Productivity & Process Improvement

Manual Tools to High Tech CNC Machines: The Future of Manufacturing

For decades, the Hudson Valley has been the center of manufacturing innovation from small family owned companies to large corporations. With increasing demand and pressure from global competitors, companies big and small are looking for ways to create high quality products in the most efficient ways possible.

In order to understand how rapid, the technological growth has been, HV MFG sat down with Allendale Machinery Systems to discuss the advancements within the manufacturing sector. The McGill Family is comprised of three generations Tom, Marty, and Neil who helped build the company to the success story it is today. Tom was stationed in Japan after WWII as part of the rebuilding process.

After his service, Tom decided to pursue a degree in International Relations at Georgetown University. However, he quickly realized foreign service was not what he wanted to do. Thanks to a few connections in Japan, Tom was able to get a job selling Japanese manufacturing equipment in the US. Tom explains that during the time, many manufacturing companies were not fond of buying foreign made machines. However, the low price and high quality compared to similar American made machines, won over customers. With his success, Tom decided to start his own company in 1981, which is when Allendale Machinery Systems came to life.

During this time, Tom had met Gene Haas who was building machine tools. Tom had advised Gene on the importance of focusing on quality and features, something he learned while working for the Japanese company. Eventually, Allendale Machinery Systems began selling Haas equipment exclusively. The business began to grow within the family as Marty joined the company in 1987 after realizing college was not for him.

Today, Marty serves as Vice President and is responsible for selling Haas machines to various locations. In addition to that, Marty also informs his customers on the capabilities of the new machining equipment on the market today. This allows his customers to decide if they want to purchase a new machine entirely or upgrade an existing one. Lately, Marty and his team have been working with the Council of Industry to provide more educational resources to machinists and encourage young professionals to join the trade.

Providing workforce training has been a critical goal of both Allendale Machinery and Council of Industry. Neil, the third member of the family-owned business and Director of Operations at the company, explained the successful business growth to HV MFG. Neil began working at Allendale Machinery in 2006, after graduating from college. He started making inside sales and learning his customer base; finding out their needs and challenges. Neil took the information he gathered over time and implemented a business strategy focused at delivering customers requests. Those efforts have paid off as Allendale now employs 45 employees working at their headquarters and satellite offices. Allendale Machinery has developed such a successful reputation, that their client base now exceeds 800 active customers.

Allendale Machinery has proved that a successful business is dependent on delivering and exceeding the expectations of your clients. Additionally, Allendale knows that the future of the industry is dependent on educating the next generation about manufacturing and the knowledge needed to run these high-tech machining tools.

 

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10 Steps to Improve and Grow Your Business

Part 1 of 2: Gaining Clarity & Checking Team Alignment

By Tony Fareed, 360accel and Bridge Global Capital Group

Growth is Easier Said Than Done

Over the past three decades, I’ve worked within and with a wide variety of companies to drive business performance improvements and growth acceleration. Regardless of the size, stage, or type of organization, the most common challenge remains, “I’m too busy working in the business to work on the business.”

There are those who think their businesses are running perfectly and don’t need to improve or grow. Maybe they’re right, but this type of thinking goes against my guiding principles. For those of us who recognize the importance of change through improvements and growth, success typically boils down to commitment, prioritization, focus, discipline, action, and leadership. It’s always easier said than done.

Relevant Success Story

When it comes to focus and action, one of my favorite clients is a leading niche provider of live event production and network broadcast solutions. They provide end-to-end audio, video and data solutions to broadcasters of high-profile live events, such as the Super Bowl, US Open, Tony Awards, etc.

In 2017, the CEO began exploring ways to incorporate new technologies into their solutions. He identified a tremendous market opportunity, especially around two specific technologies that were emerging in the market. This strategic thinking refreshed his vision of the company in a rapidly evolving marketplace and was the catalyst for making business improvements and accelerating growth throughout 2018 to now.

His leadership forced discipline and action throughout the entire organization. Behind the scenes, my team assisted with the methodical facilitation of our 10-step growth program. The company has benefited from making performance, organizational and operational improvements; developing new high-margin solutions using new technologies; and divesting from a joint venture that provided limited strategic value. Their efforts have already resulted in an increased and diversified customer base and a 20% increase in EBITDA margins.

