Emily Newton’s picture

By: Emily Newton

Welding technology has progressed over the years, thanks to innovations that improve accuracy and overall productivity. Some advances have been in welding automation handled by advanced robots. Other breakthroughs rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine vision for better defect detection. Here’s a closer look at how those two technologies have helped the industry move forward.

Welding automation reduces human labor needs

One of the reasons for manufacturers’ interest in welding technology is that it could solve or at least ease labor shortages. According to the American Welding Society, more than 50 percent of human-created projects require some type of welding. Additionally, American Welding Society data forecast 400,000 unfilled welding jobs by 2024. Some analysts believe the shortage could surpass that figure.

Training programs make younger generations aware of their opportunities in welding roles. Such programs are good starts, but they won’t bring about an immediate change. AI-powered robots could assist with the deficit in the meantime.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Chickens come home to roost, and canaries meet their demise in coal mines. But hey, we knew there was a high probability of each happening eventually, right? However, when a black swan shows up with severe impact and consequences, everyone is caught off guard. I’m wondering if it’s a black swan when you could have seen it coming?

A swan of a different color

Oddly enough, definitions of the term usually include ambivalent statements concerning hindsight:
“A Black Swan event is an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected at the point in time it occurred. However, after evaluating the surrounding context, domain experts (and in some cases even laymen) can usually conclude: ‘It was bound to happen.’”
Black Swan

“A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight.”

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

By: Innovating Service With Chip Bell

It all started when we drove up to the speaker menu at a quick-service restaurant. “Can I take your order?” the attendant coldly barked. When my wife, on hearing the deep voice of the attendant, politely said, “Thank you, sir,” she got back a sharp, “It’s ma’am.”

The attendant bristled with obvious disdain when we got our meal and asked for napkins (not included). When we requested catsup (not included), she darkly said, “This was supposed to be my day off, and I was ordered to come in for someone who didn’t show up.” We wished she’d been the “missing in action” employee.

The next day I read an article that provided a list of 53 restaurant chains likely to close in the next year. I thought to myself: This restaurant needs to be among the ones going out of business. It was. Based on their frontline ambassador, they were earning the right to go bankrupt. Sadly, it was completely avoidable.

Multiple Authors
By: Bert Thornton, Sherry Hartnett

The past two years have been tough. Many of us are feeling bogged down, burned out, and wary of what the future holds. But instead of creeping into 2022 with a sense of dread, what if you bounded into it with optimism and confidence?

Yes, there’s a way to revitalize your career, your outlook, and your mindset: Resolve to become a mentor in the upcoming year.

Most people think of mentoring as a giving exchange, but it’s really a getting exchange. It’s a reciprocal relationship in which mentors often learn as much as they teach. You might be concerned that you just don’t have the bandwidth to add one more role to your already-busy schedule this year. But the ROI in becoming a mentor is unbeatable—and the benefits will last well beyond this year.

For many high-level mentors, the monthly time commitment is typically no more than an hour of preparation and an hour to meet. Some pairs might choose to meet more often, others less.

If you still aren’t sure whether to become a mentor, read on to discover 10 surprising benefits you can expect to receive.

Mentoring can reignite your engagement

Josh Wilson’s picture

By: Josh Wilson

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, Rahm Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff and Chicago mayor, famously quipped that you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Few of us will face the number of crises that a big-city mayor or a presidential aide may deal with in a day, but we still need to be prepared. Otherwise, a clumsy or tone-deaf reaction may cause more damage than the event itself.

Every crisis is unique, but crisis management is always about communication. For manufacturers, the present calamity is a series of breakdowns in the global supply chain. Automakers have been hit hard, particularly those that rely on advanced semiconductors to run innovative safety features like assisted driving.

