- Best-in-Class Manufacturers Show Successful Lean Implementation Requires Full Company Commitment
- Sitting in the Hot Seat: Growing a Manufacturing Company into the Next Generation
- Is Your Business Funding–ready For 2012? ITAC’s FastTrac® TechVenture™ For Entrepreneurial NYC Technology Companies Can Help
- Behold the Future: New Materials Technologies Could Be a Boon to Small Businesses and Manufacturers
- The Interview
- Opportunities and Events
Consumer product manufacturers that are considered best-in-class often find success within lean programs during the first three years after implementation.
- In order for a lean program to succeed, manufacturers must think and manage lean.
- Align lean objectives with business opportunities to help ensure lean success.
- Best-in-class companies place more emphasis on monitoring the business impact of their lean program implantation.
Dedication to lean requires a never-ending commitment to change. During lean implementation manufacturers must identify areas of improvement and commit to continuous monitoring of lean initiatives. The ultimate challengeâ€”and perhaps the greatest hurdle to the implementation of leanâ€”is a shift in corporate culture to thinking and managing lean. Manufacturers must embrace this strategy if a lean program is going to succeed.
Early in the lean journey (typically one to three years after beginning implementation), most consumer products manufacturers are focused on reducing costs, driving down inventory, and nourishing a culture of lean throughout their corporation. Best-in-class consumer product manufacturers, however, have already found success by increasing productivity. They are now aligning lean objectives with business opportunities and measuring the productivity effects of the lean program.
According to The Lean Benchmark Report, 90% of the 300 consumer product manufacturers studied reported that their corporation is committed to lean. However, only 20% of these companies would be considered best-in-class; or companies that have attained operational excellence through the successful implementation of lean programs and strategies. Those that are considered best-in-class share the following important characteristics:
- These companies are dedicated to streamlining company processes, building a structured work environment, and never-ending continuous improvement efforts.
- Lean processes are structured and streamlined throughout the entire operation including manufacturing facilities, product development, the corporate office, and the supplier base.
- Lean principles align with corporate strategy and are supported by the management team, as well as the manufacturing employees in the company.
According to The Lean Benchmark Report, in their struggle to overcome lean challenges, consumer product manufacturers are lagging behind other industries when it comes to looking at the business impact of lean. The report points out that 72% of consumer product manufacturers only take incremental steps during their lean journey, while 42% of them seek assistance from external lean consultants. The best-in-class consumer product manufacturers are much more likely to utilize external resources to empower their lean program, and even more likely to have researched and measured the business impact of their lean initiatives.
If your company is not a best-in-class manufacturer there are recommended actions to take in order to make the most of any lean program implementation and help overcome lean challenges. They are as follows:
- Clearly identify the goals and the specific areas for improvement that are to be addressed by lean program implementation.
- Secure the approval and backing of upper level management, then clearly communicate the goals of the lean program to all employees within the company.
- Solicit and secure the input of all employees to gain their participation and cooperation in the lean process.
- Focus on the customer and measure the business impact of lean initiatives such as on-time delivery performance.
- Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure the success of the program.
- Seek the aid of external lean consultants to help transition into a lean manufacturing environment.
Another action that consumer product manufacturers should consider during lean program implementation is the Five Ms: Man, Machine, Materials, Method, and Measure, which are all involved in the manufacturing process. A successful lean program ensures that each of the five Ms has been used appropriately during manufacturing. Manufacturers must also align company standard operating procedures (SOPs) with the lean program and check that SOPs are followed to ensure lean success.
Best-in-Class companies place much more emphasis on monitoring the business impact of their lean program implantation. They are successful because they focus on what might affect the customer; everything from inventory and on-time delivery, to documenting manufacturing routes, maintaining approved bill of materials, sales recipes, and work instructions to maintain their competitive advantage and responsiveness to the customer.
The impact of lean manufacturing processes has revolutionized the way many consumer product manufacturers deliver products to their customers and manage their supplier relationships. Best-in-Class consumer product manufacturers easily overcome the initial cultural difficulties that arise during lean program implementation because they are well prepared and motivated to enlist he cooperation of all employees. They have sought the advice of external lean experts and have successfully aligned their lean initiatives to business objectives.
Sources: Aberdeen Group. March 2006. The Lean Benchmark Reportâ€”Closing the Reality Gap.
At 25 years old, a young man named Peter, educated at the Cornell Hotel School and Columbia Business School, suddenly finds himself in charge of his family’s fourth–generation family business.
