Effectively Harness Technology to Improve Risk Management Performance

By Davide Vassallo and Ward Metzler

The implementation of management systems to improve performance in areas such as quality, safety and environmental management has been a common approach by manufacturers during the past 30 years. Now that these management systems are in place within many industries, there exists an opportunity to further improve performance through the effective use of technology and data analysis.


Truly understanding data requires more than looking at spreadsheets

By Theodore P.A. Haenlein

Too often we resort to densely populated spreadsheets to tell us what we really need to know about our business. This is especially critical for small businesses since miss-reading the signals from data for even one day can be a fatal failure. So how do we really understand what our data is telling us?

Those who understand the need to track/measure performance over time will be a step ahead of mere single-date spreadsheet analysis. They will often setup a run chart based on time so they can look for any performance trends around the key performance indicators. The problem is that the high or low points on the run charts almost demand a reaction from leadership. Often, we respond without any knowledge of whether we will be or were effective in changing the performance when we do react. We learn over time, that most often, there is no cause and effect relationship between what we think the data is telling us, how we respond to it and the changes that may or may not be noticed in subsequent data points. Yet there is a simple way to become very confident and knowledgeable in what the data is really telling you.

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Photo credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University 

A new education robot will be commercialized to address the need for coding education. 

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is commercializing Root, its educational robot, through a newly formed startup, Root Robotics Inc. The independent company aims to transform the way coding abilities are developed in children from an early age and then progress through all age groups. This follows a worldwide licensing agreement between Harvard's Office of Technology Development (OTD) and the startup for the use of the Wyss Institute's code-teaching robot and its accompanying programming environment.

Although computing is among the fastest-growing disciplines in the STEM fields, coding education is significantly lagging behind industry demand. "All parents are being faced with a simple question: how will my kids learn coding," says Zivthan Dubrovsky, co-founder and CEO of Root Robotics, and former engineering staff lead at the Wyss Institute, who helped develop the technology. "Schools are struggling to figure out how to fit coding into their curriculum. As a father of three daughters, I struggled with this question as well. We created Root to help parents like me teach their children coding in a fun and engaging way."


Leaders in STEM education are being recognized for their work to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. 

UL and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) awarded five 2017 ULIEA winners with a combined $250,000 (USD) in recognition grants for furthering environmental education via STEM principles (E-STEM).

The Chicago Botanic Garden's Science Career Continuum took the $100,000 grand prize for its work fostering the next generation of environmental and conservation scientists. By engaging Chicago public middle and high schoolers in a summer science immersion program, Science Career Continuum paves the way to studying science in college. Participating students who go on to receive undergraduate degrees can apply for professional research initiative opportunities and can apply for internships. Students can also apply to Northwestern University, as the Garden partners with the institution to offer a Master's and Doctorate degree in Plant Biology and Conservation.

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Be careful taking on a lean transformation during a recession

By Peter Anthony

The use of lean manufacturing methodology is a best practice in automotive manufacturing circles and crucial to success at UGN. Focus on scaling efficient, effective processes during an upturn means you are armed with a lean and disciplined organization when tough times come along. In 2002, we went lean and as a result, were well-positioned for the recession. In fact, in 2010, revenues grew by $100 million in a year.

It Pays to Plan Ahead

In an effort to prepare for a recession, and weather its effects, manufacturing organizations—or any high-yield business—need to adapt and build for sustainability and competitiveness. In today’s economy, company leaders who don’t plan every day for a downturn are extremely naive.


Canada is investing in Manitoba to expand aerospace and factory training, and ensure the growth of the local economy. 

Encouraging the global competitiveness of Canada's aerospace industry is a priority for the Government of Canada. Working with local partners, the country aims to benefit from the creation of well-paying middle class jobs and targeted skills development as a result of a $10 million investment.

The investment was announced by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), through the Western Diversification Program at Red River College (RRC). These funds will expand the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT) and create a new space at RRC's Notre Dame Campus, dubbed the Smart Factory.


Industry 4.0: A Radical Shift in Mindset and Investment in Human Capital

By Dr. Denis Maier     

Industry 4.0 is not another buzzword that can be waited out like some other management trends in the past. It is real and will fundamentally change the way we produce goods and provide services, just like the other three industrial revolutions did before. A closer look at the state of American manufacturing reveals that the current course of many companies needs to be corrected to leverage the opportunities and to remain a key competitive player in the global marketplace.

What is so different about Industry 4.0?

Recent studies show that there will be a significant growth of robots in our factories. The new generation of robots is much more advanced, easier to program and costs a fraction of the previous ones. These robots will allow for further efficiencies through replacing more human tasks. There will be less and less direct tasks left for workers and the pressure to integrate higher skilled, indirect tasks like quality assurance, maintenance and logistics will grow. We are in the middle of the next industrial revolution that ideally builds on Lean Manufacturing with streamlined processes and takes it seamlessly to the next level towards more digitization.



Overcoming recruiting and retention challenges

By Beth Mathison and Deb Schultz

Although there is not one silver bullet to achieve success for your organization’s recruitment and retention efforts, there are key areas you can focus on. To be successful in these areas requires an open mind and new ways of looking at old problems. How well is your organization overcoming these challenges? What can your team do? Be ready to change fundamental processes for job postings, applications, interviews, competitive compensation, benchmarking, addressing internal equity issues, training and onboarding – especially if you want to differentiate your organization from others.  

The recruiting problem: The war for talent is over…the candidates won!

If you believe, as we do, in the bold new view that the war for talent is over…the candidates won, you may realize your organization needs to have a candidate-friendly recruiting process that is both transparent and quick to navigate. In our 2017 Industrial & Production Trades Survey, 78 percent of participants indicated there are just not enough qualified candidates to fill openings. Our data shows that 69 percent of respondents are experiencing difficulty in recruiting! In addition to a lack of qualified candidates, other primary reasons for the difficulty point to market competition, high demand, a technical skills gap and lack of experience. 

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