 A Roadmap to Get Going

If you want to take steps to improve and grow your business, here’s an achievable 10-step express solution. However, you must be willing to commit at least 3 hours a week for 10 weeks and get some of your key team members involved.

Like anything, it will take ongoing commitment to achieve results. It’s best to focus on making incremental progress, and “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Once you cycle through the process, you will likely begin incorporating the steps into your normal business routines.

While it’s ideal to have someone independent to help facilitate the process and hold you accountable, you will be able to achieve meaningful results on your own if you stay disciplined. Just keep focused on making progress, not perfection.

Part 1:

Gaining Clarity & Checking Team Alignment

1. Perform 360º Business Self-Assessment

2. Analyze Your Data

3. Analyze Your Market & Competition

4. Refresh / Validate Vision

5. Check Team Alignment

Part 2:

Exploring Opportunities & Taking Action

6. Explore Business Improvements

7. Explore Growth Opportunities

8. Make Decisions & Recalibrate Strategy

9. Reallocate & Secure New Capabilities

10. Communicate, Take Action & Drive Results!

 

  1. Perform 360º Business Self-Assessment

Self-assessments allow for honest self-reflection. Every time you self-assess, you become more empowered with deeper insights. You can easily build a customized self-assessment questionnaire covering 30 to 50 key business criteria.

Email me and I will send you our basic self-assessment template, which will fast-track getting started. https://360accel.com/contact/

  1. Analyze Your Data

If you already perform periodic reviews of data analytics, you are ahead of the game. You have a treasure trove of data in your operating systems (general ledger, ERP, CRM, etc.) and marketing platforms.  Are you putting your data to work?

List the meaningful data and reports that are readily available. Determine the most relevant 15 to 20 key performance indicators (KPIs) covering financial performance, operations, production, sales, and marketing. Your CPA can likely give you guidance on relevant KPIs.  Also, quick Google searches can provide many additional KPIs.

Consider comparing individual KPIs over time to identify potential trends or anomalies. After you crunch and analyze the numbers, summarize your conclusions for each KPI. Eventually, you can turn your data assets into a competitive advantage and tools for making ongoing strategic decisions.

  1. Analyze Your Market & Competition

You may rely on your team to perform periodic market research. I suggest you also do your own research. Drill down on the competition, market trends, and new emerging technologies and business models that may positively or negatively impact your business. Connect with knowledgeable people within your industry to pick their brains and strengthen your network.

Summarize your conclusions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) on the market and your company’s current and expected future market positioning.

  1. Refresh / Validate Vision

After thinking through your conclusions from steps 1 – 3 above, ask yourself whether you’re on the right track. Restate the company’s vision, which will force you to either refresh or validate your broader view of the business. It will also present you with a refined focus on direction.

  1. Check Team Alignment

Now that you have more clarity, it’s time to bring in your inner circle. Select a small group of individuals from your team who you rely on, trust, respect, and who will challenge you. Ask each of them to independently complete the self-assessment questionnaire.

Get the group together to discuss the results of the self-assessments with a goal to align on areas of misalignment. Share your views on vision and conclusions on the KPI and market analyses. This should spark valuable discussions and diverse perspectives. It’s imperative to listen, stay open-minded, digest feedback, and keep all discussions collaborative. Ultimately, you will need your entire team fully aligned to successfully improve and grow. This inner circle is a great place to start.

Stay tuned for “Part 2: Exploring Opportunities & Taking Action.”

 

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Schatz Bearing Corporation: Small Parts, High Stakes

When people think of industrial manufacturing, often times gigantic heavy-duty equipment comes to mind. The truth is, many companies are tasked with building small parts designed to be used in everything from commercial equipment to classified defense projects. Within the city of Poughkeepsie, lies the headquarters of Schatz Bearing Corporation. This company has been around in the Hudson Valley since 1910 and has evolved greatly to meet the needs of the 21st century manufacturing sector. Schatz Bearing Corporation was primarily focused on the automotive industry, providing them with ball bearings designed for cars.

Today, the company caters to aerospace and defense companies which require highly precise parts made from quality metals. Company President, Stephen Pomeroy had mentioned to HV MFG that innovation, customer service, and teamwork have played crucial parts in paving the pathway towards success. However, Schatz Bearing Corporation went through a complete overhaul to get to where it is today. During the 70’s, the company had to deal with turbulent years of layoffs and labor strikes. In addition to that, the decline in the American automotive industry caused work to be sent overseas to reduce operating costs eventually resulting in Schatz (then known as Schatz-Federal) to file for bankruptcy. In 1981, the company closed its doors until the name and equipment were purchased from a liquidator. The company name was changed to Schatz Bearing Corporation and was eventually bought by the Pomeroy family in 1985.

