Friday, April 25, 2014

Playing to Our Strengths: When Passion Meets Possibility

There is much rejoicing in the news on Michigan’s latest unemployment numbers. While still more than a percentage point above the national numbers, Michigan has had two consecutive months of lower unemployment and March is projected to extend that trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan’s March unemployment rate will be 7.5%, with an increase in manufacturing jobs for a third straight year. That is good news.

Ultimately, there is still more to be done and more we can do to lower unemployment, create jobs and fill vacancies. There are a number of things going on across Michigan.

Manufacturing and the Next Generation
For the second straight year, students are collaborating with are manufacturers to design and develop videos highlighting advancements in manufacturing technologies and opportunities for growth. The hope is that this will help create interest in manufacturing as a career choice. Focused on a 13 county region in West Michigan, the contest is sponsored by Discover Manufacturing Today. DMT is a coalition that includes MMTC-West’s Manufacturers Council, The Kent Career Tech Center, and Kent and Allegan Michigan Works! Winning videos will be featured April 30th at Celebration Cinema North. 2014 Videos can be viewed on the Discover Manufacturing Today Facebook page. Last year’s winners can be viewed on the Discover Manufacturing website.

Manufacturing and Training
As the business climate continues to improve, manufacturers are focused on growth and adding jobs. There is an increased need and focus on training and job skills. Manufacturers in particular are renewing interest in internships and on-the-job mentoring. Companies are engaging more with school districts and community colleges to re-establish a pipeline of interested candidates for future jobs. Some employers are offering reimbursement for skills training at area technical schools. Engineers are highly sought after as are workers with a holistic set of skills, beyond just CNC machining. As one article notes, it involves more than manufacturers and higher learning institutions. The Skilled Trades Training Fund provides funding for the creation of classroom training programs, on-the-job training and other customized programs to help fill the future worker pipeline. Today's manufacturing jobs will consist of as many machine operators as software programmers and designers. New skill sets and technologies integrating into today’s supply chains will continue to provide opportunities. Workers with experience or willingness to be trained in these new opportunities will be highly sought after.

Manufacturing and Current Job Opportunities
Talent has long been a Michigan strength. To help fill some of the current high skill job openings, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is hosting a Pure Michigan DREAMJOB summit at Ford Field on June 13th.
 Over 100 leading Michigan businesses from across the state will be there looking for candidates to fill almost 1200 jobs. Candidates are encouraged to apply by April 30th.  Job seekers create a profile and can review all postings, applying for those of interest. Applicants will be pre-qualified and contacted for pre-scheduled 20-minute interviews. Candidates that go through the process will have access to tours of downtown workspaces, a networking reception, and an opportunity to attend a Tigers game. Additional interview slots will be available for walk-ups, if you miss the application deadline. 

This promotional video highlights Michigan at work and play. Michigan is a great place to live, work, and play. It's where passion meets possibility.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Industry Update: Innovation Institutes

Industry update: innovation institutes. Four words starting with vowels (and none with consonants) all in one blog entry title!  Ah, it’s the little things in life that get me excited…
Anyway, innovation is the lifeblood of U.S. manufacturing – especially Michigan manufacturing. We’ve used innovation to establish ourselves as the leaders of manufacturing. Where’s the birthplace of the U.S. automobile industry? You know the answer: Michigan. When things were looking dire during the economic downturn…what state used innovation to create more manufacturing jobs than any other state in the nation? You guessed it: Michigan.
Michigan thrives on finding new ways to prosper and grow, and that’s why it’s in the news again for innovation…
New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes Created
The White House recently announced its decision to create two new innovation institutes. The institutes will bring together manufactures and researchers in an effort to improve the sector’s capabilities. Leaders from across the political aisle are recognizing the importance of manufacturing to the economy and how the industry creates strong, middle-class jobs. Ultimately, the institutes will help us attract more companies to build plants in the U.S.
Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute (LM3I)
It should come to no one’s surprise that Michigan is the host to one of the institutes! The LM3I Institute is coming to the Detroit area and will be located in Canton Township. It is spearheaded by the nonprofit group EWI, Ohio State and the University of Michigan. These leaders will work with more than 60 different U.S.-based manufacturers, universities, colleges, and various other non-profit organizations. General Electric, Honda, Boeing and Alcoa, as well as leaders in the titanium, steel and aluminum industries, will all play a role. The institute will expand upon the growing trend of using lightweight metals in manufacturing by developing new and improved manufacturing innovation solutions.
Lightweight metal is already being used successfully in the automobile industry, which may be one of the reasons that Detroit was selected as the main location for the LM3I.
Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDI)
The DMDI Institute will be headquartered in Chicago, Illinois (I guess we can’t be selected for everything) and will combine the talents of some of the biggest names in the manufacturing industry (Caterpillar, Boeing, Proctor and Gamble, Lockheed Martin, etc.) with top named software developing companies like Microsoft, MSC Software, Systems Insight, and 3D Systems. It will pull together more than 70 different companies, universities, and research facilities to enhance the digital software capabilities in manufacturing.
Innovation Assistance

