Blog posts from July, 2012

Like Herding Cats? The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

July 23, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

The Administration’s proposed establishment of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) is attracting global attention. Whether one is for or against the use of taxpayer’s dollars for the NNMI, the idea is a compelling one.  If funded, $1 billion will be available from participating federal agencies with at least an equal amount coming from the private sector to establish regional centers of innovation.  The selected centers must form collaborative partnerships with industry, academia, research institutions and federal laboratories. Critical to the success of these collaborations is a workable management system that can effectively harness and leveraged the intellect contained within the partnering institutions—the image of herding cats comes to mind. Of the dozens of proposals submitted to establish the first pilot Center, there are two proposals pending from Ohio.  If either proposal is awarded, all eyes will look to Ohio on how to "herd cats" in a formation that results in commercializing innovative ideas through leveraging technology that clearly marks Ohio as a leader in advanced manufacturing. More background on NNMI: President Obama to Announce New Efforts to Support Manufacturing Innovation, Encourage Insourcing, Press Release, White House Press Office, March 9, 2012 The President will announce a new proposal

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How to Sustain Lean Results

July 12, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

Sustaining "Lean" results is a critical challenge for many organizations.  Although Lean knowledge and tools are important to implementation and results, they are not sufficient to ensure sustainability. Many organizations, hungry for quick fixes, focus heavily on tools and achieve short term results, but no long term impact. Tools and Methods do not sustain results "The attraction of tools is that they can be employed at many points within an organization, often by staff improvement teams … it’s understandable that lean tools came to the foreground – 5S, setup reduction, the five whys … value-stream maps, kanban, and kaizen … But just as a carpenter needs a vision of what to build in order to get the full benefit of a hammer, we need a clear vision of our organizational objectives and better management methods before we pick up our lean tools." —Jim Womack, "The Challenge of Lean Transformation", BPTrends, January 2007 Lean is a way of thinking. It is about each person in the organization developing a group of thinking patterns to strive to make scientific working a daily habit. It is about every person using the scientific method in their daily work to develop solutions to improve their

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Determined Innovators Face Risk to Reap Rewards

July 12, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

Everyone wants an advantage. Relative to their competitors, all businesses want to be seen by customers as the go-to provider. My favorite race car driver and boyhood hero the late Mark Donohue was labeled as always having an "Unfair Advantage" by his competitors. However, if you read Donohue’s autobiography, it becomes clear that he was a member of a very innovative Penske team. they were always conceiving ways to go faster, testing them on the track and at times stretching the boundaries of the rules book. But there was also an underlying theme of hard work. They outworked most everyone else. Sweat equity some might call it. In industry, success thru innovation is the same. Coming up with innovative ideas is hard work, getting them successfully to market is difficult and always risky. The more innovative the product, the larger the uncertainty of success—but usually the higher the payoff. Managing this risk while fostering an atmosphere of innovation is a tricky balance to achieve. Many companies have a formal process to achieve this balance. But sometimes these processes end up creating barriers that squelch innovation by requiring too much to be known at the early stages of development. Really innovative

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MAGNET Engineer Works On New Wind Turbine at Progressive Field

July 11, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

Recently Progressive field, home of the Cleveland Indians, installed their revolutionary wind turbine making them the leading stadium in the United States on sustainability. MAGNET Senior Design Engineer, Dave Pierson, is helping with the controls and system integrator on this structure that sits on the south-east corner of the field. The turbine was designed by Dr. Majid Rashidi, a Mechanical Engineering professor at Cleveland State University. "I work with (Rashidi) to bring to reality his vision for how this thing should work," says Pierson. "It is a very interesting project." Wind energy is the newest addition to the Our Tribe is Green program that was created at the baseball field which also includes their recycling and trash, solar panels, and environmentally friendly products.   If you are interested in learning more about the wind turbine or any of Progressive Field’s "go green" efforts, there will be interactive touch screen displays throughout the stadium with information about all of their sustainability projects. Learn more about MAGNET’s Product Design and Development team at www.magnetpdd.org.

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