Friday, September 19, 2014

Michigan’s Manufacturers Are Set to Celebrate National Manufacturing Day!


Move over Halloween. There’s another holiday in town during October, and Michigan’s finest are gearing up to celebrate. We’re talking about National Manufacturing Day, which is set for Friday, October 3rd!

MFG Day 2014
Established in 2012, National Manufacturing Day was created to raise awareness about U.S. manufacturing. Now in its third year, the goal of the celebration is to change the nation’s perception of manufacturing careers and increase the public’s knowledge about the industry’s value to the U.S. economy.

Manufacturing Day is so important because the general public is unaware of how vital manufacturing is to our country. Manufacturing supports more than 17.4 million U.S. jobs and comprises 12.5% of our GDP. In fact, U.S. manufacturing is the eighth largest economy in the world! You can click here to learn more stats in an infographic from the National Institute of Standards & Technology.

While sharing statistics about our industry is helpful, Manufacturing Day’s goal is to make a long-lasting impact on local communities through live experiences. That’s why manufacturers, educational institutions and associations host open houses and events for the public on October 3rd. Typically, this involves inviting students and educators, community leaders, local businesses, media members and federal and state legislative representatives to view their facilities and learn about their operations and processes.

These types of open houses and events give outsiders, who typically aren't exposed to manufacturing, a chance to experience the diverse career opportunities available in the field and see how local products are created. Open houses are particularly helpful in shaping the younger generation’s perception of manufacturing, which is critical to addressing our nation’s skills gap. They get the opportunity to see that manufacturing has a wide range of job possibilities such as welders, electricians, fabricators, sales & marketing, human resources, researchers and more!

Many Michigan manufacturers are signed up to host events starting as early as September 29th. You can click here to visit the National Manufacturing Day website and see a list of the local manufacturers who are participating. As of the time of this posting, there are more than 40 events scheduled to occur around the state!

If you are interested in learning more about National Manufacturing Day, we encourage you to visit www.mfgday.com. And it’s not too late to sign up to host an open house or event! In addition to supporting the mission of National Manufacturing Day, you can gain also gain great exposure for your company. The national website has a media kit and numerous resources to help you maximize the effectiveness of your event. You can also support Manufacturing Day on social media or share some of the great videos from their annual video contest!

Finally, while we love U.S. manufacturing, we really really really love Michigan manufacturing. We’ll be more than happy to help you host your own event, just contact us at inquiry@mmtc.org and let us know what you need. This is also a great reminder to participate in our Proud to Manufacture in Michigan program! Click here to learn more.

So mark your calendars for Friday, October 3rd and share the news that manufacturing matters!

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted 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 www.mmtc.org

Monday, September 15, 2014

Value of Made in America

As more and more attention is focused on manufacturing and what gets made where, the question is being asked . . . . What does it mean to be ‘made in America’?

The Federal Trade Commission has long reigned in this area, with specific guidelines spelled out on its website. Under tools for consumers, the FTC states “. . . there is no law requiring manufacturers and marketers to make a “Made in USA” claim. But, if a business chooses to make the claim, the FTC’s Made in USA standard applies. Made in USA means that ‘all or virtually all’ the product has been made in America.”  

That makes everything clear, right? Not exactly.

There is also the Buy America Provisions, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which places requirements on manufactured products for federal funds distributed to federal, state, and local governments. These funds, when distributed, must adhere to specific requirements relative to the final products. They must contain a certain percentage of domestic or USA manufactured goods or components.

So, what does it mean to Buy American or to purchase products with the ‘Made in America’ label.

It’s true that it’s a challenge to sustain oneself on American made products, but those days appear to be dwindling. As more and more people take up the challenge to outfit a home or a room with American made products or to travel the US using the same, it’s truly amazing what treasures can be found. In fact, American Made Movie will premiere at various Manufacturing Day events across the country on October 3rd, highlighting the successes of companies that have had a positive impact on domestic manufacturing jobs.

The Department of Commerce is evaluating the interest in creating a certifiable standard for the Made in America Label. What value would this have to consumers? What value for Manufacturers?

What do you think? Sound off in the comments. 

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted 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 www.mmtc.org

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Strategic Importance of Technology Roadmapping (Part 2 of 2)


How to Create a Technology Road Map

We recently published a blog entry about the importance of roadmapping. Roadmapping is an excellent way to align your technology with your company’s strategic goals. To recap Part 1, roadmapping is a visualization of how to tie a company’s technology needs to its new product development and strategy. Among the advantages, road mapping can: 

  • Help you arrive at a shared vision of your organization’s future,
  • Create a consensus on the needs and technologies required
  • Create a framework to plan and coordinate technology with future business activities

If you’re interested in reading the first part of the series, click here

To some smaller manufacturers in Michigan, roadmapping may sound complex or very technical. You may think it’s just for the larger manufacturer… but that’s not true!

Road Mapping is a Three-Step Process

Let’s say you want to test the waters with this concept. Among the most popular and simple ways to begin roadmapping is  with paper, Post-Its™ notes stuck on the wall or intro software. No matter which system you use, the basic process remains the same. Road mapping experts usually divide the process into three major stages:

1. The Preliminary Phase

To start, you need to assemble your team, get support from leaders in the company, and define the scope and boundaries of the road map.

2. The Development Phase

The second phase starts with selecting  the product or department that will be the focus of the road map. Then, you need to identify critical system requirements and major technology areas. For each technology alternative, you will need to create a timeline. This element can drastically impact your evaluation of the situation. As you develop the road map, you will see that the alternatives differ in timeline, costs and other aspects. These will influence your decision on the final road map—which will be the product of Phase Two.

3. Follow-Up Activities

At this point, you need to review, critique and validate the road map with the group that will be involved in its implementation. You also need to create a schedule for periodic review to see how the road map is working and/or needs are evolving.

Roadmapping is Concrete and Practical

If this process sounds abstract to you, think again. It’s really not! The beauty of the concept is that it takes abstract ideas and/or lists, ties them together and then converts all that information into a graphical representation. The Technology roadmap is often the link between a strategic company objective and an identified technology solution. It answer the questions – Why am I doing this? What is the value? And what is the benefit to the end user? –which can be an internal or external customer.

general motors uses technology road mapping
Many companies have benefited from roadmapping since Motorola began using the concept in the 1970s. Take General Motors, for example. Years ago, General Motors executives got tired of making “lists of lists.” They needed some way to capture and connect information to make sure they had the right technology in the pipeline for product development and innovation. They turned to roadmapping as a solution. With the road maps they developed, they were able to review their global product portfolio, communicate more easily among different parts of the corporation and avoid the duplication efforts that were going on. All it took was creating and using corporation-wide road maps.

Your company may not be the size of GM, but the principles remain the same. It is critical in today’s economy to stay on top of your company’s technology needs and make sure they are tied to your present product line, future product plans and strategy.

Try experimenting with this technique and your strategic planning process will become easier and more successful!

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted 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 www.mmtc.org