Friday, June 24, 2016

Detroit’s LIFT Gearing Up for Small and Mid-Sized Members


Do you ever wonder how the Federal Government can assist your company?  Or why the perks which seem to flow to major US corporations don’t trickle down to your business?  Well, times are changing and resources are available!  Two years ago, the National Network for Manufacturing Initiatives (NNMI) was formed to make sure that technology developed through defense and other government programs would reach small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs).

In Michigan, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) - located on Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit - boasts 100,000 square feet of unique, manufacturing-scale capacity and focuses on supporting the transfer of new metal processing technology to commercial applications. Also housed within the facility is the Composites Institute, which is committed to commercializing lower cost carbon fiber and polymer composites.

To support SMMs, LIFT has established the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) as a key point of contact. MMTC is responsible for creating LIFT’s Technology Hotline and can be reached at 313-309-9159. The hotline focuses on providing technical expertise and answers to LIFT member questions regarding real time plant floor issues, new grades of lightweight materials - such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium and advanced high strength steels - and more. You can also access the Technology Hotline on the LIFT website: http://LIFT.TECHNOLOGY.

In July, LIFT will be hosting a SMM Member Technology Meeting. This meeting will focus not only on technical programs, but connecting SMMs to companies with complementary technologies and OEM’s with specific needs for process/technology for developmental programs. Some of the key areas in which LIFT and its member companies are focusing include:

  • Hot stamping of steel to achieve thinner, lighter weight components without sacrificing component strength
  • Investigating new techniques and new grades of steel
  • Developing casting processes in all materials, even iron, with thinner walls and less weight
  • Evaluating and developing new coatings for aluminum and other lightweight materials which will inhibit corrosion, create self-healing properties, or enhance cleaning operations
  • Identify new powder metal materials to improve part strength and consistency
  • Develop technologies which will improve agile manufacturing such as enhanced, non-destructive testing
  • Commercialize new technologies for welding, bonding and fastening similar and dis-similar materials (both metal and composites)

LIFT’s key to success is the composition of its innovative ecosystem. LIFT consists of working members from OEMs, suppliers, academia, research institutes, education, workforce development organizations, and professional societies. Some of the major corporate partners of LIFT include General Electric, Eaton, Alcoa, American Axel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Grede and Tenneco.  SMMs have a plethora of resources for finding projects and connections that will boost their technical capability and create new business opportunities.

Small and mid-sized manufacturers can also gain inclusion in LIFT programs through membership in the American Foundry Society, American Welding Society, North American Die Casting Association, ASM International, and Metal Powder Industry Federation.

Finally, one last tenet to LIFT’s mission is to develop workforce programs assuring students and workers who are receiving training today, are up to speed on the latest technologies that impact (or will be impacted) by the lightweighting trend. They are partnering with states throughout the Midwest to assist Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs. They are also working with community colleges to offer a pipeline for trained students to enter the workforce and for member companies to identify potential skilled employees.

GLOBAL ADVANCED LIGHTWEIGHT MATERIALS CONFERENCE 
AUG. 23-25, 2016 – GET A DISCOUNT THROUGH MMTC
To learn more about how the automotive and other industries are exploiting the use of lightweight materials to meet CAFÉ and other standards, you’re invited to attend the Global Advanced Lightweight Materials conference August 23-25, 2016. Held at Cobo Center in Detroit, this conference will feature speakers from automotive OEM’s, TARDEC, Tier Ones and other suppliers. Use the MMTC code ‘MMTC20’ to get a 20% discount on registrations. For more information about this event visit http://www.global-automotive-lightweight-materials-detroit.com/ 

For more details regarding LIFT memberships and programs, visit http://LIFT.TECHNOLOGY or contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center 
at 734-451-4285.


ABOUT THE MICHIGAN MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY CENTER
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to 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, June 17, 2016

Kamishibai Cards: Often Referred to as TPM Cards

A kamishibai board is a visual control center in the workplace used for performing audits within a manufacturing process. A series of cards are placed on a board. Green side out means the team has preformed the task and all is well.  When the red side faces out, it means attention is needed or the task has not yet been completed. This ensures the safety and cleanliness of the workplace is maintained and that quality checks are being performed.

Quality  must be built in to each process, making sure each person checks and is resposible for their own work.  But this is not enough to guarantee 100% quality.  It is a myth to think that “lean means no inspection”. In fact, there are multiple checkpoints – and checks of checkpoints - within a build-in-quality system.

What It Does
Kamishibai is an example of extensive process checks and standards. It:
  • Ensures safety and cleanliness of the workplace are being maintained and quality checks are being performed.
  • Promotes ‘Let’s Go See Management’ walks using a structured format for our leadership in performing day to day audits.
  • Formalizes, prioritizes and schedules the checks to be made in the work place.

Day-by-Hour-by-Hour Boards, Andon Lights, and Kamishibai Boards are all visual management tools that facilitate the ‘Let’s Go See Management’ walks. These visual management tools are used in shift-to-shift communication meetings to promote a workplace-focused lean management culture.

The kamishibai board is particularily useful when there is a will and a desire for managers to practice Let’s Go See Management Walks but who are unsure of how to structure, or even what to do, when they are on the shop floor. The kamishibai system formalizes, prioritizes, and schedules checks to be made in the work place. It is a simple and flexible visual tool to ensure the required checks are being completed.

Why Do We Need A Kamishibai?
The main goal of Kamishibai is not to catch people doing something wrong. The proper use of a kamishibai is to train your eyes to see problems (deviations from the standard), identify improvements while they are still small, and teach others to see and solve these problems.

