Training Article

Bill Kraus’s picture

By: Bill Kraus

Continuous improvement is generally considered to be a journey in pursuit of perfection and is regularly associated with the concept of lean manufacturing. In early 1990, reflecting on the Toyota Production System, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) created a six-part definition regarding the components of lean manufacturing:
• A systematic approach
• To identifying and eliminating waste
• Through continuous improvement
• By flowing the product
• At the pull of the customer
• In pursuit of perfection

In late 1990, our Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS) MEP team embraced lean and began promoting it to our manufacturing clients. However, in our enthusiasm, we inadvertently set about “doing lean to our people rather than with our people.” Considerable time and effort was expended in the teaching of “tools” (e.g., value stream mapping, 5S, quick changeover, kanban). Then, like hammers looking for nails, we descended upon the factory floor.

Daniel Hess’s picture

By: Daniel Hess

We all expect hospitals to be open and operating when we need them, but extreme weather events like hurricanes are a strain on resources and pose significant challenges for hospitals.

Closing a hospital is an extreme action, but several hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina did just that before the arrival of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

With more than 300 hospitals and a higher share of older adults than any other state, Florida had a critical issue facing emergency planners during those storms.

As a professor of urban planning, I have studied emergency planning and evacuation and also co-authored an extensive report on how hospitals coped with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav. Hospitals plan for catastrophic events, but there are always lessons to be learned.

Hospitals try to stay open and care for patients already hospitalized as well as those who suffer injury or illness from a storm. Here’s how they do it.

DNV GL’s picture

By: DNV GL

Workplace safety is a complex issue, addressing everything from rules for operating heavy machinery to guidelines for respecting your fellow employees. For many of these issues we, as a business community, have developed and applied a variety of best practices and global standards—such as ISO 45001—to help establish and preserve a safe and healthy working environment for everyone.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor estimates that two million employees are victims of workplace violence annually, resulting in a loss of 1.2 million workdays and an estimated $55 million in lost wages.  The long-term costs to business continuity and the human capital that supports it are almost staggering. 

As a society, we work toward the prevention of accidents that result in personal injuries; we have policies about professional behavior and decorum, and plans to deal with emergencies by natural causes such as fires, floods, and electrical outages. What we must now develop are the operational plans and policies to deal with targeted violence such as active shooter events. 

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

From a lone statistician toiling over narrowly defined problems for the marketing department, to a C-level executive overseeing a mission-critical area impacting every function of the company, the meaning of “data and analytics professional” has changed a lot in recent years. A. Charles Thomas’s career has reflected those developments.

Thomas, who is General Motors’ first-ever chief data and analytics officer, shared where corporate data analytics has been, where it’s going, and the evolution of chief data officer roles, in a keynote at the recent Wharton Customer Analytics conference “Successful Applications of Analytics.” He spoke from his experience not only at GM, but also other major companies, including Hewlett Packard, the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), and Wells Fargo.

During the late 1990s, he said, data analysts were typically individual contributors working with transactional data involving marketing, credit, and retail. “The [data analyst’s] reputation was ‘a smart guy,’” said Thomas. “You want an answer, you come to Charles.”

Zach Winn’s picture

By: Zach Winn

Manufacturers are constantly tweaking their processes to get rid of waste and improve productivity. As such, the software they use should be as nimble and responsive as the operations on their factory floors.

Instead, much of the software in today’s factories is static. In many cases, it’s developed by an outside company to work in a broad range of factories, and implemented from the top down by executives who know software can help but don’t know how best to adopt it.

That’s where MIT spinout Tulip comes in. The company has developed a customizable manufacturing app platform that connects people, machines, and sensors to help optimize processes on a shop floor. Tulip’s apps provide workers with interactive instructions, quality checks, and a way to easily communicate with managers if something is wrong.

Managers, in turn, can make changes or additions to the apps in real-time and use Tulip’s analytics dashboard to pinpoint problems with machines and assembly processes.

