Tag Archives: US Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma

As business and manufacturing has changed over the years, a greater focus has been made by companies to do a better job eliminating waste and redundant processes that are adding cost and slowing down production.  This business methodology is known as lean manufacturing, and it is a systematic method for eliminating waste within a manufacturing system.  At Tella Tool, as a leading custom job shop, with state-of-the-art capabilities, we have been taking steps to implement lean manufacturing as well as Six Sigma.

Six Sigma is a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in the manufacturing process.   It works by identifying and removing the defects in the manufacturing process, as well as by minimizing the variables that exist in the process that can lead to process delays, and additional costs and expenses.  Developed by great thinkers like Bill Smith, Mikel Harry, Shingo and Taguchi, it has a history of success in creating profitable and efficient companies.  The steps that make up the framework of Six Sigma are as follows:

D – Define

M – Measure

A – Analyze

D – Design

V – Verify

These steps are applied to improving any existing processes to “entitlement”, or perfection

At Tella Tool we have been working to implement the Six Sigma methodology to streamline our processes and make our business more efficient.  We started by reviewing our historical data, and then created a plan to collect baseline data that will be used to gage the project’s success.  An overview of process mapping, data types, operational definitions and measurement system analysis was worked on to create a foundation to work with.  A process map was created which was verified by walking through the process on the manufacturing floor, also known as GEMBA.  By walking the floor and observing the processes in action, many ideas were conceived and additions were made to our lessons learned log.  We also have learned the importance of operational definitions and data collection plans, which have helped to uncover many unknowns that would have created trouble late in the collection phase, rather than now when it is easy to change in the planning stage.

While changes to implement lean manufacturing and Six Sigma are ongoing, the benefits to our long term business will be immense.  To learn more about our manufacturing process improvements, and about capabilities, contact us here.

A CALL FOR QUALIFIED WORKERS: TELLA TOOL INVESTIGATES THE STATE OF MANUFACTURING & STEM

Imagine a manufacturing unit work floor. The machines are huge and archaic. And they turn workers into just another cog in the system facilitating rote jobs. In fact their presence is a nod to the company’s policy of retaining human employees. The truth is the computer is enough to get everything done!

Now turn the clock forward to 2016 and take a look at the global economy. Offshoring is no longer as lucrative as it used to be. Enterprises are returning to the US soil in record numbers and they need talent to get their factories operational. And lean production paradigms like Six Sigma are creating factories that are equipped with cutting edge technological advancements to minimize wastage. Machining is no longer a push button operation. Each unit comes with its own level of challenges requiring skilled craftsman with backgrounds in mathematics, metrology, metallurgy, and machining to ensure defect free final products. If the Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production survey is to be believed, punch and leave employees now make up just 26% of the workforce. 34% of the labor is now skilled and qualified. And the need of such white collar specialists will only grow with time.

Let’s Take a Look at STEM:

The skill gap in US is no secret. There are more available jobs in the manufacturing sector than there are potential candidates. And this is why many industries have to contend with employees who are not a good fit for the positions they are accepted into.

The country needs more young minds in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics collectively known as STEM. Currently only 5% of US laborers are engaged in jobs that require STEM knowledge. And 40% of students who plan to graduate in STEM disciplines end up choosing something else.

The problem lies in the image of STEM fields and manufacturing. They are both viewed as difficult, uninteresting and unrewarding. This perception has to be revised. Students need to be shown that a STEM background can allow them to earn roughly two times more than their peers in other disciplines and that manufacturing is now a futuristic space with potential for real growth and perks down the line.

Tella Tool Supports STEM & Manufacturing:

As market leaders in precision metal stampings, assemblies, fabricating and CNC machining, Tella Tool is proud to wholeheartedly support STEM endeavors and practices such as Manufacturing Week. To know more about our values and our services, contact us here.

U.S. Reshoring and Innovation Hubs

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It seems that only yesterday the United States biggest problem was lack of exported materials, excess of imported goods, and an influx of outsourced jobs. But today, with pressure from rising manufacturing costs in China, the U.S. manufacturing industry is coming home. This trend is in part due to a program proposed by the White House that centers around the concept of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes.

Also called “innovation hub,” these are public-private centers made up of industry leaders, universities, and the federal government and paid by an initial government 5-year investment matched by corporate or educational partners. It’s goal? Not only to spur the manufacturing industry within U.S. borders but also increase the rate of production for innovative solutions. The Obama administration modeled the program after Germany’s Fraunhofer Society but while the German program already has 67 institutions, the U.S. is starting with 45.

The first institute opened in 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio with a focus in additive manufacturing and 3D printing and there are more to come. While it is a relatively young program, it has a large amount of stakeholders and those in the manufacturing industry are already commending it. Vicki Holt, the CEO of Proto Labs, a “quick-turn” manufacturer of plastic and metal prototype parts, expressed support for the program, “The future of our industry lies in the integration of hardware and advanced software to maximize the efficiency, quality and affordability of manufacturing processes…Leveraging the innovation of the American software community is the key to making American manufacturing competitive once again.

While its not certain whether these programs or other factors like higher costs in China, the North American Energy Boom, or just general confidence are to blame for the rise in manufacturing, they seem to have a positive impact on various industries. The Institute for Supply Management released a monthly business report showing the increase of 15 out of 18 manufacturing industries in the month of June. Not only that, but an index based on five different industry indicators showed that American manufacturing has been steadily increasing for 13 continuous months and these programs are likely to keep that trend moving. What do you think is driving this increase in U.S. manufacturing? Share or let us know your thoughts!