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Companies looking to improve workplace safety have a number of methods at their disposal, but to embed a sustainable safety culture, they must overcome the mind-sets that underlie unsafe behaviors. No one would deny that safety in the workplace is critically important. Most large industrial companies that face workplace hazards devote considerable resources to reducing injuries and incidents. They have a health, safety, and environment (HSE) management system in place and commonly include HSE incidents in annual reports. Yet safety performance at many organizations plateaus after an initial phase of improvement. This plateau often occurs because organizations ...
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A well-run plant requires both. Figure 1   In this plant, all eyes are on the daily output numbers. But what if those numbers fall short? Then what? It’s impossible to improve the outcome without improving the upstream processes.   Should you focus on processes or outcomes? You’re probably thinking, “What kind of question is that?” But this important question gets to the heart of how we improve performance. Many leaders, managers, and even front-line employees get fixated on achieving outcomes. That might be OK in the short term, but it becomes a problem in the long term. Improvement does not come from getting everyone focused only on outcomes. ...
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In the face of rising uncertainty, get ready for the unexpected. To build resilience, accelerate productivity improvement and operational flexibility. Economic and business uncertainty is rising across the world. After more than a decade of strong growth, expansion in many major economies has slowed significantly in recent months. Businesses are feeling the repercussions of political and economic tensions, from disputes over trade to questions over the growth trajectories of economies from China and India to the European Union and the United States. At the market level, meanwhile, further forces are at work. From the rise of e-commerce in retail to the impact ...
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Business schools teach that high barriers to entry in an industry can create better price elasticity, which leads to the ability to generate better margins. To many business experts, this is "Business 101." I've observed some leaders still practice this methodology to help them scale their companies and, in turn, make large investments in infrastructure so they can repeat tasks over and over in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. These types of large investments create a scale of repetitive activities that drives a model for consistency in how you build your product, which removes variability and provides a predictable experience. This has led ...
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To prevent accidents as prevalent as those related to the eyes, taking a predictive approach to planning is key.    Despite their small size, our eyes are pretty big targets when it comes to workplace injuries. Every day, 2,000 Americans suffer eye injuries on the job, resulting in about 27,000 days away from work. When you factor in medical bills and compensation costs on top of all this downtime, eye injuries end up costing employers $300 million a year.  Given these staggering numbers, it’s clear that many organizations could stand to benefit from improving their approach to eye safety, and there’s no better time to start than the present. However, ...
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Spend more time on defining what you’re trying to solve, and get better results.   A problem well put is half-solved. This statement, attributed to philosopher John Dewey, highlights the value of a good problem statement. Even if you’re not using a structured problem-solving method, the time invested in framing the problem is rarely wasted effort.      Almost every time I coach a team on their problem statement, we spend four times the amount of time on it than they expected, and the problem statement always changes by the time we’re done. A problem statement is like a compass. It helps you set the direction in which all of your endeavors will follow. ...
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Digital technologies are transforming operations, changing the daily duties of nearly every employee. Automation is changing the needed workforce skills. The demand for technology skills will rise by 55% by 2030, according to the 2018 McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report,  Skill Shift: Automation and the future of the workforce .  MGI  estimates 14% of the global workforce may need to switch occupational categories by 2030 because of these automation and other digital changes. Executives see the writing on the wall. Of those polled, 66% reported that "addressing potential skills gaps related to automation/digitization” in their workforces was at ...
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Procurement has an opportunity, indeed an imperative, to transform from an enabler of cost reduction to a creator of sustainable competitive advantage. Traditionally, procurement has been the efficient workhorse for organizations, driving cost savings percentage point by percentage point, contract by contract. Yet despite the tremendous impact that strong spend management can have in value creation, the reality is that in many sectors, procurement is still primarily a transactional function with a limited scope of influence. Minimal deference is currently given to a function that, in light of the unprecedented rate of change in the world today, could in fact ...
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What’s the point of marketing in manufacturing? Many companies do not have a product that they can sell through the click of some advertisement because there are too many specifications involved—so why even spend the money to create the ad? These sentiments are shared by the manufacturing industry as whole and especially by those that might own or work for a smaller manufacturer with limited resources. The concept of spending money to make money doesn’t hold up with the generations of salesmen who drove coast to coast—in their own vehicles—to close deals on their latest product. The idea of using SEO, website analytics, conversion rates, and click-throughs to ...
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A tech expert at Kuka addresses some basics. Manufacturers aren’t entirely familiar with the opportunities and benefits the Internet of Things (IoT) can deliver. In fact, 30% of manufacturers struggle to understand the IoT altogether, according to a study by advisory firm Sikich. But that lack of insight hasn’t stopped them from making the IoT a point of emphasis moving forward. According to the 2018 Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) National Manufacturing Outlook, half of all manufacturers plan to prioritize IoT technologies, including connected machinery, software, systems, and sensors, in the coming years. To successfully implement IoT technologies ...