Aliyah Kovner’s picture

By: Aliyah Kovner

It’s 1 p.m. on a sunny afternoon in July—smack dab in the middle of summer break—and a perfect 75° outside, but Jonathan Park is laser-focused. Though he could be strolling down a beach, or at home browsing social media, this 16-year-old is bent over a lab bench, intently pipetting reagents to run an Amplex Red assay.

Park, a soon-to-be junior at Dublin High School, is part of the 2019 cohort of the Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM) summer intensive, hosted and run by the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville, California. First launched in 2008, iCLEM immerses local Bay Area students in the biological sciences—and gives them a taste of day-to-day life as a scientist—through an eight week-long blended curriculum of instruction, hands-on basic laboratory skill training, and in-depth tours of working labs within JBEI, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (which manages JBEI), and local biotech companies. The students, who receive a stipend so that they may attend the program in place of a summer job, utilize their newfound knowledge by conducting independent research projects and presenting their findings at the end of the program.

Susan Whitehead’s picture

By: Susan Whitehead

It’s a Catch-22 for a manufacturing supervisor: You need to train new hires properly to master the skills for the job, but your own daily job duties can’t wait. Putting time aside to train workers is especially challenging if you’re a small to medium-sized manufacturer (SMM) with tight, daily deadlines.

“I want to make time for training new employees, but how am I supposed to do that and do my job? How am I supposed to deal with line problems and train someone new at the same time?”

As a process improvement coach with the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, I hear concerns like these all the time from SMM supervisors, who have been forced to train new employees while trying to do their own jobs.

But putting off training is like postponing the oil change on your car even though the sticker in the corner says your odometer is at 55,000 miles, and your oil change was due at 50,000 miles. You can probably put off the oil change and drive a couple hundred more miles, and the car will run just fine. Then it’s another 200 miles, and you think, “OK, I can keep doing this for a while.”

Multiple Authors
By: Julien Pollack, Petr Matous

Someone we know recently told us about a team-building event that proved anything but.

The chief executive who arranged it loved mountain biking. So he chose a venue to share his passion with his team. On the day, he shot around the track. Others with less experience took up to three hours longer. He settled in at the bar with a small entourage. Other staff trudged in much later, tired and bloody, not feeling at all like a team.

Many of us can recall team-building exercises that seemed like a waste of time. One problem is overcoming the natural human tendency to hang out with those people we already feel comfortable with, just as that chief executive did.

We suggest there is a better team-building approach. It doesn’t involve bicycles or obstacle courses or whitewater rafting. It doesn’t even necessarily involve your whole team.

It’s about understanding that teams are social networks built on connections between individuals. It involves deep one-on-one conversations, designed to get people out of their comfort zones.

Jack Dunigan’s picture

By: Jack Dunigan

It happens easily enough and usually innocently enough. You start a business or organization then endure what is often a long and expensive learning curve. Along the way you learn. You learn a lot. You discover the competencies and incompetencies of those working with you. You learn how to manage cash flow challenges. You learn the ins and outs, the ups and downs of business in the real world.

In a few years, the business or organization begins to prosper. By then your role should change from working in your business to having more time to work on your business.

But too often it doesn’t. The business begins to prosper and could expand to another level, but something seems to be holding it back. (I use the term “business” in a very broad sense. Even nonprofits are enterprises with a mission to accomplish and must function in just about every sense as a business. The only differences are that the excess revenues received are not distributable to anyone except in the form of salaries paid for work performed.)

Leading2Lean’s picture

By: Leading2Lean

It’s no news that U.S. manufacturing has a workforce problem. However, a new survey conducted by Leading2Lean (L2L) offers some unexpected hope. The survey reveals that a new generation of workers could spur industrywide innovation.

The 2019 L2L Manufacturing Index, an annual measurement of the American public’s perceptions of U.S. manufacturing, found that adults in Generation Z (those aged 18–22) are 19 percent more likely to have had a counselor, teacher, or mentor suggest they look into manufacturing as a viable career option when compared to the general population. One-third (32 percent) of Generation Z has had manufacturing suggested to them as a career option, as compared to only 18 percent of Millennials and 13 percent of the general population.

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