Monday, August 3, 2015

A One-Year Report Card for AM&T

Our success is evaluated by the impact we have on manufacturers we assist. This impact is determined through a third-party survey process, conducted quarterly. Following is a summary of results as reported for July 2014-June 2015:
  • $107 million - Increased & retained sales
  • $5.6 million - Cost savings
  • $4.7 million - Investments
  • 948 - Jobs created/retained
  • 4.8 out of 5 - Customer satisfaction
  • $163 million - Total Impact
  • 132:1 - ROI (based on Federal/State/Client Funding)
Congratulations to the staff and our partners, and thanks to the hundreds of companies in the Southern Tier who have allowed us to assist them to improve and sustain their performance, competitiveness and growth.

Our integrated, comprehensive approach, applied to the whole value chain, can make a difference. Call us, we can help.

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Leaders, Principles and the Pursuit of High Performance Teams

By Art Petty

“In high-performance teams, the leaders managed the principles and the principles managed the teams.” – Carl Larson and Frank LaFasto via Jim Highsmith in Agile Project Management-Creating Innovative Products.

Larson and LaFasto in their assessment of high performance teams offer us a profoundly powerful and simple to comprehend answer to the question of how to support the emergence of effective teams: clear, strong, actionable, livable principles beget an environment for effective collaboration and innovation.

Every high performance team I’ve experienced as a participant, a sponsor or an outside advisor, was governed by an overarching set of principles or values that formed and framed the culture. And while good words alone don’t create success, the combination of the leaders and participants living and acting according to those words everyday made things work.

On successful teams, the team leaders…and ultimately the participants eat and drink the principles for breakfast, communicate them constantly and most importantly, they live them in how they collaborate, problem-solve and challenge themselves and their team members forward in pursuit of success.

And since as we all know, even the best of teams face dark days when nothing goes right, the guiding principles serve as bedrock for self-reflection and guidance for navigating the way forward.

There’s a cautionary tale here. As Highsmith warns us, “Grand principles that generate no action are mere vapor.” When engaging with an organization for the first time, I make it a habit to understand a firm’s values, and all too often, what I find are nice words…unarguable in their intent, that serve only to occupy space on a wall in a conference room. It’s a wholesale failure on the part of the leadership of an organization, when the guiding principles aren’t a visible part of everyday life.

Teams are a fact of life. We execute strategy via projects. We innovate on teams. We develop new products, improve processes and search for ways to better serve our customers via projects and teams. We darned well better figure out how to succeed at this more often than not. Right now, in too many organizations, “not” is winning.

The Bottom-Line for Now:
This intangible, sticky, squishy topic of operationalizing guiding principles or values doesn’t lend itself well to a prescriptive list of steps-to-success. The onus is on you as a team leader, project leader, functional leader, informal leader or organizational leader to ensure that your best efforts are supported by meaningful, actionable guiding principles. If you can’t articulate what those principles are and what they mean for behavior, accountability and performance, then it’s time to take a step back and tackle this issue. The effort will pay dividends going forward. Larson and LaFasto are right…leaders should manage the principles and the principles will manage the team.

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Some Recent AM&T Activities Promoting Innovation and Growth in Manufacturing

