Dr. Stephen Gage

Monday, 30 January 2006 10:05

Adapting to a global economy

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.

Monday, 24 January 2005 09:47

Changing times

This year's eVolution of Manufacturing award winners realize the face of manufacturing is changing and evolving, and that they must do the same to survive. These companies have moved from a reactive to a proactive stance, putting innovation at the forefront of their thinking and constantly looking for new ways to grow and improve their operations.

As Jeff Korach, president of Tremco Group, put it, "Just because your grandfather did it one way doesn't mean that's the way to do it."

Tremco's approach was to push the envelope and examine existing processes to improve and build upon them. The result was its Business Process Excellence strategy. With its implementation came savings of costs, material and time.

Great Lakes Integrated adopted a similar philosophy by evolving and creating enhanced services for its clients. Through an Internet-based system, GLI clients can create and manage marketing and brand-building resources at the click of a mouse. This proactive stance has distanced GLI from the competition.

Being proactive, though, does not just mean innovating new products or growing business; sometimes, it can mean taking care of your people. For JACO Manufacturing, an employee Rewards Based Incentive Program helped to encourage workers and resulted in significant drops in absenteeism and dramatic increases in workplace safety.

Other winners, such as Ranpak Corp., have continued to build on their innovations. Recently, Ranpak's core product, the PadPak, was joined by another biodegradable, renewable and recyclable void-fill product, The FillPak converter. With FillPak, several 100-cubic-foot boxes of Ranpak fanfold paper can be queued at once, allowing a packer to focus on filling boxes and not on changeover time, resulting in significant cost and time savings for the company.

For one eVolution award winner, innovation was truly an evolutionary process. For Garland Industries, a new, state-of-the art production line meant significant investments, including in a new facility to house the production line. But the results have been worth it; by 2007, Garland expects to increase production by more than 150 percent.

As the nominees and honorees for this year's eVolution award have clearly demonstrated, manufacturing today means anticipating the future, then evolving and innovating to meet it, not just being satisfied with today's results.

CAMP Inc. supports these innovative approaches to creating economically viable solutions in the global economy. I applaud the nominees' efforts and believe these companies are leading the way for the needed revitalization in the region.

Congratulations to all of this year's honorees.

Stephen Gage is president of CAMP Inc., title sponsor of the eVolution of Manufacturing awards.

Friday, 31 January 2003 10:58

Adaptation

This year's crop of eVolution in Manufacturing honorees represent some of the best practices in this next wave of more responsible e-business solutions. Reviewing the applications this year left me thinking one thing -- each of the winners gets it.

No longer are companies trying to out-technology each other with the latest and greatest innovations designed for the Wow Factor. Instead, these seven businesses have employed their e-business solutions to achieve a mixture of cost savings, revenue enhancement, productivity enhancement and waste reduction, specifically in unnecessary manpower and paperwork.

They've accomplished this not only for themselves but also for their customers and business partners throughout the supply chain. The truism in manufacturing today is that companies need to get their business partners excited about using the new systems if they expect to replace or enhance their existing business activity models.

Excitement about -- and acceptance of -- the system comes when the application delivers benefits to users over the existing business processes. Without buy-in, the benefits may never be realized. This may seem basic, but it is fundamental to the success of e-commerce applications.

Several of this year's nominees included appropriate business partners all the way from the design stage through the continued evolution of their systems.

Moen, for example, solicited input from seven of its suppliers when designing its SupplyNet initiative. They attended regular meetings with Moen's in-house IT department throughout the process, which helped create the buy-in necessary to get 130 of Moen's suppliers to take advantage of the system once it was deployed.

Another key element was that most of the applicants did not rely on revenue growth as the basis for success. Genie Repros' online proofing system had many innovations, but the key benefits included significant internal cost savings and hard cost and time-to-print reductions for its business partners.

These types of elements represent significant competitive advantages and can be the impetus for new barriers to entry that competitors must suddenly take into consideration.

