Welcome to the newest monthly newsletter offering from MetalForming magazine and PMA. We hope you find it useful and interesting; please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
This regular column from MetalForming magazine provides an inside look at the management styles and techniques of metal forming and fabricating company executives. We’ll share some of their philosophies, their daily challenges and how they face them, and offer additional insights. We hope that you find these interviews useful and can take away some ideas to use at your own company.
Want to be interviewed for this column? E-mail editorial director Brad Kuvin.
This month we invite Jeff Sotok,
executive vice president of global operations at Trans-Matic, to share
his insights. Based in Holland, MI, Trans-Matic was the first deep-draw
metal stamping company in western Michigan. Today, with additional
plants in China and Mexico, it operates high-speed transfer presses from
5 to 600-ton capacity.
“We have aligned the global organization to pursue a couple of ideas, one being investigating various Industry 4.0 disciplines to help improve our performance,” says Sotok. “We worked hard when developing our 2022 strategic plan to illuminate the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of what we want to accomplish, and we also have engaged more people throughout the organization than ever in terms of determining and then executing the ‘how.’”
are, you have key employees that play important roles in your
organization. Having the right tools to recruit, reward, retain and
retire your top talent can help them and your business. Contact us today
to get started.
“I’ve heard (that) manufacturers are cutting back on onboarding and training. But if the problem lies in people leaving within the first 90 days or even the first 12 months, rushing people into the shop isn’t going to solve the problem of getting parts and products shipped on time.”
So writes Laurie Harbour in this month’s love letter to manufacturers, opining that manufacturers should focus less on adding new people—especially the practice of hiring at a faster rate than sales growth—and more on retaining current employees, and on decreasing the time it takes to turn new hires into productive employees.
“Bottom line: Don’t skimp on onboarding and training.”
Industrial, launched in September 2021, is a division of AMSOIL Inc.,
which brings more than 50 years of lubrication formulation and was the
first lubricant company to bring API-certified synthetic lubricants to
market in 1972. AMSOIL Industrial consults with fabricators and metal
stamping operations to optimize production efficiency by employing a
comprehensive lubrication program that starts with a plant audit by
AMSOIL Industrial tribologists and lubrication experts.
“While steel prices have fallen, manufacturers still are reporting delays and shortages for steel that are impacting their ability to fill customer orders,” says Paul Nathanson, senior principal, Policy Resolution Group at Bracewell LLP. “The domestic steel industry’s capacity-utilization rate remains healthy at almost 80 percent.
“While U.S. agreements with the E.U. and Japan to replace steel tariffs with tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) will increase the supply of steel in the United States,” Nathanson continues, “this type of government restriction and intervention often leads to market manipulation and allows for gaming of the system that puts this country’s smallest manufacturers at an even further disadvantage. The disruption in the supply chain caused by the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia is a reminder that the United States should not be placing unnecessary quotas, tariffs or TRQs on our closest allies at a time when we need unity and cooperation among all of our trading partners.”
Michael Davenport, executive director of the Auto/Steel Partnership, offers his perspectives on why he believes that some teams perform better than others during times of massive change, much like what we’ve all experienced these last 2 yr.
“Winning teams,” he writes, “understand their business well enough to know what will drive key decisions. I also think that they stay focused on the fundamentals, those things that built their business, even in the chaos of change. Winning teams leverage the innovations they develop, and they partner with others to benefit from diverse expertise and experiences.”
Read on to learn Davenport’s thoughts on what drives decisions and how to leverage innovation.
“The optimist in our current environment envisions a vibrant workforce eager and engaged in accomplishing goals. Unfortunately, a myriad of factors ranging from rising inflation to global conflict are distracting us from this exciting forecast.”
So goes this online article from Critical Ops, which provides four solid steps that manufacturers can take to help build tomorrow’s workforce. Step one: Prep your workplace. “Recognize a decrease in the workforce, financial stimuli and longer-term delays to debt that must eventually be paid. Address these changes by considering people, processes, technology and data.”
Other steps include completing a skills matrix and reviewing your onboarding processes.
ITR Economics’ Brian Beaulieu, CEO and chief economist, shares his insights into the “slowing growth phase” of the U.S. economy, with this comment:
“The current uncomfortably high rate of inflation will diminish as we go through the bulk of 2022 and likely the first half of 2023.”
Among his suggestions to manufacturers:
“Vendors will be pushing through price increases in 2022 wherever possible. It is likely that your best opportunity to push through price increases to your customers will be sooner in 2022 rather than later.
advantage of member-exclusive rates on LTL (less-than-truckload)
shipping. Yellow has one of the largest, most comprehensive
transportation networks in North America with local, regional, and
Keynote presentation from Laurie Harbour. As one of the industry’s most respected leaders, Laurie utilizes her experience and industry data to look back over the past couple of years to see how the industry has evolved while providing upcoming challenges and opportunities for 2022 and beyond.
Network with peers and leading industry suppliers in person, while
also viewing exhibits on the latest technologies impacting the industry.
General-session presentations on metal stamping and lubrication technology.
Ten breakout sessions—you choose the right presentations for you.
Join PMA and MetalForming magazine on Thursday, March 31, 2 PM EDT, for a free 1-hr. webinar explaining how an upgrade in MES software can help manufacturing leaders recruit a qualified workforce. The webinar features a case-study presentation with Ram Precision, explaining how its investment in StartProto’s easy to use MES has allowed the company to make the jump to a completely paperless operation, capturing the valuable knowledge of its current workforce and making the company a highly attractive place for young and talented workers to start their careers. In addition, by using the documentation and routing tools built into StartProto, Ram Precision eliminated bottlenecks in its processes and cross-trained existing employees, increasing shop throughput by 35 percent.
With the costs of “nuclear verdicts” continuing to rise, your business may be on the line should an employee suffer a devastating company-vehicle crash. Advice offered here by Federated Insurance: Train employees properly and create a strong company driving policy to help avoid crashes and keep your employees—and your business—safe. The blog offers tips for creating a strong driving policy, and notes: “Communicate, demonstrate and enforce your policy.”
Employee handbooks only serve as sound communication and reference tools when they’re used and not merely collecting dust on some physical (or digital) shelf. The website of AllMyHR, a team of professional and credentialed human-resource advisors, offers advice on how to develop, and then use, an employee handbook. And it includes tips on keeping the handbook compliant.
Here’s a taste: Communicate to employees what general behaviors and procedures are expected of them. These include general safety responsibilities, confidentiality expectations, timekeeping processes, reporting procedures, dress codes and any other ways of doing things at your organization.
For the next several months, Plante Moran will host a series of monthly webinars on Industry 4.0—the benefits of its tenets and how to create an actionable plan for success. The first in the series occurred March 3 and covered key features and benefits of Industry 4.0. The series continues April 7 with a presentation on building a strategic foundation for manufacturing excellence.