Stephen Pomeroy began working for the company in 1989 and switched focus towards quality instead of quantity. Schatz knew it could not complete with the low-cost competitors in other countries like China. So, the company focused on producing ball bearings that require a sophisticated level of engineering. Aerospace companies like Boeing and Airbus need parts that can withstand the demands of commercial aircraft while ensuring they will not fail. In order to make sure the products meet the standards of their customers; Schatz produces ball bearings in smaller volumes to guarantee quality will not be sacrificed in addition to streamlining the production line to cut down on time needed to fill orders. Plant Manager, Bob Lanser explained that machine setup’s that could take up to 8 hours have been reduced to just 30 minutes. Utilizing this model, has developed trust between Schatz Bearing Corporation and its customers who know the company is up to the challenge.

In order to produce quality products, Schatz Bearing Corporation seeks out qualified employees to work at their plant. Competitive wages and an in-depth training program give Schatz an advantage that candidates are attracted to. The company also focuses on developing a positive work culture to reduce turnover which can cause instability. Schatz Bearing Corporation is a great example of how focusing on quality products, listening to customers needs, and focusing on a positive work culture lead to company growth and help overcome obstacles.

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The Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) Industrial Partnerships Program – Any Company, Any Challenge!

The Industrial Partnerships Program helps industry solve real-world challenges using a science-based, uniquely collaborative approach.  It provides:

  • World-class Capabilities: Access to renowned faculty and experts, and state of the art equipment enabling industry partners to solve short-term and long-term technical challenges. To help you identify the most appropriate expert/partner, Cornell faculty members have been grouped under Research Areas. Instruments are listed at Facilities.
  • Streamlined Solutions Access: Fast, easy and cost-effective solutions providing Matching funds to industry sponsored projects. Specific programs address the needs of large and small businesses from New York State (NYS) and beyond. More on CCMR Programs and matching funds for industry partners
  • Long-term Investment in Industry’s Success: Delivering meaningful results through changing company needs and growth. Industry Partners from NY State and beyond,  NY State small businesses and multiple Facilities users represent a rich portfolio of varied industry sectors.

JumpStart pairs New York State small businesses that have well-defined technical needs with Cornell faculty and students who have the expertise to help.

  • Projects receive a dollar for dollar match for project expenses up to $5,000
  • The application process is fast, simple, and online
  • All NYS businesses are eligible to apply
  • Total project costs will not exceed $15,000
  • Projects last for one semester (4 months)
  • Fall projects begin in September 2018

 The CCMR JumpStart Application period is June 1, 2019, to July 1, 2019.

FAQs:

* Can real-world problems be solved by a university research group?   Yes

 See previous JumpStart success stories Here

* Is it difficult to apply?   No

 The Application is simple and online!

* Will I qualify?   Yes

 All New York State businesses may apply

* Can I afford university-based research?   Yes

 Costs will not exceed $5,000 in company cash

 

For more information contact:

John Sinnott, Industrial Partnerships Manager

607-255-7070 jps39@cornell.edu

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AI in Manufacturing: Nascent, But on a Fast Track

From National Association of Manufacturers, www.manufacturingleadershipcouncil.com, By

Opinions about the impact of artificial intelligence today range from the apocalyptic to the miraculous. Media darling Elon Musk of Tesla, for example, thinks AI is an “existential threat” to human civilization. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd believes a battle between the United States and China for “AI supremacy” will have important consequences for the global economy. And Ginny Rometty, IBM’s CEO, is convinced that AI has the power to transform industries in positive ways.

Whatever your view of AI, a term coined in 1955 by the computer scientist John McCarthy, the technology is at the forefront of discussions throughout society today, leading a debate about the future of work, jobs, and even what it means to be human. And as the manufacturing industry transitions to the digital era, AI is being viewed as central to leveraging the vast amounts of data that factories and plants will generate to do everything from improving operational efficiency to creating new, competitive advantages.

“Industrial AI can give the Fourth Industrial Revolution a huge boost and take Industrie 4.0 and similar initiatives to the next level,” said Roland Busch, Chief Operating Officer, CTO, and Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, in an article posted on the World Economic Forum’s website in January.

