Volume 12 Number 7 - July 8, 2014


You can't read any manufacturing journal without hearing ad nauseam about the skills gap we face. When supply chain leaders outsourced from the US, one of the unintended (but predictable) consequences was domestic expertise moving to other industries. Now that those same supply chain folks are sourcing back this direction, we have headlines for all the industry journals.

It's a little late to say chasing the holy grail of cheap labor was fools gold (how's that for metaphors!). The question now is how do we retain and multiply the knowledge we still have. The "knowledge organization" and the "learning organization" are great phrases, and in some cases accurate, but the vast majority of manufacturers are having difficulty finding ready resources.

If you are not familiar with Training Within Industry (TWI), become so. This methodology was used during WWII to teach Rosie to rivet, and is in the public domain. While the module I am recommending to you is primarily used for training, the first step is to create the job breakdown sheet. This requires documenting each important step, the key points about each step, and the reasons for the key points. Most work instructions list steps, but fail to document the critical key points and reasons. Those last two issues are what separate work and expertise.

I encourage a quick internet search on TWI, and on TWI Job Breakdown Sheet specifically. Capture this indicated information from your existing experts and then use it (and the entire TWI training process) to develop less skilled workers. Bringing in a TWI expert is always an option, but YouTube videos can get you started now. I doubt you have much time to waste.


While 3D printing capabilities have existed for years, giant strides recently have been made in quality definitions, new materials processing, and speed. While I used to see the technology only in prototype shops, I've watched a room full of machines laying down hundreds of parts in more than one manufacturing operation this year.

If you are in the business of supplying small difficult-to-mold or -machine parts, your operations strategy better be on top of the technology. Or your business strategy better be examining new markets.

If you are currently purchasing parts that could be successfully made using 3D printing technologies, why add the delay and mark-up of an outside supplier?

3D printing has been around so long that it can hardly be considered breakthrough, but the combination of new capabilities and critical mass is poised to wallop many supply chains. While some disasters are unpredictable, this coming storm has been visible for a long time.

The Starting Pistol

John Ruskin:
"I'd rather lose myself in passion than lose my passion.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"which is why work-life balance is an oxymoron for me; my work and my life are integrated so my multiple passions are integrated as well."

August 14, 2014: Tonawanda NY: Effectively cascading strategy to the shop floor is not easy. Invest a day learning at Hebeler Corporation in the Connecting Hoshin Kanri and Daily Shop Floor Management AME workshop. After the plant tour, discuss the tools that Hebeler is using, what they've learned along the way, and then brainstorm ways to improve the effectiveness of these visual management tools utilizing Gemba Walks, Leader Standard Work and Daily Huddles.

August 19, 2014: Chicago IL: Productivity Press is sponsoring Norman Bodek in "One Day Introduction to the Harada Method Workshop" Norman is one of the few remaining guys to have invested time with Shingo and Ohno and will share his understanding of the powerful Harada Method for developing people day-to-day.

October 19-21, 2014: New Orleans, LA: The annual APICS conference starts Sunday morning and ends Tuesday evening, with multiple general sessions and presentations in between. Tracks include S&OP, Supply Chain Risk, Supply Chain Innovation and several other important topic areas. Certification points are awarded for attendance.

November 10-14, 2014: Jacksonville FL: The annual AME international Excellence Inside conference will have outstanding presentations, workshops, keynotes and tours that attract over 2000 attendees each year. This is the first time it will be held in the SouthEast United States since 2001. Arrive early to enjoy the Sunday and Monday evening networking events, including a cruise along the river.

Image Map