Blog posts by Liz Fox

Regional manufacturers grow more diverse with increase in female workers

January 03, 2017 by Liz Fox

The manufacturing sector has traditionally been regarded as a male-dominated industry, with women making up less than a third of the workforce. However, many companies are changing this trend by hiring them more frequently for skilled positions. Karin Simonson, an employee at Alloy Bellows and Precision Welding in Mayfield, quit teaching and went back to school in search of a career change. Seven years later, she says her job fares far better than those she held previously. “Here I feel like I’m more valued, like what I do is important,” she told WKYC in a recent interview. Click here to read the whole story on WKYC's website! MAGNET also partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Manufacturing Institute in November to hold STEP Forward, an event designed to celebrate women in the industry by sparking ideas and fostering a sense of community through networking. Check out our photos from the event in the gallery below! [Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="44" gal_title="STEP Forward"]

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6 Reasons Why You Need Digital Marketing to Grow Your Business

November 07, 2016 by Liz Fox

Manufacturing has always been at the forefront of change and innovation, notably in creating and implementing new measures to better serve the needs of the company and its customer base. But the rapid pace of technological growth – paired with reluctance to invest in new and/or unexplored systems – has left small and mid-size businesses struggling to keep up in an increasingly connected world. However, digital marketing services can be utilized for different purposes in different industries with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue and establishing credibility. The following reasons not only address the numerous benefits of incorporating digital marketing in your overall strategy, but also how different techniques can grow your business sooner rather than later. Lead delivery and conversion – Lead scoring empowers companies to better track how customers are finding them. By using a marketing automation platform in conjunction with a CRM, manufacturers can easily monitor how incoming traffic gets converted to leads, followers, subscribers, and/or closed sales. Reduced marketing costs – Traditional media like print, radio, and television harbor high rates, and are in some cases ineffective at getting to your target market. Digital marketing not only touches a wider range of clients, but also bears

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MAGNET names winners of [M]SPIRE pitch competition

October 31, 2016 by Liz Fox

MAGNET is pleased to announce the names of nine entrepreneurs, startups, and small manufacturers who will receive an array of services and connections through the inaugural [M]SPIRE pitch competition! The finalists were announced Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the third-annual [M]POWER Manufacturing Assembly, a full-day event for manufacturers sponsored by MAGNET, Crain’s Cleveland Business, and the Cleveland Engineering Society. “Entrepreneurship is an essential and irreplaceable component of Northeast Ohio manufacturing, and MAGNET is thrilled to help these individuals and small companies achieve their potential by connecting them to funding and resources necessary for success in the long term,” said MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp. The winners, who represent the diversity of Northeast Ohio in terms of geography, age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status, will receive varying types of assistance from MAGNET and MAGNET partners, including grant funding, product development, market research, and specialized consulting services. Applicants selected include: PolyLux LLC – University of Akron spinoff company developing a no-stick bandage that will revolutionize the medical adhesives industry. Parihug – Case Western Reserve University students who aspire to manufacture electronically-connected teddy bears that allow loved ones to connect from a distance. FoodBuggy – Shaker Heights entrepreneur Ron Nelson has created small,

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Time for New Technology?

October 31, 2016 by Liz Fox

Information technology (IT) spending will grow from $2.46 trillion in 2015 to more than $2.8 trillion in 2019, with the United States and Canada comprising the largest share of global IT spending. Discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing will be among the top industry spenders. Looking at the state of technology within U.S. manufacturers, it’s no wonder. For many functions — asset management, human resources, supply-chain management, customer service/support — a majority of manufacturers have ineffective IT applications and systems (see infographic). Sadly, smaller manufacturers are in even worse shape. For example, only 25% of SMEs have effective IT applications and systems for logistics/distribution; 23% for supply-chain management; and 18% for asset management. This is a looming crisis among SMEs. Hobbled by antiquated IT systems, they’ll be challenged to retain market share or growth because: Poor-quality operations information leads to production errors, delays, and environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues. Enterprise functions fail to act in a synchronized, collaborative manner, leading to delays and waste. Customer and supplier businesses are bottlenecked, unable to share critical data and information (demand forecasts, production schedules, product specifications, design drawings, etc.). Legacy IT often makes a digitized supply chain difficult or impossible. It also hurts

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[M]POWER Manufacturing Assembly highlights innovation, inspires regional growth for manufacturers

October 25, 2016 by Liz Fox

Over 450 manufacturers, service providers, and industry experts came together on Wednesday, Oct. 19 for the third-annual [M]POWER Manufacturing Assembly held at the John S. Knight Center in Akron. Sponsored by MAGNET in conjunction with Crain’s Cleveland Business and the Cleveland Engineering Society, the full-day event featured interactive discussions and breakout sessions on topics ranging from employee turnover to risk management. Featured keynotes included John E. Skory (President, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co.) and Tim Timken (President and CEO, TimkenSteel), who stressed the importance of collaboration and regional partnerships in relation to Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing landscape. A newly expanded, sponsor-supported exhibitor hall also featured interactive displays showcasing diverse manufacturing capabilities, including a portable electric car, staged robotics battles, and a mobile welding lab courtesy of Lorain County Community College. The winners of [M]SPIRE, MAGNET’s first online pitch competition, were also announced, including entrepreneurs and startups in medical, food, and other industry disciplines. These finalists received a range of awards spanning grant money, consulting services, and connections to outside resources and organizations best suited to help them take the next steps toward long-term success. “As we continue with [M]POWER each year, we learn that our region is expanding through innovation and new