In an attempt to separate the hype from the reality of AI, and to take the measure of where AI and its cousin machine learning stand in manufacturing today, the Manufacturing Leadership Council undertook its first ever survey on manufacturers’ attitudes, plans, projects, and expectations with the technology earlier this year.

Chief among the survey’s findings is that, despite the hype, the 64-year old concept is at an early stage in most manufacturing companies. And while many companies expect AI to displace significant percentages of their workforces, they also anticipate that many of the displaced workers will be retrained for other roles in their companies, undercutting the notion that AI will inevitably lead to a vast wasteland of unemployed people. Moreover, a majority believes that while AI and machine learning are significant, they will not be transformative for the manufacturing industry.

Read the full article.

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The Council of Industry’s Collaborative Recruiting Program Is Helping Hudson Valley Manufacturers Find the Talent they Need

 

When Johnnieanne Hansen began her role as Director of Workforce Development and Apprentice Coordinator for the Council of Industry her first priority was to recruit companies to participate in the newly formed Intermediary Apprentice Program. Her first order of business was to visit with member CEO’s and HR professionals to pitch the idea.  What she heard from them, while not completely surprising, did raise some alarm bells in her head and prompted her to rethink her priorities.

“They loved the apprentice idea, they really did.  They recognized that it was one solution to finding the skilled workers they needed.” Ms. Hansen remembers. “But they also said that they did not have the time to think about apprentices or to take on a project like that because they ‘need people now!’  So unless I was walking in with people on my shoulders for them to hire, they had more pressing recruiting problems.”

She prodded them further about how they were recruiting and where they were finding candidates.  As she did so an idea began take shape in her mind that these small and mid-sized manufacturers, all different, yet all a little alike, could pool their resources to market careers with Hudson Valley manufacturers and develop a system to organize and manage candidates.

Thus, in March of 2018 the Collaborative Recruiting Initiative was hatched.

“In my previous positions as a recruiter and corporate trainer I had done some research into Applicant Tracking Systems. It occurred to me that the Council could purchase a subscription and make the service available to participating members.”  Hansen said.  “Hiring managers get a system where they can post jobs, sort and track candidates and get other resources and support throughout the hiring process. Posted jobs are distributed to over 100 job boards like: Indeed, Hotjobs, Monster, Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn and Glassdoor.”

Additionally, all the jobs are listed in one place www.HVMfgJobs.com and a social media marketing campaign is in place to encourage people to visit the site.  The campaign is designed to target individuals most likely to be interested in careers in manufacturing.

“We thought that this might be a valuable tool for our members.  A way to give them some resources that are otherwise not accessible to them, or at least cost probative.” Hansen added.

The program launched in March 2018 with 10 companies posting about 25 jobs. Today 29 participating companies keep roughly 100 jobs posted at any point in time at www.HVMfgJobs.com.  There have been more than 100 positions filled in that time from nearly 5,000 applicants.

“It’s working.” Says Hansen. “Of course it could be better.”  She suggests that more could be done to take advantage of the applicant pool and that marketing the positions and Hudson Valley Manufacturing, in general, could be stronger.   “Every additional company that participates, every additional job that gets posted makes the program stronger,” Hansen said. “We’re good, it’s solid and it will be even better in 12 more months.”

All Council members are welcome to participate in the Collaborative Recruiting Program and its new pricing model will make it easier for any firm to participate. If you want to learn more visit https://careers.councilofindustry.org/manufacturing or email Johnnieanne Hansen at jhansen@councilofindustry.org

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Six Sigma Gives Way to Rendanheyi at GE Appliances

How China’s Appliance Giant Helped Wipe Out GE’s Middle Managers

From Bloomberg.com

Haier, the new owner, has its own plan to revive the struggling brand.

Weeks after sealing a $5.4 billion deal to buy General Electric Appliances (GEA) in 2016, Zhang Ruimin, chairman of China’s Haier Group, stood before 500 anxious GE white-collar workers who asked a barrage of questions about their futures. The irony wasn’t lost on Zhang, revered in China as a pioneering corporate titan but mostly anonymous to the outside world. When Zhang was struggling in the 1990s to transform Haier from a collective village enterprise into a world-class manufacturer, he idolized General Electric Co. because of its reputation for corporate excellence. “We went for courses at Crotonville, studying Six Sigma,” he says, referring to GE’s management training center in New York and the data-driven process-improvement strategy espoused by former Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch. “Now they were looking at me, asking: ‘What can you do for us?’ ”

As it turned out, quite a lot. Zhang may have cut his teeth on Six Sigma, but as Haier became the biggest appliance maker in the world, he thought it needed a different playbook to eliminate the sluggish bureaucracy that comes with size. So he created a management philosophy he calls rendanheyi, which translates loosely to “employees and customers become one.”