- Three food manufacturing companies — two in the U.S. and one in Canada
- 450 products — soups, sauces, fruit fillings, bouillon cubes, and cake mixes
- Facilities in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Canada
- Clients including restaurants, hotels, public schools, hospitals, camps, cruise lines, wholesale bakeries, and supermarket chains across the United States
- And 400 employees
Founded by his great grandfather in the 1890s and initially selling coal, wood, and baking soda, primarily in New York City, the company expanded its product line, geographically branched out, and rose to prominence in the early 1930s when Peter’s grandfather invented a chocolate snack cake for a Brooklyn, NY bakery. This popular devil’s food cake sandwich had round–edged cake slabs filled with vanilla créme. This success helped build the family business into a family manufacturing enterprise that survived the Great Depression and World War II. Yet by the time Peter took over in the 1970s, the business was struggling with slowing sales and poor production efficiency. It had diversified in many ways, but the way the company conducted its business did not to adapt to the changing times. Peter, with his newly–minted MBA, was tasked with turning around his family’s business, thereby ensuring the livelihood of its employees and their families.
When Peter took charge of the company as CEO, the company manufactured, marketed, and distributed its own products–it was vertically integrated. Peter noticed that this company structure was an opportunity to see how making one change across different sectors would have a ripple effect through the entire supply chain. With the help of two outside senior mentors, Peter could apply these observations and implement effective solutions, turning the business around. His actions were five–fold:
- Get rid of product deadweight, or products that were losing money
- Develop new lending sources
- Improve production efficiency
- Change the company’s marketing and selling methods
- Place strong, responsible people in the company, particularly in management positions.
Peter’s efforts were successful, and he eventually sold the businesses to a Fortune 500 company.
Peter Janover, ITAC’s Vice President of Client Relations, is the Peter in this story. He understands what it means to stand as the fulcrum between generations, successfully navigate the transition, and make the critical choices and changes to move the business into a profitable future. Peter confronted and solved many of the same problems your business faces today. He now uses his 40–years’ experience to work closely with CEOs of manufacturing companies, just as his senior mentors did for him, across industries from jewelry to hollowware and, of course, food. Together they tackle issues around company strategy, priorities, and infrastructure, including how to build internal capacity to support external growth, how to execute the right actions at the right times, and how to improve sales and marketing.
If you would like to learn more about ITAC’s business advisory services, please contact Sam Brookfield, ITAC’s Marketing and Communications Associate, at 646.545.2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Peter is available to share his knowledge and experience with you, and assist you with any challenges your business is facing today.
Is Your Business Funding–ready For 2012? ITAC’s FastTrac® TechVenture™ For Entrepreneurial NYC Technology Companies Can Help
FastTrac® TechVenture™ is a hands–on virtual incubation program created by the Kauffman Foundation. TechVenture prepares innovative entrepreneurs to lower risks for investors, pursue profitable market opportunities, build a fundable management team, explore research collaborations, seek federal SBIR funding, develop an investor presentation, and hone their elevator pitches to drive sales and partnerships.
TechVenture is an 11–week intensive course with weekly guest speakers and coaches, including IP attorneys, CPAs, business development professionals, and industry specialists. It is supplemented by one–on–one work with ITAC’s consultants and entrepreneurs–in–residence. Colleen Gibney, ITAC’s SBIR Program Director and Technology Consultant, will facilitate this course, which begins Tuesday, September 27, 2011 from 6:00–9:00 PM. The course will meet for three hours every Tuesday until December 6, 2011, when graduates will have the opportunity to present to industry representatives for feedback.
ITAC is currently accepting applications for FastTrac TechVenture. Applicants should be C–level management team members of a New York City technology or advanced manufacturing firm with existing revenues, investment, or federal SBIR funding. Tuition, including 11 sessions, coaches, textbooks, and light dinner each week, is $500. Innovative energy technology companies are eligible for scholarships through our NYC EnergyTech program, supported by a grant from NYSERDA. Class size is limited to 15 companies.
The U.S. is turning to science to help develop new products and processes that increase energy efficiency, reduce energy production costs, and lower carbon emissions.
- Materials science and engineering are going to have profound effects on manufacturing and energy usage in the United States.
- Concern over global climate change is forcing organizations from government agencies to small manufacturer to search for ways to reduce carbon emissions.
- Advancements in materials science and engineering are paving the way toward new products and processes that will increase energy efficiency, reduce energy production costs, and lower carbon emissions.
