To anyone outside the industry, manufacturing topics may seem foreign or devastatingly simple. You might wonder why quality seems to mean different things, or why manufacturers always talk about Lean when we know that can be bad for posture. But while these might sound off-putting, most people are actually familiar with manufacturing concepts in their everyday lives. Among these ideas is Just-In-Time (JIT) Manufacturing, a specific principle used in Lean manufacturing to improve processes. While it might sound like Justin Timberlake’s new watch collection, it’s actually about using what you need and having less clutter. For everyday life, it can be helpful to think about JIT in terms of how you might prepare a meal at home. Unless you have unlimited space in your kitchen, you don’t keep endless quantities of things you rarely use. If you had to drive out to get coffee beans before actually drinking your coffee every morning, it would waste time and money, making the endeavor a miserable one that would barely be worth the effort. Thankfully, the JIT ideology offers balance to the madness. You may get all your ingredients for the next day from the store on your way home from work, enabling
Ideation sessions play a crucial role in the innovation process and lead to the culmination of new products, processes, and a sense of collaboration within the business. MAGNET often utilizes these techniques to help companies achieve growth through creativity, and a recent engagement with plastic molding company Mar-Bal Inc. was no exception. Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Chagrin Falls, Mar-Bal manufactures BMC Thermoset composite products and customized materials. The company wanted to understand more about the ideation process as well as the overarching theme of driving innovation throughout their business, which resulted in the first Mar-Bal Innovation Summit. Held at the MAGNET facility in downtown Cleveland, the two-day workshop featured MAGNET growth advisors and engineers engaging with key members of the Mar-Bal team, helping them foster ideas that could potentially streamline operations and bring large-scale improvements to the company. “There has to be a process,” said Ron Pauff, Mar-Bal’s Director of Global Marketing. “This ideation summit allowed us the opportunity to step back from our daily lives and come to an environment where we could spend time understanding the needs of the customers.” “It’s kind of a blend of structure and free flowing imagination. There are rules, and there
“Ideation without execution is mere delusion” – Robin Sharma, author Your team has just come from a productive ideation session. Jazzed about their new ideas, they walk out with a sense of accomplishment and growth. But while everyone is buzzing with newfound concepts, two lingering questions remain: what happens after an ideation session, and how can you bring these ideas to life? More often than not, the enthusiastic abstraction found in a typical session can lead to the harsh reality of applying these concepts in a practical and plausible manner. Structure is crucial, and the potential pitfalls of ideation without execution loom on the horizon. However, there are several steps you can take to excel during this process and ultimately bring your concepts from your head to your hands. Methods vary from business to business, and companies as varied as Mastercard and LG have created custom strategies for ideation. But organization is a mainstay of most action plans, and the following steps can take you to the next level of success through innovation. Immediately capture ideas Regrouping is essential to any strategy, and ideation sessions are no different. A day or two prompts fuzziness on details, which can lead to
A shortage of skilled workers to fill current vacancies and the growing skills gap in the manufacturing workforce is becoming one of the most pressing problems facing manufacturers. Whether it is a new product, increased sales, or more innovative equipment, employers are seeking talent for the changing manufacturing landscape. Finding a pool of potential candidates with the necessary knowledge and skills can be a daunting task. Employers frequently voice their frustration and dissatisfaction with the caliber of individuals seeking manufacturing positions. Finding individuals who can quickly master the needed skills and who fit into the company’s culture can be frustrating. Upskilling current workers is one strategy that companies are starting to consider as a way to get the needed qualified workforce. Incumbent worker training, whether delivered at the company or at an educational institution, can be the short-term solution. Current employees have already demonstrated their ability to do the work and fit into the company’s culture. Providing them an opportunity for training is often a welcome benefit that can lead to promotions and employee retention. Partnering with a local community college or university can provide easy access to quality instruction that can be adapted to meet the company’s needs.
In the first of our Lean blog series, we discussed Lean 101 and how it can benefit a manufacturer. But what does it mean to actually apply those principles in an everyday setting? What schools of thought exist, and how do they differ from one another? Among the most widely accepted methodologies in Lean manufacturing is 5S, a philosophy that emphasizes the idea of ownership through organization of materials and process standardization. It is most effective when applied in a systematic way and enables employees to maintain the ideal efficiency and effectiveness of their workspace. While qualities find in 5S can be traced back to Venice shipbuilders in the 16th century, the approach we take today originated in Japan with the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) standards. Because of its efficiency, 5S experienced a universal boom by the 1980s, changing the state of manufacturing in the modern world and allowing an influx of goods to be produced. The principles of 5S were formed using five Japanese terms – later translated into English - that emphasized the importance of eliminating waste. This step-by-step process is based on improving production as well as enhancing quality of work and