Blog posts from March, 2011

NAM Manufacturing Institute releases Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing

March 31, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

March 31, 2011, Washington, DC—The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, has released a comprehensive blueprint for education reform designed to develop the 21st-century talent critical to U.S. manufacturing and global competitiveness. The Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing lays out six principles for innovative reform, including moving to competency-based education; establishing and expanding industry-education partnerships; infusing technology in education; creating excitement for manufacturing careers; applying manufacturing principles like "lean" to reduce education costs; and, expanding successful youth development programs. Read the complete press release from The Manufacturing Institute. Download the Roadmap for Reform document.

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Make sure you Qualify before you Diversify

March 21, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

As your company prepares to diversify into an adjacent market of its current business—or, as it prepares to adapt existing products or services to enter a brand new market—be sure to take a long, hard look at your company’s organizational strengths and weaknesses. Here are several important questions to ask before you take that leap: How do you go to market right now? What are the expectations of your new market as to how you reach them? What is your current manufacturing capacity? If you hit a home run in your new market will you be able to keep up with the additional volume? Do you have a robust and effective Quality Management System in place now? The answers to these questions, especially the last one,  may well be critical to your success in a new market. Look carefully before you leap Recently, an Ohio manufacturer saw an opportunity to diversify its customer base by expanding from its traditional industrial users to specialty users.  The company’s managers carefully researched the new target market. After identifying the key players,  they  decided to  hire salesmen from their target competitors to help them succeed in the new market. Despite this advance preparation, when they

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Innovation Without Technology?

March 17, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

I recently attended the NorTech Innovation Awards and it was exciting to see all of the great technologies coming out of Northeast Ohio and the products that are able to solve important problems because of those technologies. This event highlights the important role that technology can play in innovation. But it’s important to note that innovation does not always require the latest technology, even in manufacturing where technology and engineering play such a key role. Some manufacturers offer maintenance services for their products. Others offer a unique industrial designs. These are just a couple of examples of opportunities for manufacturers to differentiate their business without adopting or developing brand new technology. I appreciate these kinds of innovations as much as those based on the advancement of technology, because they both accomplish the same thing—creating value for customers. I’d love to hear about your company’s experience with innovation for growth. Comment below or send me an e-mail. We are very interested to find out what is working for companies in today’s new economic reality. And I look forward to learning about more innovations in manufacturing by regional and local companies at the 2011 MANNY Awards, co-sponsored by Inside Business magazine and

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MAGNET announces new office for Mahoning Valley region

March 10, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

On Wednesday, March 9, more than 50 manufacturers joined representatives of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and the office of Sen. Capri Cafaro in welcoming MAGNET to its new office located on the third floor of the Regional Chamber building in downtown Warren. The event earned positive coverage in the region’s two biggest newspapers: MAGNET office opens, by Kristen Russo, Youngstown Vindicator, March 10, 2011 Youngstown, Ohio—The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber sponsored Wednesday’s reception, which was scheduled to celebrate MAGNET’s new office inside the chamber’s Warren location at 197 W. Market St. MAGNET sets up shop in Warren, by Larry Ringler, Warren Tribune-Chronicle, March 10, 2011 Warren, Ohio—Mayor Michael O’Brien is counting on business consulting agency MAGNET to live up to its name at its new downtown Warren office. "Having them in Warren will be a drawing card for manufacturing in Trumbull County because they’re just five minutes away. It’s a huge asset."

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Continuous Improvement Part 1: A Culture of Change and Results

March 08, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

I often wonder: Why does Continuous Improvement work in some organizations and not in others? I think the difference must be the organization’s culture and acceptance to change. Management is crucial in changing and maintaining culture. At its best management encourages change, and at its worst resists or blocks change. Here are some of the change-resisting cliché responses we at MAGNET sometimes hear: That won’t work here. We tried that before, but it didn’t work. The initial results were impressive, but were not sustainable. Here’s the kind of response that tells us a project is going to be successful: "Management encourages change and ongoing results." A systems approach For Continuous Improvement to be effective and sustainable, it requires a systems approach involving the entire organization. Management should guide the organization in four fundamental areas, to ensure success: Purpose – maximizing customer value; Process – continually improving speed and defects for factory and office; People – involving people in improving the process, providing knowledge and tools; and Sustainable culture – encouraging change, communicating success and results. Although knowledge and tools are important to implementation and results, they are not sufficient to ensure sustainability. Many organizations, hungry for quick fixes, focus heavily

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Upgrade your skills, increase your options

March 07, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

This weekend’s article on NPR by Chris Arnold, As Manufacturing Demand Grows, So Do Jobs, reiterates what I mentioned in my February post, that employment in the manufacturing sector is picking up and will continue to rise. For example, according to the Labor Department, manufacturing created 33,000 jobs last month (See: Employment Situation Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor, March 4, 2011). More importantly, the NPR article mentioned the story of a 60-year-old man who had been out of work for two years, but chose to use his time wisely and re-tool his skills and get the type of training he needed to work in today’s manufacturing facilities. He went to a community college for a year and was recently hired as a computer-controlled-machine (CNC) operator. This success story can be seen across the country, including in Northeast Ohio, but we need more of them. We are fortunate that our region’s community colleges offer many short-term certification programs in the area of advanced manufacturing. In addition, there is some funding to assist with tuition which is crucial when one is unemployed. The industry certainly needs to attract young workers, but it also benefits from workers with experience

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NBC Nightly News captures manufacturing need for skilled workers

March 07, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

NBC’s Tom Brokaw examines the need for manufacturing to acquire skilled workers to remain competitive in this feature report which aired on March 1.

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Things are looking up for Northern Ohio manufacturers

March 04, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

Today I toured a manufacturing facility that is on a solid growth trajectory.  The company has hired twenty people in the last quarter without any difficulty.  People are anxious to get back to work.  The plant manager has been feeling very confident about the economy since the 3rd quarter of last year. In the meantime, the stock market has rebounded—although lately it’s been a roller coaster. The unemployment rate is coming down.  Meanwhile, the price of gasoline is higher every day. Some folks anticipate a widespread but weak recovery.  While others are bracing themselves for a double dip recession. I’m with the group that’s envisioning a widespread, if sluggish, recovery.  What indicators are you tracking?  Are you hunkered down for a double dip or betting on the recovery? Comment below or email me at fatima.weathers@magnetwork.org. We’re interested to hear how this recovery is affecting your manufacturing company!

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New issue of Motor Vehicle Supply Chain News available now

March 04, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

This quarter’s issue of Ohio Motor Vehicle Supply Chain News includes a profile of a new electric-vehicle venture, Venturi North America,  starting up in Columbus, and a success story about how motor vehicle battery manufacturer Crown Battery solved an inventory control crisis. Also: auto industry news briefs and upcoming events of interest to manufacturers who serve the motor vehicle and parts industry. Want to receive it in your e-mail box each quarter? Email info@magnetwork.org and place "Subscribe Motor Vehicle Newsletter" in the subject line.

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This AM Top News: Renco Buys Severstal Mills for $1.2 Billion

March 02, 2011 by MAGNET Ohio

Warren, Ohio–The Renco Group announced this morning that its newly formed subsidiary, RG Steel LLC, has signed a stock purchase agreement to acquire three of OAO Severstal North America’s steel operations – including Severstal Warren – for $1.2 billion.  Read the complete story at the Youngstown Business Journal. Read the Severstal NA press release here. View all this week’s Northern Ohio Manufacturing News Briefs on MAGNET’s site.

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