Wednesday, February 19, 2014

AME Event - Keys to Sustaining: Going to See & Leader Standard Work

Host Company: Kennedy Valve
Kennedy Valve’s lean journey started in 2008 driven by a strong desire to improve the sustainability and market position of their company. The  transformation began by re-organizing the business into value streams and making significant changes to its shop floor layout to support flow.

The Elmira company has implemented various improvements including, level flow, visual pull systems, flexible and simple equipment, and an effective continuous improvement suggestion program.

Kennedy Valve manufactures and sells a wide range of products to support water and wastewater infrastructure. The company is ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certified.
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Anyone in a leadership role can benefit from this event – from supervisor to the CEO
Organizations who are having difficulty with sustaining their lean initiatives
Anyone interested in learning more about leader standard work and visual management
Organizations who continue to struggle to transform their culture

Learn the elements of Leader Standard Work and how it is a key to sustaining lean
See examples of visual management which can make it much easier for leaders to do what is expected of them
Learn the intent of Gemba walks, and have an opportunity to practice one’s observation and coaching  skills
View a visually managed inventory process and pull systems that support flow
Employee-driven Continuous Improvement Suggestion Program

The facility tour in the morning will give participants a first hand look at how Kennedy Valve has implemented various Enterprise Excellence concepts in this foundry and finishing business.
The afternoon workshop will cover the subject of Leader Standard Work (LSW) – a key to lean sustainment. The elements of LSW include Gemba walks and visual management.

 8:30 a.m. Registration
 9:00 a.m. Introductions, Company Background, Tour Instructions
 9:30 a.m. Plant Tour, Q & A
12:00 noon Lunch
12:30 p.m. Workshop:  Keys to Sustaining: Going to See & Leader Standard Work
 4:00 p.m. Wrap-up

Date: March 13, 2014
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Kennedy Valve
1021 East Water Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Cost: AME Member: $395.00, Non-Member: $495.00

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Manufacturing Finishes Strong in 2013, ISM Reports

By: Steve Minter, IndustryWeek

Manufacturing ended 2013 on a strong note with the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) monthly PMI index registering 57%, the seventh consecutive month of growth. A reading of 50 or more in the survey of supply chain officials indicates expansion in the sector.

The reading was just 0.3% below November’s reading, slightly exceeding analysts’ consensus forecast for the month. Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, noted the “manufacturing PMI measures averaged 56.3 in the second half of 2013, a nice improvement from the 51.5 average seen in the first half of the year.”

Signals on future business were positive as the new orders index increased in December by 0.6% to 64.2%, the highest reading since April 2010. Said one apparel manufacturer: “Amazingly enough, we are seeing meaningful increases in our sales in nearly all segments and regions.”

The employment index also gained ground, increasing from 56.5% in November to 56.9% in December. This was the highest reading in the survey since June 2011.

ISM’s Bradley Holcomb said purchasing executives comments “reflect a solid final month of the year, capping off the second half of 2013, which was characterized by continuous growth and momentum in manufacturing.”
Of the 18 industry sectors, 13 reported growth in December, led by furniture and plastics & rubber products. Four manufacturing industries reported contraction in the last month of 2013: nonmetallic mineral products; machinery; chemicals; and electrical equipment and appliances.

“Industrial activity is being driven by the ramping up of the housing supply chain and strong motor vehicle production as consumers meet pent-up demand for shelter and transportation,” said Daniel J. Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). “Investment spending is accelerating for energy projects, aerospace equipment, medical equipment, and industrial machinery. While government policy gridlock is not conducive to investment, the uncertainty seems to be somewhat less of a barrier since the short-term federal budget agreement.”

While manufacturing industrial production increased 2.2% in 2013, Meckstroth noted, he predicted ”an acceleration to 3.1% growth in 2014, and even faster growth in 2015.”

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Favorable Forecast: Manufacturing Trends for Which to be Thankful

By: John Mills

Judging by the data and the trends, 2014 is shaping up to be the sort of year North American manufacturers can be grateful for.

Late fall brought North American manufacturers plenty of reasons to be grateful. In the United States, November production as measured by the Institute for Supply Management rose from 56.4 to 57.3, the fastest expansion since April 2011 (see article on page 2). Over the same period, Canadian manufacturing as measured by the RBC Purchasing Managers Index slipped from 55.6 to 55.3. Still, times are good: any score over 50 represents growth.

