Friday, February 26, 2016

Manufacturing 101: Quality Through The Pareto Graphic

Continuing with Part 2 of our Manufacturing 101 blog series (See Part 1), we’re moving forward from the first few weeks of managing tedious lists to the next task of effectively collecting and reporting data. In order to appropriately display data, it is crucial to convey the true message and focus.

Selecting the Right Graphic
When highlighting a focus area, pictures always work best. If you were trained as an engineer, fighting the urge to project arguments as data may be difficult. You want to choose a graphic that will appeal to any audience and is easily understood. However, a big challenge is in selecting the right graphic. The best place to start is to use a Pareto.

History of the Pareto Chart
The Pareto (bar) chart is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian engineer, sociologist, and economist who made important contributions to economics and the study of income distribution. He also helped develop the field of microeconomics and during his career, he determined that 80% of the wealth was controlled by 20% of the population. This observation was coined the “Pareto Principle” (80/20 rule). The 80/20 rule was seen as true by Pareto for any society, in any age or country. It turns out the 80/20 principle also works for reviewing things which affect manufacturing performance. However, it can also be misused more easily than any other tool.

Applying Pareto
It is keenly important to understand that the Pareto is a “point in time” measure. What time frame you are using and the particular measure being used is very important.

Example 1: In the first instance, it is observed that part failures out of 4 different parts shows that one part stands out as most significant. Please note the data below is a monthly chart based on total rejects.



Example 2: Let's look at the same sample, with a slight difference in data.



The focus would now change to part number 4684. But, that’s the story for only one month, so…take a look at the chart for annual data. 


You can see how each bar chart tells a story, allowing you to explain what is happening at any point in time. Now back to the 80/20 rule. This example aside, we typically find that we are directed toward the top 2-3 items to eliminate 80% of our problems. The graphic is the key to the communication.

Create Your Own Pareto
The following link provides step by step instructions to create your own Pareto:
http://www.excel-easy.com/examples/pareto-chart.html 


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, February 19, 2016

Cultivate Leadership through Supervisory Training and Development


Cultivate Leadership through Supervisory Training and Development
Whether it is because of their hard work and dedication or as recognition of their proficiencies, skills, and knowledge, employees are promoted into leadership roles for a variety of reasons. While internal promotions can be positive, challenges may arise for those employees in their newly promoted role.

The ability to excel at a job and the ability to effectively lead others are two very different things. This is why ongoing supervisory training and development is crucial for personal and business success. Training and development may include a diverse range of topics such as employment law, safety management, corporate procedures, and personnel management. To be effective, supervisors must also learn about different work styles and how to bring out the best in each employee.

Required Skills
On a daily basis, supervisors are challenged with many different issues. They are expected to effectively address problems and ensure operations run smoothly. Supervisors should receive training in order to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive in today’s manufacturing management environment. Training should:

·       Identify different leadership styles and the strengths and weaknesses of each. 
·       Identify different behavioral characteristics and determine the best method of relating to each type.
·       Identify communication barriers and listening/communication techniques to enhance communication in all directions. 
·       Identify how to manage time to maximize available time and to decrease non-productive activities.
·       Examine how individuals are motivated and identify opportunities to motivate subordinates to achieve organizational goals. 
·       Identify and apply different factors in delegation and how to give orders in a manner that will provide an environment for compliance. 
·       Identify the phases teams go through and how to maximize positive outcomes of each stage.  
·       Identify components of effective meetings and apply them, resulting in meetings that are more productive.
·       Determine most effective method of delivering on-the-job training and apply them for increased competence in employees.
·       Identify the stages of change and how individuals react to each stage.  
·       Recognize how to relate to subordinates to ensure the smoothest possible transition.
·       Identify what causes conflict and how to mitigate and prevent escalation of conflict.
·       Recognize how to administer employee discipline to maximize behavior change and minimize conflict.

Supervisor Training: A Process, Not an Event
Ongoing training and development are critical to the lasting success of each supervisor. Training should be a process, not a one-time event. Employees and supervisors who feel nurtured and supported will work harder to meet goals and deadlines than employees who feel left behind.

If you need help with supervisory training, MMTC offers a Supervisory Skills course. To search upcoming MMTC Supervisory Training Courses, visit www.mmtc.org/mmtc-event or call 888.414.6682.

Are you thinking of Supervisory Training for your staff but still unsure? Join MMTC for EXPLORE: Filling theSupervisory Gap, a NO COST overview event on Wednesday, March 16, to see what it’s all about.


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, February 12, 2016

It’s Great to be Part of the Food and Agriculture Industry in Michigan

Where does nearly 22% of the state’s employment come from? What generates over $101.2 billion in economic activity? What is responsible for $3.1 billion in export activity? Michigan’s Food and Agriculture Industry, that’s what.

Michigan is an extremely diverse agriculture system which truly grows from the ground up with 93% of our 51,600 farms being family owned. Michigan’s production of more than 300 commodities is second only to California in diversity. Michigan stands alone as the #1 producer of blueberries, pickling cucumbers, squash, tart cherries, four varieties of dry beans, and 12 different varieties of flowers. And those are just our #1 products. Rounding out the top three include: asparagus, fresh market carrots, celery, marigold flats, Niagara grapes, apples, alfalfa, potted geraniums, and vegetable-type bedding plants.

Where do most of these products end up?  Some actually leave the country. Soybeans & soybean meal, dairy products, corn, and fresh and processed fruits account for just over $1.5 billion in agricultural exports. In 2014, agricultural exports topped $3.1billion. Obviously, Michigan is extremely supportive of its food and agriculture industry exporting efforts.  Several programs offer up to a 50% reimbursement for expenses associated with exporting for a period of five years for each country explored. Canada, Japan, Mexico, China, and South Korea are Michigan’s top export markets.

Not only is Michigan growing nearly everything under the sun, but we’re processing more and more each year. While the state has landmarks such as Sander’s Chocolates, Faygo soft drinks, and Garden Fresh Salsa, new favorites are emerging. Names like McClure’s Pickles, Ethel’s Edibles, and Hacienda Mexican Foods will soon take the spotlight in food processing.

While these companies have grown on their own through many years of hard work, many new ideas will be nurtured through unprecedented support from various agencies and local entities. The state itself, incubator kitchens, and food hubs will lead the way in offering assistance and guidance to those with a recipe and a dream. These range from facilities in the Traverse City region all the way down to the south east corner. Regulatory compliance, food safety training, and learning how to scale up production will be areas of concentration. Several of these facilities are established entities while some new ‘game changers’ are in the works.

So while Michigan has always been known for a certain Big Three, Governor Snyder would like to promote his own Big Three:  manufacturing, tourism, and food and agriculture. Enjoying the benefits of the ‘eat local’ movement has never been easier or more supported.

As a statewide agency assisting food processors from Lake Erie to Lake Michigan and the Ohio border through the U.P., MMTC has a program that can help. Our proven LEAN process improvement practices have helped create $740M in new sales, created or retained nearly 16,000 jobs, and saved Michigan manufacturers $252.9M in the last 10 years. If your business is seeking assistance in top-line or bottom-line growth the MMTC has a solution for you. Call us today at 888.414.6682 and learn how we can become YOUR trusted advisor.


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, 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.