As the nominees and honorees for this year's eVolution award have clearly demonstrated, providing benefits for your supply chain partners and involving them in the design of your application creates a powerful tool. In doing so, companies can achieve the realistic return on investment that was envisioned by the early adopters of technology.

CAMP Inc. supports this pragmatic approach to creating economically viable solutions that work. I personally applaud the nominees' efforts and believe these companies are leading the way for the needed technological revitalization in the region.

Congratulations to all of this year's honorees. Stephen Gage is president of CAMP Inc., title sponsor of the eVolution in Manufacturing awards.

Wednesday, 01 February 2006 04:38

Adapting to a global economy

Full coverage of the Smart Business eVolution in Manufacturing Conference presented by CAMP is available in our February 2006 Cleveland edition.

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.

Tuesday, 26 February 2002 12:02

An eVolution in manufacturing

Helping companies excel and grow -- how better to accomplish this than by applying today's business tools and technologies in a creative and enterprising way. The eVolution in Manufacturing Award was conceived to recognize those companies that have that vision.

We all know technology for technology's sake is not a viable (or profitable) concept. Today, visionary companies are executing B2B strategies but with a back-to-basics focus.These companies are using e-business tools and technology to do a better job servicing the needs of their customers. Instead of pushing "whiz bang" and "bleeding edge" technologies that don't make sense (or money), they are asking clients, what they need to do business faster, better and at a lower cost.

In doing so, they are able to evaluate and realign their business processes to meet the needs of their clients and business partners.

This approach has been utilized by a number of our eVolution award winners. The people at Nordson have created value in the eyes of their customers in new and interesting ways.

In addition to providing clients with the ability to transact business, they have provided them with a vehicle to proactively collect information on the status of an invoice or their entire account. The results of this application far exceeded the company's expectations, again pointing to delivering customer value.

This customercentric approach is also exemplified in the training applications developed by the award winners at KraftMaid Cabinetry and Tooling University. Not only did these programs reduce the firm's costs and the expenses incurred by their clients in participating in these mission critical training applications, but they made these materials available to the end user when it was convenient for them to use the training tools.

As a result of the interactive teaching methods used and the application of both pre- and post-participation testing, the retention rates associated with the use of these training tools is phenomenal.

Finally, the success experienced by the people at USB is attributable not only to the fact that they have made useful resources (a searchable Material Safety Data Sheet and technical library) available to their customers, but they have also applied an integrated marketing strategy to the promotion of this site. In doing so, they have seen a steady increase in the number of users' sessions, resulting in a growing revenue stream.

CAMP Inc. supports the use of this back-to-basics approach and will continue to help forward-thinking companies like these develop efficient, customer-focused e-business solutions of this type. The reason is simple -- they make good business sense. These applications strengthen their client relationships as well as create value for both parties.

Further, by virtue of the fact they are built to meet client demand and involve the application of continuous improvement technologies, these applications will be self-funding and result in ongoing process improvements that benefit all those involved.

On a final note, and most important, these tools, techniques and processes make small- to mid-sized entities more competitive and profitable. It is as a result of the close fit between these points and CAMP's mission that I am proud to be affiliated with this event and look forward to our continued participation as other area manufacturers take advantage of these business-strengthening technologies.

Congratulations to all of this year's eVolution in Manufacturing award winners. Steve Gage is president of CAMP Inc.

Thursday, 29 January 2004 19:00

Tinkering with technology

There's technology, and then there is technology creatively used to solve strategic business challenges.

This year, the eVolution in Manufacturing winners exemplify fine examples of the second kind. In real estate, there are three factors for success -- location, location and location. As I reviewed this year's nominations, I found that most also stressed three factors for success -- customer, customer and customer.

In a year when many companies took a "sit tight" approach, some leading companies took this opportunity to get ready for an improving economy. These proactive companies are now better positioned for growth as the number of orders begins to grow.

