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September 24, 2012

Manufacturing in America (Infographic)

By Jennifer Wilson September 24, 2012

Manufacturing in America is central to our economic strength and a driver of innovation. Manufacturing jobs are some of the best in the country, yet the public doesn’t perceive them to be. And there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them. But together, we can help tell the real story…

Manufacturing in America

Infographic courtsey of NIST MEP (http://mep.nist.gov)

March 13, 2012

Uncovering the Hidden Factory through SMED

By Rodney Reddic March 13, 2012
Stopwatch

Is time on your side?

Too often, companies are quick to implement new equipment in order to meet increased customer demand for products, without maximizing the utilization of their current equipment.  Equipment changeover time is one area of the business that is often ignored and companies accept long changeover as a part of doing business.  The changeover time of equipment can be a Hidden Factory just waiting to be uncovered.  It is very common for equipment changeover from one product to the next product, to take a couple hours for completion.  Companies often make several product changeovers per week, consuming hours of potential production time.  If we could somehow reduce the changeover time from hours to minutes, we could have a dramatic effect on providing additional production capacity.  This is what Dr. Shigeo Shingo discovered while helping to develop the Toyota Production System.  Dr. Shingo terms his discovery SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies), and it prescribe that changeover time should be less than ten minutes for a given product.

What does SMED Involve?

Companies can systematically reduce changeover time on their equipment by following a simply four step method.

  1. Document the current changeover process and break the process into elemental steps.  This is typically done through the shooting of a changeover video of the process and reviewing the video to document the steps and times associated with each step.  The steps are also classified as internal (Step occurs while the equipment is not running) or external (Step occurs while the equipment is running and producing product).
  2. Review each process step: Is it necessary or can it be eliminated.  During the review, ideas are generated on how to convert internal steps to external steps.  Internal steps in the changeover process are the driving factor for the overall changeover time on the equipment.   Thus, reducing the internal steps has a dramatic effect on the overall changeover time for the equipment.
  3. Re-examine the remaining internal steps with the goal of (Streamlining, Combining or Eliminating) the steps.   Often steps can be performed in parallel with the addition of Assist Operator during the equipment changeover.  Working as a team and performing parallel operations can have a dramatic effect on reducing the time on the equipment changeover.
  4. Focus on eliminating adjustments for the remaining internal setup steps.  In this step, the reliance on “Tribal Knowledge” is significantly reduced or eliminated through the development of hard settings for the equipment.  Often the equipment is updated with scales, gauges, and visual controls that can be used to establish initial settings for running a particular product on the equipment.  By establishing initial settings based on past production runs, the trial and error time at start-up can be significantly reduce and the equipment can produce good product much faster.

SMED Four Step Process
Finally, after completing the SMED four-step process a new changeover standard can be developed using the remaining internal and external steps.   The new changeover standard should prescribe the changeover sequence and operators required to complete the changeover on the equipment.

For most companies that have not participated in any formal changeover reduction process on their equipment, applying the SMED approach typically reduces the changeover time by 50% when first applied.  By continuing to work as a team, planning changeovers, practicing, being innovative and standardizing changeover methods equipment changeover times can continue to be reduced.   Companies should strive to achieve the goal of single-minute changeover times and recapture the loss capacity due to long changeover times.

  • Planning
  • Practice
  • Innovation
  • Standardization
  • Continuous Improvement

February 9, 2012

Factory Tour 101

By Jennifer Wilson February 9, 2012

As a kid, I was never really into wondering how stuff was made or where it came from (which I probably why I’m in marketing & not manufacturing, but I digress) – I’d like to blame myHow It's Made lack of curiosity on my parents and after reading about the Top 10 Cool U.S. Factory Tours, I may have a pretty good case against them.

Our family vacations were always fun, exotic and a mixture of stress/rest so I can’t blame my parents too much… I did have amazing vactions! Now, I’m on the look-out for more than beautiful beaches! Working with TMAC has opened my eyes to how “stuff” is made  and even though I’ve been on a handful of plant tours (all of which were ah-mazing!) since I started here - it seems like a great way to spend some down-time too.

Do you…

Have a sweet tooth? Visit the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, California!

