September 24, 2019 at 10:03 AM

Decision-Making Model Part 1

We’ve talked before about decision methodology.  In brief, the theory we follow for manufacturers is that to stay competitive, you must always make your decisions based on the information currently present.  Collecting more information could be helpful, but spend too much time here, and you have analysis paralysis

The basic tenet of the model is this: review the current landscape of the situation and make a decision based on prior experience and present details.  This is a delicate balance.  Rely too much on experience and you may be blind to what’s currently sitting in front of you.  Ignore the past and you may repeat something you’ve tried that doesn’t work.

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August 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Weather You Need Production Control (And We Did Spell That Correctly)

Update 09/03/19: today, as we post this blog, Hurricane Dorian is sitting over the Bahamas.  Little is yet known about how much damage has been done at this time.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. 

 

Whether you believe in global warming or not (we do try to make these blogs historically relevant without being political statements), it’s difficult to watch or read the news without seeing stories about smaller icebergs, deforestation and shifting weather patterns.  We’re not going to talk here about what’s causing those.  We’re more concerned with the idea that things are always changing, even those things that you rely on for stability. 

What do you do when the things that you count on being constant shift?  

Weather is one of those constants in our lives.  Depending on where you live, you expect the patterns of the seasons, water and temperature, to be consistent from year to year.  Everything you buy and do depends on it.  At work and at home, you rely on the weather to be relatively even from day to day, week to week, season to season, year to year.  It would be safe to say that you probably never have created a plan for what to do when the weather shifts dramatically from its current pattern.  It’s something you count on.

What do you count on in your business?  What items are there that you assume will be the same from period to period?  Do you always assume that your sales will be stable or rise?  Do you figure

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August 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Curiosity in Manufacturing

As people, we are inherently curious.  Even as we age, that yearning for something new causes us to travel, meet new people, maybe even wander a bit.  Curiosity is a part of human nature.  We all read studies (and see the evidence) of how curious children are when they are born.  We also see the results of traditional educational models in curiosity.  Driving children to conform to a single norm of sitting in straight-line desks and file in lines works for teachers in that in helps to control the chaos of the classroom, but if you were like me and many other entrepreneurs, conforming naturally bucked the curiosity you felt about issues that weren’t on the schedule for the teacher today. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on Why Curiosity Matters, Francesco Gina explores curiosity and its results on business specifically.  While most breakthroughs come from curiosity, she cites all the ways that business kill it in their workers.  Critical to this center of thinking is the notion that “it will increase risk and inefficiency.” 

Ms. Gina lays out the benefits of curiosity in work.  Confirmation bias is first on the list.  We’ve talked about this before.  Expecting what you’ll see and seeing it, whether it’s there or not.  This shows up in manufacturing all the time.  We hear it called “tribal knowledge.”  Many companies tell us that their workforce just “knows what to do.”   That only works if you never want to change how they do it. 

In training your workers to “just know,” you are eliminating the possibility of anything new.  My mind immediately goes back to the days of early automation.  Whether that conjures a picture of Lucy trying to wrap chocolates on an assembly line in “I Love Lucy” or assembly workers at the early days of Ford, this is not the way work is done today.  In the era of click and swipe, no one wants to do a job the same way all the time. 

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July 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Why Pictures Matter in Manufacturing

Pictures solidify messages.  Science tells us that we forget most of what we read.  (This doesn’t speak well to what you might remember about this blog, so be sure to come back and read it again.)  We remember context.  That could be the place you were when something happened.  Smells.  Visual elements of the world around you.  The writing on the page. 

The last time that you went to a bookstore (you have been to one recently, yes?), do you remember picking up a book because you liked its cover?  Maybe a magazine’s front picture drew you in?  These are images that recalled something in your mind.  They caused you to have an emotion which made you lean in.  If you opened the book, do you remember liking the text, the way it looked on the page?  Or not?

These emotions related to what you see help you to remember the content as well.  Without a connection between seeing something and an emotion, chances of you remembering it shrink drastically.  Studies (and Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience) show that 10% of people remember what they read but 90% of what they do. 

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July 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Creating a Culture of Compliance

Catch and resolve these common audit issues before the regulators do.

If you’re in the manufacturing industry you understand how essential auditing is to your company’s success. The amount of resources required to report multiple times a year may be frustrating, but their value cannot be overstated.

That said; you hate everything about them.

