Blog

Improve Safety in Your Plant with Lean

July 05, 2017 by Gwido Dlugopolsky

In an average manufacturing plant, the presence of old industrial equipment, bad systems, or untrained workers can mean a higher risk of workplace accidents. In fact, studies show 94 percent of accidents occur because of unsafe actions, at-risk behaviors or poor decisions, while only 6 percent happen as a result of unsafe conditions, OSHA violations, and dangerous machinery. This shows that while compliance is necessary, it does not guarantee things will operate as smoothly as they should. Safety is about people, which means correcting behavior can be a challenge. But it’s possible to steer your employees in the right direction by engaging them during the continuous improvement process. The OSHA Safety and Health System Model consists of four categories: Management Leadership and Employee Involvement: Processes that involve the company coming together to brainstorm and implement solutions to plant issues Worksite Analysis: Periodic inspections and infra that track near-misses, safety incidents, and accident investigations Hazard Prevention and Control: Preventative maintenance performed to ensure the operation of a clean, organized facility Safety and Health Training: Information on how to keep the workplace safe Many lean manufacturing tools and techniques are designed to support these efforts, including audits, safety metrics, and systems that

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Combating Confirmation Bias Could Spell Success for Your Startup

June 26, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

Entrepreneurs are a self-confident bunch, and for good reason. The old perception of nine-in-ten startups failing remains as true as ever, and you have to have deep faith in yourself and your idea to face down such long odds. But the gift of self-confidence can also be a liability. As human beings, we're already programmed to find evidence that supports our beliefs. Psychologists call this “Confirmation Bias”, and in ultra-confident entrepreneurs, that bias is often turbo charged… sometimes with expensive consequences. Building a successful startup in today's economy requires a willingness to learn from mistakes and, when necessary, make major adjustments. When you're starting a business, assumptions that once seemed unquestionably true can quickly turn into big misses. As author and entrepreneur Steve Blank famously says, "No business model survives first contact with the customer." Here are three ways entrepreneurs can overcome the confirmation bias and let evidence drive their decisions: Look for disconfirming evidence. It's not easy and it sounds counterproductive, but the best thing a founder can do is look for reasons a new idea won't work (yes, you read that right). If nine out of ten startups fail, assume your first, second, and tenth idea has a

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Build Communication by Going Gemba

June 21, 2017 by Gwido Dlugopolsky

In many cases, managers spend too much time at their desks, in meetings, and on their phones, which means they often rely on others to tell them what’s going on in their factories. Not having the necessary knowledge of day-to-day occurrences on your shop floor can not only lead to misinformed decision-making, but also an increase in safety hazards and apparent miscommunication between you and your employees. Thankfully, there are multiple ways of finding out what’s going on, one of which is known as “Gemba Walking”. Developed by industrial engineers Taiichi Ohno and Eiki Toyoda in the 1950s, Gemba is part of the famous Toyota Production System and stresses the importance getting you right where the action is, and meeting the people doing the actual work so you can see what’s happening for yourself. To start, pick an area of the factory and stand there for a prolonged period of time. Observe how your employees interact. Take notes and record questions that come to mind, some of which may include “Why are using this process for this task?” and “How can we improve on it?” These can be used in discussions later, especially those centered on devising improvement plans that

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MAGNET collaborates with national consortium to support regional manufacturers, implement internships

June 14, 2017 by Liz Fox

As innovations in lightweight technology continue to shape manufacturing competitiveness and growth, MAGNET and LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) have partnered with three local companies to build awareness of how internships and work-based learning can pave the way for a new skilled workforce. These manufacturers, which include Nordson, Swagelok, and Exact Tool, are sharing how they have integrated high school and college level interns into their daily business operations, which has assisted with their long-term strategy in growing their talent pool and providing students with an opportunity to apply their learnings in a real-world setting. Spanning five states, LIFT is a federally funded manufacturing initiative targeting the use of newer, lighter technologies, which have been shown to boost performance of components used in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical, and defense industries. Through this partnership, MAGNET also provides students with work-based learning opportunities (including paid internships) in companies that utilize lightweighting throughout their supply chains. Those enrolled in programs focused on machining, welding, and pre-engineering are now available for summer internships, where they are paid an hourly wage and, depending on performance, can be retained for part-time employment. Participating companies also receive a partial wage reimbursement through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership

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What's next for the automobile industry?

June 13, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

In the almost decade since the worst economic recession of the 21st century, several industries have shown resilience. Foremost of these industries is the automotive market. Not only have global sales reached a record high in 2016, but the operating margins are growing quickly as well. According to research presented by Capital IQ, average operating margins for the top 100 automotive market suppliers were able to jump above pre-recession levels by 2010, just a year from their record low. The problem with this success is that the view from behind the curtain is very different. A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the trends within the automotive industry for 2017 mentions some careful considerations for both investors and manufacturers. Many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers are fighting to earn back the cost of capital. Returns to investors have been noticeably below index standards. The companies that have survived were able to grow by the distribution of market share owned by those companies who were forced to tap out. The PwC report acknowledges these hardships while presenting encouraging solutions for OEMs and suppliers. Innovation to the Rescue Suppliers for leading automotive brands come in all shapes and sizes, from large mechanical

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What Can You Do to Prepare to Sell Your Business?

