Friday, December 22, 2017


Happy Holidays from everyone at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. 
We hope your holidays will be filled with joy and laughter through the New Year.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Industry 4.0 on a Budget

Small Manufacturers Need Technology Too

By: Chuck Werner

One advantage of my current role, which I did not get to experience while working full-time in manufacturing, is getting to take part in conferences for the new tools, technologies and techniques being used in the industry.  As a result, I have witnessed many presentations from suppliers of Industry 4.0 products and processes, as well as heard from companies that have taken various steps to implement smart factories, Internet of Things, robotics and so on.

From the supplier side, these presentations typically go a little like this: “Hi, I’m [name] from [company]. We produce [technology/service] for Industry 4.0. We mostly supply to Automotive Manufacturers or Ginormous Tier I suppliers. Our product/service is not only amazing and revolutionary, but also highly expensive, and something that would be an enormous investment for you to make. Thank you very much.”

When manufacturers speak, the gist is: “Hello, I’m [name] from [company]. I’m here to share our amazing transformational journey into Industry 4.0 with you. While the technology/service that we acquired was highly expensive and an enormous investment, it is amazing and revolutionary. Fortunately, we had these bags of money available, so we went ahead with the implementation using our department’s wealth of resources and experts available to us.”

Although this may not be verbatim, to the small and medium-sized manufacturers in the room, it may as well be. During these presentations I have watched them literally wilt as they hear of the huge demand for resources, expertise and investment. Most get discouraged by this and begin to think that perhaps the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not for them. Given the incredible benefits of employing Industry 4.0 tools and methodologies, this is a mistake. While implementing anything new in a small to medium business provides challenges and requires some rather specific activities, it is not impossible to accomplish.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Evolution
With the increased pace of technological advancements, it’s been suggested that the age of “revolution” is over, and we are now entering an almost continuous state of “evolution” in manufacturing. This evolution brings with it discoveries in artificial intelligence that will create step-changes in both the design and implementation processes, as well as technologies in modeling and additive manufacturing that will reduce time to prototype and, by extension, time to market. As larger companies begin to implement these changes, learning and continuous improvements will take place. These improvements will include both application and cost.

In America, 99.7% of manufacturers fall into the bucket of small to medium-sized. The suppliers of 4.0 technologies and services are aware of this fact. Although we mostly only see bigger companies incorporating Industry 4.0 into their facilities, there are a number of companies supplying more affordable options for sensors using Bluetooth technology, cloud-based inventory and predictive maintenance, and automated solutions for manufacturing, inspection and data collection. As the price point for implementation drops, opportunities arise for small to medium enterprises to get a taste of what Industry 4.0 has to offer.

How to Approach Industry 4.0
Even if a company is not ready to take the plunge into Industry 4.0, there is no time like the present to test the waters. The following is a list of actions that small to medium-sized manufacturers can take to begin capitalizing on the processes and capabilities available:

  1. Understand the Needs of the Business (aka Voice of Business). No company of any size should invest capital or resources until they are sure that the investment will align with their needs. It is critical for a company to understand their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and be able to tie performance to financial results to track their Return on Investment (ROI). For example, will the increased capacity from reducing downtime pay for sensors or condition-based maintenance? Figuring this out could help identify the funding required for further improvements. This is a process that has been well defined and used for more than 30 years. If needed, there are resources (such as The Center) that can help you through this.
  2. Become Educated on the Opportunities Available. Once the organization identifies areas of opportunity, they also will want to identify which technologies or processes are available. There are many groups building 4.0 environments where hands-on experience can be gained, along with conferences and networking groups that bring suppliers and customers together. Not only does this educate the company on what is available, but it provides invaluable information to suppliers on what still needs to be developed. 
  3. Create the Vision. With the Voice of Business (VOB), awareness of 4.0 opportunities, and a decent idea of future products and services all in place, the leadership team can then envision the perfect future state for the company. It’s important that the champion tasked with creating the vision has a fair level of subject matter expertise. Many smaller businesses do not have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) available to them, so it may be necessary to seek outside support both here and in the following step. 
  4. Build the Blueprint. Creating an implementation roadmap to achieve the future state is next. The order of implementation will be driven by the needs of the business matched with the ROI, availability and suitability of the products and processes required. It is possible that the initial steps will be preparatory. If a company wishes to use the Cloud for data storage or integrated manufacturing to connect with their suppliers and customers, they will need to consider whether the implementation of cybersecurity is needed prior to beginning that work (Hint: the answer here is yes). 
  5. Start Small. Choosing to implement 4.0 technologies in stages makes perfect sense for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly if the savings of the initial endeavors will be used to fund the next ones. As each success adds to the bottom line, the struggle to identify funds or resources for the next opportunity is simplified. The most important benefit of this approach, however, is the importance of building momentum, as with any continuous improvement effort. 
  6. Build on Success/Gain Buy In. The greatest advantage of starting small and focusing on one business need at a time is summed up nicely with the phrase, “Nothing succeeds like success.”  As mentioned previously, the practice of identifying and implementing process improvements to drive better results in a business is hardly new. Of course, the belief that each new initiative is simply the “flavor of the month” isn’t new either. If a company wants its team to embrace change, it must be able to demonstrate the benefit of the change while mitigating the fear of the unknown. This can be accomplished with incremental changes, as they are easier to communicate, measure and control.

