To those of us in this field, this mantra is beginning to sound like a broken record, but to many others it is still sounding untrue. Many continue to believe that U.S. manufacturing is dying, that there are no good jobs and that the ones left offer only a dirty and monotonous career.
One only needs to read the recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Help Wanted on Factory Floor,” by James Hagerty to learn that the lack of qualified workers for the advanced manufacturing and engineering field has reached a crisis.
In order to compete globally and have a sound economy, a nation must make things; this has always been the backbone of our country and without intelligent, technically savvy workers, our standard of living will falter.
The article correctly points to three trends that are contributing to the dearth of qualified employees.
First, manufacturers are starting to hire again after almost 10 years;
Second, despite the recent delay in retirements, the baby boomers are beginning to retire in massive numbers now and into the near future; and
Third, “… the U.S. education system isn’t turning out enough people with the math and science skills needed to operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment, jobs that often pay $50,000 to $80,000 a year, plus benefits. Manufacturers say parents and guidance counselors discourage bright kids from even considering careers in manufacturing.”
I find this third trend the most troubling, but it is the only one of the three over which we actually have some control.
According to the National Science Foundation, about 5% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. are in engineering, compared with an average of about 20% in Asia. According to the WSJ article, “In the most recent comparison of math and science test scores of 15-year-old students by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American students trailed far behind those from China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Germany.”
Everyone should view these statistics not only as a wake-up call, but as appalling.
While many manufacturers, big and small, across the country are working with their local career technical schools, institutions of higher education, returning veterans groups and even the prison system to sponsor internships, offer apprenticeships and in addition provide tuition reimbursement, our country will never be able maintain or improve its competitive advantage until our education system, both public and private responds en mass to the needs of the industry.
I know I now sound like a broken record, but hopefully my voice as well as others’ will begin to be heard.
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. The order may change but the top cited standards typically don’t change. Top 10 Sited Safety and Health Violations: 501 - Fall Protection 1200 - Hazard Communication 451 - Scaffolding 134 - Respiratory Protection 147 - Lockout/Tagout 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks 1053 - Ladders 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods 212 - Machine Guarding 303 - Electrical, General Requirements Three of the 10 sited standards are directed at the construction standard (1926) while other fall within the general industry (1910). It should be noted however that the general industry standard also has fall protection guidelines. Year after year, inspectors see the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured. By understanding these regulations you can improve your safety program and prevent injuries. Give me a call if you have any compliance doubts, or want to review OHSA regulations. Gwido Dlugopolsky at 216-391-7766 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Why does it take a NASCAR pit crew only 15 seconds to change four car tires when it takes people like you and me minutes? The answer is simple SMED. Single Minute Exchange of Dies, or SMED, is a process for reducing the time it takes to do equipment changeovers. Using the principles of SMED you should be able to perform any changeover in your facility in under 10 minutes! The SMED process is simple – convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external”, meaning they are done while your equipment is still RUNNING, while simplifying and streamlining the remaining steps. SMED is broken down into the following 3 Steps: Separate Convert Streamline We found this article to be very helping in explaining the SMED process in more detail: LEAN PRODUCTION - SMED A good first step to achieve this level of SMED efficiency would be to run a kaizen event at your facility to standardize (5S) your tools and supplies. Doing this alone will help you achieve 40% to 50% greater efficiency. Once the “low hanging fruit” is gone, you can still reduce setup times another 20% by practicing more advanced SMED principles.
The secret to closing any sale is to reduce uncertainty in the buyer and replace it with confidence in YOU, your PRODUCT/SERVICE, and your COMPANY. Step 1 – Confidence in YOU Someone buying from you wants to be able to fundamentally connect with you on a human level and feel confident that you’re an expert in what you’re selling If you’re selling paperclips, be an expert in paperclips If you’re selling design and engineering related services, be an expert in design and engineering related services Focus on addressing the problem, not the solution….MEANING you already know you have the solution, connect with the buyer by being an expert with the problem he/she is facing. Prove that you know the problem and all aspects of the problem like the back of your hand. Step 2- Confidence in the PRODUCT/SERVICE you are selling Someone buying from you needs to trust the product/service you are selling will solve their problem. It’s your responsibility to deliver a solution and the benefits associated with it. Basically you need to “Hit a Homerun” communicating this message. Tip – Use Success Stories: Share with the potential buyer examples of your product/service solving problems and delivering value for