The impact that technology properly applied can have on a company can be immense, even transformational. The key is to use it as a tool, not as a substitute for a well-considered strategy.

The recent recession made companies pause and question their use of information technology. But those companies that knew the true value of information as a competitive edge -- not only for their managers and workers but also for their customers -- quickly recommitted to business strategies exploiting the extraordinary developments in IT through the 1990s.

For example, a previous eVolution award winner, Lincoln Electric, was able to create -- and significantly grow -- a new retail business unit leveraging its ERP system, Web-based solutions and lean manufacturing concepts. Another large company, GE Quartz, created an integrated management information capability that provides its employees with a real-time picture of all aspects of its business globally.

Smaller companies have been particularly vulnerable in these difficult times. As Voss Industries faced challenges as an automotive and aerospace supplier, it knew that the only way to survive was to improve customer satisfaction and increase productivity. To accomplish this, it implemented a synergistic blend of Web-based and conventional ERP applications, allowing it to exceed customer expectations while reducing the cost and time of production.

No group of companies was hurt more by the plight of IT than the traditional IT consultant. One firm that did not fall into that situation was EYEMG. As a Web development and hosting company, its entire business of developing and supporting Web-based applications was at risk. However, because of the company's customer focus and creative IT strategies, it made it easy and productive for customers to do business with it. This has enabled EYEMG to not only maintain but also grow a very loyal customer base.

By dedicating time and resources to the right technology for the right reasons, the eVolution award winners are living examples of how companies can sustain and grow their businesses through customer satisfaction and improved productivity ... even in tough times. I am particularly proud of the 2004 winners for their focus, ingenuity and commitment to improvement. Stephen Gage is president of CAMP Inc., title sponsor of the eVolution in Manufacturing awards.

Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

Adaptation

This year's crop of eVolution in Manufacturing honorees represent some of the best practices in this next wave of more responsible e-business solutions. Reviewing the applications this year left me thinking one thing -- each of the winners gets it.

No longer are companies trying to out-technology each other with the latest and greatest innovations designed for the Wow Factor. Instead, these seven businesses have employed their e-business solutions to achieve a mixture of cost savings, revenue enhancement, productivity enhancement and waste reduction, specifically in unnecessary manpower and paperwork.

They've accomplished this not only for themselves but also for their customers and business partners throughout the supply chain. The truism in manufacturing today is that companies need to get their business partners excited about using the new systems if they expect to replace or enhance their existing business activity models.

Excitement about -- and acceptance of -- the system comes when the application delivers benefits to users over the existing business processes. Without buy-in, the benefits may never be realized. This may seem basic, but it is fundamental to the success of e-commerce applications.

Several of this year's nominees included appropriate business partners all the way from the design stage through the continued evolution of their systems.

Moen, for example, solicited input from seven of its suppliers when designing its SupplyNet initiative. They attended regular meetings with Moen's in-house IT department throughout the process, which helped create the buy-in necessary to get 130 of Moen's suppliers to take advantage of the system once it was deployed.

Another key element was that most of the applicants did not rely on revenue growth as the basis for success. Genie Repros' online proofing system had many innovations, but the key benefits included significant internal cost savings and hard cost and time-to-print reductions for its business partners.

These types of elements represent significant competitive advantages and can be the impetus for new barriers to entry that competitors must suddenly take into consideration.

As the nominees and honorees for this year's eVolution award have clearly demonstrated, providing benefits for your supply chain partners and involving them in the design of your application creates a powerful tool. In doing so, companies can achieve the realistic return on investment that was envisioned by the early adopters of technology.

CAMP Inc. supports this pragmatic approach to creating economically viable solutions that work. I personally applaud the nominees' efforts and believe these companies are leading the way for the needed technological revitalization in the region.

Congratulations to all of this year's honorees. Stephen Gage is president of CAMP Inc., title sponsor of the eVolution in Manufacturing awards.