They Who Hesitate Are Lost
Taking the time to determine the Voice of Business, research the opportunities available and establish an implementation plan is imperative for a company to accomplish as they set forth into the world of Industry 4.0. The leadership team must realize that while they may not choose to adopt these step-change processes and services, their competitors will most likely make a different decision. It doesn’t matter if the organization approaches it with the swiftness of the hare or the precision of the turtle; either way, it’s wise to get going.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Chuck Werner
Lean Program Manager

Chuck has been a Lean Program Manager at The Center since 2016. His areas of expertise are in Lean, Six Sigma and Quality. Chuck has devoted many years to practicing Six Sigma methods, ultimately earning a Six Sigma Master Black Belt in 2011. He is passionate about helping small and medium-sized manufacturers become more prosperous using a variety of tools and methods gathered from over 27 years of experience. Additionally, Chuck is a certified ISO/QS9000 Lead Assessor, Training Within Industry (TWI) Master Trainer and is certified in OSHA Compliance and Accident Reduction.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Yearly Planning and Goal-Setting- It’s Not Just for Bigger Organizations

By: Dave Nelson

Years ago in my career, I was the president of a small custom fabricating/molding company. If you had asked me back then about my yearly plans and goals, I would have rattled off reason after reason for why that type of planning doesn’t work for a small company.

In hindsight, what I once believed to be legitimate reasons for not using those strategies were actually poor excuses. Upon further reflection, you may find you are in the same boat as I was. Below are my past “go-to” excuses for avoiding goal-setting, along with my current words of wisdom that challenge those excuses. Does anything sound familiar?

  • We are too small for it to matter.
    • The size of the company is irrelevant. Any business can achieve positive impacts from achieving a set goal.
  • We don’t have time to plan.
    • The time used to plan for your company’s future is worth the rewards it could bring on. If you could save $50,000 by investing two days of your time, why wouldn’t you?
  • I know where I want to go, I don’t need to plan anything out.
    • Having goals in mind is a step in the right direction, but your team should be included in the plans as well. Goals also should be written down and thought through. After all, a goal not written down is just a wish.
  • We did a planning exercise a few years ago, but it was a waste of time.
    • Here it would be beneficial to look further into why the exercise wasn’t helpful. There is a good chance your answer resides in one or both of the following reasons:
      • You tried to be too precise, thus making it an overwhelming ordeal.
      • After you finished, you rolled up the documents and never looked at them again.

Chances are you’ve heard these excuses before, or even used them yourself. In my role as Business Solutions Specialist at The Center, I talk with a lot of small manufacturers and I cringe every time I hear the same excuses being used that I rattled off years ago.

Operating a business without any plans or goals is like driving cross country at night. You will eventually get to where you’re going, but you won’t see beyond your headlights so you will likely miss great opportunities along the way. I would like to challenge you to instead drive in the daytime; put your excuses aside and begin making goals and plans for the upcoming year.

To make this process as effective as possible for you, I have gathered some of my most useful techniques for approaching goal-setting and planning. Read on for proven methods that can be applied to your company.

  1. Start small. You don’t have to boil the entire ocean at once. Start with a short, manageable list of two to five goals for your company to achieve and continue from there.
  2. Include your key team members in the process of establishing next year’s goals and plan for them together. Goals that are developed independently then passed on to the team are rarely fulfilled. 
  3. Set periodic (quarterly or monthly) goal/plan review meetings for the year upfront. Add them to the calendar for all those involved. This limits the possible excuses for not getting action items done in time.
  4. Make sure your goals are SMART:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Time-Bound
A few examples of SMART goals that your company could develop include:
    • Increase revenue from X category by X% within X months
    • Reduce overtime by $X in X months
    • Increase on-time delivery to X% within X months
    • Launch a new website in X months under a budget of $X

Developing set goals and plans for your company is not something you must, or should, do on your own. This leads to my final and most valuable suggestion: Hire someone from outside of your company to facilitate your meetings and discussions. Investing in a facilitator, like one of our experts at The Center, greatly changes the dynamic of the overall activity, as they increase active participation and reduce the “just agree with the boss” line of thinking. An outside facilitator can provide your business with clear and fresh ideas gathered from past experience with companies similar to yours that were once in similar situations.

Your business, no matter how small it may be, can greatly benefit from some goal-setting, whether it is done on your own or with an expert’s guidance. As Brian Tracy, famous motivational speaker, once put it, "Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favor." Make 2018 the year you put your excuses aside and discover the power of planning.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Dave Nelson
Senior Business Solutions Manager

Dave joined The Center in 2013 as a Senior Business Solutions Manager. Working directly with manufacturers in Wayne and Monroe counties, he enjoys helping small and medium-sized companies reach their full potential. Dave is a seasoned professional with expertise at identifying/opening new market opportunities and increasing market penetration in existing markets. He also has extensive experience in generating/growing new business and selling intangible services.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Food Processors Can Get Lean with a Helping of Kaizen

By: John Spillson

Kaizens have been used in the manufacturing world for years. You’ve probably heard “Kaizen” mentioned around your facility a number of times- but what exactly is a Kaizen? And who can it benefit?

At its most basic level, a Kaizen is a change for the good, coming from the Japanese “kai” meaning change and “zen” meaning good. The way manufacturers use Kaizen, it is a method of improving business operations and decreasing waste within a facility, benefitting not only the process but also the team involved. They serve to identify, target and quickly attack a deficient area in a facility or to capitalize on an opportunity for improvement.

You may be under the impression that Kaizens can only help traditional manufacturers who create auto parts or work with textiles. This could not be further from the truth. Any manufacturer, including those in the food processing industry, can benefit from a Kaizen. The goal of a Kaizen is simple: reduce waste and improve processes in a targeted area. Waste is waste, regardless of the industry, and a Kaizen can help you get rid of it.

