January, 2011

A publication brought to you by the Manufacturers Alliance

Subscribe | Join MA
MA Announcements

2011 Wage Survey
The 2011 Compensation & Benefits Survey participation window is now open.

Participants who purchase the survey will get a customized, participant profile report ranking their wage data against other survey participants for each position reported. (a real time-saver). Look here for more information.


Leaders Alliance Benchmarking Peer Groups
The Leaders Alliance is a group of peers from member companies who meet one morning a month to discuss critical issues of mutual concern. All 16 peer groups are specific to manufacturers and functional based. Groups include: Business Process Improvement, Finance, Human Resources and more.

MA LinkedIn Group

Join the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn Group to query over 550 local manufacturing practitioners with your specific questions, concerns or simply to share a great article you read.


New & Renewing Members
LAI International, Inc.
Thiele Technologies Inc.
Dalsin Industries Inc.
Bro-Tex Inc.
Griffiths Corporation
SPX Corporation
Industrial Door Co Inc.
GN ReSound
Hannover Ltd.
Flexo Impressions
United States Distilled Products
Recon Robotics
Holmes Spring Manufacturing
Weber & Deegan, Ltd.


Upcoming Events

February 7th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader Online

February 8th 2023 08:00 am
- Creating Process Maps

February 9th 2023 08:00 am
- Sustaining Lean Culture Through Leadership Changes

February 14th 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

February 15th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader

February 16th 2023 08:00 am
- Conflict, Communication and Collaboration

February 21st 2023 08:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems 6 Sigma Green Belt Certification

February 21st 2023 09:00 am
- Leadership Style & Versatility Online

February 22nd 2023 08:00 am
- Root Cause Analysis

February 22nd 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

Article Index

A Medical Device Manufacturer for Manufacturers
Article by: Justin Dorsey

Say you’re a medical device manufacturer with an idea for a new implant procedure, and R&D efforts will be focused on point-of-delivery. The device will have some type of controller which needs to be very reliable, especially if it’s going to be used in an FDA Class II or III procedure; where failure might produce detrimental effects or worse, death.


Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From
Article by: John Hehre

Can we improve our odds of discovering that next breakthrough idea that will yield fame and fortune? Steven Johnson has looked into the creation of significant discoveries and inventions over the past seven hundred years or so in an attempt to answer that question.


The Times They are A-Changin’
Article by: Rod Greder

Native Minnesotan Bob Dylan’s words still ring true almost 50 years after he wrote them. For lean, agile product developers and marketers change can be a mouth-watering opportunity albeit sometimes confusing and stress-inducing.


Lean Leader Interview: Michael Ossanna
Article by: Michael Ossanna

Land O’Lakes, Inc. is one of America’s premiere member-owned cooperatives. We offer local cooperatives and agricultural producers across the nation an extensive line of agricultural supplies, as well as state-of-the-art production and business services. We also are a leading marketer of dairy-based food products, animal feed and crop inputs.


Minnesota Manufacturing Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For the month of January 2011 February 1, 2011. Minnesota’s leading economic indicator was above growth neutral for the 18th straight month. 


ADVERTISEMENT
A Medical Device Manufacturer for Manufacturers

Say you’re a medical device manufacturer with an idea for a new implant procedure, and R&D efforts will be focused on point-of-delivery. The device will have some type of controller which needs to be very reliable, especially if it’s going to be used in an FDA Class II or III procedure; where failure might produce detrimental effects or worse, death.

However, the controller itself doesn’t need to be manufactured in mass quantities. You’re left with the dilemma of what to do.

Do you ramp up and build the controller internally. or do you outsource its complicated electrical engineering design and physical construction (and rigorous testing) and focus your manufacturing resources on the implant itself? For many medical device manufacturers, the choice is an easy one – assuming they can find a firm with the requisite expertise and proven track record. Minnetronix is just such a manufacturer and the company has both the expertise and track record to attract a rapidly growing client base.

Minnetronix was founded in 1996 and its founders are still actively engaged in day-to-day operations. Today, the firm has around 150 employees and operates out of a large modern facility located midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul at the intersection of Snelling Avenue and Energy Park Drive. Manufacturing Operations Manager Kevin Souther explains, “Our business is almost evenly split 50/50 between design/development and production. For someone like me whose background is manufacturing, the fact that our engineers are so involved in the development process makes this a really fascinating place to work. Plus, we’re working with products that can – and have saved lives.”

