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Up against stubborn headwinds like   worker shortages   and inflation, many of nation's manufacturers remain optimistic but cautious about what the future holds. In its latest survey, the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 member companies, found more than 78% of manufacturing leaders identified  supply chain disruptions as a primary business challenge . Less than 11% think conditions will improve buy the end of this year. Attracting and retaining quality workers, increased raw material costs, and transportation and logistics costs were also listed as top challenges. Though  optimism has declined  slightly from its last survey, ...
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The “happenstance” approach to life can help. “In the shadow of the pandemic… a new singular narrative has emerged: one of calamitous decline and fall. The Great Discontent has led to The Great Resignation or Reshuffle, a set of titles that puts people leaving jobs they don’t like on a level with plague,   depression , war…”   (Hitchens, 2022). In the shadow of the pandemic also loom crises of an existential nature. Another “new normal” is clearly emerging. Such verbiage merely sums up what many have known for several years: People are not happy with their careers, and perhaps their lives, and they are “voting with their feet." The transportation, ...
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Investing in emerging technologies to leverage data adds dynamic cybersecurity challenges. As external economic factors continue to drive CFOs’ thought processes and allocation decisions, reliance on data to both innovate and cut costs is leaving many organizations much more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches than they are currently aware. In a  recent survey  by Kroll analyzing the relationship between cybersecurity and CFOs, data shows over three quarters (79%) of responding CFOs have encountered at least one security incident that resulted in compromised data or financial loss in the last 18 months.  The impact a breach can have on an organization’s ...
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Consumer prices ticked up during the month of August, bucking expectations that inflation would fall slightly, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. Why it matters:  Costs for shelter and food continued to jump, though plummeting gasoline prices helped ease overall price gains. Driving the news:  Overall consumer prices rose 0.1% last month — after  dropping to zero  in July — and are up 8.3% over the past year. That compares to the 8.5% year-over-year figure reported in July. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.6% last month — a marked increase from July's 0.3% pace. Compared to a year ago, core inflation is up ...
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A big hint: it's not about being persuasive. But you can get there by following these five steps. You’ve decided you need to pursue a critical new objective in your organization. You have the support of the executives closest to you. But even though you’re the CEO, to succeed you will need the energy and buy-in of a much larger group of managers. And this larger group of managers will not be excited about the new objective. It would be nice if this was a rare occurrence. But it isn’t. When you’re in this situation, it’s natural to think, “How can I persuade them we need to do this?” In the more than 20 years I’ve spent working with chief executives on ...
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Putting time and intent into the setup can save time and cost later. Cybersecurity isn’t a foreign concept to industrial enterprises. Management, engineers, and technicians can’t help but see the headlines in the trade and business press, regardless of their sector. In fact, a 2019 global survey of 282 industrial companies operating in critical infrastructure and process industries revealed that 80% consider operational technology (OT) cybersecurity to be a high priority.   However, that same survey found that only 31% had implemented an incident response program and only 57% had committed any budget to cybersecurity. This suggests a gulf between intention ...
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“Within five years, if you’re in the same business you are in now, you’re going to be out of business.” — Peter Drucker   Recently, I watched a series of fintech startup investor presentations. These early-stage companies sought VC funding to take their ideas to the next level of commerce. By the fifth presentation, I heard the term “disruption” so many times, it sounded like an obligatory disclaimer: “Our goal is to disrupt the [fill-in-the-blank] industry.” One could interpret the term as though it is a strategy in-and-of-itself; it is not.  Disruption happens. It’s a natural force as industries evolve. Fifth century BC Greek ...
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Over the last few months, MTI has posted out for comments from members on how their current business insurance programs with property, liability, errors-omissions, commercial auto, and workers compensation have been progressing.   What we learned is this is a huge pain point for most members.   Many are experiencing cancellation of coverage, refusal to be offered a quote, or large rate increases.     To help members deal with this huge challenge, the Board of Trustees is excited to announce that they have approved Precision Manufacturing Insurance Services as the official insurance agency partner for business insurance coverages.   They have already ...
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Solutions include streamlining log-in requirements and resolving queries faster, HICX says. Suppliers are struggling to put their best foot forward as they do business with major manufacturers, and point to complex “operational processes” with those clients as the main problem, a new survey shows. However, the study also showed that manufacturers can harness strong supply chain benefits if they streamline those processes. The study showed that 61% of suppliers say it’s difficult to deliver their best for key customers, with 60% feeling they spend too much time on customer driven admin, and 47% struggling to get enquiries resolved. The statistics come from the ...
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US manufacturing is poised for a significant resurgence. The supply chain debacles caused by the pandemic have shown the weakness of an over-dependence on a long supply chain, especially one outside the US.   Further, the rising tensions with China have caused the US to question its dependence on Chinese manufacturing for economic success. These issues have changed the commitment of US manufacturing firms to build locally. The problem is—American manufacturing is critically short of the labor it needs to drive that revolution. There simply are not enough skilled workers to do the job, nor enough unskilled workers willing to learn. Necessity truly is the ...