How Does a Kaizen Work?
Kaizens begin with your team being introduced to an overview of several Lean methodologies, including value stream mapping, 5S and standard work. This enables them to learn how to identify which steps in their processes do or do not add value, how to create a clean, safe and organized work environment and know the importance of creating standardized work instructions.

Once the team has a good understanding of Lean, they map the current state of the process. No judgements, evaluations or improvements are made at this point, it simply serves to put the process on paper. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a main influencer in the Quality field, famously stated, “If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” By being asked to think critically about processes, this provides an accurate starting point and clearly lays out where things currently stand.

Each process step of the map is then analyzed and labeled as one of three categories: Value Added, Non-Value Added, or Necessary but Non-Value Added. The goal here is to eliminate or improve steps that do not add value, and minimize those that are necessary but do not add value.

Next, an action item list is created that helps get to the ideal future state of the process, assigning tasks of what needs to be done, by whom, and by when. This allows the team to get involved in the transformation as they gain more momentum and seek the next hurdle to overcome. After improvements are talked out, put on paper and implemented as part of the future state, the impacts will be realized.

Kaizens do not take as much time to implement as you might think, as they are typically completed in a week or so. While some may worry this is not enough time to have a real impact, the opposite is true. The team’s motivation and energy peak during the first week of a Kaizen, making it an exciting and eye-opening process for everyone involved. A successful event also can yield positive results years down the road as the company fully embraces a culture of continuous improvement.

Case Study: Kaizen in the Food Industry
After learning about the benefits of a Kaizen, you might be considering implementing one within your food company. But what would a Kaizen look like in a food company? Our team at The Center recently worked with a nutritional supplement company to assist in their new product launch process. This called for a Kaizen.

In the past, this company had experienced timing overruns and high variation in launch duration when rolling out new products. This resulted in missed opportunities in product availability in both catalog and online sales. During the mapping process, our team identified a total of 99 process steps, with 42 steps being non-value added. Four bottlenecks also were discovered, including the creation of the preliminary statement of work, prototyping, label creation and first run production. To address these issues, 35 action items were created. Once successfully implemented, these action items reduced the new estimated lead time by 29% to only 89 working days. The solutions put into place included:

  • Standardize New Product Info Packet
  • Cross-train staff to eliminate wait steps
  • Consolidate SKUs
  • Track inaccuracies to reduce them
  • Auto-generate some documents to eliminate data entry errors 
  • Standardize label sizes and usage 
  • Reduce prototype shipping sizes 
  • Reduce first product lead time

On day five, the final day of this project, the team presented their plan to management for how to move forward, specifically discussing how to alleviate several bottlenecks, complete their action items and significantly reduce new product launch time. This allowed them to beat competitors to market with their industry-leading products.

As you can see, the type of company or product involved has no bearing on the success of a Kaizen. Whether it be a traditional manufacturer or a processor of food products, the driving principles of Lean and Kaizen can be applied and dramatically improve a company’s processes. Although the industry may vary, Kaizens should always be structured, focused, action-based, implemented quickly, data-driven and exciting!


MEET OUR EXPERT
John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager

John works to develop and expand the food program at The Center. His experience operating his own business has given him knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. John comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, following both parents and grandparents in operating their own family food businesses. Prior to joining The Center, John owned and operated his own food processing company for more than 20 years. He loves helping food processors almost as much as he loves food itself.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Apprenticeships Today, Skilled Workers . . . Today?

By: Rebekah McCarter

Apprenticeship is the new buzzword in today’s skills gap conversation as manufacturers face a growing shortage of qualified workers. Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national non-profit, recently hosted an event in Washington, D.C. as a kick-off to National Apprenticeship Week (November 13-17), and announced the launch of a new Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning, supported in part by a $3 million grant from Walmart.

Companies who visit the website can view a variety of resources filtered by industry, program structure, program elements, population and demographics and a variety of other filters. The resources themselves consist of case studies, reports, other websites and organizations, toolkits and blogs.

Michigan has been active in creating programs and opportunities to introduce young people and unemployed individuals to the vast and evolving opportunities in manufacturing. One such program, the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT2), is a partnership between educators and technology leaders that seeks to train workers in the manufacturing and technology industries. Students are taught to combine theory, practice and work to gain a more comprehensive approach to their jobs. It functions like an apprenticeship program as students alternate between classroom instruction and on-the-job training. MAT2 is a three-year program and features training in 3-D modeling, computer simulation and software development. Students receive a wage from participating employers while in the program, then commit to staying on the job for at least two years after program completion.

Applications are currently open for the 2018 fall program. Kalamazoo Valley Community College will offer CNC technician training, while Baker College-Cadillac, Henry Ford College and Oakland Community College will offer both Mechatronics and CNC technician training.

For more information on Pure Michigan Talent Connect, job offerings, skilled trades, apprenticeship and other on-the-job training opportunities, click here.

To put these apprenticeship programs into perspective, here are some relevant statistics from the Department of Labor:

  • There are more than 545,000 apprentices nationwide in more than 1,000 occupations, with more than 14,000 active apprentices in Michigan.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship, with an average starting salary of $60,000 annually.
  • Workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn $300,000 more over a career than their peers who don’t.
  • For every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get an estimated $1.50 return on investment (ROI).