Have a need for speed? Visit the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky!

Are you…

A country boy (or girl)? See the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois and experience equipment past and present!

Baseball fans, Artists, Aviators and Dentisits Coca-Cola Addicts can each experience their favorite brands from behind the scenes. Don’t see anything that peaks your interest? Check out the Watch It Made in the USA website for their suggestions and if you decide you’d rather not brave the crowds – you can always tune in to the Science Channel and catch up on episodes of “How It’s Made“!

What are your favorite factories to tour?

January 17, 2012

Top 10 reasons to attend the 2012 Texas Manufacturers Summit

By Jennifer Wilson January 17, 2012

Manufacturing is an exceedingly important industry sector in our state – maintaining our strength is a key economic driver. We’ve rewritten the rules regarding ROI on conferences. Gone are the days when you spent three days out of the office only to return with fragments of useful information. Join us this coming February for an informative day of learning that impacts every facet of your business!

  1. Competitive advantage. You need to figure out how to evolve your business and this Summit is an important gathering for people like you – people figuring out how to make their business succeed in challenging times.
  2. See all the best tools in one place. You will meet with established leaders, Texas resources and creative innovators to find the right tools and technologies to take your business to the next level.
  3. Real-world solutions to your real-world problems. Summit sessions and keynote presentations are designed to highlight how forward-thinking users are accessing current and new technologies to drive change in their organizations.
  4. Stay ahead of the curve. Leaders who understand how to be collaborative, flexible and transparent will be the most sought-after employers.
  5. Topnotch Keynote Speakers. Dr. F. Barry Lawrence, Director, Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University System; Representative Joe Straus, Speaker of the House and Mr. Richard Fisher, President & Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  6. Breakout Sessions. Three tracks: Mix and match or stick with one track all day! Choose from informative tracks on Policy & Regulatory Issues, The Business of Manufacturing, and Innovation & Growth during four sessions.
  7. Case studies from experts detailing practical advice and best practices for all manufacturers, large, medium and small.
  8. Meet & Greet. Network with fellow senior-level manufacturers and manufacturing support organizations in an interactive environment throughout the Summit.
  9. Exhibitors. Visit Summit exhibitors for a taste of the latest and greatest resources and technologies to support your manufacturing operations.
  10. We’ll be there – of course! TMAC is a proud sponsor of this important inaugural event. Join us for the Welcome Reception on February 14th and stop by our booth and breakout sessions during the Summit on the 15th. But don’t wait! Registration ends soon!

Planning on attending? Use #txmfgsummit2012 on Twitter and share the event on LinkedIn and Facebook.

November 1, 2011

Slips and Trips and Falls – Oh MY!

By Esteban Pedraza November 1, 2011

According to OSHA slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. It’s no secret that slip, trip and fall accidents increase substantially during the winter months. However, Slip, Trips and Fall incidents during inclement weather are preventable if we have a system in place to assess and manage the risks.

Caution: Wet Floor Sign

The system should identify the outdoor areas used by employees/ pedestrians most likely to be affected by water and ice, for example: – building entrances, parking lots, walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.

The following are recommendations to help guard against Slips, Trips and Falls during inclement weather:

Always try and wear the best non-skid shoe possible, especially paying attention to the type of weather you will be exposed to. Shoes that have worn, slick soles should not be worn. Avoid high heels during inclement weather. Select something that has a large surface area, which has good traction. If you work in an area where there is a lot of water, then pay special attention to brands that have superior anti-skid properties.

Action should be taken whenever wet/freezing temperatures are forecasted. Local weather stations and their web sites are a great source of information.

  • Designate a Weather Team
  • Encourage employees to monitor weather reports to help prepare the workplace.
  • Increase awareness by posting daily weather briefings.
  • Distribute sand, salt or ice melt before employees are scheduled to arrive.
  • Use salt, sand, ice melt or similar on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions.
  • Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface from forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface
  • Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
  • If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.
  • Institute frequent floor surface monitoring by designated staff throughout a weather event.
  • Have dry mops and wet floor signs readily available.
  • Consider closing side entrances if you lack the resources for frequent inspection and maintenance.
  • Post an employee at entrances during peak hours to encourage wiping feet on mats. You can also post a sign to get attention.
  • Purchase entry walk-off mats and make sure that they are not so thick as to block the swing of entry doors.
  • Extend mats 8 to 12 feet into the entrance to allow for the removal of moisture from shoes. A rule of the thumb is to have the mat long enough so that each footsteps on the mat three times.
  • Be sure walkways are clear before releasing staff early from work during storms.