Read the full article

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What Robots Mean for the Future of American Manufacturing

By Al Root, from www.barrons.com

Industrial automation robots offer more than just labor saving productivity. According to robotics industry insiders, robots can bring jobs back to the U.S., improve factory productivity, and help manufacturers adapt to changing consumer preferences. It seems there is nothing robots can’t do. 

Read the full article here

 

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Future plant design links data, operations

Manufacturers are ready to invest in next-gen digital production.

BY DR. KESHAB PANDA, L&T Technology Service, from www.plantengineering.com 

One of the primary elements in the transformation of the manufacturing plants is the changing nature of demand from the customers. There is sturdy economic impetus toward products that are high on precision, safe to use and safely produced, built to purpose, manufactured with less material consumption throughout the value chain, and environment friendly. While presently manufacturing is focused on productivity and performance, the future will be all about precision products. Manufacturers are supposed to accomplish this without compromising on the speed or quality. This leads to some intriguing questions pertaining to plant design. How will the plant of the future be created and managed? How will data be used for production? How will plants be structured over the next decade?

Read the full article

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Bringing Maintenance and Repairs into the Era of Cloud Technology

 

CloudVist, a local business located in Putnam County, recently launched a new software that has the potential to transform the way we preform maintenance, repairs and inspections. This new software, CloudVisit Inspection Software, brings these processes into the era of cloud technology by allowing everything to be done remotely. CloudVisit is a custom video conference application that “maximizes the efficiency of the quality control process by allowing the inspection and documentation of completed work on distant jobsites without leaving the office.”

CloudVisit software provides remote MRO across many industries including transportation, construction, aviation, energy, telecom, telehealth and more. Recently the technology has been instrumental in the quality assurance of windfarm installation and maintenance. Windpower is growing in demand, and expected to expand up to 6 percent by 2023. The United States is planning more than 25 major wind projects, with a large majority in the Northeast.

CloudVist’s technology can provide important efficiencies during the installation of wind turbines. The software can be used to “quickly train technicians and experts, reduce installation time and costs, and decrease inspection time.” By pairing the software with third-party devices such as drones it eliminates the time and cost of mounting technicians with ropes and harnesses for maintenance and inspection. The drones can now take screen captures in minutes, which are achieved in the cloud for safety and quality control records, and can be shared with project management. This process decreases the amount of machinery required, increases turnaround time for repairs and is much safer.

The amount of uses possible for this type of software seem endless. CloudVisit has already made strides in the energy and aviation industries, and there is no doubt that this technology could have many benefits across the manufacturing industry.

To learn more about CloudVist’s Software solutions click here.

For the full article discussing CloudVist’s Remote Inspection Software in the wind power industry click here.

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Preparing for the New Era of Manufacturing

 

We’re officially in the fourth Industrial Revolution, also referred to as Manufacturing 4.0. This new era of manufacturing is bringing a lot of technological innovation and advancements, bridging the gap between the physical and digital environments. These advancements are happening through IIoT, the Industrial Internet of Things, which connects machines and devices across various industries including the manufacturing industry.

By 2020 experts predict that spending on IoT will increase to $890 billion in the manufacturing sector, and IIoT will add $14.2 trillion to the global economy overall. This hyper-growth will result in some major changes throughout the manufacturing industry. To keep up with these changes many manufacturers are implementing IIoT initiatives to achieve this digital transformation.

Below are four actions you can consider as a manufacturer when planning for this new era of manufacturing:

Examine your unique business requirements – by examining and understanding your unique business and technology requirements you can develop a successful IIoT strategy. You should consider the fundamentals of your hardware, if the hardware can support new software and services, and whether or not new services need to be provided by an outside party. When taking all of this into account you can make more informed and intelligent plans.

Understand your business priorities and challenges – examine your company’s top priorities for your digital initiatives and identify any obstacles. Limit the focus to more meaningful objectives rather than just revenue.

