Blog

Managing the Probability of Your Pipeline

April 06, 2017 by Tim Nevin

Vetting your pipeline is a game of chance; it’s taking the time and energy to figure out which leads have a higher probability of turning into sales than others. So how do you calculate this probability, and thus confidently forecast your monthly, quarterly, and annual sales? Well, you have to start by understanding all of the variables that go into developing your pipeline. You have an existing customer base with the potential to place new orders, and you have an existing pipeline of customers in the current markets that you serve, but there are countless potential customers you might not even know about yet, and even if you do know of them, you might not have the necessary information to reach out to them in a meaningful way that will earn their trust and ultimately their business. Outside of the number of prospect customers, you also have to consider the size, variation, and time commitment of each potential order. Now, although this may seem daunting at a high level, there are solutions. Depending on the size of your company, the first step is to prioritize the time you spend on companies that either have the highest likelihood of closing a

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A New Look at Lean Manufacturing

March 21, 2017 by MAGNET Ohio

It’s been more than a quarter-century since The Machine that Changed the World was published, in which Jim Womack and colleagues presented the Toyota Production System (TPS) and lean thinking to the Western world. A strong majority of manufacturers have adopted this methodology, and its principles have since spread from production to all functions (front office, finance, R&D, etc.) as well as to healthcare and other service industries. Some manufacturers have flourished within new lean cultures. But many other firms — maybe yours — have achieved some results from their lean efforts, but perhaps not as much as they had hoped. Or maybe your company is among the one-third of manufacturers not yet using lean or TPS. Whichever describes your organization, it’s time to take a new look at lean — and at five keys to implementation that will make lean work for you: Embed lean in your organization’s DNA: Lean isn’t about tools or techniques, but about changing how you think. Truly lean manufacturers have workforces — from the CEO to the janitor — in which every employee looks for problems (not blame), thinks about how to fix them, and then solves them. It’s critical that a leader (i.e.,

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"What Skills Gap?": How Employee Benefits Can Help You Find the Right Talent

March 06, 2017 by MAGNET Ohio

We hear it all the time: Manufacturers can’t find machine operators, maintenance staff, frontline workers, tool-and-die makers, etc. National statistics support these claims: the cumulative skills gap in manufacturing — positions that will go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers — will grow to 2 million by 2025, according to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. What’s a growing company to do? First: relax. It’s important to remember that macro trends don’t necessarily determine micro (i.e., company-specific) results. In fact, a closer look at plant-specific data suggests that engaged leaders can find the talent they need — if they know how to attract and retain it. It turns out that many skills gaps are self-inflicted by companies that offer uncompetitive wages, limited opportunities for career growth, and unsatisfactory work conditions. For example, many plants don’t offer common employee benefits and programs, such as paid vacation days, paid medical benefits, a formal safety/health program, or paid sick and/or personal days. In fact, only 53 percent of manufacturing plants offer all four of those programs. Who wants to work at the other 47 percent?   HR Practices and Programs in Place % of plants Paid vacation days 86% Paid medical benefits

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How to Solve Your Top Workforce Challenges

February 27, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

According to a 2014 study conducted by Oxford Economics and SAP, two-thirds of manufacturers have made only slight or moderate progress toward meeting strategic workplace goals. This is due in part to a number of obstacles, including a shortage of workers and lack of resources to help foster better employee engagement and retention. Companies in this study, which totaled around 2,700 and spanned multiple industries and regions, also noted that engaging young people and attracting skilled employees were among the top issues they face – hardly surprising, as nearly 3.5 million positions will need to be filled by 2020. Are there ways for manufacturers – regardless of company size, industry, or amount of revenue – to tackle these challenges head-on without compromising assets or sacrificing talent? Absolutely. The following are examples of tips and tools capable of guiding you toward a healthy, sustainable pipeline of workers, which ultimately spells success for you and your company. Engage employees… and become more productive as a result! While time should definitely be invested in getting new, skilled workers in place, your existing workforce is just as important. Keep your employees engaged by offering them choices and opportunities to participate in operations and company

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5 Ways to Reduce Your Company's Risk of Cyber Attacks

February 20, 2017 by Bob Baxendale

As manufacturing technology grows and spreads, cybersecurity is essential to your everyday operations. While IoT infrastructures, digitized machinery, and other systems help make your company more efficient and connected, they also carry a risk, as your equipment and data can become susceptible to outside viruses, malware, and ransomware. This is especially true of outdated equipment, as its lack of support for new software opens doors for unauthorized access of essential data. Due to high-profile breaches like those of Target and Yahoo!, one popular misconception is that small companies are less susceptible to cyberattacks. However, they are actually more vulnerable due to not having the right software or tools for protection; in fact, the average cost of a data breach for small companies in 2015 was more than $38,000, and it’s estimated more than half of companies that experience a cyberattack go out of business within six months. There are many solutions to prevent this from happening… but where do you start? Identify and assess your existing procedures. Think about how data is currently being accessed. Who can open confidential documents or vital information about your business? Is the data stored on a secure platform? Do you have it backed up

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4 Guaranteed Ways to Recruit Millennials for Manufacturing Jobs