The importance and impact of apprenticeship programs is clear as they seek to address the increasing skills gap that has emerged in the manufacturing industry. As more attention is given to this problem, and more programs are established such as the ones highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week, this skills gap might soon be filled with educated and trained young workers to take the manufacturing industry into the future.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Rebekah McCarter
Market Research Associate

Rebekah has worked with The Center for over 19 years as head cheerleader and advocate on behalf of Michigan’s manufacturing community. As a Market Research Associate, she prepares custom market research reports, detailing trends by target industries. Those trends include market leaders, market size, geographic analysis and any regulatory issues that might impact a company seeking to enter the market. She also has an interest in the future of manufacturing, as she enjoys researching current and upcoming trends, events and challenges facing the industry.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Safe Approach to Buying Used Machinery

By: Roger Tomlinson

Manufacturers couldn’t exist without machinery, and keeping that machinery functioning and up-to-date is essential to productivity and success. While that sounds simple in theory, buying new
machinery can be extremely pricey in reality. Fortunately, there is an alternative option that some manufacturers opt for: buying used machinery. Much like buying anything that is used, used machinery is often written off as being too big of a risk. However, used products have proven themselves in the past to be just as good as new products, if you don’t mind the presence of a few dings and scratches. That being said, there is a way to go about purchasing used machinery that minimizes the risk of unintentionally acquiring a faulty machine.

It is important to note that there is no correct way to buy used machinery, whether it be through online or in-person auctions, online retail sites, or in-person sales or trades.  This process should be handled with care and smart decision-making to avoid spending more money on a used product than you would have on a new product.

4 USEFUL TIPS FOR BUYING USED MACHINERY
Do Your Research
After deciding which piece of machinery your facility needs, take the time to find a few different options of models and sellers from which to buy. Note the prices of the machinery, both new and used, to ensure that the price difference is worth buying used. Furthermore, keep in mind that the price of used machinery will vary depending on its condition. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’re looking to save money, but purchasing the cheapest option may lead to endless bills in the future put toward fixing a faulty used machine. Always remember to investigate the individual or place that is selling the machinery as well. It’s best to inspect the machinery in person first if possible (especially when buying from an individual), but if you’re purchasing online, be sure to buy from a reputable seller.

Ask the Right Questions
It does not matter if you are buying from a used machinery company, individual seller, or broker – it is essential that you do your research. Ask your contact directly about the history of the equipment. If they are reluctant to answer, this may be a warning sign. Remember to also request references if you are buying from a used equipment company or broker to ensure credibility.

Unfortunately, purchasing products online has made it more common for customers to be easily deceived. Pictures can prove to be misleading or even fake. This can result in the customer being left with a product that is in much worse condition than they were promised, or even an entirely different product than expected. Avoid these disasters by creating a list of questions to ask the seller that will reveal details about the machinery you are considering, such as:

  • How many previous owners did the equipment have?
  • Why is the current owner looking to sell it?
  • Can they offer their personal knowledge of the machinery’s specific working capabilities?
  • Can they provide a preventative and breakdown maintenance log for the machine?
  • How long has the machinery been stored at its current location, and is it stored in a warehouse?
  • What is the age of the machinery, and has it been reconditioned?  If yes, when?
  • Will mechanics and electricians test-run the machinery before shipment? Will they provide any guarantee that the machine is in good working order before it is shipped?
  • How has the company dealt with problems in machines they have sold in the past?  
  • What is their return policy?
  • Will you receive timely assistance if a machine should have mechanical or electrical issues once in production?

Try Before You Buy
Review the machinery under power before purchasing it. This is a foolproof way to discover if the machinery is in good shape. Although this may not always be possible depending on the situation, be sure to take advantage of an opportunity like this if it arises!

Negotiate
After understanding the condition of the machinery, it is fair of you, as the buyer, to suggest a price that you think is reasonable. If you feel that the price of the used machinery is too high, don’t be discouraged to suggest a lower price – the worst that can happen is the seller says “No”! The whole point of buying used machinery is to save money, so it is worth trying to negotiate the price down.

Although purchasing used machinery may seem to be a daunting task, it can save a considerable amount of money. As long as buyers take their time when considering which used products to pursue, and precautions are taken every step of the way, there should be minimal issues throughout the process. Look for deals and reputable sellers so you can supply your facility with great machinery while saving a big chunk of change!


MEET OUR EXPERT
Roger Tomlinson
Lean Program Manager

Roger Tomlinson has been a Program Manager in The Center’s Lean Business Solutions program for 18 years. He has trained and mentored hundreds of Michigan manufacturers in the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methods (e.g., Kaizen events, Standardized Work, 5S/Workplace Organization, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, Culture Change, Team Building, operations management and process re-engineering). He is also involved in Transactional Lean Office, which identifies and eliminates waste in the office areas in a company.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Quality Manuals – QMS “Quick-start” Guide?

By: Andy Nichols


One of the first things that comes to mind when describing Quality Management Systems and “ISO
9000” is documentation, which often includes a Quality Manual. The background to Quality Management Systems started with big procurement organizations such as government agencies and Fortune 500 companies making Quality Systems a contractual requirement. Frequently, these requirements included the need for a document, often referred to as a “Quality Manual,” a “Quality Plan” or similar. These were used by a supplier to describe the approach prescribed to fulfill the contract requirements and assure the quality of the deliverables.