Make the build versus buy decision – consider whether your company’s digital initiatives can be achieved internally, or if you will need support from an outside industry specialist. Carefully examine whether the company has the in-house resources to achieve these new digital initiatives internally. Simply speaking with an industry specialist could provide important insight and help answer any questions.

Plan for an ecosystem – Manufacturing 4.0 is here to stay and technological advancements aren’t slowing down. Updating your digital strategy is important, but it will likely need to be done repeatedly as the industry continues to advance. Companies need to plan for that, this isn’t a one-and-done project. Plan to continually evolve with the industry.

Understanding these four key steps will help guide you on your journey to digital transformation as a manufacturer. The best way to keep up in this fourth Industrial Revolution is to properly execute your new IIoT initiatives.

For more advice to consider when planning for this new era of manufacturing read the full article here.

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Eric Armenat and Mike McQueeney on Corporate Turnarounds

 

By Guest Bloggers Noa Simons and Luke Stangel, Upstate Capital Association of New York

Eric Armenat spent decades building a successful career in aerospace manufacturing before he began embarking on corporate turnarounds. After successfully turning around a family-run healthcare business, Armenat took on a large-scale incineration with a dysfunctional management team before landing in his current role as President and CEO of Buffalo-based Multisorb, a leading manufacturer of oxygen and moisture absorption products.

When he started at Multisorb, Eric found a long-running company that was well regarded by customers, despite its high costs and 8-week lead time on orders. From the outside, the company seemed stable, but behind the scenes, Multisorb was struggling financially, with a management team that insisted on building manufacturing plants in Alabama and the U.K., with plans to build a new facility in India.

That didn’t make sense to Armenat, who halted the company’s expansion plans and closed its ancillary plants, focusing instead on improving its manufacturing base in Buffalo.  Within a year, Multisorb trimmed its global workforce from 678 to 470 people, while simultaneously growing its revenue by $14 million, Armenat says. He’s inspired by Amazon’s warehouse operations, which he called a “leaned out, wire-tight, cost-effective process.”

“What’s the gap? What’s preventing you from flowing information, or flowing a production process, so it doesn’t stop from the time it starts to the time it ends?” Armenat says. The company studied “how long it took at each step and why it took so long. So what we’re working on now is a three-day order cycle. If you call today, I’ll get it on my machines later today, and have it on that dock and ready to go on the third day. That’s the vision, and now you work on everything preventing you from achieving that.”

Summer Street Capital brought Eric into the business along with a private equity investment. Mike McQueeney, Managing Partner, shares that Summer Street’s hands-on approach to corporate turnarounds is somewhat unique among its peers, some of whom have earned a reputation for improving a company’s bottom line by slashing budgets and cutting headcount.

“We don’t want to do business with everybody,” McQueeney says. “We’ve learned this over time. There are people who want help and people who don’t want help. People who are open to learning and improving their businesses? Then that’s a great fit. But management teams that give us the Heisman [block]? Not a good fit for us.

“Having a cooperative partnership, which is what we have most of the time, is a great fit for us.”

Both Eric and Mike will talk about their experiences turning companies around on November 15 in Buffalo, NY at Upstate Capital’s “Under the Hood” event.  Everyone is welcome to attend to learn more and network with investors and business leaders across Upstate New York.

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The Race Between Humans and Robots

 

The ongoing fear that robots will one day take over all of our jobs may not be as accurate as once believed. Many manufacturing companies are beginning to focus more effort on increasing the efficiency of their workforce, rather than investing in automation and equipment. Their thought is that investments in machines have a higher risk of going to waste if there’s a downturn in the economy. The chance that robots can be left sitting unused out weighs the benefit of increased productivity.

However, this isn’t the case at every manufacturing company. Big name corporations like Tesla are making huge investments in equipment in an effort to make the entire factory floor automated. This method certainly has the benefit of a faster and more efficient process but if business begins to dip these investments will be hard to reverse.

Spending on robotics is estimated to be about $90 billion in 2018, with a large portion of that spending coming from the industrial and manufacturing industries. Yet many companies are beginning to optimize how they use employees rather than purchasing more machines. Skilled workers are a key component in making these machines run efficiently. The integration of employees AND technology is what will make these manufacturing companies more productive.

