Friday, February 15, 2019

Looking to Diversify Industries? Consider Aerospace

By: Ron Quinkert

As we discussed in a recent blog, many manufacturers are deciding now is the time to diversify. With a potential recession on the horizon, organizations are faced with a few different diversification options to pursue: develop new types of products, sell to new geographic areas or expand into new industries.

But before companies can commit to expanding into new markets, for example, they must first answer a few important questions, such as: Which industries will provide the most business opportunities, now and in the near future? How do I successfully enter a new market? Which industry would make the most sense for my business to enter into?

One industry that has experienced steady growth in recent years is the aerospace sector. With commercial aircraft demand skyrocketing due to factors such as stable crude oil prices, growth in passenger travel and global tensions contributing to higher defense spending, the aerospace industry has become one of the most viable markets for manufacturers to operate in. Due to its promising revenue streams now and in the coming years, many manufacturers might decide that entering the aerospace sector is the right decision for their business. But how do organizations go about doing this?

When it comes to aerospace, quality is the number one priority. After all, it is rare that we hear of airplane recalls or disasters due to manufacturing errors. Because of this, any manufacturer who aims to find success in the aerospace industry must start by achieving an AS9100D certification.

First released in 1999, with the most recent revision published in 2016, AS9100D Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations is the standardized Quality Management System (QMS) for the aerospace sector, as well as for defense organizations. Essentially, AS9100D encompasses all the requirements outlined in the more general ISO 9001 quality standard, with additional requirements specifically related to aviation, space and defense organizations.

In addition to ensuring all manufactured parts reach specified standards of quality, having a QMS that is registered to AS9100D can improve manufacturers’ delivery performance while reducing production costs. Maintaining this certification also helps drive continuous improvement initiatives, as manufacturers must continually work to improve processes and prioritize quality in order to keep their AS9100D certification.

Unlike the domestic automotive industry’s requirement to another QMS standard, AS9100D certification is not mandatory for manufacturers to obtain. However, many aerospace customers still require suppliers to achieve a certification in order to conduct business with them. Because of this, manufacturers who choose to get this certification can gain a competitive advantage over others who have not.

Manufacturers with more questions about the process, costs and responsibilities associated with entering the aerospace sector can get answers at an upcoming Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (AIAM) event. Hosted by The Center at our Plymouth location, this lunch and learn event will be held from 11am to 2pm on Tuesday, March 19. Speakers from the industry will share insights about what manufacturers must do in order to successfully enter the aerospace industry, and why they would want to. To register for this event, click here. Companies do not have to be an AIAM member to attend.

Ron Quinkert
Senior Business Solutions Manager

Ron Quinkert is a Senior Business Solutions Manager with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and has 20 years of automotive sales and manufacturing experience. He works directly with manufacturers in seven Southeast and Central Michigan counties. Ron is a seasoned professional with expertise in team building, automotive product and manufacturing processes, tool design, operational audit practices, procedures and improvements.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, February 8, 2019

What is Value Added vs. Non-Value Added Work?

By: Mike Beels

You’ve heard the old saying: Time is money. But how much of our time at work is really spent engaging in activities that add value to the organization? We tend to assume that every task we perform is essential in sustaining operations. But after analyzation from a Lean perspective, we might be surprised to discover that many of our activities are actually costing the organization time and money.

At its core, Lean is a methodology that aims to eliminate waste in all areas of an organization, resulting in shorter lead times, improved quality and reduced cost. One activity that Lean practitioners use to eliminate waste is to break down workplace processes into categories of Value Added, Non-Value Added and Necessary Non-Value Added. Completing this step allows manufacturers to identify which activities are actually necessary to satisfy the needs of customers, and which are simply wasting valuable resources. Once these distinctions have been made, manufacturers can then work to eliminate Non-Value Added activities so that waste can be minimized, while maximizing value added.

In order to separate your activities into these three categories, you must first understand what each entails:
  • Value Added Activities must satisfy the following three criteria:
  • Work that the customer is willing to pay for
  • Work that physically transforms the product (or document/information)
  • Work that is done right the first time
One easy way to remember this definition is to use the acronym CPR, which stands for: Customer pays for it, Physically transforms the product, Right the first time.
  • Non-Value Added Activities involve work that consumes resources, but does not add value to the product or service.
  • Necessary Non-Value Added Activities are a bit trickier to identify. These are activities that do not add value to the product or service, but are currently necessary. For example, this work might be required by:
  • Customer contract or specification
  • Industry standard such as ISO 9001
  • Government regulation
  • Outdated work method or equipment
We now know what each of these categories involve, but what do they look like in daily life?

On the shop floor, Value Added Activities are those that transform the product from raw material into finished goods that the customer is willing to pay for. Examples might include drilling, piercing or welding a part. Non-Value Added activities, or those that consume valuable resources but do not meet the CPR criteria, might include extra motion or transportation involved in walking from one area of production to another, or any rework caused by defective products. Finally, if a customer requires you to maintain two weeks of finished goods because they don’t trust you to produce or deliver on time, this could be considered a Necessary but Non-Value Added activity. While the activity is Non-Value Added because it is creating extra inventory, it is Necessary because the customer expects it to be done in order to continue doing business with them.

These same types of Value Added, Non-Value Added and Necessary but Non-Value Added activities exist in the office as well. There, a Value Added activity might involve completing an accounting statement or drawing for the customer. On the other hand, a Non-Value Added activity could include the copying and filing of documents. To some, the need to utilize a corporate document at the plant level could be considered Necessary but Non-Value Added because although it may create additional work, it must be done.

