Training Article

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.

Sunni Massey’s picture

By: Sunni Massey

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: First Quarter 2019, found that 71.3 percent of the U.S. manufacturers surveyed cited the inability to attract and retain skilled workers as their top concern for the sixth consecutive survey. Analysts have called it a “full-blown workforce crisis.”

I recently had the privilege of attending a meeting hosted by Catalyst Connection, part of the Pennsylvania MEP and the MEP National Network, on opportunities to expand diversity and inclusion in manufacturing while simultaneously addressing the lack of skilled workers. Catalyst Connection, inspired by its move to the neighborhood of Hazelwood in Pittsburgh, brought together some of Southwest Pennsylvania’s economic development, workforce development, and educational powerhouses along with local advanced manufacturers to discuss the pockets of poverty that persist despite the area’s booming manufacturing industry.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

A recent family biking vacation in the Dolomites region of Italy had my family and I all swept up in the charms of Northern Italy. Snow-capped peaks near the Austrian border, endless apple orchards, award-winning Chenin Blanc, and quaint Italian villages with healthy doses of affogato (strong espresso coffee meeting with gelato is sheer genius) made the 250 km fly by.

By the time we ended our trip in Riva del Garda, we were mentally separated from the harsh Minnesota winter and ready for the summer. We couldn’t stop talking about the outfitter (Scottsdale, Arizona-based Pure Adventures) that arranged this active vacation. However, when my wife got an email with a $500 referral incentive from them, she was reluctant to exercise it, despite many colleagues expressly asking us about the company that arranged this trip. She did not feel comfortable getting a substantial reward for something her friend or colleague did.

Therein, lies the conundrum of getting referral marketing to work. To be clear, Pure Adventures had the right idea to try to use existing, ostensibly delighted, customers to acquire new customers. The nuance lies in how to activate and even accelerate this process using financial incentives, when at its core, it is primarily an intrinsically motivated action.

Caroline Preston’s picture

By: Caroline Preston

There’s a lot of anxiety out there about robots gobbling up our jobs. One oft-cited Oxford University study predicts that up to 47 percent of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to automation. Other research suggests the share is much lower. But while the exact numbers may be debated, there’s little question that technology is changing quickly and reconfiguring the tasks many of us do.

As the labor market demands different and evolving skills, what does that mean for higher education? Is a four-year degree still the best way to obtain a well-paying job? And what subjects and experiences do students need exposure to while they’re in college?

Victor Prince’s picture

By: Victor Prince

If you work long enough, you will have a micro-managing boss or two. These bosses think they know your job better than you do. Maybe they had your job before they got promoted to management. They focus on how you do your job instead of on the results you produce. They think that because you are doing your job differently than they would, you must be doing it incorrectly. Micro-management is a big driver of dissatisfaction and attrition in the workplace.

Seven strategies to manage a micromanaging manager

Diagnose the situation. Is your boss micro-managing others or just you? It is important to understand whether you are being singled out, or if you are just one of many victims. If he micro-manages others, too, it’s probably him, not you. But if you are the only one being micro-managed, it might be you, and it is worth figuring out why. Perhaps your boss is just more interested in your job than others. Or perhaps he thinks you need closer scrutiny. If your boss’s micro-management is due to problems with your performance, you need to surface that discussion and address it head on.

Barrett Thompson’s picture

By: Barrett Thompson

A hot topic of conversation for many B2B industrial companies is the talent and skills gap due to the generational shift in the workforce from baby boomers to millennials. According to Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, “Too many employers are sleepwalking toward a significant skills problem that risks derailing their business strategy if not addressed. Not enough organizations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even enough about the make-up of their workforce.”

Generational skills gap causing a quality gap

Recruiting and retaining millennials for sales teams is often cited as a primary concern. As baby boomers retire and exit the workforce, decades of quality experience, product, and market knowledge leave as well. Loss of quality is often the impact of this workforce transition on sales teams.

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

‘Why are our changeovers taking so long?”

If you’ve asked this question on the shop floor, more than likely you were met with blank stares by your employees. Open-ended questions like this are overwhelming, so employees try to find quick answers that don’t really address the problem. They don’t have a starting point to form an answer.

But what if you asked a question with a specific, achievable goal, such as:

“What steps can we take to reduce changeover time by 15 minutes?”

You’ve then provided your employees with a measurable goal in the form of a question. Your workers may feel empowered to answer with some hands-on suggestions for incremental changes, such as reducing setup steps or combining workstations. This in turn could not only reduce changeover time, but also significantly eliminate wait times and inventories.

This approach is often described as kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” which serves as the backbone for lean manufacturing. Kaizen uses the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) problem-solving cycle to encourage manufacturers to use small ideas to solve big problems, such as costly, time-intensive changeovers.

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