Today, a hallmark of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems documentation is a Quality Manual, and documents of this type have been a requirement of the International Standard since 1987. Manuals produced by many organizations emulate the format and content of the ISO 9001:2008 clauses (4 through 8) to the extent that the words “The organization shall” have simply been replaced by the name of the company! This often leads to documents that run onto 25 or more pages, written in cryptic terminology which has little relevance to the business of the organization. The result? People rarely read the document, and it’s often only rubber stamped by auditors before gathering dust on an office shelf somewhere…

Amazingly, the 2015 edition of ISO 9001 dropped the requirement for a quality manual along with any type of traditional quality documentation. This included procedures, work instructions, etc., leaving it up to the organization itself to determine what it needs based on understanding customers, regulatory expectations, and its own requirements for documenting.

Based on their experience with Quality Manuals, it might be tempting to an organization to discard theirs as, after all, it only sees the light of day when the Registrar auditor is on site – and no-one else reads it.

But wait! Before that proverbial baby is discarded with the bath water, why is it that no-one reads the Quality Manual? Maybe it’s because it’s not helpful, uses arcane language, and is formatted on an ISO document which no one has reason to read!

There’s a better model on which we can base our Quality Manual which might bring some help to users: The “Quick-Start Guide” you get with some items of household electrical equipment, for example, is a clue. These guides cover the basics of what the new user needs to know in order to get “up and running.” For more detailed descriptions, including navigating the complete set of functions, features, and fault finding, reference can be made to the more comprehensive manual which is also included.

Will your upgrade to the 2015 ISO 9001 requirements be heralded by a new, useful Quality Manual “Quick Guide to the Quality System”? You decide. If you’d like to learn more about the format and content of such a document, contact our Quality Team at ISO@the-center.org.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025. His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor. To read Andy's full bio, visit click 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 designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cyber-Attacks Are Here to Stay – Here’s What You Can Do to Protect Your Business

By: Elliot Forsyth

There’s a popular saying in cybersecurity circles:  Businesses today fall into two categories—those that have been hacked, and those that have been hacked but don’t know it yet.

Clearly, cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and frequent, with a reported 4,000 attacks on small businesses each day. These attacks take many forms, from ransomware to spoofing to phishing, among others, and for most manufacturers, just one cyber-attack could be catastrophic. Guarding against cyber threats may seem to be a daunting task, but it is no longer optional; cybersecurity is a business decision, and there are methods and safeguards that can help protect your company from cyber threats. Below is a list of strategies for avoiding dangers from both inside and outside of your business.

Address the Human Component of Cybersecurity

Employees within a company may not be aware that they are responsible for the majority of security breaches that occur. In fact, more than 61% of cyber-attacks involve end users, or inside users who have access to sensitive data as a part of their job. Additionally, 63% of attacks stem from password breaches due to employees using weak or default passwords. As a result, it is necessary to educate staff about the implications of cybersecurity and how their actions may impact it. Lower the possibility of cyber criminals hacking into accounts by enforcing password complexity and prohibiting password reuse. Screening employees prior to entrusting them with confidential information also could prevent security breaches. Implement ongoing training on cybersecurity procedures to keep policies and practices top of mind.

Limit & Control Access

Have you considered how your physical facility may be enabling cyber-attacks? Think about who has access to what, and how secure your building and systems are. By limiting access to organizational systems, equipment and operating environments to authorized personnel only, your business will be significantly more protected from outside threats.

Conform to the Latest Security Standards

Because cybersecurity presents a growing risk to industries nationwide, government agencies increasingly are instituting formalized cybersecurity requirements for businesses to follow. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), for example, has developed the guiding document for contractors working with the Department of Defense (DoD). NIST 800-171, as the publication is called, requires these manufacturers to become compliant in 14 policy areas, all dealing with information security and by Dec. 31, 2017. If your existing contract says that you must meet all DFARS requirements, then by signing this contract you are obligated to meet these cyber security requirements by December 31, 2017.  Future DoD contracts are at risk for those who do not comply. This risk is real, and it’s not going away. In reality, cybersecurity is only going to grow for our state’s manufacturers, as automotive OEMs are developing plans for a consistent approach to cyber requirements. Other industry segments are looking to do the same.

An Invitation to Learn More

For those interested in learning more about this subject, the upcoming Integr8 conference in Detroit, hosted by Automation Alley, will cover cybersecurity, as well as a number of other issues currently facing manufacturers. The one-day conference on November 9th will feature more than 70 speakers who will discuss topics related to the eight technologies currently disrupting the manufacturing industry, including big data, cloud computing and additive manufacturing.

The cybersecurity session that I will be a part of will focus on a seven-step approach to navigating cybersecurity and the importance of prioritizing information security within your business. Those who attend the conference gain insight into new technologies that are becoming a part of the industry, understand what the future of manufacturing looks like, and how to handle the increasing threat of cybersecurity. To learn more or to register, visit https://automationalley.com/integr8.

MEET OUR EXPERT

Elliot Forsyth
Vice President of Business Operations


Elliot Forsyth is Vice President of Business Operations at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) where he is responsible for leading practice areas that include cybersecurity, technology acceleration, marketing, market research and business development. The Center plays a lead role in coordinating and streamlining technology-related services to Michigan’s established industries and in assisting businesses to diversify into new and under-served markets.

As a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) affiliate, The Center has developed a state-of-the-art cybersecurity service for companies in the defense, aerospace and automotive industries. Over the past two years, Elliot led this effort and expanded his expertise in cybersecurity, supporting Michigan companies to safeguard their businesses and maintain regulatory compliance. As a result, Elliot has been quoted and interviewed by print, broadcast and online media outlets, as well as presenting at numerous conferences and events.