It seems that humans are coming out on top in the race between humans and robots. These machines still need human hands operating them. The next challenge is finding the skilled workers necessary to operate this equipment, and with unemployment below 4% wages are going up and skilled workers are harder to find. Moving forward it will be increasingly important to invest in current employees.

For more information about the race between robots and humans read the full article here.

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Tomorrow’s Technology and Skill Sets: A Perpetual State of Flux

By Guest Blogger Elisha Tropper

The World Economic Forum recently released their Future of Jobs 2018 report which simultaneously hailed and warned about the imminence of what it refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  This revolution refers to the technological advancement across all aspects of society that will substantially disrupt the labor requirements and, by extension, the workforce and its livelihoods, across all industries. The disruption, according to the study, will ultimately net a positive number of new jobs, but will “entail difficult transitions for millions of workers and the need for proactive investment in developing a new surge of agile learners and skilled talent globally.”

Regardless of which sector of the economy you occupy, it is crystal clear that automation is no longer an option. It must be an essential focus of every single business, from manufacturing and medicine to accounting and transportation. Like transformative implementable philosophies such as Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement, the effective design and execution of automated solutions in any organization can only result from a forward-thinking, company-wide cultural shift. As the WEF study so pointedly observes, the rise in robotics and automation will eliminate human tasks, not jobs.

“As has been the case throughout economic history, such augmentation of existing jobs through technology is expected to create wholly new tasks—from app development to piloting drones to remotely monitoring patient health to certified care workers—opening up opportunities for an entirely new range of livelihoods for workers.”  In other words, employees need not fear for their jobs per se; they need to understand that flexibility and continuous training for new tasks will be the new norm – if it’s not already.

For businesses, the challenge is to strike the balance between maximizing current output, investing in new technologies, and preparing its workforce for a future that will require different skill sets and knowledge bases.  Just as machine operators incrementally replaced manual laborers along the production line, so too will the developers, programmers, builders, and installers of smart technologies replace the current machine operators.  The fact is that the implementation of new technologies drives business growth AND both job creation and the altering of existing positions, but only if the business can provide the proper vision and new-skills-based-training to a motivated and adaptable workforce.

Most companies will face significant challenges as they pursue a new equilibrium. It is inevitable that skill gaps and the disruption they carry will emerge at all levels, from the boardroom to the factory floor.  These skill gaps will have the potential to wreak havoc across companies, workforces, and even entire communities.  It is up to the management of every company to anticipate what is coming, embrace its imminence, and develop transformation plans that encompass solutions at both the process and people level.  The successful companies of the future are those who recognize today the requirements of tomorrow, all the while understanding that both technologies and skill sets are permanently in a perpetual state of flux.

Elisha Tropper is the CEO of Cambridge Security Seals, a Pomona, New York-based manufacturer of tamper-evident security devices.

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Cybersecurity Precautions Anyone Can Implement

 

October is cybersecurity month so it’s the perfect time to discuss some simple precautions all companies should take to reduce the likelihood of a data breach. Manufacturing companies that deal with the United States DOD have certain cybersecurity requirements to protect their data but all companies, no matter the size or industry, should follow several cybersecurity best practices.

Multi-factor authentication is an easy to use tool that companies can implement to keep passwords safe from hackers. Multi-factor authentication requires multiple forms of identification before granting users access. This can include codes sent to your cell phone, fingerprints, or even facial scans. Hackers that steal your password are unable to access your accounts without this second form of identification, making it much more difficult.

Making each new password unique can difficult and challenging to remember. Password managers are another tool that can be used to generate passwords and save them in encrypted lists that cannot be accessed. Finding a trusted password manager can eliminate the need for memorizing or reusing passwords.

Software updates can be annoying but its important that we stay up to date on them to reduce our vulnerability to hackers. Hackers have the ability to detect these vulnerabilities and release malware on our devices and applications. The time spent updating is much less inconvenient than a data breach.

Adobe Flash Player is one of the most popular methods of streaming media online, but its poor security has experts suspicious. The software has been hacked thousands of times and many electronic companies recommend turning it off. Requiring that company devices disable Adobe Flash Player is a simple way to protect company data.

The use of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) ensures that you use an encrypted connection on all possible websites, and notifies you when one isn’t available. “Just a few years ago, most websites used unencrypted connections, which meant anything you typed into a form on that site would be sent in plain text and could be intercepted with little effort.” HTTPS is easy to install and facilitates safer connections.

