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.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Looking for Commercial Success?

Add Video to Your Website


By: Charlie Westra


Nothing increases website engagement, generates sales and connects with customers like video. Why? The right videos can turn your boring, static, day-old doughnut website into an engaging, interactive destination. Videos are the perfect way to communicate your company’s own unique story, explain your product’s value, cultivate existing relationships and introduce yourself to prospects. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that group, 46 percent took some action after viewing.

Do you want your viewers to take action? If so, read on…

Before the rise of the Internet, television commercials made their mark on our culture. Impactful, meaningful or just plain unforgettable, these :30 or :60 gems are prime examples of how a short video can leave a long-lasting impression. So, what can we learn from some of the most iconic television commercials of all time? A LOT. (If you aren’t familiar with a few of the commercials I mention in this blog, look them on up YouTube. You will thank me!)

Four Ways Video Can Benefit Your Business

1. Educates Customers – (Flo from Progressive knows her stuff.) You understand your product(s) inside and out, but do your customers?

Show your product(s) up close or in action
Tell your customers why your product is innovative or useful
Demonstrate and explain how your product works

2. Puts a Face Behind the Name – (Remember Dave Thomas from Wendy’s?) Your business is not just a building or a parking lot. It’s the people who matter most.

A brief video can welcome potential employees
Introduce your leadership team and key personnel
Customer testimonials will portray your company in a positive light

3. Encourages Repeat Visitors – (From Abraham Lincoln to the rock band Styx, Geico does it right by constantly mixing it up.) By changing your quality content on a regular basis, Google will re-index your site, providing enhanced search engine optimization (SEO) opportunity.

Use a subscription feature to inform visitors about new content
Promote upcoming events and summarize recent activities
Produce weekly, bi-weekly or monthly videos to highlight timely news

4. Search Engines Thrive On Video Content – (“I’m Lovin’ It” and “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” were popular messages for many reasons.) With proper video SEO, you can use video to drive more traffic to your website.

Use keywords when crafting titles and tagging videos
Each video produced should focus on a specific search term
Utilize several video sharing sites to link back to your company’s website

When producing videos, you must keep the following suggestions top of mind. Otherwise, your customers will be asking, “Where’s the Beef?”

Repeating Message – Whether it’s Pizza! Pizza! or the unforgettable Aflac duck, make it memorable (in a good way). Focus on one message per video. Don’t overload it with too many ideas which can be overwhelming.

Make the Message Clear – “Time to make the doughnuts.” This iconic commercial from Dunkin’ Doughnuts showed us that a simple message resonates with customers. Keep your audience in mind with your choice of words. Stay away from words that your customers may not identify with or understand.

Keep It Real – Viewers appreciate real people. Think Jake from State Farm—a relatable spot about mistaken identity at 3 a.m. between a man, his wife and a khaki-wearing insurance agent. This spot is believable and doesn’t feel scripted. That should be your baseline when creating any original online content.

Be Concise – While the Energizer Bunny keeps “going and going,” the videos on your website must get to the point … fast. Engage your audience! There’s nothing worse than content that wastes time—long, awkward pauses, filler words like “um” and outdated, irrelevant content all should be avoided. Take a lesson from successful commercials and avoid useless cr … well, think about Mr. Whipple in the classic Charmin commercials. You get the picture.

Remember, videos can make (or break) your website. If your first attempt doesn’t make the cut, try again.

Looking to Achieve Commercial Success with Your Website?
Consider a resource that understands manufacturers—the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. Contact me today at cwestra@the-center.org.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Charlie Westra
Growth Services Program Manager

Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center. He assists with the development and implementation of online growth strategies that are designed to increase online traffic, revenue and engagement. To read Charlie’s full bio, 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, August 18, 2017

How Manufacturers Can Avoid Extinction by Using Competitive Intelligence

By: Shelly Stobierski
Knowledge is power, and it’s truer today than ever before. Simply consider our rapidly-evolving manufacturing environment. Revolutionary new technologies in 3D printing have emerged—shortening the amount of time it takes to develop new products. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has brought more intelligence to manufacturing operations and is enabling manufacturers to improve production processes at an impressive pace. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) now can track system maintenance, inspection and breakdowns, eliminating or reducing the effects of costly disruptions.

How closely do you monitor what’s happening within your market segment and manufacturing overall?