Materials science and engineering are once again beginning to have profound impacts on both manufacturing and energy production. Changes will likely occur in the near future that we have not seen since the dawn of the age of steel and coal. Today, nanoparticles, composites, alloys and other chemical products and processes are poised to unleash a whole new world of possibilities on our nation’s manufacturers and energy producers.
Small businesses, and small manufacturers especially, are facing new pressures in the 21st century. Energy prices are skyrocketing, energy production (from traditional sources) has plateaued, and the state and federal government expect greater attention to sustainability and carbon emissons. A study commissioned by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) gives some guidance as to how recent innovations in materials science can help businesses meet the needs of their bottom lines as well as national needs for energy use reduction and sustainability.
Improvements in the following categories are expected to prove particularly innovative:
1) Next Generation Battery and Fuel Cell Materials and Concepts
science and engineering are paving the way for the next generation of battery and fuel cell technology. New concepts currently in development have enormous potential for manufacturers who can develop and produce low cost transportation and stationary electrical energy storage units. Key areas of focus for energy storage research include efforts to increase the energy density of the storage materials, lower the cost of production, and augment abuse tolerance and lifecycle extent. Current technologies can only produce batteries with moderate performance that are expensive and are not suited to large-scale production.
2) Breakthrough Thermoelectric Materials
Thermoelectric materials with significantly enhanced conversion efficiency would increase the efficiency of the conversion of waste heat into electricity (cogeneration). The development of cost–effective thermoelectric materials that have greater mechanical performance, lower toxicity, and low–cost processing methods are needed to meet the future energy needs of the nation.
3) Next Generation Structural Metals for Extreme Environments
Structural alloys that provide better stability in extreme environments are important to various energy applications for enhancing production and performance. There is a need for advanced alloys that can provide reliable performance at elevated temperatures. For example, energy producers need materials that can better withstand extreme high–-temperature steam production that is used for generating electricity. These materials would increase the efficiency of other industrial processes, and allow for more efficient use of nuclear energy structural metals used in nuclear projects also require greater stability and tolerance for elevated radiation levels.
4) Catalysts for Fuels and Energy Intensive Processes
Catalysts with high conversion efficiency can improve industrial efficiency and spur the further development of alternative fuel technologies and carbon management applications such as, hydrogen fuel cells, and higher efficiency solar arrays . Along these lines, catalysts that can reduce the operating temperatures in chemical production processes would be able to save significant amounts of energy and associated carbon emissions. Industrial facilities need catalysts with higher selectivity and greater conversion efficiencies in order to improve performance and lower the associated product costs.
5) New Paradigm Manufacturing Processes for Metallic and Nonmetallic Materials and Their Composites
Lightweight materials, both metallic and non–metallic and composites that are inexpensive to produce have a strong affinity for use in transportation and manufacturing. Manufacturing processes that produce high performance materials such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, mixed–metal structures, plastics, and composites at drastically reduced costs will greatly increase their availability and use in various manufacturing applications. Improved process design and production of these materials will lead to new processing paradigms that will cost less, use less energy, and leave smaller carbon footprint.
6) Surface Treatment Processes for Product Performance and Life Extension
Proper surface treatment procedures have the ability to extend the service life of products by tackling surface fatigue, environmental protection, and damage tolerance issues before they become major problems. The development of these new technologies might also spawn a need for new repair and remanufacturing processes for such advanced materials and alloys. that have the ability to detect damage and repair it are important to improve the industrial energy efficiency of manufacturers.
Future techniques for surface treatment that apply a diffusion process, nanoparticles to repair damaged and worn parts, and self–healing materials that immediately repair themselves are scientific advancements that are close to becoming a reality. Smart materials & those that have the ability to detect damage and repair it are important to improve the industrial energy efficiency of manufactures.
ITAC and Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers nationwide can help companies use new materials innovations as they come online to cut costs, to grow, and to stay competitive. ITAC is also capable of helping connect entrepreneurs with the right expertise necessary to create entirely new materials.
ITAC is part of the MEP national network, including more than 70 centers like ITAC and 1,400 technical experts dedicated to working with small and mid–sized U.S. manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.
If you are interested in new materials technologies, please contact Sam Brookfield, ITAC’s Marketing and Communications Associate, at 646.545.2246 or email@example.com.
Whether or not you conducted a short telephone interview or sent a set of "disqualifying" questions, you have read the resumes received, selected the most promising candidates for in–person interviews, and are ready to begin. What is the best way to obtain the greatest amount of information within the available time to help you decide which candidate is the best fit for the company and the job?