February 13, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

Standing at more than 80 million people, millennials are among the largest and most-studied generation to date. Studies, blogs, and other media have touched on their tech savviness and what seems like an innate ability to multitask… but not a high level of engagement in traditional jobs, especially in manufacturing. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, a mere 28 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 considered themselves engaged at work. This is due to a number of factors. The perception of manufacturing is often negative, associated with unsafe equipment and old-fashioned assembly lines like that of the early 20th century. This also contributes to the myth that employees are often stressed, overworked, and treated poorly in a factory setting. While businesses and community organizations are now taking the next steps toward quashing these misconceptions, your company may benefit by changing the way you approach young workers for prospective employment. The following are steps you can take toward getting a younger, more sustainable pipeline and attracting today’s young people to jobs in manufacturing: Create a clear and compelling picture of advanced manufacturing. Because most millennials are digital natives, technology is a cornerstone of their way

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How Can NAICS Codes Help You Diversify Your Sales?

February 10, 2017 by Tim Nevin

Adopted in the late 1990s, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) consists of codes set up by the U.S. Census Bureau to separate manufacturers by sectors, subsectors, and industries. Most companies are familiar with this system at a high level, as it’s used by the government to collect, assess, and distribute data about manufacturing in 5-6 year cycles. However, if analyzed properly, NAICS codes can be far more important than simple identifiers used for federal purposes - in fact, they can play an active role in your company’s long-term strategy. If you’re looking to diversify your sales into new and growing markets, it’s important to analyze your competitors are already doing, and NAICS codes offer insight into some goods, services, and capabilities your competition is currently offering to their clients. The NAICS structure assigns two different sets of codes: a primary code based on the single manufacturing process that generates the largest sales for your company, and multiple secondary codes for your other (if applicable) major sales generating services. The majority of competing manufacturers – sometimes clients, even – are assigned the same codes, and targeted market research enables a company to compare and contrast what services they offer

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Why "Lean Startup" is No Longer a Buzzword

January 11, 2017 by MAGNET Ohio

There is no “Perfect Business Model”. While this may seem like common sense, there are still a great deal of startup companies trying to approach their business with a “cookie cutter” approach. Company founders go through the process of developing a plan by assessing the opportunity, applying the problem to the assumed solution, and developing a five-year business forecast with information that is unsubstantiated and quite frankly, unknown. Recent studies show how customer-first methods are able to revolutionize the process, dramatically reducing the failure rate of startup organizations. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, professor and principal investigator Steve Blank explored the merits of the “Lean Start-up” approach. The first contrast of the Lean Start-up approach regards the development of a framework. Using a template known as the Business Model Canvas developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, entrepreneurs are able to understand the building blocks to their organization, including categories such as Value Proposition, Customer Segments, Key Resources, and Key Partners. The business model canvas allows you to develop relationships within your building blocks, understanding the most successful approach to presenting your start-up. These approaches can be resource-driven, customer-driven, offer-driven or finance-driven as explained by Osterwalder.

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Who's Who in NEO Manufacturing: Dave Pierson, Additive Expert

January 10, 2017 by Liz Fox

Senior Design Engineer Dave Pierson has been with MAGNET for nearly three decades and serves as one of our best subject-matter experts. He holds over 20 years of varied and practical additive manufacturing training experience, as well as 40 years of experience in mechanical and electrical engineering. As one of the country’s foremost authorities on additive manufacturing, he has helped companies grow through innovation. Not only has he helped bring new products to market and improve existing ones, but his introduction of 3D printing and other techniques has saved money and time for hundreds of businesses in the region. Some of these include: • Little Tikes • Cleveland Whiskey • Heat Seal • Mantua Manufacturing • Alfe Heat Treating He has also worked on many projects for the U.S. military and recently helped install a large wind turbine at Progressive Field, making them a leader in stadium sustainability. In addition, Pierson regularly develops and delivers curriculum at local colleges and trains operators, students, and engineers on the latest and greatest in additive technology. His presentations have also been well-received at national events and workshops, and he regularly presents at the annual R3D Conference at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. In

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Tap into... think[box]

January 09, 2017 by Liz Fox

MAGNET’s new “Tap into…” series highlights local resources useful for manufacturers in Northeast Ohio. From innovation to product development, from admin to supply chain, these companies, workspaces, and organizations offer the tools you need to achieve short- and long-term success with your latest projects. Located in the heart of the campus of Case Western Reserve University, the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] is a new center dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, engineers, educators, and students invent and experiment by taking advantage of state-of-the-art tools and hands-on learning. Housed in a 7-story, 50,000 square-foot facility, the hub acts as an one-stop innovation center that has everything you need to test a new invention or experiment with different product ideas, including: • 3D printers • Laser cutters • Miter saws • CNC machines • Vinyl cutters • CAD/drawing software • And more! The best part? think[box] is open to everyone! Those who want to utilize the center’s many capabilities are not required to be affiliated with CWRU or pay extra dues. However, safety orientations are required for participants needing to access the metal or wood shops. Staff members are available at all times to provide guidance and answer questions. For equipment

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