11.15.18

Council Partner M-TEC Offering Cyber Security Assessments for Manufacturers

Council of Industry friend and partner the Manufacturing and Technology Enterprise Center (M-TEC) is offering cyber security assessments to Hudson Valley manufacturers. Risk assessments are the best way for organizations to lay a solid foundation for an effective cyber security strategy. It is an ideal starting point for any business looking for guidance as to what they should focus their resources on and commit to going forward.

These assessments cost $5,600 but for a limited time a $3,000 grant is available to defray that cost.

What does a Risk Assessment Provide?

MTEC’s risk assessment is based on the standards for cyber security assessment developed by the  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and can address:

  • Risk identification and management
  • Comprehensive understanding and awareness of current cyber security industry standards
  • External vulnerability testing in regard to firewall protection and internal network exposure
  • Review of current policies related to information security, data protection, and access control
  • A detailed description of the vulnerabilities found through the assessment with prioritized security risks to focus on and maintenance procedures
  • Assessment of current anomaly and event monitoring, as well as response planning for future
  • Follow-up assessment upon completion of the initial assessment to ensure compliance with industry standards and provide documentation of such

Most small businesses believe they do not store customer information that is of value, while more than half store email addresses, phone numbers, and billing addresses.

Any company connected to the internet can expect to fall victim to cyber security as criminals expand their ability to steal money directly and turn stolen data into money. If you are a company that is connected to the internet, you have something that can be exploited.

According to the US National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), 39% of all cyber attacks in  2016 were against the manufacturing sector, up from 33% the year before, with breaches costing between $1m and $10m.

If you think you may be at risk consider this low cost assessment from M-TEC. to find out more contact:

Phyllis Levine
Manager of Marketing & Administration
phyllis.levine@hvtdc.org
(845) 391-8214 ext.3001

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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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STEM: THE GATEWAY TO HIGHER PAYING JOBS

 

STEM jobs are in demand and they tend to pay well. The growing economy has a heightened need for workers in the core STEM fields, and predictions indicate that STEM jobs will grow at a faster rate between 2014 and 2024 than jobs overall. Analysts are projecting about 9 to 11 percent growth in STEM jobs compared to 6.5 percent growth for jobs overall. These numbers are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts.

These numbers are largely just projections and are subject to change with the inevitable fluctuations in the economy and industry; but for the most part they are believed to be highly accurate. Not only is demand for jobs in these fields growing but wages are rising as well. In 2015 the Commerce Department found that STEM workers had an average wage that was 29 percent higher than other fields, and that number is expected to have increased since.

Among the most in demand and highest paying jobs are electrical and mechanical engineers, technicians and software developers. Each of these positions have varying educational requirements but demand and pay is expected to grow exponentially in the next 10 years. For a closer look at the staffing needs, pay and level of education required for these jobs click here.

A career path in STEM is promising, but educators need to better inform young adults about these opportunities. Thankfully schools are expanding their curriculum to better serve this need. Right here in the Hudson Valley schools like Pine Bush High School are creating programs to educate students about careers in manufacturing and STEM.

For more information on the demand for jobs in the STEM field 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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