Begin by taking visual stock of your candidate. Did s/he come properly attired for the interview? (One candidate arrived for an interview in tennis clothes, saying that he was going to play tennis right after the interview and would not have time to change.) Does s/he look neat and clean? Alert? Did s/he shake your hand and look you in the eye (allowing for certain cultural differences)? First impressions do count.
Take a minute or two (not more) to set the candidate at ease. Ask if they had any trouble finding your building, or if the area is familiar, or another innocuous question.
As an opening gambit, I often ask if the candidate looked up the company on the internet, and if s/he knows and understands the company’s business. Expect a candidate to come prepared for the interview and part of that prep is research about your company. If s/he did not do even a cursory search, especially for a mid/upper–level position, it may indicate a lack of genuine interest, either in the position or the company itself. When the candidate says that s/he looked up the company, ask for a short recap of what s/he knows, e.g., what is the company’s business, and who are its customers and markets, etc. This also creates an opportunity to see the candidate’s analysis/synthesis skills, as well as her/his ability to speak on a set topic that he could not rehearse in advance.
Next, take a short walk through the candidate’s resume/application with him, asking any questions that occurred to you during the first read through. Be sure to ask about any job gaps or inconsistencies. This also forms the basis for other questions later. For instance, if you are looking for a marketing person who is adept at social media and search engine optimization, you can ask an initial question at this time, based on what you see in the application.
Much is being written these days about "non–traditional" interview questions, such as:
- How many tennis balls does it take to fill a 747?
- If you were a super–hero, which super–powers would you most like to have?
- If you had a year where you had no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with that year?
While those questions are fun to ask, decide if those answers helps to gather more information that you really need to know. Unless you’re looking for a certain type of answer, the ability to think on the fly, or be creative in a tight spot, these questions may not prove the best use of your time together. Or perhaps just use one non-traditional question at the end of the interview as a way to end on a lighter note.
There are three basic types of interview questions.
1. Closed: How many years did you work there? What was your salary?
2. Open: What was the structure of your last department? What role did you play within that structure?
3. Behavioral: Tell me about your experience managing projects from start to finish — what metrics did you use? Tell me about how you have dealt with difficult clients, internally or externally.
Focus on open–ended and the behavioral questions, as the candidate should do the majority of the talking. Behavioral questions can be developed for any category you want to cover: job experience, management skills, communication ability, cultural fit, etc. They provide you with the deepest look into who the candidate is and how s/he will behave on the job because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
Unless you are prepared to offer the candidate the job before he leaves the building, promise nothing and say that you will be in touch either way. If you need additional references, ask him to email them. Thank him for his time.
Next month, I will give examples of behavioral questions for different positions and characteristics.
If you have questions about recruitment or other HR related issues, please contact Pam Bradley, ITAC’s HR consultant, at 212.809.3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Pam’s professional experience includes managing Human Resources for companies such as a multi-location computer manufacturing firm and Marriott International.
Opportunities and events to grow your business.
September 26 – 28
Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles, Chantilly, Virginia
Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute
IELI is a rigorous, three–day workshop designed to introduce your company to a tested, proven system for innovation. You have useful and effective systems for taking, processing, and delivering orders, for hiring and assigning employees, for accounting, payrolls, and probably numerous other activities at your business, but do you have a system for generating new, profitable ideas? How about for innovating products and processes to maintain customer interest, attract new customers, and improve your internal business operations? The IELI workshop will give you the tools and teach you the skills companies like Proctor & Gamble, Nike, and Coca–Cola use to stay on top of the business world. Click the link above for more information and to register.
Thursday, October 27
ITAC’s New Offices
Lean 101 Workshop: An Introduction to Lean Manufacturing
If you want to grow your business, improve operations, and streamline efficiency, this workshop, teaching the basic principles of lean manufacturing, is for you. If you already practice lean manufacturing, this workshop helps new hires and those who have changed positions get up to speed. Attendees form the production line at ITAC’s Toy Boat Company, giving them hands-on experience with the basics of lean manufacturing. Please contact Sharanda Didier, ITAC’s Community Affairs Associate, at email@example.com or 212.809.3900 for more information and to register for the workshop
Orlando Marriott World Center, Orlando, FL
2012 National MEP Conference
Every year over 700 manufacturers, industry experts, and Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) field staff join together to learn and connect, bringing the experience back to their organizations and continuing to build a strong and competitive U.S. manufacturing base. This event truly brings the "voice of manufacturing" and "voice of government" to an open, educational, and sharing environment that makes a measurable impact on U.S. manufacturing.