  • Completed a five-day Total Productive Maintenance event with a team of 6 people. The team reduced downtime by 70%, as well as defined and implemented autonomous maintenance and standardized work for operators, and preventative maintenance for maintenance employees.
  • Conducted a one-day open-enrollment Lean Thinking and Value Stream Mapping training session for nine people.
  • Conducted a multi-day Customer Service Value Stream Mapping event with a team of seven people. It is anticipated that when implemented, the plan will result in improved customer satisfaction and reduced wastes including process rework, over processing, expediting, rescheduling and changing priorities, etc.
  • Conducted a four-hour Lean Thinking training session focused on identifying and improving production and administrative wastes. The training was attended by eight people.
  • Conducted a presentation to sixteen Seniors at a local high school promoting manufacturing careers and developing an awareness of skills and training requirements that will meet manufacturing needs of today and the future.
  • Conducted a five-day Inventory Accuracy improvement event with a team of eight people. It is anticipated that when fully implemented, the improvement will include a significant increase in inventory accuracy and reduce part shortages, and ultimately, improve delivery performance.
  • Conducted an eight-hour Lean Thinking training session focused on identifying and improving production and administrative wastes. The training was attended by thirty people.
  • Conducted a five-day Order-to-Delivery Value Stream Mapping event with a team of eight people at a contract manufacturing company. It is anticipated that when fully implemented, the plan will result in improved on-time deliveries and reduce wastes.
  • Conducted an ISO 9001:2008 Internal Audit at a company located in Rochester. Minor findings were noted in the summary report and their Quality Management System was deemed compliant and effective.
  • Conducted an ISO 9001:2008 Internal Audit at a company located in Horseheads. There were minor findings and a summary report was prepared. Their Quality Management System was deemed compliant and effective.
  • Conducted an ISO 9001:2008 Internal Audit at a company located in Colliersville. There were minor findings and opportunities for improvement noted and summarized in a report. Their Quality Management System continues to be fully compliant and effective.
  • Completed ISO 9001:2008 Internal Auditor Training at a company located in Elmira. Seven employees were trained as internal auditors and performed a mentored audit. The team identified minor non-conformance and opportunities for improvement. They prepared a summary report and all the supporting documentation. Their QMS was deemed compliant and effective.
  • Provided Lean Mentoring to a company located in Stamford, by assisting with a Kaizen event for this spring.
  • Led workshops for sixteen would-be entrepreneurs in Buffalo and Ithaca. Part of a series of pre-seed workshops coordinated and facilitated by AM&T, the events were hosted by the Center of Excellence Bioinformatics & Life Sciences at the University of Buffalo, and by Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Technology and Institute of Biotechnology. These week-long workshops begin and end with a day of intensive work by 6-8-person teams that are assembled to focus on the commercialization potential of each of the entrepreneurs’ ideas. The teams continue to work during the intervening week -- researching markets, competition, distribution, and many other aspects of each potential start-up business. The workshops culminated with each team presenting their conclusions to a panel of experienced industry professionals and investors.
  • Developed and updated articles about regional manufacturers to highlight their capabilities in a monthly business-to-business newsletter.
  • Participated in a team that put together a proposal for submission under the URI grant application to establish the Center for International Business Assistance Center to be created at SUNY Binghamton.

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Study: Manufacturers Lagging In Effort To Attract Women

The Chicago Tribune (7/22) reports on a study released 7/21 by the NAM-affiliated Manufacturing Institute that calls on US manufacturers to draw on the “full power and potential” of women to improve the industry’s global competitiveness. The study, which also had input from Deloitte and the APICS Supply Chain Council, found that women account for just over a quarter of manufacturing jobs but rarely ascend to executive positions, “even though they make up nearly half of the total U.S. labor force,” the Tribune notes. The study cites problems including manufacturers’ lackluster recruiting and retention programs as well as a failure to inform women about careers in manufacturing.

IndustryWeek (7/21, Putre) notes that the new report is titled “Minding the Manufacturing Gender Gap” and is based on survey responses of 600 women “working across all levels of manufacturing.” Many of the respondents said there is a double standard in an industry that favors men, including in pay, with women workers receiving less than their male counterparts in the same job. The study recommends that manufacturing try to recruit more women by tapping into “their social networks; retaining them through mentorships, better pay and more flexible hours; and fostering girls’ interest in manufacturing careers as early as fourth grade,” IndustryWeek says. “If we can begin to close that gender gap, it will be possible to simultaneously close the skills gap,” said Gardner Carrick, the Manufacturing Institute’s vice president of strategic initiatives.

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10 Reasons Employees Quit

By: Adrienne Selko

1) Bad Boss
A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers found that the top reason employees quit their jobs is because of a bad boss or immediate supervisor. To have a toxic relationship with the person an employee reports to undermines the employee’s engagement, confidence and commitment, explains Susan Healthfield, an HR expert.

