Blogs

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A systems integrator/cybersecurity analyst outlines the risks associated with letting third party partners—and internal engineers—into the manufacturing network, and the things that can be done to avoid trouble.   Manufacturers are often in need of help when it comes to deploying a new automation project or managing and maintaining existing machines on the plant floor. As a result, they’ll turn to technology suppliers, OEMs, and system integrators for support. But that means these third parties need to be able to access the equipment remotely, which creates a potential open access point on the network that could create a cybersecurity vulnerability. ...
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A tech expert at Kuka addresses some basics. Manufacturers aren’t entirely familiar with the opportunities and benefits the Internet of Things (IoT) can deliver. In fact, 30% of manufacturers struggle to understand the IoT altogether, according to a study by advisory firm Sikich. But that lack of insight hasn’t stopped them from making the IoT a point of emphasis moving forward. According to the 2018 Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) National Manufacturing Outlook, half of all manufacturers plan to prioritize IoT technologies, including connected machinery, software, systems, and sensors, in the coming years. To successfully implement IoT technologies ...
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The MTI Educational Foundation is excited to announce that it has finalized and awarded $51,000 in scholarships to 11 recipients.   Educational Foundation Chair, Mary Springer from Thermtech in Waukesha, Wisconsin stated, “With a record number of over 40 applicants, the Foundation is proud to be able to award 11 more students financial resources that can help them further their education.   It is exciting to see the emails of appreciation from them knowing you are making a difference in their lives and hopefully attracting them to work in the industry after graduation.”   The 11 scholarship awards were given to:   Technical School Scholarship: ...
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The Need for Speed

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In an accelerating supply chain, effective management of costs, people and data is becoming more crucial.   As the Amazonization of the world accelerates, the only governor on this high-speed pipeline is the ability to manufacture products fast enough to keep pace with consumer expectations and supply chain demands. Consumers have gone from being surprised by the speed and low cost of home delivery to expecting it, to insisting on it. In turn, manufacturers and distributors face the challenge of meeting those expectations in a time of fewer workers and emerging technology. Whether it’s a pair of sneakers or a pair of speakers, the pressure is ...
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At the MTI Winter Board Meeting, one of the key additions to MTI’s strategic plan was the establishment of a Cybersecurity Committee.   This new committee was charged with developing best practices, continual content, and checklists.   All allowing members to gain information and prepare their operations to protect their plants against cyber-attacks.   This committee has been hard at work building the flow of resources and information.   MTI has been pushing out written content on a weekly and monthly basis on keys to effective cybersecurity strategy.   The committee recently hosted a live webcast to begin the discussion as to what steps should ...
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In most organizations it is leaders who are responsible for setting out the organization's strategy. Because of their position at the top, they have insights and oversight that others in the organization don't have. Furthermore they have the power and capabilities to make sure that the rest of the organization conforms to the strategy. Therefore, leaders are in the right position to make strategy and to make it work. Or so it seems. As I argued in recent articles, though, strategy in today's VUCA world is too complex to leave to just leaders. It is not enough to produce simple inspiring strategies, and we need everyone's knowledge and commitment to make strategies ...
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Much has been written about America’s loneliness epidemic, including in the workplace. The word “loneliness” in the work context is a misnomer. It doesn’t capture the whole story. What about all of the individuals who might not think of themselves as lonely and yet the demands of work and task-oriented activities such as time in front of screens have crowded out time for anything more than superficial relationships? Many people lack sufficient, positive human connection (or social connection) and may be unaware of the ramifications. Left unchecked, the deficiency of connection today presents widespread risks not just to individuals but to organizations.  ...
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If you are a manufacturer, maker, or seller of tangible products or services, it’s becoming increasingly rare to have a conversation with existing, new, or prospective customers and not get questions about innovation. It can either be what’s new or next in your product assortment or, worse, why you haven’t applied innovative ideas like your competitors yet. Conversations like these are what spur leaders to scan their internal team’s capabilities to see where new ideas will come from, and then begin to search outside their walls for fresh perspectives. While there are a lot of companies and consultants who want to help manufacturers address their innovation ...
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August 5, 2019   Retail electricity prices are largely driven by natural gas prices. Even though power is generated from a variety of sources—hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, gas— generating plants are paid based on the last fuel used to meet demand, which is almost always natural gas. Therefore, the amount you pay per kWh for electricity is determined primarily by the current price of natural gas in your region. Natural gas prices are constantly fluctuating based on a balance between supply and demand. Demand is driven by electricity generation (power burn), commercial & industrial usage, and exports to Mexico or overseas in the form of ...
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Although growth and development consistently top the list of what employees want (and organizations need) most, it’s a fairly universal source of disappointment to all. When asked why it’s not happening, people typically point to workload, budgets, time, and insufficient promotional opportunities as barriers to growth. But what if I told you that there are at least eight vehicles for powerful development at your disposal right now? Opportunities that are squarely within your sphere of influence? Experiences that you and your employees can co-create to drive learning, engagement, and more? It all boils down to mining the present moment rather than waiting ...
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NAM July Economic Report