If you need help leveraging innovation for growth in your company, MMTC offers Leadership-in-Action Innovation Strategic Planning. This 3-day executive level hands-on workshop is focused on leading change. MMTC emphasizes the importance of organizational performance and creating a culture of improvement and innovation. For more information, click here.

Speaking of Innovation...
Innovation will be a major theme at the Proud to Manufacture in Michigan annual conference! This 2-day conference for Michigan’s manufacturing community will bring together an army of thinkers, innovators and industry experts. Imagine an exhibit floor filled with the latest product innovations and new technologies! This year’s conference will be held on June 10th and 11th at the Cobo Center in Detroit and is co-located with SME’s The Big M Manufacturing Convergence. For more information, click here.

proud to manufacture in michigan conference

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beyond Compensation: Countering the ‘Checked-out’ Worker

Engaged Employees, Human Capital, Invested Workforce, Holy Grail? That’s what you’d believe if you read the headlines. Finding and keeping employees actively engaged and connected to your business vision is becoming harder to find than the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Types of Workers
Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report identifies three employee types. 
  1. Engaged – These employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. Some define it as those workers that are psychologically invested in the business and apply discretionary effort in their daily tasks.
  2.  Non-Engaged – These employees are essentially ‘checked-out.’ They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.
  3.  Actively Disengaged – These employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.
While the global report revealed that only 13% of the world's workforce is in category 1 above, this number gets higher when we look at the U.S., where 30% are actively engaged in the workplace. However, the remaining 70% indicates there is still work to be done.

Today’s working environment
According to a recent report from our friends at Cornerstone On Demand, titled Reimagine Work, today’s work place is more Multi. It’s multi-generational, multi-geographical, and multi-cultural. Much has been made about the substantial number of boomers that will retire in the next 5 – 7 years. This absence will only increase the diversity.

Technology advancements are another driver of change. The constant connectedness we have through social media and personal devices results in more work/life blurring rather than balancing.

What’s a Business to Do?
With the changing face of the American workforce, some of the things that employees desire in the workplace may surprise you. While it would be wrong to not consider adequate compensation, it’s certainly not the sole motivator for employee buy-in, nor is it necessarily the #1 factor in determining job satisfaction. 
  • Team Play and Collaboration – This is one of the top traits employees love about their co-workers. Cornerstone's survey indicate that employees desire a more dynamic workplace, which is more social and fun, particularly because of the aforementioned work/life blurring.
  • Peer to Peer Recognition - is also valued. MTV’s ‘No Collar Workers’ report provides some insight indicating that 92% of Millennials or Gen Y, in the job market think their company is lucky to have them as employees, but they expect feedback and recognition.
  • Deep Desire to Generate New Ideas and Contribute to the Organization - Before the above stat sours you on Millennials understand this, one-third would prefer recognition or a promotion over higher pay. Perhaps a little recognition and feedback from managers and peers would go a long way in keeping them engaged.
  • Constant Learning - In fact, 89% think it’s important to be constantly learning at their job, which gives career ladders and professional development a pivotal role in an employee’s personal job satisfaction ranking. Only 1 in 4 employees surveyed had established career goals with their manager or employer.
Opportunity for Successfully Engaging Your Workforce
The biggest opportunity for businesses is to engage the non-engaged employees. Companies with high employee engagement tend to be significantly more profitable, have higher productivity, with fewer safety incidents and lower turnover. 
  • Lower Turnover – Engaged employees are more satisfied with the job, in tune with the company mission and vision and far less likely to leave the company. If you were to estimate the average cost to recruit and train one employee as 2.5% of the anticipated salary, the cost of losing just one employee would be significant. This doesn’t begin to identify the cost of business strain from carrying actively disengaged employees.
  •  Increased Profitability/Productivity – These two concepts are intrinsically linked. Engaged employees are happier, more invested in the business, and more importantly, actively looking for a better way to get things done. They are incredibly efficiency focused. Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared with their competition.
  •  Lower Absenteeism and fewer safety incidents – Satisfied employees, invested in and recognized for, improvement efforts and contributing new ideas, are more inclined to come to work. If processes are running smoothly and efficiently, there is less opportunity for accidents and violations to occur. According to OSHA, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line. It has been estimated that employers pay almost 1 Billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. 
Next Steps
Before you can act, you have to analyze and understand your current situation. An employee survey is a great way to take the pulse of your organization. From there, you can form an action plan to implement.

