Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Manufacturing In The New York Region Rebounded In February.

Bloomberg News (2/15, Jamrisko, Chandra) reported, "Manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly rebounded in February, a sign factories will help sustain the US economic expansion after a brief slowdown at the start of the year. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State index climbed to 10 from minus 7.8 in January, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. It was the highest since May 2012."

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Associates’ Corner - Genbrook Millwork, Inc.

Genbrook Millwork, Inc., is a premier custom millwork shop located in Greene, NY that fabricates and delivers quality residential and commercial millwork and casework for customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

2012 was a great year for Genbrook, producing record sales and receiving their Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification. FSC Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification helps their customers choose products that contribute to global conservation, community well-being and economic stability. Since receiving their certification, they have completed several FSC and LEED projects. Genbrook has also been a Certified Participant in the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s (AWI) Quality Certification Program (QCP) for over 10 years which places them among a small, select group of millwork shops in NY State that are premium certified through this program.

2013 marks Genbrook’s 23rd year in business and is shaping up to be another banner year. They were featured in the winter 2013 issue of Design Solutions Magazine for their architectural millwork at the United Health Services’ Vestal Extension Clinic and they are anticipating continued sales growth and an expansion of their operations in Greene.

For more information, contact: Joshua P. Browning, President 607-656-7563 www.genbrookmillwork.com

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Associates’ Corner - ENSCO Avionics, Inc.

ENSCO Avionics, Inc. is a provider of safety/mission-critical avionics engineering solutions to Commercial and Military aerospace customers in the Southern Tier of NY, across the nation, and internationally.
  • Avionics engineering solutions feature:
  • Software (DO-178B/C) and Programmable Hardware (DO-254) development, integration, test and certification.
  • Vision Systems Solutions utilizing synthetic, enhanced and combined vision technologies to solve Situational Awareness (SA) challenges.
  • IData® Tool Suite – A Cross-platform software development toolkit for creating and deploying Human Machine Interface (HMI) applications.
  • IGL – A high performance and efficient OpenGL® SC (Safety-Critical) software GPU.

Core engineering capabilities include:
  • DO-178B, DO-178C, DO-254, SEAL & MIL-STD subject matter expertise.
  • Unique Vision Systems Solutions that feature IData® and IGL for enhanced situational awareness through dynamic visual displays.

ENSCO Avionics, Inc. is a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of ENSCO, Inc. with over 200 engineers and headquartered in Endicott, NY. ENSCO Avionics is an AS9100C, ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

For more information on ENSCO Avionics’ engineering services please contact:
Tom Matarese
ENSCO Avionics, Inc.
3 Holiday Hill Road
Endicott, NY 13760

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3 Key Strategy Questions to Ask Your Teams Regularly

By Art Petty

In my experience, the management teams that lead the best performing businesses are those that incorporate at least three key strategic questions into almost every operational and status discussion.

What are Your Teams Talking About?

The gross majority of the dialogue in an organization is about How, and Who and When and the important What and Why issues are left for strategy meetings and other “high-level” discussions. While understandable in the hectic pace of the workday, the shortage of these important What and Why discussions reinforces a dangerous form of operational myopia, where the underlying and unspoken assumption is: If we simply get this done, we’ll be better off as a firm.

No disrespect nor trivialization intended for operations and execution. Getting it done is critical. However, my premise is that you can strengthen (without paralyzing) the quality of these discussions (particularly management and project team discussions) and potentially uncover new ideas or cross-check long-standing assumptions, with the regular inclusion of a few key questions.

Three Key Strategy Questions to Ask Your Teams Regularly:
  1. How does this initiative help us grow/create power? (Power: new customers, new revenue in current customers, new revenue in new/adjacent markets, market share). If it doesn’t directly tie to or enable the creation of power, why are you doing it?
  2. How meaningfully different is this to our clients? So many ideas are good in isolation…promoted by people passionate about their offerings, but ultimately, they are not meaningful enough to clients to prompt action (investment, change, trade-out etc.). While not all clients can articulate what they want (as Steve Jobs taught us most recently), your team must be able to substantiate that the initiative is one that will prompt action.
  3. How defensible is our approach versus our most dangerous competitors? Too many “me too” and easily replicated initiatives is a formula for stagnation or decline. If you cannot pass this critical acid-test question, something is wrong.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

These are just a few of the important questions that must be regularly asked and answered in the course of forming, assessing and adjusting strategy. However, instead of saving all of the good questions for the offsites, start immediately incorporate these three in to your management and status meetings, and you’ll dramatically increase the quantity of meaningful dialogue (and action) taking place every day.