2) Boredom
Once employees are bored with their jobs then trouble begins. A survey by Alpin finds that 50% of employees say once they start thinking about leaving, they put in less effort. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

3) Relationships with Co-workers
Research from the Gallup organization found that of the factors that indicates whether an employee is happy at their job is having a best friend at work.

4) Inability to Use Skills
When employees use their skills and abilities on the job they feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, and self-confidence. If an employee can’t see a path to continued growth in their current organization, they are likely to look elsewhere for a career development or promotion opportunity.

5) Disconnect with Company Goals
Employees need to feel they are part of an effort that is larger than just their job. Many managers assume employees know the company’s goals. If they don’t feel part of a company you’ll lose them explains Susan Healthfield, an HR expert.

6) Lack of Autonomy
Workers who believe they are free to make choices in the workplace — and be accountable for their decisions — are happier and more productive.

7) Meaninglessness of Job
This aspect of job satisfaction is especially important to Millenials. A study by the iOpener Institute found this group’s belief in the firm’s economic or social purpose, and pride in the organization and its work, had a strong correlation with job retention.

8) Company’s Financial Instability
Financial instability -- a lack of sales, layoffs, salary freezes - all lead to an employee’s lack of trust, says Susan Healthfield, an HR expert. However if they respect the company’s judgment, direction, and decision making, they will stay, she says.

9) Lack of Recognition of Job Performance
The Aon Hewitt survey found recognition was the fourth most important driver of engagement globally in 2012, behind issues such as career opportunities and pay. And it’s particularly important for millennials, ranking third globally.

10) Corporate Culture
Does your organization appreciate employees, treat them with respect, and provide compensation, benefits, and perks that demonstrate respect and caring? Your overall culture keeps employees – or turns them away.

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Types of MFG DAY Events

There are many ways to celebrate Manufacturing Day. The only real requirement is that an MFG DAY event should be designed to expose more people to present-day manufacturing while showcasing manufacturing in a positive light.

Having said that, there are a few types of events that have been especially successful during past Manufacturing Day celebrations:
  • Plant tours
  • Manufacturing community events and expos that include many companies
  • Job fairs
  • Educational fairs
  • Celebrations of the manufacturing community

Below are descriptions of what each type of event entails, along with a few tips for making them successful. We hope these examples will help spark some ideas!

The most straightforward way for manufacturers to get involved in Manufacturing Day is to host a plant tour. This is the type of event that forms the backbone of Manufacturing Day.

A plant tour is fairly self-explanatory: a manufacturer opens its doors and invites members of its community to observe its operations first-hand. This type of event can be a modest affair held for local students and community members. If your company ever conducts tours for prospective clients, you can model your Manufacturing Day plant tour on your existing walkthrough and presentation.

Tips for Hosting a Plant TourVisitors who attend plant tours are undoubtedly interested in manufacturing. What they likely need help with is figuring out how they can get involved. One of the most helpful things you can do is introduce them to some of the different aspects of running a manufacturing business: accounting, administration, customer service, engineering, estimating, information technology, logistics, purchasing, sales, etc. Don’t limit yourself to the production activity on the shop floor.

Small groups of manufacturers in the same industrial park have pooled their resources to offer successive plant tours at each of their facilities. This is a great way for the local manufacturers to work together to expose visitors to a range of manufacturing work environments and to drum up local interest in the manufacturing segment of their respective communities.

If your business is located in an industrial park or close to other manufacturing businesses, encourage your manufacturing neighbors to get involved in Manufacturing Day. If they are interested, you can collaborate to put together a collective MFG DAY event and jointly approach important community partners such as businesses, schools and political leaders to make sure they take notice of you and MFG DAY.

It has also become common for groups of manufacturers to come together in an expo format away from their shops. Often these expos are organized by community groups such as chambers of commerce and local manufacturing associations.

3) JOB FAIRJob fairs have been organized in dozens of cities by companies in the temporary placement industry. Often these will take place at a manufacturing employer, but they can also take place at the offices of the placement firm with several representative employers participating.