If you aren’t already utilizing regularly-scheduled market and competitive intelligence to keep a watchful eye on your competition and the industry as a whole, it’s time to start. Otherwise, you risk being rendered obsolete. Gone are the days where manufacturers can sit back and see how things played out in the market. Welcome to the new world of manufacturing where competitive intelligence reigns supreme.

Competitive Intelligence: An Introduction
According to Investopedia, competitive intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data about competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in a legal and ethical manner to enhance business decision-making processes. Competitive intelligence activities can be grouped into two main types:

1. Tactical – shorter-term and seeks to provide input on issues including market share and
    increasing revenue.
2. Strategic – focuses on longer-term issues such as key risks and opportunities facing the
    enterprise.

It Stems from Market Research
Market research is an organized effort and systematic approach to collect and interpret data about business and industry environments, customers and competitors for the purposes of decision-making. Competitive intelligence uses many of the same proven techniques as market research but deploys them to answer highly targeted and specific questions.

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
A lower tier automotive supplier recently came to us to help them understand why they were losing ground for their carbon steel parts. Turns out that their competitor grabbed the company’s market share by transitioning to lighter weight materials to help them reduce weight to meet the upcoming CAFE standards. This situation could have been avoided if someone were assigned the task of monitoring what is happening in the industry.

There are several key things you can do (even without hiring additional staff) to ensure you are facing competitive threats head on. Someone in your organization needs to regularly spend a few hours each week scanning the market.

For starters, have a member of your team be on the lookout for the following:

Industry trends – Are new materials being used? What kind of new processes or emerging
  technologies are being developed?
Changes and updates to your competitors’ websites and social media sites – What are main
  themes? What are they highlighting?
Industry tradeshows – Who’s attending? Who’s exhibiting? What new and potentially
  disruptive products are being introduced?
Regulatory and compliance standards that impact your business – Are there deadlines to meet?
  Will you have to make any adjustments to current processes?

Need More Extensive Assistance?

The Research Services team at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center offers unmatched, industry-specific competitive intelligence. We gather information from industry reports, news and industry trade press, company profiles, government statistics and other reputable resources to create an accurate portrait of the competitive landscape and help companies thrive by:

Understanding market dynamics
Creating a snapshot of the marketplace
Identifying potential direct and indirect competitors
Anticipating competitors’ moves
Monitoring technology advances
Reducing risk in business decisions
… and more!

Industry insight can make or break whether your business is a step ahead of the competition—or lagging behind. Contact me at sstobierski@the-center.org for more information.




MEET OUR EXPERT

Shelly Stobierski
Director of Research Services



Shelly Stobierski is the Director of Research Services for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). She has more than 15 years of market research experience, with a primary focus on automotive-related manufacturing businesses. Shelly has extensive skills in survey research (phone, internet, focus groups) and in the use of proprietary industry databases. She holds a BA in English from Wayne State University and is certified as an Economic Gardening Market Research Professional by the Edward Lowe Foundation. To read her full bio, 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, August 11, 2017

Improving Your Value: Implementing Lean Manufacturing

By: Roger Tomlinson


A manufacturer’s focus each day must revolve around increasing production, reducing costs and generating profits—while simultaneously minimizing the risk of errors. This can be a delicate balance for manufacturers to achieve. That’s why implementing lean manufacturing is a critical component for success.

Defining Lean Manufacturing: The Customer Perspective

Lean manufacturing is typically defined as the production and management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise which does not directly add value to the final product to be non-value added (in need of elimination) or a necessary non-value-added step that cannot be eliminated now but must be minimized.

Lean manufacturing uses Value Stream Mapping to analyze a manufacturing facility’s day-to-day operations. How does the organization respond to changing market conditions, emerging technologies and customer needs? Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Lean manufacturing makes it obvious about what adds value. After identifying the value-added steps, lean manufacturing then examines the processes that generate that value and determines how to reduce or eliminate all non-value-added aspects of that value stream.

Considering Lean Enterprise

To get started in lean manufacturing, manufacturers must assess their facility’s productivity in terms of the form of waste using the acronyms DOWNTIME:

Defects
Overproduction
Waiting
Non-utilized talent
• Transportation
Inventory
• Motion
Extra Processing

Manufacturers also can assess their current level of productivity by asking themselves important
questions such as:

Does my team clearly understand what value the customer wants for the product or service?

What are my Value Streams from raw materials, production of the product or service, customer
  delivery, customer use?

