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.

October 24, 2022

The MEP National Network Responds to Urgent Need for Medical Supplies in Wake of Hurricane IanFloridaMakes, part of the MEP National NetworkTM, immediately mobilized when they received an urgent request in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 28, 2022. CDR Maguire needed help locating defibrillators and related accessories, some likely hard to source, as they set up field hospitals in southwest Florida. The request was urgent – the items were needed within 48 hours to help evacuees in need of medical attention. In less than a day, FloridaMakes received a flood of responses, including an introduction from the Massachusetts MEP to Zoll Medical Corporation, a company that manufactures the needed defibrillator systems. With the help of FloridaMakes and Zoll Medical Corporation, CDR Maguire is now better equipped to serve people impacted by Hurricane Ian in Florida.

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October 19, 2022

Manufacturers Identify Top Challenges They Expect to FaceThe “challenges” blog is an annual tradition. We ask MEP Center clients to identify the top three challenges their companies face over the next three years. In the past, we’ve received responses from thousands of clients, providing us with insights into not only where manufacturing is, but also where it has been and, hopefully, where we’re going. This knowledge can help guide our focus — in fact, the challenges that have grown the most during the past 10 years align with MEP’s current programmatic focuses on workforce, supply chain and technology. Fiscal Year 2021’s responses had a new frontrunner, a new top challenge reported by MEP clients — employee recruitment and retention. In fact, employee recruitment and retention has grown 29.8% as an MEP client challenge during the past 10 years, the highest increase for any reported challenge in the MEP survey.

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October 14, 2022

Manufacturers: Forget CX. It’s Time to Focus on EX.What’s gotten lost in the unrelenting focus on the customer experience has been optimizing your worker experiences. In fact, it’s almost paradoxical to expect your workers to give great customer experiences, but not expect them to have great experiences themselves! Unfortunately, while many companies have meticulously planned out their customer journeys — from marketing to ecommerce to communication — very few have done the same for their employees. Perhaps that’s why the national “quits” rate continues to hover near 3%, well above the long-term average of 1.99%. In a time of workforce shortages and talent mismatches, it’s never been more important to create a new discipline: worker experience. Learn more about why it’s important for manufacturers to focus on employee experience.

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October 10, 2022

Manufacturing Day Gives Manufacturers the Opportunity to Shine – And Develop Their Future WorkforceFor years, U.S. manufacturers have struggled to find and keep good workers. The pandemic brought this to crisis level, and the difficult labor market has led companies to find creative workforce solutions. Manufacturing Day, held every year on the first Friday of October, is a great opportunity for manufacturers to open their doors and show students, parents and educators the careers they have to offer. MFG Day 2022, on Oct. 7, 2022 (with events held throughout October), will draw public attention to manufacturing’s present-day reality and encourage careers in this secure and growing sector of the economy. By participating in this national outreach effort, manufacturers will find resources to address the skilled labor shortage, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and help ensure a prosperous future for manufacturing throughout the U.S.

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October 6, 2022

Five Trends That Will Impact the Food Industry For Many YearsThe Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and JobsOhio recently commissioned a business intelligence group, TEConomy Partners, to conduct a study on the current and future state of the food industry. The findings identified five large-scale trends, or themes, that are having a significant impact on the industry, whether you are in craft beer or dairy. The disruptive technologies span the entire value chain and will have impacts for many years. It’s not just high-demand areas such as supply chain and cold storage where innovation is occurring, it’s also happening in traditional unit operations found in legacy manufacturers and product categories. Learn more about the five long-term, impactful trends in the food industry.

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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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