4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017

With the holiday season now behind us, it’s time to look ahead at what 2017 has in store for the future of the manufacturing industry. 2016 ended on a high note, bringing with it speculation of good things to come for the year ahead. With that in mind, we created a list of four possible game changers the manufacturing enthusiast should keep an eye on in the New Year.

An Increase In Pricing of Metal Commodities:

The most recent ISM (Institute for Supply Management) manufacturing Report on Business noted that steel—in addition to other metals such as copper, aluminum and brass—has been rising in price since the index first registered scores of above 50 back in 2016. For reference, a score above 50 in the index signifies a period of stabilization for the industry. Given that both the ISM index and the price of metal commodities have shown signs of continuous growth over the past six months, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to assume there is some degree of correlation in play. Tracking the price of metals and other raw materials can serve as a benchmark for the industry’s performance ahead of the ISM’s regularly scheduled reports. Continue reading 4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017

How To Guarantee Safety Guidelines Are Followed In Your Factory

In 2015, worker injuries and illnesses went down-from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.0. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration—which is a subdivision of the US Department of Labor—plays a large part in guaranteeing that this statistic continues to follow a downward trend.

In an attempt to maintain this statistic and ensure that their workplace is in accordance with National and State labor laws, many companies have started to reshape the way safety is defined in their culture.

About two years ago, National Grid Electric & Gas reevaluated the steps they were taking to build a safer working environment; of the many things they found, one aspect in particular caught our interest: although employee safety reports were conducted on a weekly basis, their lack of visual engagement was hindering communication efforts—something that was particularly troubling to members of National Grid’s management team.

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5 Must-Have Products For Your Factory on World Quality Month

November is World Quality Month. What started in Japan in the 1960s to help build awareness for quality control, has now gown to the point where World Quality Month is now celebrated across the globe to encourage businesses to strive for continuous improvement.

Here at Magnatag Visible Systems, continuous improvement is part of our DNA. For over 50 years, we’ve been supplying manufacturers with tools built to reinforce the importance of strategic improvement.

To get in the spirit of the event, we created a list of some must-have products for anyone that is serious about taking their quality control to the next level.

KPI Monthly Scoreboards

Performance tracking metrics are crucial to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. With the help of Mangatag’s monthly KPI scoreboards, you can track and communicate the performance of your factory on both a daily and monthly basis. All of our KPI scoreboards are packaged with double-sided green/red magnets to indicate whether or not performance goals are being met. Continue reading 5 Must-Have Products For Your Factory on World Quality Month

How To Prevent Important Tasks From Being Forgotten

The Easton, Redding, and Region 9 school district is a tri-district located in Easton, Connecticut made up of five schools: Redding Elementary, Samuel Staples Elementary, Hellen Keller Middle, John Read Middle, and Joel Barlow High School—all of which fall directly under the supervision of Walter Czudak.

Working as the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Mr. Czudak is responsible for at least 250,000 square feet of educational facilities. With jobs ranging in difficulty from changing a few light bulbs, to overseeing the installation of a centralized air unit, the typical day for your average Director of Buildings and Grounds is anything but relaxed.

Earlier this year, the district came under hot water when two separate boilers located in the elementary and high school were installed and inspected, but local permits for the units were never acquired.

While the boiler issue was solved quickly, Mr. Czudak believes the issue could have been avoided if his team was better prepared to handle the multiple step process.

“The boilers came in, but our local inspection never came through. There are so many steps to the entire installation process and we let the permits slip through the cracks. When you’re dealing with two entirely different facilities, it’s easy to have actionable items fall off the radar in favor of one thing or another. ”

As a precautionary measure, Mr. Czudak recently contacted our team at Magnatag Visible Systems to help create a reliable means of tracking actionable data for his facility. Using the working concept of a Work-In-Progress board, the goal was to design a visual display board that would prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.

With the help of one of Magnatag’s many Visual Systems Specialists (life-long Magnatag employees that specialize in creating visual systems that work), the school district was directed towards the company’s Do-Done StepTracker Whiteboard.WalterDDXT

The StepTracker whiteboard provides users with the ability to actively track projects in real time as they progress along a series of steps in a project. Using red/green double-sided magnets to mark when a step has been completed, the system enables users to accurately standardize project communication status.

“I wanted to create something that could keep everyone on the same page. With so many things going on across all five schools at any given time, the real challenge is keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest progressions. Ideally, a Principal or Superintendent should be able to walk into one of our facilities and know exactly what is going on.”

Prior to contacting Magnatag, Mr. Czudak did not have a visual system for tracking steps of internal projects. Project status was kept within multiple files spread across all five buildings making status updates a nightmare.

With an updated form of tracking—and customized headlines built to cover every step of the state and local government’s guidelines—Mr. Czudak’s newest addition to the district’s permitting process will provide his staff with an added measure of assurance.

Visit our website for more information on how you can design a StepTracker whiteboard for your own use.


Obeya: The Brain of the Lean Enterprise

We recently came across an article in the September/October issue of Industry Week Magazine that talks about Obeya. The article describes an Obeya as a centralized hub used for coordinating production and problem solving. Outfitted with visuals like charts, graphs, and trackers; Obeya’s are an essential part of managing and coordinating lean manufacturing efforts, functioning as a bridge between departments.

Many Factory Managers call upon our expertise in visualization of real-time data to help aid in the development of their manufacturing cycles, and after taking a look at some of the examples of Obyea’s included in Industry Week’s article, it came to our attention that many of the visual management tools that are used to track production requirements are some of Magnatag’s most popular products.

As seen in the photo attatched to the article, Magnatag produces many of the magnetic ChartHolders, supplies and accessories used in rooms of this type. Click here for the link to the article!


