization.

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By: Steven Brand

The global aerospace and defense (A&D) industry grew by 2.4 percent and generated about $674 billion in 2016, according to a Deloitte 2017 study. California alone was responsible for generating $62 billion a year in revenue in 2014, according to a 2014 California Aerospace Industry Economic Impact Study. The supply chain is a critical component of aerospace and defense manufacturing. In the face of challenging competition, industry manufacturers are aggressively looking for ways to improve processes, lower costs, and achieve long-term operational performance through supply chain optimization.

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By: Steven Brand

The manufacturing industry in the United States is ripe for a new industrial revolution, and artificial intelligence and robotic automation are set to play a key role in that change. Because manufacturing is a major driving force in a nation’s economic prosperity, it is especially important that small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) pay close attention as these innovative technologies prepare to take center stage.

Government support

Individuals in the public and private sectors realize that manufacturing is an area of critical national importance, and they have come together to support, promote, and accelerate innovations in the sector. One of the areas of focus with increased research and development is in advanced robotic manufacturing (ARM).

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By: Steven Brand

Smart manufacturing trends in 2017 indicate that a radical transformation in the manufacturing sector is taking place. In a report by global market research firm BCC Research, the global market for smart manufacturing is expected to grow from $159 billion in 2015 to $392 billion by 2020 at a compounded annual growth rate of 19.8 percent.

Smart manufacturing is a technology-driven approach to manufacturing that brings together advancements in information and operation technologies to rapidly and effectively solve existing issues and address future challenges by using an open infrastructure while creating enhanced value. It radically alters the global landscape of manufacturing by improving many of its processes, including design, fabrication, and operations.

With no slowing down of these advanced technologies in sight, manufacturers need to watch out for vital smart manufacturing trends in 2017, and see which are cost-effective to deploy in their factories. Here are some of the smart manufacturing trends you need to know about.