Educational institutions such as community and technical colleges can be excellent venues for MFG DAY events. Working with local manufacturers to plan career-fair-style happenings can be a great way for high schools and technical colleges to inform their students about careers in manufacturing. Manufacturers can also use these opportunities to share information about their companies with a wider audience of students and parents.

Celebrations of the manufacturing community are springing up all over the country as a way to kick off Manufacturing Day or Manufacturing Week activities. They can be organized by local or regional manufacturing associations and economic development groups. They have even been organized by banks, accounting firms and other businesses that do a significant portion of their business with manufacturers. These can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner events.

The event types listed above are just examples of the most common and successful MFG DAY events. If you have other ideas, please send them to and we will share them with other Manufacturing Day event hosts. Tips are always appreciated!

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Associates’ Corner - SEPAC, Inc.

Since 1984 SEPAC, Inc. has been engineering, designing and manufacturing electromagnetic clutches and brakes for a variety of industries including aerospace, military, industrial, energy, robotics and medical marketplaces. SEPAC’s product lines include tooth clutches/brakes, multiple-disc clutches/brakes and spring applied or “fail safe” clutches/brakes. SEPAC also specializes in customer specific models and prototypes.

Located in a 25,000 square foot facility in Elmira, the 35 full-time employees use state-of-the-art equipment and software in order to continually improve and set the company apart from their competitors. By designing custom solutions for the end-user’s exact and often very demanding needs, SEPAC is able to respond quickly in order to provide a high quality product every time.

SEPAC’s quality is something the company takes pride in and being certified to AS 9100C and ISO 9000:2008 shows the commitment to continuous improvement not only within manufacturing, but the company as a whole. SEPAC also works with customers across the globe, therefore they have experience in the export market and are also ITAR registered.

The company recently launched a brand new, mobile-friendly web site which includes a full online catalog with 3D solid models available for download. The Education Center offers Selection Factors, Application Procedures, and extensive FAQs to help new customers determine the right solution for their specific application or to request more information. The goal being to educate their customers in order to save both time and money for the end-user as well as the engineering group at SEPAC.

Some of SEPAC’s customers include: Moog, General Electric, Honeywell, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Zoll Medical, BAE, Raytheon, SL-MTI, Northrop Grumman, Hardinge, Eaton, and a variety of distributors. SEPAC is always on the look-out for up and coming industries with new potential development opportunities so do not hesitate to contact them with your application needs!

For more information, contact Matt Laser - General Manager or visit their website at

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Associates’ Corner - Astrocom Electronics

Astrocom Electronics began in 1961 with three employees, and today has over 65,000 square feet of design and manufacturing space in its Oneonta facility.

The company produces communications equipment for a worldwide market that includes   space programs, the military, municipal police departments, and private industry. Products include headsets, microphones, earphone and microphone elements, cables, connectors, and switches.

Astrocom management believes that one keystone to the company’s success is its use of lean manufacturing techniques. One result is the ability to quickly modify existing designs and/or drawings in response to customer needs.

Much of the company’s testing equipment has been developed and adapted by Astrocom engineers. This equipment not only checks electronic parameters, but also simulates field environmental conditions, assessing product performance with regard to vibration, blast, shock susceptibility, light reflectivity, and packaging.

Sound chamber facilities allow testing of design theories and checking of attenuation, frequency response, articulation, and other parameters of prototypes and production units. An ozone chamber is used for accelerated aging of rubber assemblies and cord assemblies.

Computer routing design provides for circuit board masters. Subassemblies such as PC boards, plastic components, and rubber molded items can all be done in plant. Metal stamping is also handled in-house.

All drawings become ink originals and circuit board master prints directly from the computer. With on-site facilities, Astrocom engineers are able to investigate theoretical as well as actual characteristics of any suggested design.

In 2008, Astrocom’s management decided to pursue certification to the ISO 9001:2008 standard, and selected AM&T and DLS Quality Technology Associates, Inc. to assist in the process. In August 2009, Astrocom was successful in becoming certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard.

For more information visit

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