June 21, 2011

The Three Landscapers – A Study in Quoting

By tpryor June 21, 2011

Does your company create daily price quotes for customers to make a sale? If yes, which one of these landscapers most closely resembles your quote process?

Image of a Sales Quote

Sales Quote Form

Assume you want to contract landscaping for your home. You’ve found three companies that can do the work. You ask each to quote your job.

  1. The first landscaper returns a price of $1,000.
  2. The second returns a price of $1,200.
  3. The third returns a price of $950.

Instead of accepting the low bid, a wise move is to ask each how they arrived at their pricing.

  1. The first explains he uses the same method Michael Dell used when he was starting his computer business; he doubles his material cost. His material cost him $500 so his price is $1,000.
  2. The second landscaper explains that his material cost is $500 and he needs 5 people for the day and he anticipates it will be one day’s worth of work for 5 laborers, at a cost of $350 and there is also an overhead cost for his trucks, loader, gasoline, maintenance and other equipment that he has assessed at $150 and the remaining $200 is used towards his profit and sales and marketing efforts.
  3. The moment the third is asked how he arrived at his pricing, he throws his hands up and screams at you. He explains that he doesn’t do business with people who are so nosey and what he has in his cost is none of your business. He further retorts that if he is the lowest bid he should be awarded the business and its irrelevant how his bid is created.

Which one do you give your business and why?

Here’s what I would do? I’d tell each vendor that I might not be able to do the entire project and ask each one to rebid my job on a line-by-line basis.

  1. Based on his methodology, I know Landscaper #1, the “material-doubler”, is going to overcharge me for most things that are easy to install (or plant); like $3 bags of mulch or stones where it plans to charge me $3 to simply rip open and dump each bag. On the other hand, the same methodology will result in it giving me a bargain for most things that are more difficult to install; like a $50 tree whose planting will not only require a lot of labor, but will require special capital equipment as well.
  2. Because Landscaper #2’s methodology more closely links actual costs with the work being performed, the landscaper with a more rational quoting method will undoubtedly come up with a higher price for items like the tree and a lower price for items like the mulch and stones.
  3. The third landscaper will come up with whatever its quoting method generates.

I would then ‘cherry pick’ and see if by doing so I can come up with a total cost of less than the third landscaper’s original $950 bid. If I can come up with a lower total price, the “material-doubler” landscaper will undoubtedly lose money on what he sells me, the more rational one will at least turn a profit on the items he does sell me, and the third may or may not turn a profit on its portion of the sale.

If you don’t have a system similar to landscaper #2, customers will cherry pick you. They’ll buy things from you that are under-priced, e.g. you are losing money on them but you don’t know it. And you won’t sell the things you’ve overpriced that would be profitable at a lower, more competitive price.

I’ve seen scores of manufacturers with invalid cost models win major contracts on which it was impossible to earn a profit this way – some of which won enough of these contracts to put the company out of business.

Which landscaper pricing method does your company most closely resemble?

January 25, 2011

Is China’s Threat to US manufacturing over?

By Pat Boutier January 25, 2011

The West has lost a tremendous amount of manufacturing jobs to China over the past 30 years.

We see the results in our economy everyday illustrated by employment indicators.  In the same time period we have seen the productivity of remaining US manufacturing show increases. Still, there are many who may think that increased productivity isn’t important anymore as the China threat of low wages has neared its peak and will now even out.

Before you make up your mind, take a look at a recent article, China’s New Guru of Productivity, from last month’s Wall Street Journal. This is just one more indication to me that China and the rest of the world is still working diligently to increase their manufacturing capacity and quality.  What does that mean to remaining manufacturing within the US and to future US manufacturing?

Let me know your thoughts.

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