The Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) announced seventeen manufacturing specialists recently completed the comprehensive Galliard Group Family Business Advisor Level One training program in Bloomington, Illinois. Completion of the certification equips the IMEC team members with comprehensive tools to assist family-owned and closely-held businesses.
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Manufacturing leaders from the greater Chicago area, in addition to Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher, IMEC President David Boulay, and representatives from the City of Chicago and state commerce department gathered for a duo of manufacturing-focused events last week.
The group first met at PortionPac Corporation in Chicago for discussion and a tour of the sustainable company that manufactures pre-measured packs of highly concentrated cleaning products for use in a variety of industries, including school districts and correctional facilities. “The last decade for manufacturing has been about diversification and the ability to develop a focus in niche markets in order to continue growing,” said Burt Klein, President for PortionPac. During the visit, Klein also spoke to the city’s investment in the manufacturing sector and how building a strong workforce, transportation can lead to a strengthened climate.
Through a city initiative, Chicago Sustainable Industries, there has been an increased awareness about manufacturing and its importance to the strength of the community. “Manufacturing jobs play an anchoring role in a community,” Director Gallagher stated. “It’s great to see the combined efforts of the public and private sectors working together to strengthen that role.”
Following the facility tour and discussion, the group met at the Transco Products downtown headquarters, where they engaged in discussion around the direction of future trends in technology, workforce and the need to campaign for a brighter image of the industry. “If manufacturing has a bad image, it affects the desire of youth and adults alike to educate themselves and pursue a career in industry,” said Gallagher. Talk continued around the need to promote manufacturing nationally, regionally and locally, including initiatives manufacturers can take to reach out in their communities.
On behalf of the Cross-Sector Supply Chain Workgroup:
With the release of the President’s National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security (the Strategy) in January 2012, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cross-Sector Supply Chain Workgroup (CSSCWG) are reaching out to state and local governments, and industry, on a regional level to conduct meetings to discuss the Strategy and a path forward for its implementation. These outreach meetings seek to bring together parties to gather thoughts, comments, and concerns on how best to implement the Strategy.
Specifically, we hope to gain input on the following:
How today’s manufacturers are positioned to develop new products and services that meet customers’ needs faster than the competition.
The NGM Study found that four out of five manufacturers recognize the importance of customer-focused innovation. For world class innovation, however, manufacturers need to do more than recognize its importance. One area of focus was the innovation strategies and practices currently implemented by American manufacturers.
Overall, manufacturers reported their progress toward world-class customer-focused innovation has remained largely unchanged from 2009. Most manufacturers are succeeding in identifying talent and implementing talent-development strategies, but other areas of their innovation strategy need improvement.
A survey released by the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center and its trade association, the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, finds that most of today’s manufacturers are profitable, but significant challenges may lie ahead. These challenges include aging executives and low investment in capital equipment and information technologies, which could leave manufacturers behind in the race to innovate.
More than two-thirds of manufacturers surveyed are led by chief executives over 50 and 27% are led by an executive over 60. As executives prepare to retire, it is important that they create a planned succession so the business can continue to operate smoothly. Some of the consequences of ill-planned successions can be the forced sale of the business, often for a low price, or chaos when the current leader retires. A properly planned succession, however, can allow the current leader to retire knowing the company will be left in qualified hands.
Today, the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, along with its trade association, the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, released the results of its 2011 Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study, identifying key trends affecting the industry and steps U.S. manufacturers can take now to be successful in the next generation.
The study, conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute, finds that this is a critical point in time for U.S. manufacturing, and manufacturers must assess whether they have the workforce, business systems, equipment and strategies in place to successfully compete in the future. While external factors, like the economic downturn present challenges, manufacturers can remain competitive by focusing on six strategies assessed by the NGM Study as a blueprint for success.
In business terms, being agile is being able to adapt efficiently and effectively to changes. Each time IMEC visits a manufacturer or provides a solution, the experience is different. We all adapt. We need to exercise business agility.
Recently, I began working with a manufacturer that was experiencing some significant quality problems. Their processes were individual and discrete. From what we observed, there were no characteristics that could be measured from which to adjust the process, no dwell time to adjust to bring their process into control. Statistical Process Control (SPC) seemed to be a viable option, but we wondered how we would adapt traditional SPC methods to a discrete process. Even if variable data was collected, no adjustments made would affect the next piece produced. How could we decide if the process was truly stable and in control?
Enercon Engineering leaders host manufacturing competitiveness summit Central Illinois legislators
Innovation, state-support for manufacturing programs among the key discussion topics
Enercon Engineering has added employment, invested in new technology, and increased revenues in part because of technical assistance provided by the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) and funding support from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). A group of Central Illinois lawmakers met recently with Enercon’s leadership to tour the facility and discuss manufacturing competitiveness in Illinois.
The East Peoria based Enercon has experienced revenue growth of more than 91% to meet worldwide demand for switchgear and controls it produces for customers in the power generation sector. In addition, the $2.5 million Enercon has invested in equipment and productivity enhancements have enabled it to enter new markets and stay competitive in the face of intense pricing pressure.
Illinois’ manufacturers are leading the recovery by becoming more innovative, investing in new technologies and business practices, and increasing the productivity of their workers. The result: more high-wage manufacturing jobs are being created and retained and economies in local communities are being stabilized. As state and federal elected officials consider ways to spur economic growth, leaders from companies like Ridley Feed Ingredients in Mendota want to ensure that legislators are aware of how they are tapping into IMEC’s resources to meet today’s challenges.
Ridley leaders recently hosted a briefing and plant tour for Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican serving the 11th District in Illinois. Mr. Kinzinger heard about how IMEC is helping Ridley to contain operating costs and improve profit margins by implementing lean manufacturing practices. He heard about how Ridley is investing in its facilities, and creating new product lines. After the Tour, Congressman Kinzinger shared his insights on the company, the state of manufacturing in the U.S., and the importance of the sector to drive U.S. competitiveness.
The Midwest Reshoring Initiative presents:
Bringing Manufacturing Back to America
Wednesay, July 20th
7:30am – 11:30am
1177 S. Dee Road
Park Ridge, IL 60068