Friday, February 5, 2016

Business Continuity Planning: Mitigate the Risk of Disasters and Emergencies

Business Continuity Planning: Mitigate the Risk of Disasters and Emergencies

Imagine sitting at your table and watching the news while drinking your morning coffee. The newscaster’s voice booms as he breaks the latest story: a fire burned through the night and destroyed almost half of the warehouses and businesses in a nearby industrial park.

The sobering realization of: “That is where my business is!” immediately comes to mind followed by “Please let my business be ok”. What if the worst HAS happened? Now what? The only way to continue operations is to have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place.

What Is Business Continuity Planning (BCP)?
BCP is the discipline of creating alternate plans to continue business operations in case a major disruption occurs. This practice creates recovery systems to deal with threats of all kinds. Do not let this simple definition be deceiving. A good BCP covers all aspects of operations from purchasing to production, payroll, shipping and receiving.

A business is at its most vulnerable when its operations are shut down. Orders still need to be fulfilled, employees need to get paid, products need to get shipped, and bills need to be taken care of regardless of what else is occurring. Customers often cannot wait for operations to resume and creditors demand payment. Good BCP provides explicit details about what happens in the case of an emergency and where alternate production will occur. The plan must outline how to procure and transport supplies in an effort to process orders. Companies must be able to move to an alternate site to resume operations immediately.

What Could Ever Happen?
  • Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, tornadoes, volcanic eruption and tsunamis
  • Fires caused by forest fires, arson, explosions and lightning
  • Structural damage caused by a roof collapse or other physical plant malfunction
  • Terrorism, war, sabotage, blackmail, hacking

Consider what could be lost during any of these tragic situations: inventory, data, money, and orders. All electronic, computerized and hard copy information should exist in another format at a different location. If not, the business could be in trouble. A good plan eliminates or mitigates risk through the use of redundant systems.

How to Create a BCP
1.     The first step is to perform a Business Impact Assessment (BIA), which identifies the potential manmade and natural threats that could occur. A BIA also demonstrates the consequences if one of these threats occurs along with recovery strategies and preventative measures.  

2.     The second step is to identify resources and requirements specified by the BIA. Identify any gaps between requirements and current capabilities. Explore all the possible options to determine costs and feasibility.

3.     The third step is to develop relocation plans and organize recovery teams. Also consider information technology recovery procedures. Consider how obstacles will be overcome. Compile the entire plan and make sure management is on board.

4.     In the fourth phase, identify holes in the plan by actually testing the plan. Critical areas of coverage may be lacking and can become apparent during testing. A drill helps to identify these weaknesses. Train the business continuity team and make sure all staff members are oriented to the process. Update BCP to incorporate lessons learned from testing and exercises.

MMTC has experience helping manufacturers develop a BCP. For more information, contact us at 888.414.6682 or click here.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully 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, January 29, 2016

Lightweight Materials Momentum Grows as EPA and Industry Prepare for Mid-Term Evaluation

As governmental and consumer demand for decreased emissions, higher sustainability, lower carbon footprint and greater fuel economy increases, the growing trend for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to adopt new materials is impacting manufacturing at all tier levels. As OEM’s change materials, small and medium-sized manufacturers will face a timely shifts toward aluminum, advanced high strength steel, composites, bio-polymers and bio-materials.

New and lightweight materials being specified by OEM’s in all industries pose a substantial risk to Michigan manufacturers.  Changing materials mean developing new processes, modifying supply chains, investing in new equipment, learning new materials, and adapting manufacturing practices to new requirements.

The fervor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel economy is stronger than ever at the EPA. Consumers and automotive companies are on board for continued improvements to meet the 2025 standard of 163 g/ml CO2 (54.5 mpg) average for all cars sold in the United States.  European standards are even tougher, and China and other Asian countries are moving in the same direction. With the emphasis on global vehicle manufacturers, all from Detroit to Yokohama and Wolfsburg, are taking the fuel economy challenge very seriously.  A midterm evaluation period is scheduled for June 2016, but it seems unlikely that the conclusions will be anything but to stay to course and push for 54.5 mpg average in 2025. See the following chart from the EPA.


