Friday, July 19, 2013

Increasing Competitiveness through Innovation

There was a really great article published in Industry Week this month called, “Innovation: One Size Fits One.” The article relayed quotes and stories from industry experts about the importance of innovation in the manufacturing field.

One of the main points of the article was conveyed by Patricia Verduin, CTO of Colgate-Palmolive. Verduin expressed how there is a cultural shift in our society and that the “very nature of manufactured goods has changed.” She remarked, “Everybody was buying the same things — the wealthy people, the less wealthy people, they all had the same appliances; they all had the same curtains."

Now, it’s all about individualism. “Today’s customers want more…they want things that are specific to them and their culture…today’s consumers will no longer accept one-size-fits-all…it’s mass customization” she said.

This shift is a challenge, but a huge benefit for Michigan’s manufacturers. Foreign competitors can sometimes out-do us on price, but no one does quality better than the U.S.A. (and specifically Michigan if you ask us!)

Michigan’s businesses have the ability to better serve customers through innovation. We can develop new products and parts to address the specific needs of our clients. We can introduce new processes or operations to deliver products at quicker rates or manage customer concerns. By innovating our products and operations, we can provide a unique experience for our customers. Verduin referred to it as ways to “wow” the customer on an individual level. This is the key to increasing sales and becoming more competitive in today’s rapidly changing environment.

Innovation can be a general term… I mean, how does one simply go about being more innovative? MMTC has two programs that help Michigan’s manufacturers embrace innovation – with a strict emphasis on achieving results:

1)   Leadership-in-Action Innovative Strategic Planning: This is a 3-day executive level hands-on workshop focused on leading change. MMTC focuses on organizational importance and creating a culture of improvement and innovation. For more information, click here.

2)   Innovation Leadership: This program provides a step-by-step approach for manufacturers looking to create, communicate and commercialize new ideas and opportunities. MMTC offers the tools and processes needed for manufacturers to successfully manage a growth pipeline. For more information, click here.

Don’t sit on the sidelines. Innovation helps manufacturers grow sales and remain competitive in the long run. Click here to read about how a Michigan manufacturer, Omega Plastics, used innovation to obtain new customers and sales. Click here to read about how a different manufacturer, Vantage Plastics, used innovation to become more profitable.

For more information on how you can become more innovative, contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

Image credit: Richard Wiseman, IndustryWeek

Friday, July 12, 2013

NewsFlash: Ripped From the [MEP] Manufacturing Headlines

As part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), MMTC has access to expertise from other MEP centers like ours, across the country. With over 59 centers, that’s a lot of knowledge. This week, we’d like to 'interrupt this program' to highlight a few entries from our sister blog, Manufacturing Innovation. They, like us, write about trends and issues related to Manufacturing. While we’re focused on Michigan, they focus on the entire United States. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear a different voice.

NIST MEP’s mission is to support our nation’s Manufacturing base, the strength of our economy. One of the many initiatives designed to highlight that is Manufacturing Day. Last year, more than 240 events with over 7,000 participants took place across the country. This year, we’d like to increase that number.

The goal of Manufacturing Day is to bring together educators, students, parents, manufacturers, government officials, nonprofits, media, companies like Discovery Communication’s Science Channel, and community representatives, to showcase innovation and new technologies that make Manufacturing great. For more information on 2013’s Manufacturing Day and how you can share your manufacturing story, click on the headline and read all about it.

This brief article reviews the RAPID conference on additive manufacturing, presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) in Pittsburgh this past June. Manufacturing’s Make-Over is being led by new technologies and advances in 3D printing. No matter your opinion on the latest technology, it will change the face of manufacturing. Getting out in front of this, and understanding the implications it brings to new product design and prototyping will help companies get in front of this and not be taken by surprise. To read the review and find out about new job skills that will be in demand, check it out.

As a vegetarian (I know it’s not cool in manufacturing, but hey, it’s healthy), this headline makes me smile. Of course, it’s really less about pork products and more about foreign investment in U.S. companies. There are advantages to being a Western company, especially in the food industry where safety concerns about what we eat and how it’s processed are very real. The high level of trust in Western products can be a game changer when it comes to accessing global markets. For more on this, be sure to check out this eye-catching caption.

That’s the latest news round-up from NIST MEP. . . we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

For more information about the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, go to For more information about MMTC, click on For more information about Proud to Manufacture in Michigan, click here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Building Momentum: Michigan Named Top US State for Manufacturing Job Creation

Yesterday, we celebrated one of the best holidays in our country… the Fourth of July! We stuffed our faces with burgers and macaroni salad, played some horseshoes and joined with our family and friends to celebrate all the things that make the U.S so great!
Well, let’s keep the party going because we Michiganders have another thing to celebrate – manufacturing! A recent article by CNBC confirmed what we already know: Michigan is the country’s leader in manufacturing. From December 2009 until March of 2013, Michigan led the nation in manufacturing job creation by generating an estimated 88,100 jobs for our economy.
Our great state far exceeded the other states on the list. Second place, Texas, netted 57,500 positions. With all due respect to the Lone Star State, when it comes to manufacturing… Don’t Mess with Michigan! (All in good jest of course. While partial to Michigan, we root for ALL U.S. manufacturers.)
When discussing the top states in the nation for manufacturing job creation, the author noted that the leaders offered “products and services that range from autos, furniture, tools, computers, computer software, toys, plastics, food, liquor, machinery, piping, chemicals, oil and gas.” 
Yes, Michigan’s impressive diversity of products is leading the charge! If you’re interested in viewing a list of Michigan’s manufacturers and their products, click here to check out our Proud to Manufacture in Michigan program.
Why is this so important? If you’re a manufacturer, it shows that momentum is building for our sector. Other indicators are showing this as well. The Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index, what’s viewed as a gauge for growth in our industry, registered at 50.9 percent last month (anything over 50 percent indicates growth).  Despite a “hiccup” the previous month, every other month in 2013 has been above 50 percent.  A recent Industry Week article also noted that manufacturing profits were up $6.0 billion in Q1 this year compared to Q1 of 2012.
As the manufacturing sector continues to build momentum, it’s critical to prepare for growth! Do you have a set plan in place to develop new business? Have you obtained certifications that are important in your industry? Are you operating with lean principles to reduce excess costs? The key takeaway: don’t let the momentum pass you by. Set a strong foundation now so that you can maximize your growth! 
MMTC can help manufacturers become more profitable and competitive. Click here to see a list of our services or for more information, call 888-414-6682 or email

Image credit: Ingles360.