Only a few months ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to a software crisis by publicly acknowledging that his company’s “full self-driving” technology was “not very good.” Shortly thereafter, Tesla announced record sales and deliveries. Other manufacturers have a lot to learn. If they want to emerge from the supply chain crisis on top, they won’t just emulate Musk’s transparency; they’ll avoid the following common mistakes.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The U.S. Military Academy’s Honor Code says that “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the USMA’s superintendent, elaborated, “The tenets of honorable living remain immutable, and the outcomes of our leader development system remain the same, to graduate Army officers that live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence.”1 This is also a key takeaway from Col. Larry R. Donnithorne’s The West Point Way of Leadership (Currency 2009), which I have read and highly recommend. Ethics are equally important in industry as they are in the military.

A history of honor codes

Codes of ethics and honor are centuries old, and probably evolved from the fact that most people, including the upper social classes, were once illiterate. Many kings and dukes, not to mention knights, considered it beneath them to learn how to read and write, and left this work to clergymen, aka clerics. (“Cleric” is in fact the origin of the word “clerk.”) This, in turn, limited the availability of written and signed contracts, so people had to literally be able to take each other at their words.

Prasad Akella’s picture

By: Prasad Akella

We are a full two years into post-pandemic manufacturing life, with the omicron variant the latest cause for concern. It might sound hyperbolic, but I’m pretty sure manufacturing will never be the same as it was in 2019. In some ways, that’s a good thing.

One silver lining of the novel coronavirus was the adaptability that it forced on many manufacturers. For all the disaster planning and preparedness exercises companies practice, there’s nothing like a true crisis to test the system and show the gaps in it.

But pandemics aren’t the only hurdles on the manufacturing horizon. We know that natural disasters are increasing in frequency. Supply chain disruptions and political upheaval are also growing concerns around the globe. In a recent Drishti survey, we found that 60 percent of the 400 manufacturers that responded believed a significant disruptive incident would likely occur during the next 12 months.

With that level of uncertainty plaguing the industry, the question has to be asked: How do manufacturers continue to deliver high-quality products when they’re sure to be impacted by happenings outside of their control?

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Are you worried that having hybrid and, especially, full-time remote employees will undermine employee on-the-job learning, integration into company culture, and intra- and inter-team collaboration? This issue recurrently came up with organizations that I guided in developing strategies for returning to the office and establishing permanent future work arrangements.

On the one hand, these leaders acknowledged the reality that the future of work is mainly hybrid, with some staff working remotely full-time. After all, surveys illustrate that 60 to 70 percent of employees want a hybrid post-pandemic schedule permanently, while 25 to 35 percent want a fully remote schedule. Further, 40 to 55 percent would be willing to quit if not given their preferred amount of work from home.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Quality Digest (QD) was born 40 years ago. Birthed as Quality Circle Institute (QCI), the organization was conceived as a consultancy focused on bringing the success of quality control circles at Lockheed to organizations that were beginning to awaken to the importance of employee involvement in the improvement process. But times change and ideas evolve, and QCI became QD to better represent the broader quality industry, especially the movement toward international standards. In fact, the very definition of quality, and its role in manufacturing and business, has been something of a bone of contention all along.

Multiple Authors
By: Dennis Bailen, Bob Sherlock

Manufacturing businesses small and large have had their hands full with the fallout of the pandemic, and although it seems the worst of the crisis is now behind us, companies will continue to grapple with how to keep both customers and employees on board despite supply chain issues, intense competition, and labor shortages.

What’s sometimes overlooked is that the marketing function can help solve three of manufacturers’ biggest challenges in 2022—if the C-suite doesn’t limit marketing’s role in lead generation.

Here are three ways marketers can help manufacturing businesses navigate the many disruptions they will continue to face this year, in ways that extend far beyond product promotion.

Supply chain-related communications

Up until this year, the markets were rarely rocked by supply chain disruptions. The Wall Street Journal didn’t even have a logistics beat during the last few decades. In 2021, everything changed when Covid-19 caused labor shortages, disrupting the supply chain of a vast amount of finished products and base materials—just when demand for manufactured goods surged.

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