Category Archives: US Manufacturing

Beginning a Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative is No Small Matter

sustainable manufacturing

Earth Day celebrations each April 22 turn a spotlight on the concepts of conservation and environmental matters. Yet to be truly effective, Earth Day must be more than a one-day celebration. For those who care about the long-term sustainability of natural resources through environmentally sound practices, Earth Day is every day. Those ideas of conversation and environmental sustainability are also alive in the manufacturing industry, as manufacturers look to use sustainable manufacturing processes to minimize negative environmental resources and conserve energy and natural resources.

Positively Impacts Bottom Line

For many years, sustainability efforts remained largely lip-service but with time, these practices are becoming more of the norm for manufacturers throughout the U.S. Why the change? Manufacturers are seeing that sustainability done correctly can positively impact the bottom line for the company and create positive ripple effects for vendors, suppliers and consumers alike.

While there is no common definition of sustainable manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Commerce defines it as, “The creation of manufactured products that use processes to minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities and consumers and are economically sound.”

Sustainable manufacturing is no small matter, encompassing a range of economic, societal and environmental factors. Creating and maintaining an initiative at your company requires looking at all departments throughout the company as well as throughout the supply chain. Done well, sustainability takes time and requires good communication to get everyone on the same page, understanding why the company has chosen to pursue this initiative, possible effects of ongoing actions and the impact of compliance/non-compliance throughout the company. With great effort and over time, good sustainability practices can empower employees, enhance the safety and quality of a product and benefit the community where the manufacturer is located.

Reasons to Create a Sustainability Initiative

Increase operational efficiency through reduced costs and waste

Growth of competitive advantage

Appeal to new customers

Method to protect and strengthen brand

Platform to build long-term positive reputation and improve trust

Boost competitiveness within the segment and industry

Consistent Action for Success

Some companies initially test the waters of sustainability by looking for ways to lower resource and production costs. If that initiative is successful, many manufacturers look for other ways to grow and formalize this initiative. Having a dedicated plan and staff tasked with the initiative can often determine if the endeavor will be successful or not. Sustainability practices are long-term and those who pick and choose applications rather than integrating them across all business functions will find it hard to achieve the same level of success as those that fully commit.

Baby Steps

Understandably, taking on a sustainability initiative in your business is a big step, one that deserves guidance throughout the process. To learn more about sustainability practices, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for resources and tool kits to guide the process.

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The Appeal of Wearable Technology in Manufacturing

manufacturing technology

Wearable technology and its many applications are all around us. Without looking too far, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with wearables through the technology of an Apple or Samsung Watch, a Garmin model or a Fitbit. Compact, versatile and smart, these fitness trackers multi-task allowing a range of actions from counting steps or minutes spent exercising to answering phone calls or even taking an electrocardiogram on the spot.

Impressive, but when it comes to flexible electronics think of applications that are smaller and potentially even smarter. These incredibly thin electronics contain traces and circuits printed on paper-based flexible substrates.

Produced on foil, paper and even in ink, these electronics retain a high level of conductivity even on curved products and are flexible enough to bend or fold. Such a flexible application, pun intended, offers the potential of roll-able TVs and displays, electronic paper, transparent and smart sensors, not to mention a range of other applications in clothing.

Advantages of Flexible Technologies

Use inexpensive plastics

Low manufacturing costs

Lightweight and bendable

Easily portable

Potentially cheaper

Internet of Things

Over the last five years, tech companies have begun forming collaborations with clothing companies to produce a range of custom apparel products using stretchable electronic inks and flexible substrates. Today it’s easier than ever to find applications of the paper-thin, form-fitting circuits in smart clothing. Companies such as DuPont are manufacturing Intexar, an advanced material. By adding Intexar to clothing like shirts and sports bras, the technology can provide its users with a range of biometric data. Wearing a smart shirt with Intexar has the potential to offer a user or a designated medical provider with information such as heart and breathing rate, form awareness and muscle tension, according to DuPont.

With real-time monitoring and data collection, smart apparel has the potential to not only supply information but also adjust to a range of user needs, like the self-heating jacket created by Ralph Lauren for the Winter Olympics. Use of flexible technologies extends far beyond the world of athletics. Flexible technologies are finding application within the medical, military and first-responder markets. This includes the potential of contact lenses adept at monitoring the glucose levels of a diabetic patient, clothing that can keep first responders safer and jean jackets that offer internet connectivity.

Building Synergies

Akin to the ability to place more and more semiconductors on a chip, flexible technologies show a growing range of possibilities. Imagine a thin layer of film that can regulate the temperature on a home or building or a strip of plastic embedded in a bag that charges the devices inside. Such advances are not only real, they are happening on a small scale now. Research continues as more are discovering the abilities and inherent restrictions of this exciting technology.

This article is brought to you by The Cleveland Deburring Machine Company. CDMC can provide a deburring solution for gears, sprockets, aerospace and defense, automotive deburring, power transmission, powdered metals, fluid power and custom deburring applications. 

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Veterans are Ready and Willing to Fill the Skills Gap

veterans skillsgap

Could the solution to the manufacturing industry’s skills gap be patiently waiting in plain sight? The possibility is appreciable when you consider the U.S. workforce has a ready demographic who possess prior experience working with technology and machinery. This is a group who is trained in precision, leadership and discipline. The demographic is veterans; a group former Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls, “one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country.”

Veteran’s Cross-Functional Skill Set

Teamwork

Responsibility

Perform under pressure

Trustworthy

Integrity

Comfort with diversity

Critical thinking

More and more companies are looking for ways to incorporate the hiring of veterans into their workplace, including hiring managers within the manufacturing industry who are discovering the cross-functional skills this group offers. Such benefits include prior experience working within defined processes and workflows while having the ability to improvise and apply critical-thinking skills. The group is experienced in working with technology and comfortable using frequent application of problem-solving and math skills, all which have complementary applications within the manufacturing industry.

Making the Transition

Despite possessing transferable skills, currently veteran-related employment lags that of the employment of non-veterans. This is due to several factors such as the need for buy-in from management before hiring and an experienced mentor/adviser who can translate Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) codes into comparable open positions within a company, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce. Mentoring from former military personnel can also ease the transition as veterans move from military to civilian life.

Ready Pool of Candidates

2 million post-9/11 veterans

250,000 service members transition out of the military every year for the foreseeable future

1 million+ veterans currently in college

100,000 veterans graduate from college each year

Two-thirds of veterans will leave their first post-military job within two years

George W. Bush Institute

In addition to employing individuals who’ve been schooled in the transferable skills of leadership, flexibility, discipline and teamwork, companies who employ veterans can also take advantage of tax credits. The Returning Heroes Tax credit offers a maximum credit of $5,600/veteran hired, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses hiring individuals with service-connected disabilities a tax credit of $9,600/veteran.

Future Investment

Manufacturing companies that are interested in exploring the hiring of veterans in their manufacturing operations are encouraged to host a booth at a local military job fair. This is a way to meet veterans face-to-face while increasing the visibility of manufacturing jobs that demonstrate the positive changes within the industry.

This article is brought to you by The Cleveland Deburring Machine Company. CDMC can provide a deburring solution for gears, sprockets, aerospace and defense, automotive deburring, power transmission, powdered metals, fluid power and custom deburring applications. 

 

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