When asked about how Lean fits into a shop that is so customized, Kevin says, “That’s a good and tough question. I’ve been an active member and participant in the Manufacturers Alliance for 15 years. So, I’m a card-carrying adherent to Lean. When I came to Minnetronix five years ago, I realized many standard Lean techniques needed modifications within our unique environment. One way to understand our work atmosphere is to think of charging two people to build three cars from bumper to bumper by hand, field testing each car component along the way and then extensively field testing the cars themselves. It’s not that Lean can’t contribute, but at Minnetronix, it has some different nuances. The way we’ve resolved the tension between efficiency and affordability is to focus our Lean energies on ‘production’ models rather than on ‘new production introductions,’ or prototyping. Once a product is out of the prototype stage and the client places a production order, we put the assembly cell through a three-day Kaizen Blitz event that we call “Code Blue.” Our leading Lean metric is on-time delivery, but we also monitor other metrics. For example, one Lean-related metric that affects our bottom line is production output. We’ve had year-over-year double digit growth in sales, and our production force has remained comparatively static over the last few years.”

When asked about the inevitable manufacturing obstacle of bottlenecks, Kevin observes, “The intractable bottleneck for us is ‘robustly testing’ our machines, especially when their end use is with FDA Class II or Class III devices; there is no way around the fact that this is time-consuming.”

With regard to the China factor, Kevin comments, “From beginning to end, ours is a very labor-intensive and time sensitive business, and it’s extremely interactive at the highest manufacturing level.”

“To illustrate, we placed manufacturing engineering work-stations on our manufacturing floor, and both client visits and audits are a constant. Add all that up, and we haven’t felt much competitive pressure from off-shore. If anything, it’s a potential growth market for our customers.”

Finally, when asked about what kind of corporate financials are shared with staff, Kevin says, “Our leaders’ approach to this is that we are all in it together. We hold formal company-wide quarterly meetings to review our financials in depth and have regular monthly meetings to review targets. I’ve worked in other environments where this information wasn’t shared. My perspective on this is that it’s valuable and makes all of us feel that we have a stake in the success of our company.”

Justin Dorsey, Director of Sales & Marketing, Advanced Capital Group located at 50 South Sixth Street, #975 Minneapolis, MN 55402. call (612) 230-3009, email jdorsey@acgbiz.com, or visit www.acgbiz.com.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

Can we improve our odds of discovering that next breakthrough idea that will yield fame and fortune? Steven Johnson has looked into the creation of significant discoveries and inventions over the past seven hundred years or so in an attempt to answer that question.

The ideas, discoveries and inventions discussed span a very broad range from scientific discoveries like Darwin’s Natural Selection to vacuum tubes to the internet. The book identifies seven different situations that give rise to many of these discoveries.

The “Adjacent Possible” suggests that many new ideas are actually extensions of existing discoveries. For example, the World Wide Web with all its linked pages could not have come about without the original internet and its associated protocols and technologies. “Liquid Networks,” are essentially messy groups of ideas and technologies that will, almost by chance, result in new ideas. “The Slow Hunch” suggests that the idea may take months, years or even decades to germinate into a breakthrough. “Serendipity” is typically the classic example of a breakthrough idea that appears almost instantaneously although even in this case, there are precursors to the idea that made it possible in the first place. “Error” is not surprisingly, a very common source of ideas – where something was discovered quite by accident when working on something else. “Exaption,” an odd word to be sure, is described as an application of something originally designed for something else. “Platforms” are existing organizations and bodies of knowledge and technology that give rise to additional ideas.

Through all this, Steven Johnson has drawn an interesting conclusion. The story of the individual working to market a great idea is not really representative of most of the recent innovations. It turns out that the overwhelming majority of recent innovations have come through networks, individuals working in similar areas or on similar ideas with a very broad net for inspiration. These ideas and discoveries may not result in financial gain. In the final analysis, if you want to maximize your potential, find people with lots of different interests, expose them to a wide range of ideas and technologies, and let them work on the problems. Keeping people locked away in a lab without the benefit of external stimulation can be successful but the probability is lower.

This book has some useful sections but most of the text has more to do with scientific history than creating innovative ideas. If you’re fascinated by scientific discovery you’ll enjoy the book. If not, skim through the first half of the book and concentrate on the last few chapters. There is also an excellent timeline listing the major discoveries from the past 700 years or so.

John Hehre is a senior operations executive and provides interim management and project based consulting to mid-sized private companies in need of transformative change. He can be reached at jhehre@cprocess.com.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
The Times They are A-Changin’

Native Minnesotan Bob Dylan’s words still ring true almost 50 years after he wrote them. For lean, agile product developers and marketers change can be a mouth-watering opportunity albeit sometimes confusing and stress-inducing.

What’s different today from the 60’s is the velocity and viral nature of change. A Tweet here, a YouTube video there and a new world springs to life on the gadgets of billions. This window to the rest of the world is open to us almost everywhere and anytime.

It’s tough to stay on top of all the change. We could use some help sorting the fads from the iPads and Grey Poupons from the Groupons.

The beginning of the year is a great time to glean from the trend watching experts what you might want to heed in 2011.