Can the good times continue? In the U.S., new orders have come in strong for four consecutive months, indicating a healthy production backlog heading into 2014. Here are five trends that could be helping to fuel demand and keep factory managers from taking too many vacation days:
  • Improvements in 3-D printers. Additive manufacturing has emerged as a legitimate alternative to the line. One report says 3-D printers accounted for 28.3% of final part production in 2012, up from 3.9% a decade ago, and a huge portion of the $2.2 billion spent on additive manufacturing last year. Investments in cutting-edge additive processes could help your floor win more profitable business in the year ahead.
  • Business returning from China. We’ve been seeing this for a few months now. Businesses that had hoped for significant cost savings from overseas production are bringing complex projects home. To be fair, November saw some growth among Chinese producers, but at 51.4, the local index lags gains being made here in North America.
  • More ‘real-time’ enterprises. Business is moving faster, which means more rapid prototyping and profitable short-term engagements for advanced floors. All the more reason to set up an R&D shop near your line and get more staffers up to speed with 3-D printing and other additive techniques.
  • The rise of the project economy. Shorter cycles also mean more projects, which, in turn, means not being tied down to a single customer or product as was frequently the case in years past. The downside? Such arrangements can be lucrative, guaranteeing work for a certain number of months or years.
  • More access to data. Analytics are available at a scale not before seen thanks to big names such as IBM and innovators such as Tableau. Not taking ‘big fish’ clients would be riskier if it weren’t for the variety of tools and technology these companies offer for measuring profits, productivity, and capacity in real-time, allowing floor managers to adjust as conditions change.

No one has perfect foresight, of course. But judging by the data and the trends, 2014 is shaping up to be the sort of year North American manufacturers can be thankful for.

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Happy Birthday, Mac

Thirty years ago, Steve Jobs presented the new Macintosh to a roomful of Apple investors.

In 1984, Apple introduced the world to Macintosh.

It was designed to be so easy to use that people could actually use it.

And it came with a promise — that the power of technology taken from a few and put in the hands of everyone, could change the world.

That promise has been kept.

Today, we create, connect, share, and share, and learn in ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago.

Apple’s computer would go on to put the power of technology in everyone’s hands, all the while changing the face of personal computing for decades to come, upending whole industries, challenging the status quo and eventually leading to the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Today, the company has taken over its own homepage with a gorgeous visual timeline of the thirty years of Macintosh innovations, paying tribute to the computer with a nicely done video, an interactive poll and other goodies…

Imagine what we can accomplish in the next 30 years.

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The Top Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

By: Forbes
What does it take to be successful starting your own small business? Here are the skills most successful entrepreneurs have in common:
  • Resiliency. The ability to weather the ups and downs of any business since it never goes exactly the way the business plan described it. This skill enables the entrepreneur to keep going when the outlook is bleak.
  • Focus. After setting a long term vision, knowing how to “laser focus” on the very next step to get closer to the ultimate goal. There are so many distracting forces when trying to build a business that this skill is not easy to master.
  • Invest for the long-term. Most entrepreneurs are not patient and focus only on what comes next, rather than where the company needs to go. Overnight success may take 7 to 10 years. Entrepreneurs need to stop, pause and plan on a quarterly basis.
  • Find and manage people. Only by learning to leverage employees, vendors and other resources will an entrepreneur build a scalable company. They need to learn to network to meet the right people. Entrepreneurs strive to guarantee they will get honest and timely feedback from all these sources.
  • Sell. Every entrepreneur is a sales person whether they want to be or not. They are either selling their ideas, products or services to customers, investors or employees. They work to be there when customers are ready to buy. Alternately, they know how to let go and move on when they are not.
  • Learn. Successful entrepreneurs realize they don’t know everything and the market is constantly changing. They stay up to date on new systems, technology, and industry trends.
  • Self-reflection. Allow downtime to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Always working only leads to burnout physically and emotionally.
  • Self-reliance. While there is a lot of help for the entrepreneur, in the end, they need to be resourceful enough to depend on themselves.

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ISO/AS Certification, Strategy and Growth

It would be a mistake for any manufacturer to think, “If I get certified to this standard, great things will suddenly happen for my business.” Certifications are not magic bullets. But when tied to your strategy, pursuing certain quality standards can help you make your company better at what it does, forge it into a more attractive business partner, and help it reach its overall strategic goals.

To know which ISO/AS Certifications your business can benefit from, first identify where and how you want to participate in your chosen marketplaces. For success, it’s critical to tie everything to the overall business strategy. It’s important to be purposeful, and to understand what a new certification can – and can’t – do for your business.

Where Certifications Count Most

ISO certification isn’t necessary in every case. Generally, the closer you are to producing a finished product in the supply chain, the greater the need for quality certifications. In the robust medical device manufacturing industry, for example, you’ll eventually need ISO 13485 certification to become a big player. But that certification is not strictly required to participate in the medical device manufacturing space. It depends on your end goals, and your present level of business.

Smaller manufacturers, that are part of a larger supply chain, may find that certifications aren’t necessary for their success. They can often experiment and attempt to get into new supply chains without any certifications. However, if pursuing the right certifications would make it easier for a larger manufacturer to select your company, now you have a bona fide motivation for certification. Consider your existing and potential customer base. Is a certain certification required, or would it ease the decision making process of those higher up in your supply chain? Would it make it simpler for them to say yes to your offerings? Do your competitors have certifications you don’t?