5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

There’s the famous saying that goes a little something like: “If you want to have a happy life, you’re best to leave your work at work.” While that may remain true for most right-minded individuals, the reality of the situation at hand is that it’s not always possible. Some people work irregular hours, forcing them to conflict personal time with their hectic work life. Others may find themselves in a different situation entirely: working from home to best combat the harsh reality of two full-time working parents. Regardless of what the situation at hand may be, it helps to have access to a workplace that feels comfortable and inviting. By inserting yourself an environment that feels homey, you’re inherently easing the natural tension that comes with the territory of a typical workplace.

The idea of creating a “natural” workplace seems to be a rather vague goal; after all, what exactly goes into making a workplace feel “natural” anyways? A good place to start is by keeping your office tidy and organized. As a company that manufactures a variety of dry erase boards that can help you better organize your workplace, we like to think we have a pretty good idea as to what works when it comes to the ins and outs of organizing your office. That’s why we’ve put together a list of six tips for cleaning your workspace using the 6S methods our customers live by.

Seiri (Sorting)

The first step of any cleaning initiative should involve eliminating clutter from the designated area. The same can be said for the manufacturing industry as well; if your shop floor has a collection of unused machinery or unused shelf space, you’d want to get rid of it, wouldn’t you? So go ahead and pick up the stack of papers that have been sitting in the corner of your desk for the past six months, they are only adding to the problem.

Continue reading 5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

How To Crush The Language Barrier Between Departments In Your Organization

Every industry develops its own set of words and phrases. Whether you’re a lawyer, production manager, executive, accountant, or engineer, you’ll encounter catchphrases and trade names on a daily—if not hourly—basis. Frequently used as a method to help us communicate complex or multifaceted items quickly and efficiently, industry slang is a great device for the sake of simplicity in the workplace. The thing about industry-specific terms and phrases is that they carry an enormous amount weight for people familiar with the trade. The only downside is: they’re not universally understood.

How many times have you found yourself in a meeting and heard one of these phrases and felt slightly embarrassed for of asking what that stood for? It’s not necessarily words that trip us up, but the thought process and industry specificity of them that ultimately trips us up. In cases like these, a lack of base-level communication creates anxiety among professionals and can even lead to frustration at times. Imagine how much more productive you would be if you could bridge this communication gap. Well, some companies are setting out to do just that.

We recently caught up with Henry Jacobson, Product Manager of Pulsafeeder, to inquire about the difficulties he faces when aligning the sales, marketing, and engineering departments that work as a collective. Pulsafeeder is one of the few manufacturers that specialize in highly engineered chemical injection pumps—think chemical processing plants or wastewater treatment centers. Part of Henry’s responsibilities as a Product Manager is to strategize a roadmap for Pulsafeeder’s products, defining their purpose and position in the marketplace; this requires a constant need for simultaneous collaboration between members of every department in their organization. When speaking to us in regards to his duties as a Product Manager, Henry also made note of the distinct language barrier that can be found between different departments of a company.

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Why Allocating Time To Think Is The Right Move For Your Lean Program

A crucial part of running a successful business is your organization’s willingness to grow. In recent years, a variety of industries have turned to the likes of Lean Six Sigma in an effort to strengthen and develop their organizational culture. By keying in on the coveted methodology that relies heavily upon the principals of continuous improvement and strong leadership, many leaders envision breaking away from their lackluster performance goals in favor of achieving significant results. Unfortunately, over 80% of all lean startups—regardless of industry—end with a failure.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” Denis Waitley   

I’ve seen some people in the lean community reference the quote above, specifically when discussing a lean journey that’s gone south. The point to be made is that even in points of failure, there is something to be gained. The only way to truly fail at something is by making an active effort to avoid searching for answers.

Continue reading Why Allocating Time To Think Is The Right Move For Your Lean Program

4 Lessons For The Lean Thinker: As Told By Jedi Master Yoda

Today is the fourth of May, or a day better known by Star Wars Fans as May the fourth… Say the date out loud and you will quickly catch on to the pun that sparked a worldwide phenomenon a long time ago. Every year millions of individuals around the world gather to take part in a daylong event celebrating everything Star Wars. As 24-hour movie marathons and celebration parades set to take place throughout the day, we figured we could join in on this year’s celebration by taking a few pointers from master Yoda himself.

Yoda has shared some great anecdotes throughout the history of the saga, many of which, can be applied directly to the lean manufacturing process. So we took some of the character’s most famous quotes and analyzed them through the perspective of a lean thinker. Along with the help of one of the industry’s leading thought provokers about lean, Mark Graban, we’re happy to present a list of four prophetic Star Wars quotes that can help guide lean thinkers on their quest to find True North.

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What you Need To Know About Your Lean & Agile Manufacturing Efforts

The demand from consumers for new products with customized options has never been greater. As a result, the manufacturing marketplace has become extremely volatile, with new technologies and methods arising every year. Over the past decade, many manufacturing managers have adopted a Lean process as the standardized method for organizing their factory workflows.

What originally started in the world of software development as a way to keep up with ever-changing customer needs and irregular product development cycles, Agile manufacturing has recently become a go to method for product design and development processing. The topical debate between Agile and Lean production methods has taken on a greater importance to North American manufacturers, as many industry experts have been begging the question of whether or not Agile production methods can truly be seen as an evolutionary step forward for production processing.

It is easy to understand why the agile manufacturing process may be appealing to some companies: it gives you an advantage when dealing with customer requirements, while giving you a competitive edge in an ever-evolving marketplace. Continue reading What you Need To Know About Your Lean & Agile Manufacturing Efforts