With comparisons across 3 to 4 independent organizations you get a gut feel for what might have gravitas and staying power. Here are some reputable trend-watchers to consider.

http://www.mckinsey.com

http://www.iconoculture.com

http://www.faithpopcorn.com/

http://www.jwtintelligence.com/

http://www.wfs.org/

 

In addition, you should have your own strategy to sort the trends since you are the ultimate decider. Here are 15 trend watching tips, some practical, some more contextual, according to trendwatching.com.

 

1.     Know why you're tracking trends

2.     Don’t get your trends mixed up

3.     Know a fad when you see (or smell) one

4.     Don’t apply all trends to all people

5.     Be (very) curious

6.     Have a Point of View

7.     Benefit from an unprecedented abundance of resources

8.     Name your trends

9.     Build your Trend Framework

10. Start a Trend Group (even if it’s just you)

11. Secure senior backing or be doomed

12. Don't worry about timing or life cycles or regional suitability

13. Apply, apply, apply

14. Have some fun

15. Let others do some of the work for you in 2011

 

Product developers and marketers should learn more about the following in 2011:

  • Social media in all aspects: from generating awareness and buzz with Facebook to monitoring blogs and chat rooms where products can be praised or ravaged.
  • Every part of a product matters to someone for some reason. Disgruntled users can impact your success based on one attribute. Packaging is tracked by eco conscious consumers, usability and simplicity is paramount to time-crunched customers used to being pampered, coolness of design is life or death for certain demographics.
  • Pricing and terms will be very transparent. Be prepared to counter relentless price shopping with stronger value statements and gripping stories for why they should buy from you.
  • Competition will sprout up from literally all corners of the earth. Your point of differentiation should be clear and compelling.
  • Because of the burgeoning competition you must expand your product development wherewithal by exploiting crowd-sourcing, open innovation, co-creation. You must establish collaboration as a competency.
  • Lifecycles and development times will continue to compress. Concurrency, agility and lean principles must be mainstreamed in your NPD process.

We could add a dozen more. Check out the websites mentioned above for more to consider. Also exploit every opportunity to discuss what’s new with other practitioners. We each have a unique perspective about these ‘times that are a-changin.’

Rod Greder, Ph.D. founded Breakthrough Forum, an innovation dialogue and accountability group, for product developers and marketers to tap the collective intelligence of their peers who have been there and done that. rgreder@improveproducts.com, (763)443-1531.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Lean Leader Interview: Michael Ossanna

Land O’Lakes, Inc. is one of America’s premiere member-owned cooperatives. We offer local cooperatives and agricultural producers across the nation an extensive line of agricultural supplies, as well as state-of-the-art production and business services. We also are a leading marketer of dairy-based food products, animal feed and crop inputs.

  • Where did you receive your Lean training & experience?

 Recognizing the value of Lean Processes to all companies and any business process, I immersed myself in the study of the philosophies and craft of Lean Manufacturing through seminars, workshops and independent study.

  • What are your current Lean oriented activities?

 Leading Distribution Planning process improvement for Animal Feed products and facilitating Value Stream Mapping for training business process improvement at Land O'Lakes.

  • What were the lessons learned from leading or training your team on a Lean project?
  1. Leading kaizen events in compressed time frames.
  2. Persuading top management to commit resources to Lean efforts.
  3. Customizing process improvement methods to the unique needs of the business process.
  • What are the next steps in the Lean journey for your company?

 Land O'Lakes promotes the organic evolution of process improvement in order to leverage the diverse skill sets that have migrated from leading Lean companies to Land O'Lakes. The focal point is “Total Margin Management”, an initiative that invests resources in activities that cut costs and fuel profitable growth.

  • How would you describe peer-to-peer education & training?

Peer-to-peer education is a means to provide businesses with training, networking and resources in the most cost-effective manner possible: by leveraging the vast pool of local talent to cross-pollinate process improvement philosophies and methods.

Michael Ossanna is the Business Process Manager at Land O'Lakes Located in Arden Hills, MN and may be reached at mvossanna@landolakes.com.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Minnesota Manufacturing Economic Outlook

For the month of January 2011 February 1, 2011. Minnesota’s leading economic indicator was above growth neutral for the 18th straight month. 

The Business Conditions Index advanced to 55.2 from December’s softer 52.0. Components of the index for January were new orders at 56.0, production or sales at 61.9, delivery lead time at 58.3, inventories at 49.5, and employment at 50.5.   “The state’s agriculture is the second largest among the nine Mid-America states.  Thus expansions among firms tied to agriculture and international markets have been an important component of Minnesota’s recent growth.   On the other hand, the state’s construction industry continues to slow overall state job growth.   I expect the state to continue to add jobs for the first half of 2011.  This pace will be stronger than the last half of 2010,” said Goss.

Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

Back to Top


Copyright © 2011 Manufacturers Alliance. All rights reserved.
Thank you for reading the Manufacturers Alliance E-Newsletter.