Prior to joining The Center, Elliot spent more than 20 years gaining broad, global business experience in high tech and manufacturing companies. He has a proven track record and practiced methodologies to transform global corporations for high growth and profitability.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How to Proactively Manage Supply Chain Disruptions

By: Roger Tomlinson


It can often prove essential to be a proactive problem-solver in business. Even the smallest problem can snowball into an issue that is detrimental to the success of a company. As a result, many manufacturing facilities have found it more and more conducive to adopt a highly proactive approach towards managing their supply chain disruptions. Manufacturers must make it a priority to closely examine potential hazards in order to minimize corresponding risks.  

Suppliers Risk Assessment
Wondering where to begin? Start with a risk assessment that identifies and analyzes risk. Consider four fundamental risk questions:

  • What might go wrong?
  • What is the likelihood (probability) it will go wrong?
  • Can I detect it in time to prevent the event from occurring?
  • What are the consequences (severity)?

To proactively manage risks, build a risk management program tailored to fit your company. 

Here are two key points to keep in mind:  

  1. Consider the amount of the revenue (Value at Risk) that is at risk for each of your value streams
  2. Remember to evaluate sub-tier suppliers risk

A Supply Chain Risk Management Plan has four key components:

  • Risk Identification
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Action Management
  • Risk Reporting and Monitoring

Score Your Suppliers
Certain suppliers have more inherent risk than others. To track the risks that come with different suppliers, be sure to calculate the impact of the risk event. This will enable you to rank different suppliers based on their risks. Laying out different risks will help you better understand your suppliers, and it also will enable you to discover risks that may have not been immediately visible before.

Identify Your Critical Suppliers
Critical suppliers should be ranked by the amount of revenue that is at risk, rather than top spend or top threats. The location of each supplier matters. Look at historical disasters and note their geological locations to get a better sense of how at-risk a certain supplier is.  

Next determine a mitigation strategy to reduce the Value at Risk for each supplier. A mitigation benefit analysis can then be compared for each supplier. 

This will help to determine if the proposed mitigation strategy is cost effective. The cost to implement is compared to the reduction in the Value at Risk for each supplier. This comparison can be very useful in supplier decision making.

Continuous improvement in supply chain operations is a key component in the future success of manufacturing facilities around the world, and yet there always will be an element of risk. Every manufacturer will experience glitches in their supply chain management system at one point or another. It is how you choose to manage these glitches that will ultimately decide your level of success.

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center regularly offers courses that include an FMEA-based Risk Assessment tool that helps identify the triggers of risk events, the importance of developing a plan to mitigate them when they do occur, and how to establish monitoring metrics and activities to be prepared for the inevitable. Search The Center's full course schedule here.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Roger Tomlinson
Lean Program Manager

Roger Tomlinson has been a Program Manager in The Center’s Lean Business Solutions program for 14 years. He has trained and mentored hundreds of Michigan manufacturers in the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methods (e.g., Kaizen events, Standardized Work, 5S/Workplace Organization, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, Culture Change, Team Building, operations management and process re-engineering). He is also involved in Transactional Lean Office, which identifies and eliminates waste in the office areas in a company.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Small-Business Cybersecurity is Twice as Nice as Pumpkin Spice

By: Pat Toth, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

I think we’ve taken this pumpkin spice thing too far. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. That first crisp
evening when you need to put on a sweater, the crunch of leaves under your feet, homecoming football games, but pumpkin spice? It’s obvious that the pumpkin spice council’s marketing team has done an outstanding job because it’s in everything now: cookies, chocolate candy, ice cream, oatmeal, pancakes, marshmallows, and now even in a special “limited edition” of my favorite breakfast cereal.

Enough! I’m calling a timeout on pumpkin spice.

Maybe I find pumpkin spice season distasteful because it has eclipsed a less well known but much more important annual October event: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

While many of you may not anticipate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with the same relish as the arrival of pumpkin spice, for me, it’s a time for renewed hope and celebration. Like Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, each year I wonder, “Will this be the year that small businesses truly recognize the importance of cybersecurity? Will they act to protect their business information and assets?”

Many larger companies in the U.S. have dedicated resources—including people, technology and budgets—to protect against cybersecurity threats. As a result, they have become much more difficult targets for malicious attacks from hackers and cybercriminals. Consequently, hackers and cybercriminals are now successfully focusing more of their unwanted attention on small companies, including manufacturers.

For example, many cybercriminals view smaller businesses as being less secure and more vulnerable to attacks such as ransomware. Your business may have assets that can be valuable to a criminal; your company’s computers may be compromised and used to launch an attack on someone else, e.g., a botnet, or your business may provide access to more high-profile targets through your products, services or role in a supply chain. This is of concern to suppliers in the Department of Defense supply chain, as their systems have to be in compliance with NIST SP 800-171 by Dec. 31, 2017.

It is important to note that criminals aren’t always looking to gain from their attacks. Some may attack your business for revenge, e.g., for firing them or somebody they know, or simply for the thrill of wreaking havoc. Similarly, not all cybersecurity events are caused by criminals. Natural events such as fires, floods or hurricanes can also severely damage IT systems. We have all seen the effects of the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Would your business be able to recover from a similar storm?

The overall impact of a cybersecurity incident could include:

  • damage to information or information systems;
  • regulatory fines and penalties/legal fees;
  • decreased productivity;
  • loss of information critical to running your business;
  • damage to your reputation or loss of consumer confidence;
  • damage to your credit and inability to get loans from banks; or
  • loss of business income.

