Content By Ryan E. Day

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By: Ryan E. Day

Although Covid-19 shelter-in-home edicts usually use the terms “essential” and “nonessential,” most business owners think of doing business as essential for survival. Many organizations don’t have the resources to temporarily suspend business. They must find new ways to get it done.

In a Think with Google article, Gina Shilavi outlines ways people are dealing with the new, albeit temporary, reality of social distancing within a business context. “From troubleshooting poor internet connections to equipment hacks to sharing creative ways for remote team collaboration, [Youtube content creator’s] advice is resonating [with viewers],” she says. “In the past week alone, searches for 'telecommuting' in the U.S. reached an all-time high on Google and YouTube, with no sign of slowing down.”

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

The internet of things, or IoT, is a phenomenon that merges real-life devices with online control. Think smart home systems or maybe the FordPass Connect app. The manufacturing industry has already begun to leverage this idea to monitor heavy industrial equipment and analyze data from multiple machines and even multiple facilities. The information gathered helps manufacturing companies make more informed decisions concerning things like maintenance, operating expense, and asset utilization. Now this has given rise to the term, industrial internet of things, or IIoT.

The IIoT builds on IoT with sensors that monitor things like vibration, power consumption, and run times. Manufacturing equipment is now more readily available in IIoT-ready configuration, and there are numerous devices to retrofit existing machinery to an IIoT ecosystem.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Lean: an employee-championed method of waste reduction. Six Sigma: a robust method of defect reduction. Embracing both methods provides organizations with multiple tools for continuous improvement. Developed for manufacturing, lean Six Sigma has now been recognized by government agencies as a practical way to realize their outcome goals.

Improving response time for client services

Expediency is always crucial to the well-being of government services clients. California’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and Washington state’s King County Treasury Operations are two organizations that were motivated to explore more efficient processes to reduce response times for client services.

The improvements these teams sought to bring about would require changes in the way things were done, but change is not always easy, and the way forward can be elusive. New ways of doing things require new methods. For organizations as large and complex as these government agencies to effect positive change, robust tools are needed.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Lean looks at ways to reduce waste and improve flow. The principles are relevant to virtually every organizational sector and vertical. It’s no surprise, then, that so many organizations tout lean and devote resources to lean initiatives. But, too often, there is a tendency for a company to promote lean initiatives before it has really developed a lean culture. How about yours? Is it truly striving for a lean culture, or just paying lip service?

A lean culture is born when progress is made within four separate dimensions: cultural enablers, enterprise alignment, customer-focused results, and continuous improvement. If you’re not sure where your company stands on the lean continuum, walk through the following exercise and see what you discover.

Read the statements below each category and assess how frequently your organization exhibits these characteristics and behaviors. Respond to the statements with something along the lines of: almost always; sometimes; rarely; and almost never.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

With more than 300 employees headquartered in a modern 150,000+ sq ft facility, Plasser American Corp. (PAC) manufactures top-quality, heavy railway construction and maintenance equipment for customers in North America. To stay competitive with international competition, PAC continually looks for ways to improve its processes and best practices.

“We made a goal to drastically reduce welding rework in the assembly area, so that all the welding of individual component parts on our frames would be done in the frame shop during initial welding,” explains Joe Stark vice president of operations and production. “At that time, we were laying out each machine we built by hand using tape measures and soap stones. Our machine-to-machine consistency just wasn’t where it needed to be which meant too much rework having to be done in the main assembly areas. We knew we needed to develop some standardization and best practices to accomplish our goals.”

Challenge

The PAC team assessed the possibility of their engineering department creating models detailing every tab, bracket, plate, etc. The idea was rejected due to the tremendous amount of engineering time that would be necessary to keep the models 100-percent accurate.

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By: Ryan E. Day

“Before I do the things I do, people call them ‘impossible.’ After I’m done, they call them ‘crazy.’ I call them ‘world records.’”
—Jason Caldwell, author of Navigating the Impossible

Books on leadership can be dry or boring. Not so with Navigating the Impossible: Build Extraordinary Teams and Shatter Expectations, by Jason Caldwell (Berrett-Koehler, 2019). Caldwell, a self-proclaimed “professional jock,” is president and owner of Latitude 35 Leadership, which uses experiential training to explore the fine art of leading and maintaining high-performance teams.

Navigating the Impossible is anchored around Caldwell’s record-setting run at rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, the Atlantic Ocean. Thirty-five days, 14 hours, and three minutes. That’s how long it took Jason Caldwell and the crew of the American Spirit to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean during the perilous 2016 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge—or, as it’s known to those who attempt it, “The World’s Toughest Row.”

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By: Ryan E. Day

Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Plasan North America (PNA) manufactures metal, composite, and ceramic-composite components for defense and commercial applications. PNA brings decades of process experience to bear in creating the world’s most advanced armor, metal components, and fabrications.

Challenge

PNA has a vision to become the global leader in armor solutions based on innovation and quality. This vision spurs growth that regularly challenges the company’s quality team to grow right along with production. Accelerating product development forced PNA’s quality department to reassess the capability of its current inspection equipment.

“We were facing some pretty aggressive timelines on launch activity,” explains Tony Bellitto, quality manager at Plasan North America. “We were scheduled to launch 140 new part numbers, and most of them included GD&T [geometric dimensioning and tolerancing], not just basic measurements.”

Some of the parts PNA manufactures are of considerable size and weight, which posed further challenges.

“Some of these products are up to eight feet across,” says Christine Foley, senior quality engineer at PNA. “One of the underbelly parts we produce for tactical vehicles weighs about 2,500 pounds.”

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By: Ryan E. Day

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Dimensional Engineering was born on the back of a dream, a major contract from an aircraft manufacturer, and a process developed specifically to fulfill that project. Dimensional Engineering has steadily grown to become a full-service team of consulting and field metrologists, focused on the application of 3D metrology services. With aerospace and automotive applications firmly established, Dimensional Engineering has expanded into the fields of gas and oil, while positioning itself to tackle marine applications as well.

Challenge

Equipment at gas and oil facilities present a unique challenge in that many system components involve precision-machined interior features, but a rough casting on the outer surfaces. In addition, the cast pieces present numerous compound curves and varying wall thicknesses. This means that many components in an oil and gas system are an inspection nightmare, and traditional tools are often incapable of providing the quality dimensional data necessary for repairs and reverse engineering.

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By: Ryan E. Day

Every year, Manufacturing Day brings attention to the career path that has financed millions of growing families throughout the decades—including mine. This attention also recalls the ongoing shortage of people to fill the thousands of available jobs in manufacturing. The same can be said for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers that go hand-in-glove with manufacturing. According to a 2018 Deloitte study, the lack of manufacturing workers could result in the United States losing up to $454 billion in the GDP.

The fact that so much wealth will go untapped by prospective employees is a poignant reminder of the need to shine a light on the various ways that some people and organizations are taking positive steps to mitigate the issue. One of the companies taking action is CNC Machines in Sanford, Florida. Founded in 2014, CNC Machines has grown to become one of North America’s top three used machinery dealers and named one of Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.

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By: Ryan E. Day

For more than 50 years, Tri-State Plastics has been honing its skills in thermoforming, CNC machining, die cutting, assembly, and fabricating plastic parts for government and military applications. A restructuring of company ownership saw the organization pivot toward the lucrative but challenging opportunity of aerospace manufacturing.