Adapting to a global economy Featured

10:05am EDT January 30, 2006
Today, successful companies view innovation and improvement not as a quick fix but as a permanent, cultural change.

Successful manufacturers do not focus on single improvement ideas but rather on a cultural shift that is articulated and infused throughout the organization. It is less important to focus on which methodology is used than on how complete the implementation is. The winners of this year’s eVolution of Manufacturing awards have each embraced this ideal with flourishing, world-class results.

In the area of process improvement, award-winner Bettcher Amherst Manufacturing LLC, a precision metal stamper, has enacted a vigorous Lean Manufacturing culture, maximizing efficiencies and producing a strong turnaround which has positioned the company to thrive in the world market.

Similarly, winner Thomas Steel Strip, the Warren maker of thin gauge steel electro-coatings for custom applications, has eliminated root causes of waste with a companywide business excellence initiative. It has morphed its entire culture from management to the union workers on the shop floor, with each enthusiastically complementing the other.

Another winner, Energizer’s Global Purchasing Center in Westlake, has embedded corporatewide value improvement into its DNA, rearranging scattered processes into a cellular layout which allows for the simultaneous manufacture of multiple products in needed quantities, thus reducing lead times, eliminating waste and improving customer services.

In the areas of product improvement, truly ingrained evolution exists at Concord’s Ranpak Corp., winner of a second consecutive eVolution award. This maker of recyclable box filling hardware and software has used improvements in both product and process to reduce the box fill usage of its system by 10 percent to 25 percent, proving the modern paradigm that green industry is profitable industry.

Likewise, winner OEConnection’s inventory management and supply chain technology has saved automakers and dealers money, space and time by allowing it to keep track of inventory around the globe rather than just in the warehouse.

And honoree PartsSource in Twinsburg has developed applications that match buyers with suppliers of biomedical parts for hospital equipment, supporting all makes and models. Potential buyers can get OEM pricing and parts in less than two hours, thus improving their financial health.

Finally, there is no better sign of cultural consistency than maintenance of a talented work force. Award-winner Shearer’s Foods of Brewster has instituted initiatives for better employee feedback, smarter training and other methodologies that improve communications between office and shop floor. These improvements have prompted a 50 percent decline in work force turnover.

Each of this year’s winners is moving toward better products and practices, more secure market niches and improved customer services. These globally competitive business strategies are complementary, containing a commitment to fundamental innovations in technology, new product development and improved processes.

As this year’s honorees have demonstrated, manufacturing today means establishing a culture that, by definition, touches and changes everything.

The same is true for CAMP. This year sees the evolution of CAMP, Inc. into MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. Our expanded mission is supporting, educating and championing Northeast Ohio manufacturing, with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player.

CAMP productivity and innovation services will remain just as vital as they have been in both Northeast and Northwest Ohio. However, as MAGNET, we will be providing a voice for and to the region’s manufacturers, as well as helping to marshal all of the public and private resources needed by those manufacturers to compete around the world.

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees. Stephen J. Gage is president and CEO of CAMP Inc. and MAGNET Inc. Reach him at (216) 432-5300 or www.camp.org.