Unfortunately, small manufacturers often have more to lose simply because a cybersecurity event—a hacker, natural disaster or business resource loss—can be costly enough to drive them out of business altogether. Small businesses are often less prepared to handle these events than larger businesses, but because they generally have less complex operational needs, there are many steps a small business can take to protect itself.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month can help you learn how to protect your business. While cybersecurity is continually in the news—hardly a day goes by without some breach or cyber event—we rarely hear about ways to prevent these incidents from occurring. THIS IS THE TIME to spread good security practices within your business. Awareness, training and education are fundamental tools for small businesses to use to protect their company information, assets, IT systems and reputation.

Cybersecurity in a small business doesn’t necessarily mean hiring an expert on staff or as a consultant. The NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership has cybersecurity resources for manufacturers as does the NIST Small Business Center.

Some basic cybersecurity topics that you may want to consider for awareness training for your employees include:

  • recognizing phishing attacks;
  • understanding the risks associated with the use of social media;
  • keeping your systems clean by installing patches and using the latest versions of software; and
  • avoiding public Wi-Fi when using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Having your employees understand these cybersecurity issues and how to address them in the workplace could potentially save your business. Your employees are your first line of defense in protecting your business against cyber-attacks.

October is a good time to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte—or cereal—if that’s your thing. But I hope you take at least a few moments to teach your employees to be more aware of the cybersecurity risks, threats and vulnerabilities to your small business. After all, ‘tis the season for your employees to learn how they can help prevent a cyber incident in the workplace.

And give me back my cereal!

(This article was originally published Oct. 11, 2017 by NIST's TAKING MEASURE blog)


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, September 29, 2017

10 Things to Ask Your Certification Body Auditor – Before Your ISO 9001:2015 Audit

The latest version of ISO 9001 was published in September of 2015 and is considered to be a significant departure from the previous version because:
  • There’s no reference to a Quality Manual
  • No Documented Procedures are required
  • The use of Work Instructions isn’t mentioned
  • A Management Representative isn’t required
  • The standard mentions “risk and opportunity”
  • The terminology of controlled documents and records has been replaced by “documented information”
  • A new requirement, the “Context of the Organization,” has been added.
These changes are likely to have a substantial impact on an organization’s Quality Management
System, and this, in turn, can be affected by the knowledge and experience of the Certification Auditor scheduled for your upgrade audit.

Do you know what to expect from your Certification Auditor? You may have chosen a particular approach, based on any number of considerations and guidance from consultants, postings on internet forums, etc. What will your auditor expect you to have done to align your Quality Management System with the ISO 9001:2015 requirements? Having clear expectations before you open your doors for your audit is worth your time and effort to ensure success.

To assist with this process, we’ve complied the following questions to pose to your auditor in advance of their next visit:
  1. Context of the Organization – What do you expect us to be able to show that we’ve considered the internal/external issues, interested parties, etc.?
  2. Are you expecting that our Quality Policy has changed from our 2008-compliant Quality Management System?
  3. What do you consider to be the “Leadership” of our organization?
  4. What is expected for demonstrating “Risk-Based Thinking”?
  5. Is any type of “documented information” to be maintained or retained for the above?
  6. Does our Quality Manual have to address the 2015 requirements?
  7. Are we expected to have quality objectives for all our processes?
  8. When considering “Organizational Knowledge,” are we required to have any documented information?
  9. Is it acceptable for an internal auditor to audit their own work?
  10. How many Management Reviews are we expected to perform in a year?
The responses to these – and anything else you’d like to add – should be a good indicator of how prepared your Certification Auditor is going to be. For assistance with anything Quality related, contact our Quality Experts at ISO@the-center.org.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025. His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor. To read Andy's full bio, visit click 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 designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Path to Plant Layout Optimization

Reconsidering your facility’s layout will enable your business to reduce material handling costs, minimize space requirements, and reduce energy bills. Whether you’re relocating completely or simply re-arranging your current set-up, there are several goals to keep in mind:

  1. Improve work flow by becoming more organized
  2. Eliminate waste
  3. Maximize effectiveness
  4. Save time and money
  5. Reduce risks

To successfully optimize your plant’s layout, both spatial and process-related concepts must be taken into consideration, as well as those ideas that are tied to a human element.

Many plants in modern times follow a plan known as “lean manufacturing” combined with a concept known as “Six Sigma.” The concepts were developed in the late 1980s and early 90s and aim to enhance the successes of any manufacturer. Here are some general rules created by these combined concepts that will help optimize your manufacturing layout:

  • Optimize the macro-flow of the entire facility first, allowing you to avoid sub-optimization within narrow departments or functional areas.
  • Create spatial relationships while keeping a linear flow in the back of your mind. The influx of raw materials should flow seamlessly with the outflux of goods.  By maximizing this efficiency, you also will reduce waste!
  • Design for the lateral receipt, inspection, prep and just-in-time (JIT) insertion of auxiliary materials.
  • Integrate supervisory staff offices and support functions with the production.
  • Simplify, combine and automate the sequence of operations to reduce variation, shorten cycle times and minimize handling of materials, repetitive motion issues and employee fatigue.
  • Optimize the environment to create easily cleaned, well-lit work areas utilizing daylight where possible, adding color where appropriate and using ventilation systems to keep dust, dirt and other contaminants away from workers and finished products.

These steps take several important concerns into account: guaranteeing a high quality of goods, securing the safety and well-being of your workers, and allowing for the most effective production schedule possible.

