Manufacture Smarter Blog

Struggling to Embrace Lean Culture? Here’s Why.

4/13/2018 By: Mike Beels People don’t like change. Learning new ways of doing things and adopting new technology can be a scary proposition. I often have clients ask, “Why do we need to change, we are already working hard?” or, “We are already profitable, why change?” The unfortunate answer is that you cannot avoid change; everything changes over time. Instead of avoiding change out of fear or stubbornness, you must embrace it if you want to keep improving. Remember when eight-track players were first created, totally revolutionizing the way we listened to music in our cars? What could be better than listening to your favorite music whenever you wanted, instead of waiting for it to come on the radio.

Leadership as a Force Multiplier

12/11/2015 Every organization, big or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, is only as good as the way its people work together to accomplish a goal.  If you look up ‘organization’ in a dictionary or online, it is defined as “two or more independent parts with a common aim.” Sadly, the AVERAGE organization realizes less than the sum of their parts – together they achieve less than what each department is able to deliver independently. This is because the departments’ first priority is delivering on their departmental metrics no matter the consequences to other departments or the organization as a whole.

Innovation By Problem Solving

10/23/2015 It’s easy to make the innovation process out to be something far more complicated than it needs to be. Case in point:  Almon Strowger, who patented the automatic telephone exchange in 1891. His idea came about in order to solve a problem:  he was losing business due to his small-town telephone operator. During its infancy, telephone calls were routed to an operator, a live person who after asking callers who they wanted to talk with, connected the caller’s line physically to the line of the person to whom they wished to speak.

National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Brings Technology to Michigan

10/9/2015 Where do you go for help regarding new, lightweight materials? Who is really working on the materials and processes to create future vehicles and products which are lightweight, sustainable, and affordable?  How can I position my company for growth as the lightweight trend goes from being a gentle wave to a tsunami? Two new Detroit-based organizations are preparing to become leaders in developing and implementing lightweight technologies. Their focus will be on Tier Two and Tier Three companies to deliver the parts and services to accomplish the aggressive lightweighting goals set by the auto industry.

Accelerating Your Ideas Into Cash

7/31/2015 Most companies have great ideas. The challenge is deciding what to do with them. How can we get over the hurdles, speed up the implementation and turn these ideas into cash, whether it be from revenue or cost savings? Stepping outside the box and trying something new can prove difficult because of FEAR. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of letting yourself and others down. Fear hinders growth and perpetuates the status quo. The Good News: You can overcome fear. Below are two practical approaches to embracing the unknown and conquering fear.

Industry Update: Four Hot Trends in U.S. Manufacturing

4/17/2015 With the first quarter of 2015 under our belt, several aspects of the manufacturing industry have gained momentum. These trends are expected to continue and rapidly impact 21st century manufacturing around the globe. Industry Growth for the U.S. & Michigan It is a critical time for American, specifically Michigan, manufacturers. With a feeling of cautious optimism, manufacturers are experiencing upticks and improvements in business, yet they are still working harder to set a stronger foundation for growth.

“Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”

1/30/2015 The original source of that quote is up for debate. Some claim Thomas Paine, patriot of the American Revolution, used these words in his pamphlet Common Sense, which crystallized the rebellious demand for America’s independence from Great Britain. Others attribute those words to General George Patton, famous WWII Army commander whose character and outward expression was known by all and feared by many. Still, others associate the famous saying most closely with Lee Iacocca, as his outward expression of the determination to pull the downtrodden Chrysler Corporation out of trouble with K-Cars and Minivans.

Manage or Mitigate: Why Risk can’t be Avoided

10/10/2014 No one likes being vulnerable. It involves risk, and risks are scary. In business, innovation or trying new things is often seen as a risk. There are entire service industries that revolve entirely around the concept of managing or mitigating risk, have you talked to your insurance agent recently? David Brown, in an article titled “Managing Risk and Innovation: the Challenge for Smaller Businesses,” discusses the concept of innovation for small businesses and the unique challenges faced by SMEs.