Impact Dakota Blog is a blog dedicated to supporting North Dakota’s manufacturing community improve People, Purpose, Processes and Performance. Entries provide information on opportunities, new ideas, quick tips, celebrations of success, and well, frankly, anything to help you become a better manufacturer.
Outside of the racetrack, could the NASCAR pit stop be the answer to exciting young people about manufacturing? Could you use lessons from NASCAR to improve your company’s teamwork? Racing can inspire us to see how manufacturing is truly a work of art, remind us that from large parts to small, manufacturing powers racing – and our lives and see how racing teams are the future of our workplace. If you want your company to be lightning quick and capture your own spot on the manufacturing podium, consider the value of integrated teams. And if you’re an educator working to inspire young people, consider using the racing experience as a way to excite students about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
The manufacturing industry continues to be at high cyber risk as a result of global competition and geopolitical tensions. Companies up and down the supply chain are demanding more transparency into their customers’ and suppliers’ reliability in order to mitigate risks from disruptions. Some are starting to require cybersecurity assurances, a trend that will only gain momentum. Enforcing cybersecurity standards will ultimately protect U.S. innovation and competitiveness. Learn how manufacturers can be proactive in their preparedness.
In the current job market, people have many options, and that does not change when you hire them. New hires want to feel welcome. They want to understand what they are being asked to do and why. They want to be a part of something bigger than a specific task. If you are struggling to retain new employees beyond the first day, week or even 90 days, it might not be about them. It may be time to look at your onboarding process. Learn more about what makes for a successful onboarding experience.
November 8 was STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Appreciation Day – subjects that we believe should be emphasized year round. This spotlight on STEM education has reignited an interest in technology-based toys. While there were always chemistry and Erector sets, in my day the most common way kids imagined a technological future was with Transformers and Star Wars’ figures. Now, there are thousands of computer programming, 3D printing and other child-appropriate kits available to make learning about STEM fun, something that will be essential if we are to excite the next generation about a future in STEM-heavy careers such as manufacturing. Here are a few ideas for encouraging interest in STEM for the children on your holiday gift list.
Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) provides students, parents and communities a glimpse of modern manufacturing. It’s held on the first Friday of October and has grown exponentially to being recognized during the entire month of October with manufacturing companies, schools and organizations planning activities to create awareness around manufacturing. While October may be over, the spirit of MFG Day continues in northern Pennsylvania with collaborative community efforts known as student-run manufacturing enterprises. Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC), one of the Centers that make up the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is helping launch student-run enterprises throughout northwest and north-central Pennsylvania. These enterprises are connecting industry with high schools and career and technical centers for very real and purposeful work, enabling students to develop relationships with manufacturing leaders, and in some cases addressing capacity issues for these local companies.
We all love the “easy” button. We’ve gotten used to convenience and simplicity when it comes to solving problems. Which is why solving the manufacturing workforce crisis has been so hard: No same-day delivery, e-commerce platform, or ridesharing app alone can help us recruit and retain the two million manufacturing workers we need. Long-term fixes require systemic changes. You can’t buy a better workforce online; instead, you have to cultivate it from the inside with meaningful, effective long-term interventions.
No company is too small to be targeted for a cyberattack. October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it’s a great time to reevaluate your company’s cybersecurity efforts. This year’s campaign theme – “See Yourself in Cyber” – demonstrated that while cybersecurity may seem like a complex subject, ultimately, it’s really all about people. One click on the wrong email can let a hacker into your company’s systems and wreak havoc on your business and beyond. Check out this blog for key actions that everyone should take and practice throughout the year
FloridaMakes, part of the MEP National NetworkTM, immediately mobilized when they received an urgent request in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 28, 2022. CDR Maguire needed help locating defibrillators and related accessories, some likely hard to source, as they set up field hospitals in southwest Florida. The request was urgent – the items were needed within 48 hours to help evacuees in need of medical attention. In less than a day, FloridaMakes received a flood of responses, including an introduction from the Massachusetts MEP to Zoll Medical Corporation, a company that manufactures the needed defibrillator systems. With the help of FloridaMakes and Zoll Medical Corporation, CDR Maguire is now better equipped to serve people impacted by Hurricane Ian in Florida.
The “challenges” blog is an annual tradition. We ask MEP Center clients to identify the top three challenges their companies face over the next three years. In the past, we’ve received responses from thousands of clients, providing us with insights into not only where manufacturing is, but also where it has been and, hopefully, where we’re going. This knowledge can help guide our focus — in fact, the challenges that have grown the most during the past 10 years align with MEP’s current programmatic focuses on workforce, supply chain and technology. Fiscal Year 2021’s responses had a new frontrunner, a new top challenge reported by MEP clients — employee recruitment and retention. In fact, employee recruitment and retention has grown 29.8% as an MEP client challenge during the past 10 years, the highest increase for any reported challenge in the MEP survey.
What’s gotten lost in the unrelenting focus on the customer experience has been optimizing your worker experiences. In fact, it’s almost paradoxical to expect your workers to give great customer experiences, but not expect them to have great experiences themselves! Unfortunately, while many companies have meticulously planned out their customer journeys — from marketing to ecommerce to communication — very few have done the same for their employees. Perhaps that’s why the national “quits” rate continues to hover near 3%, well above the long-term average of 1.99%. In a time of workforce shortages and talent mismatches, it’s never been more important to create a new discipline: worker experience. Learn more about why it’s important for manufacturers to focus on employee experience.