What challenge faces manufacturers today, listen to a lean show, and more!
What challenge faces manufacturers today, listen to a lean show, and more!

Northwestern Michigan College

Training Services

Northern Lower Regional Office to the 

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center

Monthly Newsletter
August | 20 | 2014

Finding a Skilled Manufacturing Workforce: Looming Crisis or Huge Opportunity?

By Kennith Scott

It was the fall of 2002 when I stepped off the hull of the USS Georgia and onto the pier at the submarine naval base in Bangor, Washington.  I had completed the requirements of my enlistment, and having chosen a naval program featuring two years of technical training in nuclear power, chemistry, and the mechanical knowledge of a naval Machinist Mate, I was certain my path was well paved for success.
When I left the military in 2002, I did not have manufacturing on my list of potential career choices.  However, if it had been on my list, I would have been looking at an industry in decline.  When I finally did connect with the manufacturing sector, I quickly understood the fear and frustration associated with an evolving global market.  The on-paper calculations that lead to seemingly black and white decisions about how to outsource work never make sense on the shop floor.  The gut-sinking fear that comes with any announcement of a “mandatory all-employee meeting” never subsides.
Today manufacturing has not died in America; as a matter of fact, it is on the rise!  The Manufacturing Report on Business, published by Institute for Supply Management, just reported on August 1, 2014, manufacturing is expanding at the fastest pace in three years.  Manufacturers should be happy with this current trend, right? The short answer is yes. Most manufacturers would agree an increase in demand for American manufacturing is a good trend, but at the same time they are struggling to rebuild the workforce they let go over the last decade.  During those rough times when workers had to be let go, many companies did the right thing by offering early retirement packages.  This means that the skilled workers are now enjoying retirement, not available for re-employment. But this is just the tip of a much larger iceberg.


Hear what organizations and businesses around Michigan are doing to implement Lean practices. The Leaning Edge includes in-depth interviews with leaders who help move the concept ahead and those who are currently using Lean principles in their day-to-day operations.
From Mark Graban's The Lean Blog www.leanblog.org
In our Healthcare Kaizen books, Joe Swartz and I have tried to make the case that the Kaizen style of continuous improvement isn’t just a nice way to treat employees… it’s smart business and it’s good for patients. It’s a practical approach that we can make a part of our organizational culture with effort, patience, creativity, and discipline. We can all do this. We can try to engage everybody in ongoing continuous improvement.
The biggest challenge or complaint I get thrown back at me is a leader saying “we don’t have time for improvement.” To that, I say you have to make time for Kaizen. If it’s important, you’ll make time and you’ll find a way. If you want to give Kaizen lip service, you’ll make excuses. If you’re serious about it, you’ll solve the “no time” problem and other barriers (see a video of me giving a talk on this theme via LEI).
The other big concern is leaders asking:

“What if our employees give us bad ideas?”

Upcoming Workshops

Continuous Improvement for Healthcare Settings

August 20, 2014; 7:30-11:30 AM; $99

This four-hour class will provide an overview of continuous improvement principles based on the Toyota Production System including identifying and reducing waste, problem solving, and basic process improvement tools. While the focus will be on the application in clinical healthcare settings, several examples will be provided concerning application to medical office processes, including patient registration and billing.  Learn more»

Lean Manufacturing Champion

September 10, 2014, through February 18, 2015

$3,500 per participant; add an additional person for half price.
Learn to cut waste and cost out of your process while earning certification as a Lean Champion.  Deliverables: build internal capacity, facilitated Kaizen at your location, sustain continuous improvement, lean manufacturing simulation and project planning, facilitator and kata skills, problem solving, current and future state mapping with lean metrics, 5S workplace organization, cellular flow, kanban pull system, standard work and poke-yoke, SMED, and TPM.  Learn more»

Lean Office Champion

October 14, 2014, through March 17, 2015

$3,500 per participant; add an additional person for half price.

Build your organization’s internal lean capacity as a Lean Champion and learn how to facilitate continuous improvement projects in your workplace.  This six-month class will include tools for facilitating change, seeing waste in current processes, building more effective teams, increasing productivity while reducing stress, and improving the quality of services or products delivered to your customer.  Learn more»

 Lean Learning Consortium 

Monthly Learning Events


Lean Innovation Tour at RJG, Inc.


Lean Learning Event:  Innovation


Hoshin Planning Tour at Britten Banners
To join the Lean Learning Consortium or register for events, contact Lisa Rollin at lrollin@nmc.edu or 231-995-2005.

MMTC clients in Michigan reported the following project impacts for the past year:
$50,533,000 in new sales
$74,446,000 in retained sales
$40,766,992 in new investments
$18,693,390 in cost savings
Vicki Rumbach

The Bookshelf

See what your fellow professionals are reading.

Sander Scott at Traverse City Area Public Schools is reading/listening to....

Beyond the Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.

Are you reading a book that is changing the way you think about your work or company? Share it!  
Email Heather Fraizer at hfraizer@nmc.edu to have your book highlighted in our "Bookshelf" section.
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