How do my Value Steams perform?

Do my Value Streams flow? If it's not moving, it's creating waste, taking up time and producing
  less value for the customer.

Are my production processes robust enough to not make anything until the customer orders it?

Is communication within our company, or between the business and the client, strong or weak?

Does my team systematically and continuously remove root causes of poor quality from
  production processes?

Do my products require constant re-work?

Are my Value Streams capable of manufacturing more product for a client ahead of schedule?

Does production come to a stand-still if an employee is sick or if a component is out of stock or a
  key piece of equipment is not working?

Lean manufacturing allows manufacturers to not only answer (and address) all of these questions, but enables them to execute a strategy of continuous improvement that is specifically designed to suit their unique set of business needs.

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) – Your Lean Resource

The Center’s lean manufacturing consultants can provide your company with the proper tools to eliminate waste and strengthen processes for today and the future! Contact me at RTomlinson@the-center.org for more information.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Roger Tomlinson
Lean Program Manager


Roger Tomlinson is a Lean Program Manager on the Lean team at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). 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). In addition to his training and consulting work, Roger has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing management. To read his full bio, 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, August 4, 2017

Risky Business

Are Your Employees Making Your Business Vulnerable to Cyber-Attacks?


By: Elliot Forsyth


Cybersecurity is no longer optional—it’s a necessity for business survival. As cyber-attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and the frequency continues to escalate at breakneck speed, it’s imperative that your business has a plan to combat these dire threats. After all, it’s no longer a question of “if” a cyber-attack will occur, it’s now a matter of “when.” According to a Deloitte report, 39 percent of executives surveyed experienced a breach in the past 12 months.

While technical compliance issues are an integral part to help safeguard your business, one critical element is frequently overlooked—the human element. Cybersecurity is primarily focused on the dangers of outside threats, but businesses must recognize that inside cybersecurity threats caused by employees are equally damaging and expose your business to serious vulnerabilities. Worst of all, your employees might not even be aware they’re putting your business at risk!

The emphasis on staff safeguards and training is evident in a guiding cybersecurity document published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The publication, known as NIST 800-171, is a fundamental part of requirements for Department of Defense (DoD) contractors who must comply with Defense Acquisition Regulations System (DFARS) clause 252.204-7012 by December 31, 2017.

The focus of NIST 800-171 centers on Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), unclassified information that must be protected from public disclosure. NIST’s Special Publication 800-171 defines policies in 14 main categories that apply to all prime and subcontractor companies conducting business with the Federal Government. Five of the 14 components address the human element of cybersecurity. By following the best practices for each, you can make a significant impact on the security of your organization’s infrastructure, as well as meet compliance requirements for doing business with the DoD:

Access Control & Identification and Authentication – 80% of cyber-attacks are attributed to weak authentication (Source: Dr. John Zandargi, Acting Department of Defense Chief Information Officer). Enforce a minimum password complexity and change of characters when new passwords are created, and prohibit password reuse for a specified number of generations. To maximize security, limit system access to authorized users only. Protect wireless access prior to allowing such connections and encrypt CUI on mobile devices and mobile computing platforms.

Awareness and Training – Ongoing training and education is essential for all employees. Ensure that managers, systems administrators and all users of the organizational system are aware of the security risks associated with their activities and of the applicable policies, standards and procedures related to the security of those systems. Verify that staff personnel are adequately trained to carry out their assigned information security-related duties and responsibilities.

Personnel Security – According to the 2017 Black Hat Attendee Survey, the most feared cyber attacker is someone who has “inside knowledge of my organization.” Always screen individuals prior to authorizing access to organizational systems containing CUI. Ensure that CUI and any systems with CUI are protected during and after personnel actions such as terminations and transfers.

Physical Protection – Limit physical access to organizational systems, equipment and the respective operating environments to authorized individuals only. Protect and monitor the physical facility and support infrastructure for organizational systems.

The Best Advice? Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late. 

Are your employees unknowingly sharing highly-sensitive information? Are safeguards in place to ensure an employee doesn’t leak confidential data to a hacker? Are you at risk for losing DoD business? When you have proper training and safeguards in place, you can confidently answer these questions and help protect your organization and intellectual property.

Ask how the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can help. Contact The Center today at 888.414.6682 or email cyber@the-center.org to get started. Have a question? Read our most frequently asked cybersecurity questions here.



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.