Help in Achieving  ISO/AS Certification

AM&T brings a wealth of experience to the quality certification process, and can give you an objective third-party view of whether you should pursue certification. When you’re closely invested in your company, it can be hard to “see the forest for the trees.” We have an objective understanding of the standards, as well as the ability to interpret what they truly mean and apply them successfully to an individual business. We understand what the registrars look for when auditing a company to determine if it’s compliant, because we’ve worked with the registrars for years. Since our consultants are also registrar auditors, their experience can help you avoid many of the pitfalls on the road to certification.

For example, we’ve seen many businesses tend to make the certification process too complicated when pursuing a standard on their own. AM&T helps simplify and direct the certification process. We evaluate current quality management systems objectively, and compare them to the standard being pursued. We identify any gaps, develop a road map to close those gaps, and then we work with the client to implement the road map. We can take as active a role as needed, from helping write documentation and procedures to giving general guidance and mentoring a company through the process.

Considerations to address before pursuing ISO/AS Certifications:
  • Certification is not an end in and of itself. It should be a part of what you do, and should complement the other components of your overall business strategy.
  • Standards should be used to improve your business processes. Certification should be seen as an opportunity to identify process improvements that can create improved business results overall.
  • Certification may not get you more customers or improve your business on its own. You’ll need a strategic business plan and an active marketing plan to maximize the benefits of that new certification.
Call Jim Cunningham
at 607-725-1225
if you need help with your quality management system.

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Associates’ Corner - Samscreen, Inc.

Samscreen, Inc. is located in Conklin and manufactures piano wire screens for all makes and models of portable screening plants, plus custom screens for special applications and machines.

Piano Wire and Shape Wire screens are classified as non-woven wire screens and offer unique benefits and solutions because they are not woven. They are in fact a collection of individual wires, which allows each wire to act independently of each other, setting up its own harmonics and frequency, which, in turn, impedes the material being screened from ‘bridging’ from wire to wire, which is the necessary starting condition for ‘blinding’.

The company provides a wide selection of openings in high carbon, oil tempered, stainless steel, and Maxwear™ wire, which is a special alloyed steel providing wear resistance to impact and abrasion leading to reduced maintenance.

All types of crusher liners for JAWS, CONES and IMPACT crushers are made with Samscreen’s own Maxwear™ 400, a special analysis steel that has been developed to give exceptional wear life in aggressive, highly abrasive crushing conditions.

The company’s Kleenskreen™ Finger Deck System is made for difficult-to-screen material where blinding, clogging, matting, and pegging cause problems with traditional screening media. The Kleenskreen™ can be retrofitted to existing portable and stationary screening plants, giving the producer a viable and very economic choice of not having to purchase a new piece of equipment.

When dealing with the dual problems of blinding and pegging, and the use of Samscreen’s piano wire screens is not feasible due to ‘flats’ or tight specifications, Shape Wire screens offers the solution and advantages of producing tighter specifications and having the ability to self clean.

Samscreen was founded in 1994, and with assistance from AM&T, became an ISO 9001:2008 certified company in 2003. To the best of management’s knowledge, they are the only piano wire screen manufacturer to receive such certification. More at

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Associates’ Corner - Vergason Technology, Inc.

Founded by Gary Vergason in 1986, Vergason Technology, Inc. (VTI) grew from a fledgling toll coating supplier to an internationally recognized leader in vacuum coatings and equipment. Over the years, the company has grown from a 500 square foot addition on the side of Gary’s father’s barn to a modern 37,000 square foot corporate and manufacturing facility in Van Etten.

VTI delivered the first of several bone implant coating systems in 1988 and the World’s first commercial Press-Side® Rapid Cycle Metalizing System in 1989.

VTI’s cathodic arc Patent pioneered the discrete anode, switched arc arena in 1991. The company’s patented CatArc® technology is used today to supply high quality, low temperature thin film coatings and equipment for substrates demanding critical temperature control to maintain high hardness, uniform thickness control, and dimensional stability.

The company’s products and services incorporate thermal evaporation, cathodic arc vapor deposition, magnetron sputtering and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition to produce a wide variety of tribological, decorative, reflective and electronic shielding coatings.

With approximately 200 installed systems Worldwide, VTI has supplied equipment for many types of applications and industries including: automotive, industrial, and commercial lighting; solar and photovoltaic applications; reflective coatings; coatings for RFI, EMI, and ESD shielding; decorative coatings; ceramic wear coatings; and corrosion resistant coatings.

Describing the company’s success, Vergason said, “Within the past 27 years one aspect that remains a constant is our dedication to world class service and results every time. With technology constantly on the move and vacuum coating being used for more and more applications, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

The company is certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard, a milestone the company achieved with assistance from AM&T. VTI is also ITAR registered and RoHS compliant.

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