These are five simple steps to improving your cybersecurity. For more information read the full article here.

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Increase Hiring Success in 5 Simple Steps

 

Today’s job market is candidate-driven, and with the unemployment rate steadily falling companies need to competitively pursue quality candidates. Especially in the manufacturing industry where companies are struggling to catch these quality candidates before they’re snatched up. This means that old hiring practices must be updated to better suit the market. However, completely revising these processes takes significant time and money. Luckily there are five simple adjustments that hiring managers can implement today to increase success.

Accelerating the interview process can make a major difference. When the process gets dragged on candidates can lose interest or accept a position elsewhere. An easy first step to making this a reality is examining the current timeline and finding potential hold ups. A shorter hiring process can go a long way in the eyes of a candidate.

Consistent communication is also important. Communicating with candidates constantly will keep them engaged and reduce ambiguity. This is especially critical when there is a delay in the process. Communicating at least once a week is recommended, even when there is nothing new to report.

Posting jobs on mobile platforms is a more convenient way to reach candidates. When candidates have the ability to view a positions from a mobile devise they’re more likely to apply. Eliminating the need for candidates to access a computer will increase the amount of applicants.

Transparency is key! Be upfront with candidates about salary and benefits. Waiting until you extend an offer is too late to inform candidates of these details.

Finally, make a competitive offer. Do the research to find out what other companies are offering candidates for similar positions. It would be a waste of time to go through the entire interview process and make an offer that isn’t competitive. Being informed will allow you to make a competitive offer the first time.

For more details read the full article here.

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Manufacturing Takes a Step into the Future

 

New technology is continuously revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and making processes more efficient. Many are calling these advancements “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” and if companies take advantage they can become more efficient, increase production and reduce costs. Even small changes that are simple to implement can make a huge impact.

Smarter facilities are making manufacturers more competitive and allowing them to more easily adapt to changes in the market. A popular trend is to update the facility and machinery to create a connected and smart modern factory. This includes making changes to existing equipment, streamlining processes and adopting new technologies.

When an entire facility is interconnected through the use of data, a plant can operate at a level of intelligence and efficiency that was once impossible. “Harnessed directly from sensor-fitted equipment, complex raw data is translated into status charts, annotation notes and to-do lists which are displayed via an interactive touchscreen display, delivering an easily digestible insight into how the factory is operating in that precise moment.” This allows the shop floor to make quicker, more informed decisions throughout the production process, and issues are caught almost immediately.

Even older equipment is being brought into the modern era with the use of sensors. Sensors are “connected to software which can measure key variables such as temperature, pressure, vibration and power consumption, they give machines a voice – and allow engineering to understand the real-time performance of key pieces of equipment.” This new technology transforms legacy equipment into efficient and smart machines.

The success of Industry 4.0 suggests that even more progress will be made in the future, and many believe that virtual reality will one day have a big impact on manufacturing. Factories are continuously getting smarter and huge advancements aren’t far away.

If you’d like to read more about smart factories and the technology changing the manufacturing industry, you can find the full article here.

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Time to Beef up Cybersecurity

 

Last month the Council of Industry partnered with Fuzehub to discuss the importance of cybersecurity with our local Hudson Valley manufacturing companies, and offer suggestions and resources for improvement. In this digital era quality cybersecurity is no longer an option, it’s now a necessity. The Cybersecurity Workshop, which was held on July 26th at SUNY New Paltz, featured several guest speakers who stressed the need for small and large companies to protect all electronic data against an attack or unauthorized use.

Many small companies believe they are safe from cyber attacks, but that is not the case. Small and large companies are affected by breaches in cybersecurity every year. Experts believe that as summer winds down, and employees are retuning to work after their vacations, now is a great time to beef up cybersecurity. Luckily there are small changes that any size company can implement to improve security.

First and foremost, ensuring that all employees are creating strong passwords that are updated regularly should be a major priority. This is a relatively simple change that can make a big impact. Creating password requirements, implementing two-factor authentication and requiring users to regularly update their passwords are all easy ways to improve cybersecurity.

Reminding employees to be wary of phishing scams can also prevent malware from being planted on company devices. Employees who are educated and informed on cybersecurity are more likely to be cautious and identify cyber attacks before they do damage. Staff play a big role in ensuring that company data stays protected, make sure they understand the importance of cybersecurity.

For more easy ways to improve your company’s cybersecurity read the full article here.

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