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Eliminate To Innovate

By Jamillah Warner

Several years back, while talking on the phone with a friend from college, I was also going though my pile of things-to-fix-up-and-reuse. When she asked what I was doing, I told her and her reply was certain and final enough to get my full attention:

“Don’t keep broken things around you.”

She went on with what she was talking about, but her statement stuck with me.
In “The Upside-Down Approach To Innovation,” (http://www.openforum.com/articles/the-upside-down-approach-to-innovation) Anita Campbell asks a core question:

“What if we approached innovation from the opposite direction – by getting rid of what isn’t working before we try to come up with something that works?”

What if we cleaned house first, addressed the mess and made room for innovation? What if we let go of the junk now and let it become somebody else’s treasure?

It’s time to quit wasting our energy on hackneyed systems and broken equipment. It’s like Spring cleaning, getting the house ready for the new year, except doing it now.

You can’t know what deals to take advantage of if you don’t know what you need. You can’t get intimate with what you need until you let go of what you don’t need. Eliminate first. That process alone will make you feel lighter and smarter. Then you can innovate with more focus and precision.
Don’t let the junk get in the way of your next steps.

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The Value of Registering to an International Standard

By Lloyd A. Johnson

To register or not to register? So many businesses struggle with that question. Should we pursue registration to an International Standard like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS9100, or TS16949? What will it do for our business? Will it help us improve our quality and customer satisfaction? Will we attract new customers or open up new markets? Is it worth the time and expense?

According to ISO, the International Organization of Standardization, “ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field … and facilitate free and fair global trade.” Sounds great, but what’s the value of registering to an International Standard?

In order to answer these questions, let’s first look at the different International Standards. Standards come in many flavors:
* ISO 9001 defines the requirements for an internationally recognized Quality Management System (QMS). The focus is on meeting customer requirements, improving customer satisfaction, and continually improving your processes. Most other Standards are based on the requirements defined in the ISO 9001 Standard.
  • ISO 14001 defines the requirements for an Environmental Management System (EMS). The focus here is on helping an organization minimize negative affects to the environment and comply with regulations. The result is a system to continually reduce or eliminate waste streams and pollution.
  • ISO 13845 defines the QMS requirements specific to the Medical Devices industry. It focuses on helping organization provide medical devices and related services that meet regulatory requirements and is applicable to both design and manufacturing processes.
  • ISO 17025 defines the competency requirements for Laboratory Testing and Calibration Services. This Standard helps laboratory, testing, and calibration businesses demonstrate their technical competence in producing precise and accurate test and calibration data.
  • ISO/TS 16949 defines the QMS requirements specific to the Automotive industry. The focus is on helping organizations in the automotive supply chain continually improve through reducing variations in processes resulting in defect prevention. All global automotive manufacturers require their Tier 1 & 2 suppliers to meet this Standard.
  • AS9100 defines the QMS requirements for the Aerospace & Defense industry. It helps organizations meet the quality and safety requirements specific to Aerospace & Defense contractors. These contractors are usually monitored by government agencies.
Now, let’s get to those questions! We’ll start with “What will it do for our business? Will it help us improve quality and customer satisfaction?” From numerous studies and surveys conducted since 1990, becoming registered to a Standard leads to increased performance for an organization. Process variations are reduced through increased consistency and discipline. Everybody does it the same way, every time. Processes are tracked and performance reported regularly. More focus is placed on problem solving and customer satisfaction. Through continual improvement and capital investment, innovations in products and processes occur. All this leads to lower costs and higher profits.

How about attracting new customers and opening up new markets? Registration to a Standard makes your business more competitive. By being more competitive, you’ll see increased sales with existing customers. Who would you choose if prices are the same, the business who’s registered or the one who isn’t? It also leads to new opportunities in new markets. For example, if you’re a small parts manufacturer and haven’t been able to attract customers in the medical device industry because you’re not ISO 13485, getting registered will open this market to you.

