By Martin Cloake, CEO & Founder, Raven.ai One of the best things about the time I spent in my early career, working at a mid-sized manufacturing plant, was how simple it was to get things done. Once plant leadership and the operators were on board with a plan, the only thing holding me back was…

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Automatic Bread Slicer

By Paul Neblock, Apex Management Partners Many manufacturers are starting to turn to automation to address increasing competition and a lack of skilled production workers.  COVID and retiring Baby Boomers have exacerbated the labor shortage and made a more urgent issue. Most manufacturers do not have an automation strategy.  This gap in planning results in…

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Shop floor production supervisor leading a stand-up meeting

By Gayle Noakes, Founder of Gayle Noakes Supervisor Success All too often when we realize our Supervisors need more skills, we sign them up for a training program and wipe our hands, thinking the job is done. The Supervisors probably do need to learn new skills, but there is so much more that needs to…

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Gravity Flow Rack

By Tim Allen, Vice President of Management Consulting, Pragmatek When you think about supply chain automation what often comes to mind are mega-corporations with expensive and complex robotics running people-less factories and warehouses with endless arrays of software and robots moving materials and churning out products. How can a small manufacturer possibly afford automation? The…

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3D Printed Parts

By Rodd Joos What is your reaction when your customer requests a quote for prototype parts? Traditionally, manufacturers consider making prototypes a cost of doing business. Customers expect you to support prototype quantities, but let’s face it, they are a nuisance. Quoting the work takes as long as making the parts, and the order will…

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A production supervisor has perhaps one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in a factory. I learned firsthand one summer as an intern at a GM Factory in Saginaw, Michigan, where I filled in for vacationing supervisors. There I was, a 21-year-old college kid supervising a bunch of grizzled workers. It was daunting at…

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Lean Operational Excellence Easy as BBQ

Over the past couple of years, BBQ cooking has become a hobby for me. I enjoyed watching BBQ Pitmasters on TV and it led to the purchase of a wood smoker to do low-and-slow barbecue. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve developed some decent tried-and-true recipes, but I wanted to learn how to move beyond…

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Finding Grace in Details

I’ve always been fascinated with heavy equipment. I suppose it started with my Tonka trucks in the sandbox. To this day, I can watch a backhoe in action with no small degree of amazement. In the hands of an experienced operator, this hunk of metal, cylinders and hydraulic fluid becomes a work of grace and…

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Leadership is commonly cited as a primary driver of successful lean manufacturing implementations. It’s hard to argue with that since the leadership team owns all the results of the company. However, it begs the question: What exactly is senior leadership supposed to do? I’ve found there are five keys mindsets senior leaders must have to…

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