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People, Not 3D Printers, the Most Valuable Assets at On-Demand Manufacturer

When I found out one of IndustryWeek’s scheduled plant tours in Raleigh for our recent conference was going to be at an on-demand 3D printing manufacturer, Protolabs, I knew what I had to do: Demand I be the tour guide. I thought of all the reasons I needed to go, from seeing all the high-tech machines to seeing cool processes such as stereolithography (SLA) up close to a recent chat with Protolabs CEO Vicki Holt. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to storm into my boss’s office like a cop show detective would to present my evidence, as evidently, I’m the technology writer and was the going to go anyway. Once I got to the rural one-floor facility, I received another pleasant surprise. The most impr

Rutgers study touts benefits of ESOPs

The average worker at companies that offer an Employee Stock Ownership Plan has accumulated $134,000 from his or her stake, a new Rutgers study found. Researchers Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations shared the study, which has yet to be published, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., during the drafting of the Main Street Employee Ownership Act. The bill, co-sponsored by several senators including New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, would make it easier for retiring business owners to sell their business to their workers via an ESOP. The bill passed in the House of Represe

RACC receives grant for manufacturing job training

Reading Area Community College will receive funding to provide young adults with basic manufacturing production and employability skills to help them get jobs with area manufacturers, Gov. Tom Wolf's office announced Thursday. "One of the most important ways we can strengthen our manufacturing sector is by providing Pennsylvanians with the skills they need - both on-the-job and employability skills - to help them begin successful careers in manufacturing," Wolf said in a statement. "By working hand-in-hand with local partners and employers, RACC's new program will serve as a key initiative to support local manufacturers and strengthen the regional workforce." The grant will provide $143,000

A Roadmap for Pushing Manufacturing Forward

A sector once thought to be on its last legs continues to surprise. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 24,000 manufacturing jobs were added in April. This suggests that despite the sea change happening for businesses today—driven by fluctuating commodities, tariff wars and trade standoffs—manufacturing remains a reliable economic engine. From my point of view, developed over decades spent on factory floors around the world, we’ll continue to see growth in the sector. For guidance on how to stay competitive and weather market fluctuations, I invite business leaders to observe the dynamic and consistent growth of manufacturing industry. First, let’s talk about the

How Smart Manufacturing Apprenticeships Can Give Students College Alternatives

Manufacturers face several technology issues around robotics, automation, and modernizing their operations, but the biggest challenge may be finding skilled workers who can maintain the smart factory of the future. One group aiming to help companies facing such shortages is Catalyst Connection, a non-profit economic development organization based in Pittsburgh whose focus includes manufacturing apprenticeships. Petra Mitchell, president and CEO of Catalyst Connection, said one way for manufacturers to address the skill shortage is through employer-led apprenticeship programs. “We think that for young adults or job seekers, apprenticeship programs are a great way to have a great career, with

Inclusion & Industry 4.0 - Chicago

On June 6, labor, workforce, community, business, and political leaders will come together to develop an action plan to revitalize manufacturing in the Chicago region and support the needs of diverse communities. Hear remarks from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, other major regional leaders, and new research presented by The Century Foundation and the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that examines the untapped potential of manufacturing to expand economic opportunities for diverse communities. Industry 4.0 envisions a fourth industrial revolution that harnesses the power of technology and this summit aims to place diverse communities at the hea

Historic merger: $11 billion Wabtec, GE deal sees future in railroads

The first major move in General Electric's great unwinding targeted the Pittsburgh region on Monday, with the troubled conglomerate sending its century-old transportation business to a Wilmerding company that has an even longer legacy in the rail industry. Wabtec Corp. has signed a $11 billion deal to merge with GE Transportation and fold the operation into its ever-growing empire of rail products and services. The combination is expected to more than double Wabtec's annual revenues to $8 billion and create a Fortune 500 transportation company with 27,000 employees spread across 50 countries. The companies anticipate the deal — subject to a number of regulatory reviews, as well as approval b

State to help fund Ephrata manufacturer's $2.4M expansion

More than $600,000 in state funds will help Spartan Motors Inc. expand its truck-body manufacturing facility in Ephrata to handle incoming work from the U.S. Postal Service. The $2.4 million expansion project is expected to create some 189 new full-time jobs over the next three years, according to a press release issued Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf's office. Spartan is upgrading its current site to fulfill a $214 million contract with the U.S. Postal Service. The company is being asked to manufacture 2,000 delivery vehicles, the company said. "I applaud Spartan for expanding its Ephrata facility, which will provide a significant boost to the Lancaster-area economy and provide hundreds of manufa

How My High School FIRST Robotics Team STEMpunk Used Lean to Build a Winning Robot

