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.
Cybersecurity guidelines required by the Department of Defense (DoD) are likely to have an enormous impact on the over 700 North Dakota manufacturers that received a DoD contract in 2016. By December 31, 2017, all DoD contractors (including small business) must meet minimum cybersecurity requirements or risk losing DoD business. Alarmingly, most manufacturers aren’t even aware of the looming deadline or what they must do to comply.
Cybersecurity is paramount to our nation’s safety and our military’s viability. Having a sustainable plan in place to combat cyber threats also is critical to the survival of a small business because just one cyber-attack can be catastrophic. The following statistics underscore the severity of the issue:
One of the reasons President Donald Trump won the election was his promise to bring back American manufacturing jobs. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, he told a group of manufacturing CEOs that “[b]ringing manufacturing back to America, creating high-wage jobs was one of our campaign promises and themes, and it resonated with everybody.”
In early 2016, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) published ISO Technical Specification (TS) 15066, which outlines safety requirements for collaborative robots. The American National Standards Institute, ANSI, adopted ISO/TS 15066 later that year as ANSI/RIA Technical Report R15.606 (RIA is the Robotic Industries Association). These documents outline safety functions that maintain a safe distance between people and active robots, and limit the transfer of forces and pressures should contact between a person and a robot occur. Robots that adhere to these requirements are considered inherently safe.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, meeting customer demand isn’t enough. Small and mid-sized manufacturers must have a continuous pipeline of new sales in order to thrive and grow. However, it is becoming more challenging to connect with key decision makers to accomplish this. Technology is constantly evolving and has changed how people communicate, research products and parts, and make purchasing decisions. In comparison to the past, your target audience now has more control over the sales process. The internet enables them to easily research information and pricing at the blink of an eye. Caller IDs, gatekeepers, spam filters, and “no soliciting” signs are making it more difficult for manufacturers to proactively connect with prospects. And the nonstop barrage of advertisements and sales pitches are making it more difficult to become memorable.
As a business owner, your days are full and the years pass quickly — before you know it, retirement is not far away. If you’ve worked hard to build your own business, a well-thought-out plan for passing the reins to a successor can provide peace of mind. Whether you transition your company to a family member, a long-time employee or a new buyer, a succession plan can ensure a smooth transition that helps secure your wealth and your legacy.
Can you imagine yourself behind the wheel of a new luxury SUV? It’s hard not to spend $50,000-plus in this day and age of high tech vehicles. Of course you purchased it with certain performance, styling and comfort requirements in mind, but, at the end of the day your ultimate objective was to provide a reliable means to take you from point A to point B. What if, after the first few miles, your pride and joy started running rough? The capacity to achieve that ultimate goal is severely diminished. Naturally, you’ll take it back to the dealership, they plug it in to the computer and they diagnose a simple fix—just one spark plug was defective. That small piece of material costs about $19 (100,000 mile platinum, of course), but it essentially transformed your $50,000 SUV into a piece of junk. It doesn’t matter at all if it has the finest fuel delivery system and transmission that money can buy. If just one component is malfunctioning, then the performance of the whole machine is limited to the performance of that component.
In North Dakota's extremely competitive business environment, organizations are realizing the need to fully utilize employees' knowledge and skills to gain the advantage over competing companies.
ISO certification has been the “talk of the town” for various manufacturers. The topic has been particularly popping up because for the first time since 2008, the ISO 9001 industrial and commercial standards are being upgraded. These standards are reviewed every five years, and this review is extremely important as changes to the marketplace occur.
One of the recent 2-day kaizen events that I facilitated included improving the warehouse operations at a manufacturing facility. This was a hands-on project and we got rid of obsolete items and consolidated many partially filled boxes of products which resulted in 50% more storage space. This, in combination with the reconfiguration of warehouse layout and adding of surplus rack system from a sister company resulted in a net increase of close to 70% in warehouse storage capacity. This helped the company to avoid building an addition to the warehouse which was estimated to cost about $100,000.