Other Opportunities around the City:
September and October
Electronic Waste Recycling Days
The Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding 17 electronic waste ("e-waste") recycling events in all five boroughs in September and October to responsibly recycle unwanted or broken electronics from New York City businesses with less than 50 employees. Click the link above for more information, and click here for a list of dates and locations for the recycling events.
Saturday, September 17
Microsoft New York City
Product Camp New York CIty
Product Camp is a great opportunity for participants to learn from, teach to, and network with professionals involved in the product management and marketing process from advertising, media and entertainment, telecom, high–tech manufacturing, pharma, fashion, financial services, and insurance companies in the New York City area. Click the link above for more information and to register.
September 19 – 26
Climate Week NY°C
Business, government, NGO, and thought leaders will come together to call for a "Clean Revolution" – one that ensures growth, creates jobs, and secures clean energy access for millions of people worldwide. Climate Week NYC is an annual summit boasting high–level meetings between the world’s leading businesses and governments and an exciting array of public–facing events, all focused on driving a ‘clean industrial revolution.’ For more information on the week’s events, click the link above.
Tuesday, September 20
NYAS Conference Center
2011 BioHeat Conference
Do you own, manage, or operate a building or private residence? If the answer is "Yes," come and learn all about the new BioHeat Mandate and various actions you can take to save money on heating, all while helping the environment at the same time. Click the link above for more information and to register.
Wednesday, September 21
SLC Conference Centers
Entrepreneurial Excellence Business Forums – Manhattan Launch
End the year strong! Are you ready for a meeting that is structured, fun, and focused on helping you get bottom line results for your business? This event will focus on three main objectives:
- Building mutually beneficial relationships through quality and constructive networking
- Gaining knowledge on subject matter that applies directly to the growth and development of our businesses, our team members, and the individual.
- Sharing our best practices, worst decisions, and overall experiences from our businesses with each other.
This open forum of communication allows you to learn and grow personally and professionally. Click the link above for more information and to register.
Wednesday, September 21
Enhancing Value Through Inclusive Business Strategies Breakfast
This breakfast event will focus on strategies to enhance the value of inclusive business models. Participants will have an opportunity to network with experts and practitioners in this space, identify new models and opportunities for innovation, and explore areas for potential collaboration in interactive discussions. Click the link above for details and to register.
Friday, September 23
National Museum of the American Indian
Unleashing Green Chemistry and Engineering in Service of a Sustainable Future
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this event is designed to highlight and encourage green chemistry/engineering innovations, investments, applications, and policies that can lead to improved human health, an improved environment, and a more sustainable economy. The workshop aims to:
- Promote the general concepts of green chemistry and engineering and their practice
- Encourage the exchange of ideas between stakeholders
- Showcase innovations, products, and applications of green chemistry and engineering
- Provide information on best practices and experiences in the development of green chemistry curricula and service learning programs for secondary (e.g. high schools) and tertiary schools (e.g. colleges and universities).
Click the link above for more information and to register.
Tuesday, October 4
An Operational View of Cash Flows
This presentation provides a unique look at a company’s cash flows: businesses’ cash–to–cash cycle are viewed from the perspective of process flow analysis principles. Participants may take–away simple–to–implement tools that help identify specific problem areas across the many facets of their businesses. Click the link above for more information.
Wednesday, October 5
Penn Plaza Pavilion
Small Business Expo
New York City’s Small Business Expo is the most anticipated networking event of the year for business professionals to learn about products and services to help their business exceed their goals, network with other industry professionals, and attend informative and cutting–edge workshops and seminars. Click the link above to register as an attendee or an exhibitor.
Wednesday, October 5
The New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point
24th Annual Tent Party Trade Show and Expo
Celebrating Hunts Point: Home of the Global Food Marketplace! An unparalleled networking event on the waterfront with more than 400 local and global business leaders. For over 23 years, the Hunts Point Tent Party has offered business people like you the opportunity to meet and greet business, government, and community leaders who have made – and are still making – Hunts Point one of the greatest areas of commerce in the world. At our Trade Show you will peruse an eclectic representation of Hunts Point businesses as they showcase some of their most innovative foods and goods. Stop by, say hello, and exchange business cards. It is all about networking… and a lot of fun!
It is a beautiful day by the water, under our temperature controlled tent! Here you will taste an amazing array of fine foods – all certified Hunts Point fresh – prepared on the premises by our World Class Master Chef and his Sous Chefs. While sampling these delicacies at our food stations, you will enjoy entertainment brought to you by a special Latin and Jazz Ensemble. It is the perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon. Click the link above for more information.