Training Article

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.

Gabriel Hawawini’s picture

By: Gabriel Hawawini

Given the recent, renewed intensification of the shareholder vs. stakeholder debate, the concept of value creation has become more ambiguous. On whose behalf should organizations generate value? For owners, employees, upstream and downstream partners, or local communities immediately affected by organizational activities?

Both shareholders and stakeholders have solid claims. Financial managers are understandably fixated on share price as an index of market value. A stubbornly slumping share price means the loss of real wealth for the firm’s owners, and less ability to attract capital to fund the firm’s activities. Without some form of equity capital, a company cannot survive.

At the same time, the increasingly urgent global war for talent raises the stakes for companies that pursue narrow financial objectives at the expense of employees. Further, customers and civil society groups have a louder voice than in the past, thanks to social media and other online tools enabling the far-flung masses to mobilize quickly and effectively.

Zara Brunner’s picture

By: Zara Brunner

Recently, I got the chance to travel to Youngstown, Ohio. As I came into town, it struck me that Youngstown was like many other cities across America, including my hometown of Buffalo, New York. In its heyday, Youngstown was a center of manufacturing and steel production—industries that employed thousands of people and formed the backbone of the community. However, this area took it particularly hard when the economy changed and traditional factories closed, and it is still fighting to transform. 

Matt Minner’s picture

By: Matt Minner

There is a lot of buzz these days in the manufacturing sector about robots—and how they can help manufacturers address some of the challenges they face in today’s market, such as increased productivity and the scarcity of skilled workers.

But what exactly do analysts and automation experts mean when they use the word “robot?” How can different types of robots improve an actual manufacturing operation? If you are a smaller manufacturer who is curious about robots but has never worked with them, it may be difficult to envision how robots might fit in to your facility. Here’s an overview of four types of industrial robots that every manufacturer should know.

1. Articulated robots

An articulated robot is the type of robot that comes to mind when most people think about robots. Much like CNC mills, articulated robots are classified by the number of points of rotation, or axes, they have. The most common is the six-axis articulated robot. There are also four- and seven-axis units on the market.

Edward Herceg’s picture

By: Edward Herceg

Those of us old enough to remember the “good old days” recall that grade school focused on learning the three R’s: readin’, ’ritin’, and ’rithmetic. In the world of sensors, there are also three Rs: repeatability, resolution, and response. Despite how important these sensor parameters are, there is often confusion in the minds of users about exactly what they mean, and in what ways they tend to interact with each other. This article explains these three Rs for position sensors to dispel any confusion that exists.

Syndicate content