For the last five years I’ve been part of a team of students named STEMpunk, building robots that compete in the global FIRST Robotics Competition. For four of those years our robots regularly ranked in the lower third of the 55-plus teams at our regional competitions. But this year, after our leadership group used lean methodology to transform the way we build robots, our machine ranked second overall at the regional in Lacrosse, Wisc. You could say our team completely agrees that our new lean management approach will be a constant feature in our future. It all started with an internship opportunity last year. As part of our team’s relationship with our sponsor, Vollrath Company, I was hire

Operational Objectives for a Business

Operational objectives differ from strategic objectives in that they focus more on “how” than “what.” For example, a business might decide it needs to improve profits by improving its margins, rather than increasing sales. It would pursue this strategic goal using operational objectives targeted at reducing overhead or manufacturing costs, changing the way the business operates in those areas. Improved Staffing Operational objectives in the human resources department help meet strategic goals such as improved recruiting, retention and labor cost management. An example of an operational objective to reduce labor costs is to improve scheduling. This helps reduce labor costs by avoiding overtim

Pennsylvania News: Governor Wolf Announces New Funding to Expand Machining, Welding Training Program

HARRISBURG, PA – Today, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf announced the approval of new funding to the Precision Manufacturing Institute (PMI) in Crawford County to enhance its manufacturing training programs by adding more advanced training and placing an additional focus on employability skills that prospective workers need to get a job in manufacturing. “The purpose of the new Manufacturing PA initiative is to listen to our partners and employers in the manufacturing sector to identify their greatest areas of need, and then provide support that will address that need,” Governor Wolf said. “This funding to the Precision Manufacturing Institute is a great example of how the private and public sect

STEM Scholars

While today’s teens are surrounded by technology, there is a major shortage of students pursuing academic and career paths in STEM related fields. In fact, data demonstrates that U.S. students are falling behind their global peers when it comes to both the technical skills they are developing and their likelihood to pursue a career in STEM. The industries that will power our economy require a workforce skilled in STEM disciplines. If the U.S. is to be a leader in the STEM fields, its must produce approximately one million more workers in those fields over the next decade. The U.S. Chamber Foundation partners with EverFi, an education technology company that brings critical skills to students

Manufacturers group holds 'out of this world' event

Manufacturing is on the move in South Central Pennsylvania, with the sector at its highest employment since the recession, according to industry professionals. And over the last year, manufacturing in Central Pennsylvania has had an impact beyond the commonwealth. In fact, some local industries are supporting jobs that are out of this world, literally. That impact was celebrated during the regional Manufacturers' Association's annual conference Wednesday night. Now in its 112th year, the event recognizes the importance of the manufacturing industry, commends a few association members and encourages participation in the association’s and the industry’s endeavors. It was held at Penn State Yor

Manufacturing initiative open for students

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the opening of a new fellowship program through his Manufacturing PA Initiative designed to partner Pennsylvania’s best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students with local manufacturers to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide. “While exploring all the ways in which we could advance technology and innovation in the manufacturing sector, we realized that some of our best resources are the minds and enthusiasm of our students,” Wolf said. “By helping connect these students with manufacturers and giving them a real-world application for their research, we’re giving manufacturing companies greater ability to harness young talent to develop tra

10 Critical Cash Flow Rules

Cash flow problems can kill businesses that might otherwise survive. According to a U.S. Bank study, 82 percent of business failures are due to poor cash management. To prevent this from happening to your business, here are my 10 cash flow rules to remember. 1. Profits aren't cash; they're accounting. And accounting is a lot more creative than you think. You can't pay bills with profits. Actually profits can lull you to sleep. If you pay your bills and your customers don't, it's suddenly business hell. You can make profits without making any money. 2. Cash flow isn't intuitive. Don't try to do it in your head. Making the sales doesn't necessarily mean you have the money. Incurring the expens

Wolf Launches New Fellowship Program to Connect Students and Manufacturers to Advance Innovation in

HARRISBURG – On Tuesday Gov. Tom Wolf announced the opening of a new fellowship program through his Manufacturing PA Initiative. It’s designed to partner Pennsylvania’s best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students with local manufacturers to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide. “While exploring all the ways in which we could advance technology and innovation in the manufacturing sector, we realized that some of our best resources are the minds and enthusiasm of our students,” Wolf said. “By helping connect these students with manufacturers and giving them a real-world application for their research, we’re giving manufacturing companies greater ability to harne

Tired of Your Cubicle? Try a Trade

After Hannah Grey of Pittsburgh earned an undergraduate degree in interior design, she spent several years working for an architectural firm as a commercial interior designer. “I enjoyed it,” she said, “but it was definitely more of a desk job.” Then she participated in a workshop for architects and designers. “The basis of the program was to show us how the blueprints we design actually translate to real life,” said Ms. Grey, 38. It kicked in her memories of growing up in Bedford, Mass., in a mansard-style house built in 1840 and learning from her father how to repair and restore woodwork. “It was a fun thing I did with him, working with my hands and helping him fix things,” she said. So in

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