Still not convinced? Don’t take my word for it. Instead, come and join us on May 1st for a breakfast briefing and panel discussion as your peers share the benefits they experiences from successfully engaging their workforce. Click here for more information or to hold your spot at the table.

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Competitive Advantage of Quality Certifications

A Michigan business that provides high-quality design and engineering concepts to the aerospace industry experienced a 30% increase in revenue. The reason? The organization obtained AS 9100 certification, a recognized and well-respected quality management certification.

There has been a renewed focus from Michigan’s manufacturers on quality management systems (QMS)…and rightfully so! As manufacturing expands in Michigan, competitive pressures have also increased. Customers are looking closer at registration or certification to particular standards as a differentiator in supplier selection. Which means if you want to keep your current customer, or attract new ones, you may need to be registered or certified to the appropriate standard.

When a manufacturer obtains a certification, particularly a well-respected and widely recognized one such as ISO, AS or OHSAS, it signifies that the company is complying with international standards. Industrial customers use these standards as the bottom line factor to validating that suppliers can meet their quality needs. These standards are designed to ensure that a manufacturer is dedicated to consistently delivering quality parts, products and services, embraces continuous improvement and is committed to customer satisfaction throughout the entire manufacturing and distribution process.

ISO Standards are also reviewed at least once every five years to verify that they remain compliant with any applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and continue to be a relevant document instilling consumer confidence that compliant organizations consistently provide quality products and services.

In its last report, the International Organization for Standardization noted that the number of organizations opting for ISO certification is steadily increasing. If you do not currently have a certification, you should consider its key benefits:

Market Advantage

Since industrial customers use QMS registration or certification as a bottom line or deciding factor, registration can be a market advantage. More precisely lack of registration is often the difference between winning the work or not. Without registration, you might not even get a chance to bid on a job. Having multiple registrations allow you more flexibility and a greater chance for market penetration success.

Reduction in Quality Audits

If industrial customers are not comfortable, or confident in your abilities, they often will perform an audit at your location. Their purpose is to protect their product and their customer. More often than not, multiple customers will result in multiple customer audits. Achieving registration and demonstrating a properly functioning QMS could lead to fewer and less dramatic customer audits. To be sure, you will be auditing yourselves, and your registrar will be auditing you, but those audits are generally planned and tend to be a lot less intrusive. If you are regularly auditing yourself, even an unexpected surveillance audit should see you passing without a single nonconformance.

 Improve Employee Engagement and Communication

A crucial component of quality management systems: employee involvement. Raising quality awareness among employees and making them part of quality management systems will improve communication across the company, and help management teams find better ways to address and solve issues hindering organizational progress. A properly maintained QMS will tie business goals directly to employee tasks so they will have a better understanding of why things are done. This increases their personal involvement and job satisfaction, particularly if they are invited to play a role in creating and maintaining the QMS. Additional benefits include overall quality improvements, scrap and rework reductions, increases in on-time delivery, and potential retained and additional sales from customers seeking certified partners.

Start the Process Today

MMTC provides Michigan’s manufacturers with a cost-effective approach to take the necessary steps to achieve certifications. MMTC can help with the following: 
  • ISO 9001 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO/TS 16949 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO 13485 (CEU Credits: 2.8*)
  • AS 9100 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO 14001
  • ISO 17025
  • ISO 50001
  • Nadcap
  • TL 9000
  • OHSAS 18001
* CEUs are earned during the Internal Auditor training portion only

For more information about MMTC's Quality Management programs, please visit our Quality Management System Preparation and Implementation page or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

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