June 12, 2017 by MAGNET Ohio

Many manufacturers would never think of selling their companies. They may be sustaining a family tradition, or looking to build one for future generations. But for some of these leaders, an opportunity to sell will appear anyway — especially for manufacturers with strong financials, solid customer bases, and innovative products. Unfortunately, the “I-will-never-sell” mindset can leave owners flattered but flustered when a buyer knocks on the door. Because they’ve never considered an exit, they haven’t prepared their companies for merger and acquisition (M&A) activity. This is a critical mistake, as selling and planning is a process in its own right, and many things take place before the actual sale. Preparedness can (1) identify if a sale is the right choice and (2) prepare the company to attract the right price. Yet just half of SMEs seek outside experts for strategic planning in readying their companies for M&A. Here’s how to get started now: Assume a sale is possible: Every manufacturer owner should know the value of his or her organization to others — in part, to review the organization’s current strengths and weaknesses. Kicking the tires on your own company can open your eyes, stimulate innovation, and can lead to

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MAGNET Client Receives Award for Business Leadership and Quality Excellence

June 06, 2017 by Liz Fox

Local manufacturer LEFCO Worthington was recently presented with the Quality Service Leadership award at the 21st annual Business Leadership Awards Program. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, the Monte Ahuja College of Business at Cleveland State University, The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), the International Business Network (IBN), the Sustainable Business Center (SBC), and MAGNET, the 2017 ceremony took place late last month at Windows on the River in Cleveland. Since 1997, MAGNET has presented this award to manufacturing companies who exemplify operational excellence and an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. Other factors, such as overall business performance and customer satisfaction, are also taken into consideration. Previous winners include La Bamba Tortilleria, Great Lakes Brewing, Avtron, and MobilityWorks. LEFCO Worthington is a Cleveland manufacturer of protective packaging that specializes in custom wood crates, heavy-duty bases, foam packaging, and lumber cutting and distribution services. The company to small and mid-sized companies in various industries, such as defense, transportation, aerospace, medical, and custom equipment manufacturing. After working with MAGNET in 2015 to restructure, reduce turnover, and improve operations, the company was able to retain 8 jobs, lessen lead times, generate additional revenue, and foster a stronger relationship between higher management and

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How to Lead Through Self-Management

June 01, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

While engaging with other people is a staple of being a good manager, being a successful leader lies in something more: the ability to manage yourself. The world is full of executives who spend their days strategizing and weighing external outcomes, but real leadership means looking inward to find how your own strengths, values, and assets can help you manage yourself as well as others. This process has many pieces to it, but at the heart of it, there are a few core principles that play a vital role in being a leader (versus a manager) and getting the impactful results you want: Spend your time and energy improving on strengths instead of weaknesses. This concept is based on the idea that it takes far more to get from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. As a leader and influencer, why would you spend all of your time and energy trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none? It’s important to recognize early on that successful individuals excel in one or two areas, as this focus allows them to pursue excellence rather than settling for a skill set

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How Ordinary Management Can Become Extraordinary Leadership

May 18, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

Ordinary management is crucial. The ability to step into a situation, understand the complex web of intertwining relationships, and manage the people and resources to accomplish a goal are critical skills for all executives. According to Mike Chitty in his article, “Ordinary and Extraordinary Leadership”, management is the efficiency-based, improvement-oriented focus on the present situation. Ordinary simply means the implementation of well-known principles to a situation that is relatively black and white. He makes sure to note that ordinary is difficult, and should in no way be undervalued, with even the best managers needing years of practice to master it. Leadership, while not mutually exclusive of management, is the visionary focus on the future. Extraordinary applies to the implication that the solution to a situation is not clear, that there is disagreement and absolutely no guarantee that the steps taken to solve a problem will succeed. The greatest executives within a company must be both managers and leaders. According to Mike Chitty, the set of skills common to all extraordinary leaders includes: Creativity and political/emotional intelligence, confidence, and the ability to work through disagreement. An extraordinary leader will apply an iterative process of hypothesizing, testing, measuring, learning, and trying again.

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Grow Your Top Line Through Marketing and Innovation

May 15, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

Think about this scenario: You are a contract manufacturing company that has been in operation for 20+ years offering your customers the great quality and customer service, at a low price. You have a long list of customers that seem more than content with the services and capabilities that you provide. You were able to survive the Great Recession of 2008-2009 with minimal losses to your customer base; however, over the past 2-3 years, sales have been declining, and some of your trusted markets (like oil and gas) haven’t been as lucrative as before. You know you need to do something new to produce the results you want, but where do you start? Start with marketing and innovation. According to the late Peter Drucker, “The purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Think about it from another perspective, no one in the market knows how good your product or service is until after the sale, so before they buy, they only know how good your marketing is.

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