In the kamishibai system, faithfully completing the audits is as important as the result of the audit itself. The purpose is not to find faults, although problems should certainly be made visible. The purpose is to get in the habit of checking each day.

The Kamishibai card is printed on both sides with one side green and and one red side. To minimize problems with individuals and  who may be color blind, a symbol should be added to identify go (O) and no-go (X) conditions.

See An Example

Learn more about how to create a lean enterprise using these tools by contacting the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. We offer a variety of Lean Business Solutions. For more information, call 888.414.6682, visit www.mmtc.org or email inquiry@mmtc.org.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to 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, June 10, 2016

Low Volume High Mix “Hot Run Shop”

Now more than ever, customers are demanding added customization in lower volumes with shorter lead times. Read on to learn how manufacturers can improve quality, productivity and customer satisfaction, while reducing resource requirements, inventories, lead-times and defects.

The “Hot Run Shop” or "Focused Factory"
The operations in many manufacturing plants are utilized to produce their own standard products. Although this setup can be a barrier to flexibility, it can still be efficient.  The use of the “hot run shop,” or “focused factory”, can make the manufacturing of low-volume, high-mix products which require short lead time easier to manage.

A hot run shop is essentially a factory within the factory. It is characterized as a small, free-standing operation primarily focused on custom products or special prototypes. Its goal is to improve productivity, quality, and responsiveness for prototype and custom short run products.

The focused factory recognizes the fundamental reality that the capabilities of a production facility are inherently limited. The hot run shop must identify and gather the key manufacturing processes, equipment and skilled team members required to produce any possible product that the company may offer their clients. Often, the most highly qualified manufacturing personnel are dedicated to the hot run shop. Highly qualified skill sets can be leveraged to enable the flexibility and quick response to delight customer expectations.

This allows manufacturers to better focus their plant's equipment, employees, and technological resources. Production goals and efficiency are often negatively impacted by bumping the schedule of main products to try to support custom, small volume runs on the same equipment.

Simplify Processes
Hot run shops can result in a simplification of the production control and launch processes, which makes it easier to manage prototype and custom, short run products. Communications within the hot run shop, as well as with outside vendors and customers, improves as management, factory employees, maintenance, and office staff increase their dedication.  Management can make more timely decisions because they are on the factory floor engaged in production. The Hot Run Shop is a lean operation where everyone becomes knowledgeable and involved with every facet of production, procurement, sales and product/process design.

Assigning engineering, maintenance, quality control, and material management resources to the Hot Run Shop improves support services by developing self-contained operations. Focused factory employees become responsible for their own routine repairs and maintenance. Factories who have implemented the focused factory have reported increased productivity, reduced inventories, scrap, rework, manufacturing space and investment requirements, as well as shorter production cycles and manufacturing lead times.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to 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, June 3, 2016

High-Performing Supply Chains and Tips for Improvement

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High-Performing Supply Chains and Tips for Improvement

From point-of-origin raw materials to finished goods delivery, Supply Chain Management (SCM) controls the entire production process. It ensures the efficient management, movement and storage of raw materials and work-in-progress/finished products. While proper supply chain management can have amazing results, poor management can be devastating to the viability of your business.

The Impact of Poor SCM
Just imagine how much your business relies on successful supply chain management. Unplanned events such as dock worker strikes, transportation derailments, road traffic accidents and severe weather all can have horrible repercussions on your business if not properly considered. There are too many risks when SCM is left to chance. Lost money, business and opportunity cost, as well as spoilage and dissatisfied customers are only a few of the possible outcomes.

Proper SCM considers anticipated and unforeseen disruptions, but many small business owners sometimes overlook the importance of SCM. Proper supply chain management alleviates a myriad of problems and contributes to the overall success of your business. What does a successful SCM program look like? Read below for a list of characteristics and tips to create change when building or repairing your supply chain.

Traits of a High-Performance Supply Chain
A high-performing supply chain has the following six characteristics:

  • Leadership: Strong leadership focusing on supply chain management as one intricate system instead of separate and distinct parts.

  • Analytics: Uses advanced analytics to determine product demand in volatile markets.

  • Process Integration: Strong horizontal processes including revenue management, sales and operations planning, supplier development and corporate social responsibility.

  • Interdepartmental Cohesiveness: Capable human resource department, a well-integrated finance department and a supply chain center of excellence.

  • Improvement: Continually designing and redesigning supply chain flows, including form and function of inventory, stocking locations, interplant shipments, the alignment of supplies and channel design.

  • Technologically Advanced: Strong advanced planning capabilities going beyond the spreadsheet, which aren’t geared to manage modern processes. Spreadsheets cause problems with user interfaces, scalability, lack of ability to calculate “what-if scenarios” and encouraging ‘finance entrepreneurs.”

10 Tips for Supply Chain Improvement

  1. Get rid of spreadsheets.
  2. Segment your supply chain base.
  3. Use software specifically made for your industry.
  4. Cultivate employee involvement.
  5. Integrate sales, operations, finance operations and information flows.
  6. Monitor performance of all involved.
  7. Use tracking devices and mobile technology whenever possible.
  8. Analyze information and act based on findings.
  9. Produce and disseminate useful information rapidly to manage the process effectively.
  10. Insert marketing dollars into supply chain planning.

Supply chain management ensures your most precious cargo is manufactured and shipped efficiently while keeping the customer happy!

Supply Chain Assistance
Sometimes, you can’t do it all on your own. The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center offers Supply Chain Management and Optimization consulting services to help Michigan manufacturers improve their performance. For more information call 888.414.6682 or contact us by clicking here.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to 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.