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The MTI Educational Foundation is excited to announce that it has finalized and awarded $51,000 in scholarships to 11 recipients.   Educational Foundation Chair, Mary Springer from Thermtech in Waukesha, Wisconsin stated, “With a record number of over 40 applicants, the Foundation is proud to be able to award 11 more students financial resources that can help them further their education.   It is exciting to see the emails of appreciation from them knowing you are making a difference in their lives and hopefully attracting them to work in the industry after graduation.”   The 11 scholarship awards were given to:   Technical School Scholarship: ...
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A systems integrator/cybersecurity analyst outlines the risks associated with letting third party partners—and internal engineers—into the manufacturing network, and the things that can be done to avoid trouble.   Manufacturers are often in need of help when it comes to deploying a new automation project or managing and maintaining existing machines on the plant floor. As a result, they’ll turn to technology suppliers, OEMs, and system integrators for support. But that means these third parties need to be able to access the equipment remotely, which creates a potential open access point on the network that could create a cybersecurity vulnerability. ...
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In most organizations it is leaders who are responsible for setting out the organization's strategy. Because of their position at the top, they have insights and oversight that others in the organization don't have. Furthermore they have the power and capabilities to make sure that the rest of the organization conforms to the strategy. Therefore, leaders are in the right position to make strategy and to make it work. Or so it seems. As I argued in recent articles, though, strategy in today's VUCA world is too complex to leave to just leaders. It is not enough to produce simple inspiring strategies, and we need everyone's knowledge and commitment to make strategies ...
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The Need for Speed

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In an accelerating supply chain, effective management of costs, people and data is becoming more crucial.   As the Amazonization of the world accelerates, the only governor on this high-speed pipeline is the ability to manufacture products fast enough to keep pace with consumer expectations and supply chain demands. Consumers have gone from being surprised by the speed and low cost of home delivery to expecting it, to insisting on it. In turn, manufacturers and distributors face the challenge of meeting those expectations in a time of fewer workers and emerging technology. Whether it’s a pair of sneakers or a pair of speakers, the pressure is ...
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At the MTI Winter Board Meeting, one of the key additions to MTI’s strategic plan was the establishment of a Cybersecurity Committee.   This new committee was charged with developing best practices, continual content, and checklists.   All allowing members to gain information and prepare their operations to protect their plants against cyber-attacks.   This committee has been hard at work building the flow of resources and information.   MTI has been pushing out written content on a weekly and monthly basis on keys to effective cybersecurity strategy.   The committee recently hosted a live webcast to begin the discussion as to what steps should ...
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Much has been written about America’s loneliness epidemic, including in the workplace. The word “loneliness” in the work context is a misnomer. It doesn’t capture the whole story. What about all of the individuals who might not think of themselves as lonely and yet the demands of work and task-oriented activities such as time in front of screens have crowded out time for anything more than superficial relationships? Many people lack sufficient, positive human connection (or social connection) and may be unaware of the ramifications. Left unchecked, the deficiency of connection today presents widespread risks not just to individuals but to organizations.  ...
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If you are a manufacturer, maker, or seller of tangible products or services, it’s becoming increasingly rare to have a conversation with existing, new, or prospective customers and not get questions about innovation. It can either be what’s new or next in your product assortment or, worse, why you haven’t applied innovative ideas like your competitors yet. Conversations like these are what spur leaders to scan their internal team’s capabilities to see where new ideas will come from, and then begin to search outside their walls for fresh perspectives. While there are a lot of companies and consultants who want to help manufacturers address their innovation ...
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August 5, 2019   Retail electricity prices are largely driven by natural gas prices. Even though power is generated from a variety of sources—hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, gas— generating plants are paid based on the last fuel used to meet demand, which is almost always natural gas. Therefore, the amount you pay per kWh for electricity is determined primarily by the current price of natural gas in your region. Natural gas prices are constantly fluctuating based on a balance between supply and demand. Demand is driven by electricity generation (power burn), commercial & industrial usage, and exports to Mexico or overseas in the form of ...
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Although growth and development consistently top the list of what employees want (and organizations need) most, it’s a fairly universal source of disappointment to all. When asked why it’s not happening, people typically point to workload, budgets, time, and insufficient promotional opportunities as barriers to growth. But what if I told you that there are at least eight vehicles for powerful development at your disposal right now? Opportunities that are squarely within your sphere of influence? Experiences that you and your employees can co-create to drive learning, engagement, and more? It all boils down to mining the present moment rather than waiting ...
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NAM July Economic Report

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The U.S. economy  grew  2.1% at the annual rate in the second quarter, slowing from 3.1% growth in the first quarter. Consumer and government spending buoyed growth for the quarter, but drags from business spending and net exports counterbalanced this somewhat. Slowing global growth and trade uncertainties served as a drag on activity, with businesses hesitant to increase spending. Along those lines, nonresidential fixed investment declined 0.6% in the second quarter, the first decline since the first quarter of 2016. The current forecast is for 2.4% growth for 2019, down from 2.9% in 2018. The data on manufacturing activity provided mixed ...
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