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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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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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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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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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