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Supply-Chain Traceability is Vital

October 24, 2016 by Liz Fox

Manufacturers have always been only as good (or bad) as their suppliers. Some vendor errors and delays could be overcome, but problems in the supply chain usually rippled downstream, damaging quality or delivery. Manufacturers soothed irritated customers, and that was the end of it. And then the world changed. Today manufacturers are held responsible for the practices of suppliers, by both customers and governments. Supply-chain traceability rules, such as those affecting food and beverage markets (e.g., FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) and the high-tech industry (e.g., Conflict Minerals) are increasingly common — and will soon encompass EHS and corporate governance issues. With so much regulatory enforcement and scrutiny, you might think that manufacturers are taking aggressive steps to manage their vendors. Not so much. A full 60% of manufacturers have limited or no real-time tracking of supplies and products at their immediate suppliers. And 15% of manufacturers have no real-time tracking even in their own plants. Looking for a customer order? Forget it. But looking for trouble? You’ve found it. As government, customer, and public pressures mount for manufacturers, supply-chain traceability will become an immense competitive differentiator. Some executives recognize this, and are already developing supply-chain processes that improve performance,

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Get Smart and Make Smart Products with IoT

October 17, 2016 by Liz Fox

Companies and consumers want smart products — and they’re getting them. Embedded intelligence is showing up in everything from watches to shoes to refrigerators to tires. The smart-home market alone will grow from nearly $47 billion in 2015 to more than $121 billion by 2022. In industrial environments, too, embedded intelligence is rapidly becoming the norm. Manufacturing executives get it: 63% say the application of smart devices/embedded intelligence to their products will increase profitability over the next five years. They know that when wearable devices, stamping presses, or household appliances can communicate and act on their own, the value of these products — and their profit margins — increase dramatically. That’s why 40% of manufacturers plan to embed smart devices/intelligence within their products. Yet 30% of manufacturers still have no IoT product plans. Why? Many executives mistakenly believe that their products have no need for embedded intelligence. In fact, the biggest challenge for manufacturers developing IoT-enabled products is simply identifying the opportunities/benefits of such products (44% of manufacturers). Yet even a landscape rock, equipped with sensors, could become a communications center for lighting systems, sprinklers, or weather-monitoring stations. Which rock are your IoT innovations hiding under? Manufacturers identify excellent or

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Manufacturers to Hackers: "Come on in!"

September 22, 2016 by Liz Fox

Here’s some bad news: millions of sensors and controls on U.S. plant floors are more than a decade old. These outdated devices can’t support digitization and the industrial application of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Here’s some even worse news: These antique devices are open doors for unauthorized access to manufacturing systems and data — which could lead to stolen corporate and customer information, crippled factories, or industrial disasters. BI Intelligence estimates that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020 (24 billion embedded devices and 10 billion smartphones, tablets, etc.), up from 10 billion in 2015; businesses will be the top adopters of IoT. If manufacturers rely on old plant-floor devices to make these connections, opportunities for hackers increase proportionally. A majority of manufacturing executives are concerned about the security of IoT devices in general (although all of them should be). And a third say that the security of their corporate devices, network, and data is a challenge (although, again, they all face challenges). Yet many companies overlook far more obvious concerns. For example, 47 percent of manufacturers have no plans to adopt a policy for bring-your–own-devices (BYOD), which provide easy access to hackers. No

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Gear up for Manufacturing Month 2016!

September 12, 2016 by Liz Fox

For most manufacturers, the fall season is a time of evaluating first-quarter performance, welcoming employees back from vacation, and focusing on what’s to come after the close of the calendar year. However, the month of October is also Manufacturing Month in Ohio, and many businesses and organizations are looking for ways to celebrate the industry’s best assets and illustrate its bright future. But why is manufacturing so important to our state, and what does it offer to today’s evolving world? According to the Ohio Manufacturers Association, manufacturing is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and provides more than 670,000 jobs for skilled workers. In addition, manufacturing is the largest of the state’s 20 sectors, boasting $52 million in products around the world and generating nearly $100 billion in GDP revenue. In particular, Northeast Ohio manufacturers account for 14 percent of the region’s employment and 19 percent of our GDP. To heighten awareness of the sector’s importance to our region, many companies and organizations are opening their doors to students, parents, and others during the month of October. Manufacturing Day, which takes place on Oct. 7, is the high point, with over 1100 events taking place

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[M]NEXT: Why Small Manufacturers Matter

September 08, 2016 by Liz Fox

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), small manufacturers - companies with less than 500 employees – represent up to 99 percent of all manufacturers and account for 8.2 million jobs in the U.S. As a result, productivity among this group has continued to grow, leading to the idea of always improving in any way possible. To sustain results, it’s important to note that people matter just as much or methods or tools. MAGNET has a wealth of options for manufacturers who want to up their game through growth. Among the most vital is [M]NEXT, a new initiative focused on improving operations and employee engagement. Designed for small companies who want to grow, these workshops provide the knowledge and tools to implement Lean manufacturing principles, streamline operations, and foster more trust and communication between employees, thereby leading to top-line expansion and economic impact for the Northeast Ohio region. This series touches on a wide range of topics essential to manufacturers, including: Lean manufacturing and other fundamentals Kaizen, Kanban, and problem solving Utilizing Lean in office and administrative setting Talent pipeline, attraction, and retention ...and more! Take advantage of MAGNET’s world-class expertise and join the ranks of manufacturers that

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