Lastly, is it worth the time and expense? That depends. Becoming registered takes between 9-18 months, depending on the Standard you’re pursuing, the size of your business, and the stability of your current processes. The non-recurring costs associated with preparing for registration are typically $10-30K. Less if you can do it without outside help. The cost of registration ranges from $8-15K, depending on the Standard you pursue and the associated Registrar’s fees. Then there’s the recurring cost of sustaining your registration through a Registrar, which are typically between $4-10K per year. If you’re not being “pushed” by your customers to become registered, it might not make sense right now.


The number of businesses registered to the various International Standards is continuing to grow and, the ROI from registration, can be significant. As an example, five businesses in the Southern Tier reported a total impact of ~$45M for FY 2012 and they attributed it to becoming registered to a Standard. This impact includes cost savings; capital improvements; sales retained; and new sales. Sooner or later, one of your current customers, or a potential new customer, will inquire as to “when will you be registered?” When that happens, you’ll quickly see the value of registering to an International Standard.

For more information about becoming registered to an International Standard, AM&T will be hosting a breakfast seminar on May 22, 2013 at the Owego Treadway to provide an overview and benefits of becoming registered to an International Standard. Watch for more information in future newsletters.

See this and other newsletter articles at http://amt-mep.org/files/3413/6250/0279/2013-03.pdf

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Kennedy Valve Brings Production Back to U.S.

By Michael Meador

National surveys reveal a trend toward manufacturing jobs returning to U.S. soil, and Kennedy Valve in Elmira, New York provided a local example when they recently began to manufacture a product line that had previously been outsourced to Thailand.

A look back over the last couple of decades will help explain both this national trend and the decision at Kennedy Valve. A large differential in labor cost originally compelled American companies to move work offshore, and while that strategy may once have been competitively necessary, times have changed. Manufacturing executives are realizing that not only are offshore labor and shipping costs going up, but there are other risks.

For example, suppliers tend to become competitors. A company in China that receives larger volume contracts can build capacity that is an enormous help when turning on production for their own versions of the product.

These factors, plus concerns over government-sponsored I.P. theft and production time lags are causing companies such as GE, Ford, Dow Chemicals, Caterpillar, Google, and Apple to start moving some manufacturing back to the U.S. In doing so, companies are discovering that these changes can also enable them to:
  • Improve quality control
  • Utilize excess capacity
  • Reduce lead times
  • Reduce shipment costs
  • Improve on-time delivery
  • Shorten innovation and R&D cycles

Most companies would pounce on the opportunity to make just one of these improvements. Kennedy Valve has realized multiple benefits from their re-shoring move.

The products re-shored by Kennedy Valve are Rotating Disc Gate Valves that range in size from 3” to 72”, and were originally designed and produced in this region in the early 1900’s. The ownership of these valves moved through several companies and the manufacturing was eventually moved to Thailand. In 2007, ownership of this design was acquired by American R/D, another division of Kennedy Valve’s parent company, McWane, Inc.

According to Lisa Rawcliffe, Kennedy Valve’s Lean Manager, longer lead times and transportation delays were getting to the point that it was impeding the company’s business growth. Especially since the valves are sold in significant quantities in the U.S., bringing them back meant that Kennedy could improve the logistics and service levels to its customers.

“Our Lean Manufacturing accomplishments here have enabled us to free up capacity so that we can take on that business without having to purchase new equipment and build new space,” said Rawcliffe. “We reorganized production areas so that we have a better flow of materials and less work-in-process inventory. We minimized inventory levels to the point where we have available space in our warehouse and production line that can accommodate these valves that are sometimes very large.”

She explained that it was the broader economic and marketing considerations combined with their internal Lean efforts that enabled McWane to make the strategic decision to re-shore this production without a lot of expense and disruption. Thus Kennedy Valve is using existing resources to produce all components of the valve, from molding through machining, coating, and assembly.

This re-shoring event marks the return home for a valve that has been in use in America’s waterworks infrastructure since 1908. And it’s now being manufactured by Americans – the 400 employees who each earn their portion of Kennedy Valve’s annual payroll of $24.5 million. And those employees apparently have reason to be optimistic about their company: since 1997, McWane has invested over $32 million in capital improvement projects at the plant, with $4.5 million of that amount going toward environmental control and pollution prevention.

McWane and Kennedy Valve appear to be preparing for the kind of changes anticipated in a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group that said, “While China will remain an important manufacturing platform for Asia and Europe, the U.S. will become increasingly attractive for the production of many goods sold to consumers in North America.”

See this and other newsletter articles at http://amt-mep.org/files/3413/6250/0279/2013-03.pdf

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