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The U.S. economy  grew  2.1% at the annual rate in the second quarter, slowing from 3.1% growth in the first quarter. Consumer and government spending buoyed growth for the quarter, but drags from business spending and net exports counterbalanced this somewhat. Slowing global growth and trade uncertainties served as a drag on activity, with businesses hesitant to increase spending. Along those lines, nonresidential fixed investment declined 0.6% in the second quarter, the first decline since the first quarter of 2016. The current forecast is for 2.4% growth for 2019, down from 2.9% in 2018. The data on manufacturing activity provided mixed ...
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Take steps to prevent hearing damage in the workplace before it happens.   Some of the most prevalent workplace hazards aren’t seen—they’re heard. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to damaging noise levels at work, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workplace-related hearing loss is the most commonly reported injury. It’s not surprising, then, that hearing loss disability accounts for an estimated $242 million in workers’ compensation payments each year, according to the Department of Labor. Approximately 48 million Americans have ...
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In my last post , I introduced the 3 Is of leadership: integrity, influence and impact, and discussed how leaders can live and lead with increased integrity. In this post, we will focus on influence, and how a leader’s integrity directly allows them to influence.  At the heart of great leadership is influence, as in the ability to influence others to do what needs to get done. In a piece written for Forbes , Kevin Kruse defines leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” I like his approach because it factors in some important primary leadership elements: (social) influence, ...
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Ahead of its 125th anniversary and the 2020 elections, the NAM announced this week a member-driven campaign to raise at least $10 million for the newly established “Creators Wanted Fund” to inspire and drive more Americans to pursue careers in modern manufacturing. The fund aims to achieve two goals: first, to fund a sustained investment in The Manufacturing Institute, to grow programs like “Heroes MAKE America” and the “STEP Women’s Initiative,” and second, to keep the spotlight on manufacturing and change perceptions of manufacturing careers during a critical presidential election year. In 2020, the NAM will bring a “Creators Wanted” mobile tour of modern ...
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MTI’s Official Sales Forecasting partner, ITR Economics, recently hosted two highly-informative webinars on the economic forecasts for the next two decades.  These are must see webinars, because they provide great insight through the political noise and give you a sound path to grow your business.    Their methodologies are tied to proven leading indicators, showing the direction of the U.S. and world economies over the next 20 years.  You can purchase a bundled package for both webinars for $348 directly from ITR.  Purchased separately, they are $199 each.  Below is a description of both webinars with a link to the purchase page.   Webinar 1: Challenges ...
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Despite sheer scale and worldwide coverage, modern logistics still faces a number of problems that have yet to be solved, such as tracking components along supply chains. Part of the problem is outdated technology that leads to a lack of traceability and transparency, which make it difficult for businesses to make informed decisions. Without real-time updates, various entities within the same supply chain could generate significantly different data. The end result is typically mass confusion that often ends up costing large sums of money. Craig Fuller, the Co-Founder of Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), said that there’s nearly $140 billion tied ...
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Voice-controlled, hands-free wearable devices are bringing virtual and augmented reality to field service, training and other uses.                When you’re 100 yards up in the air trying to fix a wind tower in a blowing gale, you don’t want to take a chance that the piece of paper containing your work instructions snags on the pole and blows away. Such pitfalls might be a thing of the past thanks to a new class of industrial wearable devices that is enabling field service personnel to devote both hands to their tasks. The equipment attaches to a hard hat or directly to the wearer’s head, allowing navigation of critical repair data by voice, even when ...
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For Immediate Release                                                            Press Contact: Anne Meerboth-Maltz ameerboth@mdna.com Tel. (312) 781-5185        Fax (312) 781-5188                                                                                                    June 2019                 BRIGHT WORLD OF METALS CONFIRMS LEADING INTERNATIONAL POSITION          The recent staging of the Bright World of Metals, consisting of the four concurrently held trade fairs GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS & NEWCAST, confirmed its position at the world’s most important international platform for the metallurgy and casting ...
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There are many reasons why giving feedback is challenging. Some people shut down after hearing tough feedback, others will actively avoid the person who gave them the feedback, and still others will become angry and lash out. The result can lead to a culture of avoiding feedback altogether. In one study , 44% of managers agreed that giving feedback is often stressful, and in another, 21% admitted to avoiding giving negative feedback, even though research shows feedback can actually make employees more engaged . If it’s difficult for a manager to give feedback, imagine, then, how challenging it must be for employees to give feedback to their manager. ...
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While still in its early phases, 4D printing technology has potential to transform organizations with customized and adaptive solutions for supply chain challenges. We interact with infrastructure all the time — from the pipes that bring water each morning to our shower, to the roads we drive daily to work. Much of the time, it can be easy to forget that these working systems even exist. They simply work. It’s when infrastructure fails that real challenges can arise, from the physical infrastructure we depend on to the kind that underpins modern manufacturing and supply chains. But imagine a scenario where infrastructure can adapt and respond — to use ...
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