Here are three tips for getting ahead of your inspection and receiving the most value out of every audit.

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July 13, 2018 at 11:15 AM

3 Manufacturing Slow Downs that are Impacting Your Bottom Line

Production and profit had plateaued at a Midwest Composites manufacturer. Orders were consistent enough to turn a small profit, but margins were paper-thin and the workforce was aging out of their roles.

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June 7, 2018 at 2:55 PM

The 9 Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms, and How to Cure Them

When looking for a solution to manufacturing problems, it’s important that you find the cure rather than just treating the symptoms.

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April 20, 2018 at 10:45 AM

5 More Easy Shop Floor Quality Improvements

Production Control Systems and Quality Improvement

We are all in the quality business. Wasted time, scrapped materials and customer turnbacks reduce margins and damage our reputations. It’s only by putting the proper systems in place that our shops can achieve maximum efficiency and profitability.

With your existing production control system (PCS) and these five easy steps, your business can eliminate scrap and accelerate production in a matter of weeks.

  1. Review Non-Conformance Issues Daily
    Evaluate your previous day’s non-conformances in your morning production meeting. One competitive advantage your PCS provides is access to real-time production data. Don’t let your team revert back to weekly updates. Keep your processes as agile as your operators. You have all the data you need at your fingertips; use it.
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March 27, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Accelerate and Achieve your Production Goals with Analytics

Companies often set aggressive business goals at the beginning of each year, only to find those targets unachievable or untraceable by Q4. The initial excitement slowly fades as the day-to-day business needs take priority. This is especially true for manufacturers.

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August 23, 2017 at 9:22 AM

5 Powerful Benefits of Production Data Visibility

Production data fuels the manufacturing industry. Putting this strategic information to work adds profit and production to your business.

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May 25, 2017 at 9:44 AM

The Future of Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturing

Every year, wire and cable harness manufacturers and suppliers descend on the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee for the Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo. I’d heard from both customers and industry experts this was the show to be at.

With so much to see and do in Milwaukee, it’s taken me a few days to process it all. What can a new attendee learn? As an industry, where do we go from here?

Here are my key takeaways from the 2017 EWPTE show:

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January 18, 2017 at 8:54 AM

Tips to Stay Focused on Production Improvement in 2017

It may be hard to believe, but we are already entering the third quarter of 2017. With every passing day our carefully laid strategies are forced to deal with the realities of shifting priorities, market limitations and meeting the ambitious goals set at the New Year.

After the dust settles, many manufacturers utilize this time of the year to reset and focus on what needs to happen to meet their goals. This often leads to reaching out to software and solution providers to solve their production problems. 

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August 9, 2016 at 9:36 AM

Getting to Zero in Manufacturing

For production, the goal shouldn’t be minimizing quality escapes, but eliminating them, and that requires the deep understanding of processes you only get with an MES.

A few months ago, I needed my furnace repaired. Winters in Ohio can be brutally cold, and we needed a solution fast. The repair company rushed the replacement part from a warehouse in Arizona (because the best place to keep furnace supplies is in the brutal heat of Arizona), only to have the part arrive broken.

I was furious (and still cold), the repair company apologetic, and the manufacturer defensive. After looking at potential solutions, we ended up going with another part supplier.

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July 26, 2016 at 10:40 AM

How to Increase Efficiency with New Employees Using MES

An MES or Paperless Manufacturing system offers the most effective resource in onboarding new manufacturing production employees.

We recently spoke to a manufacturer about implementing an MES. Business was booming, new orders were coming in and a system would solve many of their problems. They needed to increase production, decrease scrap, and track orders with better scheduling and production records.

Even so, they were reluctant to implement the software because they weren’t sure how to train their employees, new and old, on the system. “It’s going to be complex,” they told us. “I don’t know if we can manage everything.

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April 14, 2015 at 6:16 AM

Newton’s Laws and MES: What the Laws of Motion Tell You about Your Shop Floor?

Isaac Newton’s physical laws have become the basis of modern manufacturing. They also help explain why many manufacturer’s struggle to improve, and point to a solution.

We use Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion every day. They may not be as popular among scientists as more revolutionary theories – like General Relativity, Supersymmetry and Quantum Mechanics. Though we may never think about it, the shop floor operates efficiently using Newton’s Laws of Motion.

It may also help explain why so many manufacturers struggle to improve, grappling with the same tired issues year after year. Consider this:

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