The combination of these concepts proves successful because they take the entire plant into consideration when it comes to creating the best design. It allows for all moving parts to flow seamlessly ensuring an efficient use of equipment, material, people and energy.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Russ Mason
Lean Program Manager

Russell Mason is a Lean Program Manager for the Business Solutions Team. His areas of expertise include change leadership and management development, sales and operations planning, management operating systems, supply chain effectiveness, and a range of continuous improvement approaches focusing on lean and agile methodologies such as finite capacity scheduling, demand pull systems, and related management processes that optimize operational throughput. To read Russ' full bio, visit the-center.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 designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Year to Go...

If your organization is certified to ISO 9001:2008 (or ISO/TS 16949 or AS9100C) you have approximately 365 days left to upgrade your Quality Management System (QMS) and have your Registrar audit it. In fact, you should aim to be done and have your certificate in hand by the end of August 2018 at the latest.

Meeting the Deadline
To be exact, ISO 9001:2008 expires at midnight on September 14, 2018. A question I am often asked is: What if an organization wasn’t able to prepare and successfully complete their audit? The simple answer is that the Registrar would request their certificate be returned, the organization would not be able to post their certificate on their website (for example) and they would not be able to use the Registrar’s logos, etc. Simply put, you'll have to start again.

New Audit Process Certification
For organizations that received their ISO 9001 certification before 2011, the new audit process according to ISO/IEC 17021 involves:

  1. Submitting an application to a Registrar
  2. Scheduling a “Stage 1” Audit
  3. Scheduling the “Stage 2” Audit
  4. Responding to Any Non-Conformities
  5. Obtaining a New ISO 9001:2015 Certificate

Costs of a New Certification
Significant consideration should be given to the cost of going through the certification process. If you miss the September 14, 2018 deadline, it will not matter that you had a fully functioning and compliant QMS the day before expiration. The Registrar is required to treat it as a new certification. This new certification will cost you:

  • Money - At an industry average of $1,300-$1,400 per audit day for your organization (view details of audit duration), plus various additional fees, travel costs, etc., certification can get costly. It makes better sense to do what it takes to maintain your certification.
  • Delays - From start to certification in hand, the whole process could take 150 days (or more). During this period, the organization is at risk of losing existing customers and missing out on acquiring new business. 
  • Availability of Auditors - If a significant majority of organizations leave their upgrade audits until 2018, there may not be sufficient, qualified auditors to do the work. Schedules come under pressure, and this can trickle down to clients seeking to squeak in their audit before the September 2018 deadline.

Preparation is Key - Contact The Center 
Upgrading from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015 does not need to be a difficult task. Contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at ISO@the-center.org for assistance. Our ISO 9001:2015 Transition program can be accomplished in four visits and will expertly guide companies through the process. One recent participant shared the following with us after their audit:

“The auditor was particularly impressed with the way we rolled our SWOT analysis into our strategic plan. She went on to describe it as a best practice and commented that overall we were very well prepared.” 

Clearly, as with most things in life, proper preparation makes all the difference in the world.

MEET OUR EXPERT
Andy Nichols, Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025. His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor. To read Andy's full bio, visit click 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 designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Low Unemployment Means it’s Time to Get LEAN!

A low unemployment rate is favorable for the economy and the general public. But, what if you’re an employer struggling to find additional staff and resources to produce and deliver a large influx of new orders? How do you fulfill your obligations with a dwindling candidate pool?

You get lean!

With a lean transformation, you could easily increase your output by as much as 20%. Do you know that 5S is often considered the foundation of implementing a lean program? That’s right. Creating a clean, safe, organized work environment is essential when crafting a lean strategy. It’s often said, “If you can’t do 5S, you can’t do lean.” 5S is a proven method used to systematically organize, clean and standardize the workplace that maximizes efficiency in all phases of the business.

What’s the true benefit of 5S for your business?
Ben Franklin said: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Time wasted looking for tools, parts, utensils, notepads, brooms, pans or cleaners should be eliminated. Let’s look at the following scenario: The average worker may spend about 10 minutes per day looking for things. He or she may look for a tool or a part or even just walk to a storage location that’s not nearby. The worker may even be walking around clutter or piles of inventory just to get to something—which adds up to 50 minutes per week! If that employee works 50 weeks per year, the total amount of time he or she might spend walking, looking and retrieving items they need would equal more than 41 hours. That’s an entire week by the end of the year—for just one employee!

5S is only the first step in a lean transformation. There are many more tools available to improve efficiencies and drive waste from the system, none of which ask workers to work harder, faster or longer. Other successful lean tools include:

  • Standard Work: One of the most powerful but least used lean tools, Standard Work allows the task to get done using best practices and performed the same way to yield consistent results. 
  • Poka Yoke: Often done in conjunction with Standard Work so the ability to make errors is not allowed, Poka Yoke is a Japanese term that means “mistake-proofing” or “inadvertent error prevention.” The key word is “inadvertent,” as Poka Yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka).
  • Visual Management System: The implementation of a visual management system is also important when streamlining operations since visual cues are used to communicate messages, check inventory levels and re-order points—often taking the guesswork out of operational decisions.  

Do More... with Less!
By implementing lean strategies, you can eliminate waste, maximize efficiency, and work smarter. Isn’t it time for a lean transformation?

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) has helped Michigan’s manufacturers for more than 25 years with lean implementation strategies. The food and agriculture industry in Michigan is exploding and many food processors are realizing that food processing IS manufacturing. For additional information, contact me at jspillson@the-center.org.


MEET OUR EXPERT
John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager

John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, visit the-center.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 designed 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.the-center.org.