With average fuel economy still in the 25 – 30 mpg range today, how will the car companies reach the end goal?  In his presentation to the Center for Automotive Research last August, Chris Grundler, Director of the EPA in Ann Arbor, presented the following charts showing that a number of vehicles are well on their way to achieving the vehicle class goals. The pathway to higher mileage includes improvements in engine technology, transmissions, and road loads.  Reduction of mass is also playing a role with many of these models.  This evidence points out that there is not one solution out there, but a combination of many that will get the car companies where they need to be.



Automotive companies are eager to reduce weight to offset weight increases created by safety features being added to vehicles. They are but they are not eager to increase cost.

MMTC Can Help You Meet Growing Demand for Lightweight Components
Altering existing materials means developing new processes, modifying supply chains, investing in new equipment, learning new materials, and adapting manufacturing practices to new requirements within your organization. MMTC’s Materials, Process and Product Consulting program will assist clients in better understanding the risks, upgrading processes, equipment and systems, and provide in depth technical know-how to assess clients capabilities and establish programs to significantly improve manufacturing efficiency and quality while preparing for new materials and products.

MMTC’s Areas of Technical Expertise 
Forming & Fabrication of Advanced High Strength Steel & Aluminum
Welding, Joining and Heat Treating
Casting – Aluminum, Iron & Magnesium
Powder Metal Molding
Metallurgy of Traditional & New Materials

Services Offered
New and lightweight materials being specified by OEM’s in all industries pose a substantial risk to Michigan manufacturers. MMTC’s Materials, Process and Product Consulting services can benefit your operations with:
New Material & Job Quote advising
Recognizing Changes in Scrap Handling & Recycling
Preparing for the Future With Assessments, Waste Walks & Program Preparation
Process Training & Development
Design of Experiments
Troubleshooting (8D Problem Solving)
Program or project Management

Contact MMTC
Do you have a materials or process-related question?  For more information, call the MMTC Materials Tech Team today at 888.414.6682.


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, January 22, 2016

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans in Manufacturing


benefits of hiring veterans in manufacturing
According to Deloitte Manufacturing Institute’s report, The Skills Gap in U.S.Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond, manufacturers for years have reported a sizeable gap between the talent they need to keep growing their businesses and the talent they can actually find. Successful manufacturing companies need a growing labor pool to meet increasing market demands.

Manufacturers meeting these needs have found a great benefit through recruiting veterans. Men and women enlist in the armed services for many reasons – a patriotic commitment to the United States, carrying on a family tradition, and more. In addition to strong character, our military men and women expand on their skills and increase their education during deployment, making them the perfect candidates for the manufacturing sector upon their return.

Required Skills
A side-by-side comparison demonstrates an almost perfect match of the skillset veterans possess and the skillset required by modern manufacturing. Manufacturers are clamoring for all levels of management to become leaders. Individuals who can solve problems creatively, while understanding the latest technology, are in high demand. Veterans possess many, if not all, of the skills manufacturers are desperately seeking. Their hard skills make them technically proficient, while the soft skills they possess provide social and leadership expertise. Veterans come ready to get the job done right.

Leadership
From the shop floor right up to the executive offices, manufacturing leadership can be lacking. The natural hierarchy of the military instills leadership characteristics in its personnel. Line officers and noncommissioned officers are taught to think for themselves and to take initiative when possible. They know the team under their command is their direct responsibility. Consequences are understood should they do something irresponsible.

  1. Veterans are taught how to work in diverse teams with all different types of skillsets. They know how to cooperate with a variety of individuals.
  2. Flexibility is required in the armed services to meet ever-changing demands.
  3. Veterans are used to working under pressure and meeting aggressive deadlines. Cracking under pressure is not an option.
  4. Higher-level skills include system planning, engineering, logistics and organizational management. The armed forces heavily rely on logistics to keep a unit moving, supplied, and equipped.
  5. Veterans are safety conscience and understand policy, procedures, and structure. They possess a unique perspective and value accountability.

Veterans are highly trained, versatile and educated, making them great hires within the private industry. Most of the skills acquired in the armed services are highly transferable and perfect for manufacturing. So the next time you have an open position, consider the benefits of hiring a U.S. veteran!


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.