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.

September 19, 2022

Yes! Employee Retention Is Possible!Our world has changed dramatically over the past two-and-a-half years. And so have the needs, desires and expectations of the people you hope to hire and retain. To help organizations of all kinds improve their ability to recruit and retain great workers, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor and around 60 industry representatives, developed the Job Quality Toolkit. The toolkit is derived from the globally emulated Baldrige Excellence Framework and incorporates insights from numerous job quality experts. The toolkit describes eight key drivers that influence how workers perceive the quality of their jobs, which of course impacts their satisfaction with and commitment to those jobs. It also offers suggestions for strategies and actions and provides resources that can help you move the needle on those drivers and improve the quality of the jobs you offer, and ultimately increase worker retention, productivity and the success of your business.

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September 16, 2022

Cybersecurity – A Critical Component of Industry 4.0 ImplementationIn the past, enterprise systems in manufacturing facilities had distinct boundaries. The shop floor was separated from the office functions of the company both physically and electronically. Few production systems were connected to each other or the internet. In some ways, this approach, commonly known as “air gapping,” gave reasonable protection for small manufacturers. Without the risks associated with connectivity, manufacturers were seen by attackers as hard targets and not worth the effort. Today, with the growing use of the internet and mobile devices, boundaries between traditional information technology (IT) systems, production systems, operational technologies (OT), or other equipment have almost disappeared. With the recent increase in the number of employees working remotely, the boundaries that remained in place were weakened further. Meanwhile, attacks to get around the air gap have become well known. Manufacturing is now the most targeted industry for cybersecurity attacks. This is one of the reasons cybersecurity has become a critical component of Industry 4.0 implementation.

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September 13, 2022

When Your Lean Supply Chains Feel Out of Control, Focus on What You Can ControlMany manufacturers who adopted lean principles by applying a “just-in-time” (JIT) mindset to inventory of materials and parts have been burned, sometimes badly, by cascading supply chain disruptions. Broken links in the supply chain have created havoc, especially for smaller manufacturers. Some have scrambled to build “safety stock” of hard-to-find supplies. Others have sought out redundant sourcing. The reality is that everything is connected in your supply chain, and those connections can be fragile when they are not well supported. No, lean supply chain is not dead. It’s quite the opposite. When your supply chain breaks down, lean systems for the rest of your value stream system will help you deal with the issue. Solutions revolve around agility and controls, not masking inefficiencies.

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August 31, 2022

8 Reasons You’re Struggling with Your WorkforceThrough a recent seminar at The City Club of Cleveland, MAGNET’s Matt Fieldman learned that there are eight simple reasons why you’re struggling with your workforce. These “social determinants of work” are plaguing most cities and towns and must be addressed. When we’re talking about millions of Americans still on the sidelines of our economy, this isn’t about individuals – this is about our systems. These factors are all outside of your employee’s control but because they have significant individual consequences, they are affecting your company and our American manufacturing industry.

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August 19, 2022

How Smaller Manufacturers Can Develop Risk Management Strategies for Their Supply ChainsThe COVID-19 pandemic brought to light a stark reality about current supply chains. In their recent MEP National Network™/Modern Machine Shop webinar “How Smaller Manufacturers Can Develop Risk Management Strategies for Their Supply Chains,” Gary Steinberg of California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC, the California MEP Center) and Chris Scafario from the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC, part of the Pennsylvania MEP) shared strategies for identifying and mitigating supply chain risks, especially aimed at small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs).

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August 12, 2022

Four Ways That Engaging With Schools Benefits Your Talent StreamThe manufacturing community has long struggled with finding skilled workers, citing, among other things, the misperceptions that manufacturing jobs underpay, are monotonous and involve working in dirty factories. With the adoption of Industry 4.0 — automation and robotics — the task at hand for the industry is as much about raising awareness and creating interest for high-tech careers in advanced manufacturing as it is about changing perceptions. That’s why manufacturers should be getting more involved with their local schools. According to Bill Padnos, workforce development manager with the National Tool and Machining Association, 64 percent of high school students choose their careers based on their interests and experiences. Engaging with students via factory tours, educational programming and interactive contests helps raise awareness in ways that will help to fill the future talent stream. Plus, the more your region knows about manufacturing, the easier it is to get people interested in manufacturing careers.

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August 3, 2022

Infographic: Reshoring and the Pandemic – Bringing Manufacturing Back to AmericaA new infographic, Reshoring and the Pandemic: Bringing Manufacturing Back to America, delves into various factors related to reshoring supply chains and shines a light on how the MEP National Network™ supports these efforts. Even before the pandemic, some manufacturers were thinking seriously about bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., as a million jobs were reshored in the past decade. Product quality, freight costs and supply chain risks were all considerations before the pandemic. Proximity to customers and markets, government incentives and availability of skilled workers also all played a role in manufacturers’ decisions to move back to the U.S. The infographic will help you learn about various considerations behind this trend. You’ll see the top countries manufacturing is returning from and the top industries coming back to the U.S.

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July 26, 2022

Lighting Up Manufacturing Workforce Development: The America Works FireWorks Conference RecapWorkforce “FireWorks” were on full display in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 22 and 23! We all know and love fireworks; who hasn’t “ooh’ed” and “aah’ed” as they light up the sky? Fittingly, these workforce programs, ideas, innovations, and collaborations had exactly that same impact, expanding the horizons of more than 70 workforce professionals from inside and outside the MEP National Network. A day and a half of networking, sharing, brainstorming, and collaborating was exactly what these professionals were looking for to illuminate their local workforce ecosystems.

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July 5, 2022

Manufacturers: It’s Time to Move from Operational Excellence to Inclusive ExcellenceWe have to ensure that the employees and team members we’re serving bring a diversity of perspectives so we can create organizations capable of solving the complex challenges of our modern world. It’s time for us to move beyond simple operational excellence — making your processes as efficient and cost-effective as possible — and start thinking about inclusive excellence, which prioritizes people above products and profits.

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June 30, 2022

Capturing New MarketsThe MEP National Network can aide in certification processes.

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