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There are three major reasons every heat treater should attend Furnaces North America 2022 in Indianapolis, IN on Oct 3-5:   The Labor Drought: At FNA 2022 you will see the vast array of solutions in equipment and processes you need to automate your plant to maximize your throughput with less people. Change is Happening Fast: With everything digital racing across the heat treating industry, you will see the latest technologies to help give your team a competitive advantage and efficiencies. Real-Time Solutions: With 125 top suppliers exhibiting and 35 informative tech sessions, you will be able to network and connect with the best minds ...
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When R&D, production, packing and even marketing are in close proximity, new ideas can thrive in a different way. Factories have been a thriving part of the global economy for more than two centuries, well before Henry Ford and his famous assembly line. Back then, manufacturing was at the cutting edge of U.S. technology. Early innovations like the Bessemer process for producing steel, the power loom, and the humble tin can were changing the way we made and transported goods at breakneck speed. Radical innovation in manufacturing accelerated through World War II, when factories quickly switched gears to produce as much military equipment as possible. ...
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For organizations to be successful they must always be evolving. Even in the best of times, the shifts and changes of that evolution often take a toll on people. The best leaders understand the nature of change exhaustion and act to reduce it, especially in times of great change and stress. Of course any new processes and structures come with their own set of problems. But understanding how those changes affect your team is the first step in leading them through. I coach my clients to embrace the following principles: Show empathy.  I cannot overstate the importance of empathy. When people are stressed and exhausted, it’s the most important step you can ...
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Now is the time to prepare your business for the recession.  In addition to the typical strategies of cost-cutting and cash flow management, add culture-building.  A healthy, effective, and resilient company culture can help you not just survive, but actually thrive during an economic downturn. What should you do to get ready for the looming recession?  Act now. Taking strategic action early on before a downturn can reduce its negative impact on your business — and possibly set you up to thrive and grow during the slowdown. So, get to work on stabilizing your financial position, examining your resource allocation, right-sizing your workforce … and   ...
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The U.S. manufacturing industry is looking at a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade. Here are my tips on how to overcome this shortage with more effective training. As we dive headlong into current and pending U.S. manufacturing labor shortages, it’s critical to focus on the transfer of institutional knowledge. If this process is not handled well, it will significantly impair GDP in the very near future. That’s why training new employees quickly and documenting training processes and best practices is now vital.   But how do you do it effectively? There is a palpable difference in education and learning styles between those who ...
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A Turning Point

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MTI’s economic forecast partner, ITR Economics, is forecasting good economic growth between now and 2030.   This will not come without a hiccup along the way, but it is growth that will take a turn early 2030, to a pretty significant downturn.   There are many factors that will lead to that downturn, and MTI is watching carefully.   MTI understands that a potential downturn in the future puts every heat treater at a “turning point” today.   That turning point says, “What are you going to do today to capitalize on the growth in this decade, and to prepare for any downturn in the economy in the 2030s?”   What you do in the next 7 years will set your organization ...
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With the reconciliation legislation approved by the U.S. Senate and set for a vote in the House this afternoon, manufacturers across the country are working to understand how the legislation would impact their work. The NAM has compiled a  policy guide to offer some useful information about the bill and the path forward, with some highlights below.  The background:  The NAM  strenuously opposed  the budget reconciliation bill, in part due to the tax and price-setting measures that would impact manufacturers negatively and harm pharmaceutical innovation. The NAM’s sustained advocacy efforts succeeded in changing some of the most egregious elements ...
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My Dad used to say, “ Decide. Delegate. And disappear.” Delegation is an important component of most leadership roles, but you must understand that delegating the job doesn’t mean delegating the responsibility. You are still responsible, even if you are getting someone else to do some of the work. If you’re an entrepreneur, especially when you first start your business ,   you may need to wear multiple hats, dealing with everything from production to customer service and support. However, as your company evolves,   you’ll quickly discover that it pays to have the right team. If you are new to an organization, and you are not sure who can do what, ...
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For organizations to be successful they must always be evolving. Even in the best of times, the shifts and changes of that evolution often take a toll on people. The best leaders understand the nature of change exhaustion and act to reduce it, especially in times of great change and stress. Of course any new processes and structures come with their own set of problems. But understanding how those changes affect your team is the first step in leading them through. I coach my clients to embrace the following principles: Show empathy.   I cannot overstate the importance of empathy. When people are stressed and exhausted, it’s the most important step you ...
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U.S. manufacturing production probably peaked during the second quarter, though the data are noisy and conflicting, and a turning point may not become obvious until September or October. U.S. manufacturing output in June was down by 0.4% compared with March though it was still up by 3.6% compared with the same month a year earlier, estimates prepared by the Federal Reserve Board found. Three-month output growth was the weakest since early 2021, and confirms slackening momentum evident in other data on output, orders and jobs (“Industrial production and capacity utilization”, Federal Reserve, July 15). U.S. manufacturing employment increased by 30,000 in ...
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