Analyzing all the process steps involved in your operations, no matter how big or small, can put your company on a path to saving money while boosting efficiency, increasing customer satisfaction and even heightening employee morale. All it takes is asking the question, Is my work adding value?

For those interested in learning more about the basics of Lean, The Center’s Manufacturing Skills Development (also known as Manufacturing Process Development) course provides participants with a foundational understanding of manufacturing concepts including Lean, quality, problem solving and culture. Register for the upcoming course on March 21-22 here. To learn more about how to start your Lean journey, click here or contact

Mike Beels
Lean Program Manager

Mike Beels has served in the role of Lean Program Manager for the Lean Business Solutions Team at The Center for more than 12 years. Mike’s areas of expertise include Change Leadership, Workforce Engagement and Succession Planning, as well as the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methodologies. He is a professional trainer and has the ability to command an audience and deliver the training message in a way that participants can understand in a clear, non-threatening manner. Mike always leaves trainees excited and ready to complete training transfer to the shop floor or office. 

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, February 1, 2019

Why You (& Your Company) Need PCQI Training

By: John Spillson

According to the Food & Drug Administration, every food processing facility is required to have a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) on staff to manage their food safety preventive controls program. Although not required, advanced training is encouraged to provide individuals with the skills needed to successfully navigate the complicated process of developing, writing and maintaining a Food Safety Plan. With most courses costing between $800 and $1000 for two or three days of training, manufacturers often wonder: Is PCQI training worth it?

For some, the answer may initially be a ‘no.’ Individuals CAN be recognized as a PCQI if they, through adequate job experience, can perform all the duties required of a PCQI. After all, years of working in the food processing industry and understanding proper food handling techniques, adequate holding temperatures and sanitation practices should be enough to handle the responsibilities of a PCQI without formal training. Right? The answer is: Not exactly. 

While you may understand general food safety and be able to identify and control hazards, you may not know or fully understand all the latest regulations, recordkeeping needs and recall plan requirements that go along with maintaining your company’s Food Safety Plan. In other words, for most manufacturers, relying on experience is not always good enough. Gaining additional training develops stronger skills and allows for a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Benefits of PCQI Training
Formal PCQI training provides a variety of benefits including:
  • Understanding the significance and details of Federal Regulations. Fully comprehending the significance of new food regulations is essential. This is a main topic covered in a PCQI course. This course highlights the value behind requirements including the need for a formal Food Safety Plan and recall plan, proper recordkeeping and other responsibilities of a PCQI. By discussing the significance behind each task, participants are made to understand that these regulations are not suggestions and are not negotiable. 
  • Learning from specially trained instructors. PCQI courses are taught by lead instructors who have gone through unique training to provide the most efficient transfer of knowledge possible. In order to become an instructor, they must attend the full PCQI course, meet training experience requirements and take additional lead instructor training designed specifically for teaching adult learners. Instructors also are given several sets of training exercises with detailed instructions for how to best administer them so that participants can get the most out of their training experience.
  • Gaining in-depth knowledge about hazards and preventive controls. Training builds upon participants’ foundational knowledge of Current Good Manufacturing Practices through understanding what hazards are, where they can be found, their likelihood of occurring and their severity. Four different preventive controls are then introduced, giving participants an opportunity to decide which of the four would best control the identified hazards. Verification and validation procedures are taught next so that PCQIs can identify whether the applied preventive controls are being properly implemented and are functioning as planned. Recall plans are included in the discussion, as their main intention is to prevent more people from getting sick than necessary in the event of a recall. Participants learn many strategies for developing a robust recall plan that will account for every affected product, such as outlining a list of all names and businesses to immediately contact in order to minimize the potential impact of a recall. 
  • Improving your recordkeeping abilities. Establishing effective recordkeeping procedures is just as important as understanding and establishing preventive controls. Much time in PCQI training is spent explaining how to effectively maintain records since they are vital to the construction and maintenance of a Food Safety Plan.
  • Gaining experience through different exercises and activities. Hands-on training is provided to best encompass the types of tasks the PCQI will have to complete on the job. Through various training exercises, participants learn new tools in decision-making and strategic thinking, eventually combining all lessons learned to effectively complete their Food Safety Plan. Participants then report their findings to the rest of the class, which provides them with the opportunity to interact with other companies and learn from their experiences.
  • Speeding up your auditing process. The curriculum taught in a PCQI course, which was developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), is the same no matter where you are in the country. Since all food processors, consultants, auditors and inspectors learn the same curriculum, audits can be completed much more smoothly. Further, if the PCQI can present a certificate of course completion to the inspector at the beginning of an audit, the inspector will know they have learned all the information necessary to build a robust Food Safety Plan, without having to first go through a lengthy validation process. 
  • Receiving resources to help create your Food Safety Plan. Individuals are given several resources in training that can be used in the development of their Food Safety Plan. Sample worksheets, forms and templates are included, providing participants with the precise tools needed to outline their Food Safety Plan. 
The benefits of investing in a PCQI course are clear. While it might be possible to develop, write and maintain your Food Safety Plan without taking the time to become formally trained, the process is made much easier and will be more effective for those who do.

To gain the skills needed to confidently manage your company’s food safety preventive controls program, come to The Center’s upcoming PCQI course on February 20-21, taught by our FSPCA Lead Instructor. For more information on the benefits of PCQI training, click here or contact John Spillson at

John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager

John works to develop and expand the food program at The Center. His experience operating his own business has given him knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. John comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, following both parents and grandparents in operating their own family food businesses. Prior to joining The Center, John owned and operated his own food processing company for more than 20 years.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at