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Business Operations

Hologic Supports Women’s Health via Innovation

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Nilo Caravaca, Hologic’s vice president of operations for Costa Rica and Latin America, says the company has an “important purpose”: to improve and save women’s lives around the world. At the Costa Rica facility that he manages, the company manufactures diagnostic and imaging equipment that protects women’s health, such as mammography systems and bone density scanners.

In pursuit of their goal, Caravaca and his team have embraced innovative technologies as well as best practices in talent management. For their achievements in attracting, upskilling and retaining a world-class workforce, the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council awarded Hologic the 2021 Manufacturer of the Year award in the small and medium enterprise category. But the company is not stopping there. Caravaca anticipates further innovations, as Hologic keeps prioritizing efficiency, safety and growth.

Here is a snapshot of Hologic’s two award-winning projects and a look at things to come.

Supply chain innovation: Almost every product made by Hologic’s Costa Rica facility serves a patient with an urgent medical issue. That means its supply chain must be incredibly resilient and reliable.

  • To meet these critical needs, Hologic launched a project called “Impacting Lives Every Day,” which employed robots for moving materials and bots for automating processes, while improving operations using real-time data and analytics.
  • The project has resulted in a more reliable supply chain that gets products to patients faster while improving quality and safety.

Talent management: Caravaca believes companies need to focus on people in addition to technology to make the transition to Manufacturing 4.0, the next wave of technological progress.

  • To that end, his team developed a new set of talent management processes that helps attract and recruit the best employees on the market, as well as ensure they have the opportunity to perform at their highest level.

The last word: An engineer by trade, Caravaca has a simple “formula for the future” of manufacturing: “Find the right talent, fit that talent in the right position, engage it and add tenure over time.” That will allow people to grow into their roles and perform at their peaks—the best result for both the company and the employees themselves.

To learn more about the innovative technologies and processes at Hologic’s Costa Rica facility, read “Hologic’s Winning Formula” in the August 2021 issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal.

Business Operations

A Visit to Robinson Helicopter Company

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What’s it like to make machines that capture the news, fight crime and train pretty much every helicopter pilot? For Robinson Helicopter Company, a manufacturer of civil helicopters, that’s just another day at work.

NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer took a trip to the Robinson facility in Torrance, California, to get an up-close look at what they do. Here’s what he saw.

Attention to detail is a core value of Robinson’s workforce. Here, two of Robinson’s employees focus on the critical work they do to make sure Robinson’s helicopters can perform successfully and safely.

The people who use Robinson’s machines are precious cargo—and so employees are careful to make sure that every piece, no matter how small, is handled correctly.

Robinson’s employees work hard on their machines—inside and out.

With a few finishing touches—like the rotor blades—this R44 Raven II will be ready for flight.

At Robinson, the work is never done. Here, a group of helicopters-in-progress wait to join the more than 13,000 helicopters that the company has already delivered worldwide.

The last word: “We are proud to be the world’s leading producer of civil helicopters and take great pride in our employees and their commitment to quality,” said Robinson President and Chairman Kurt Robinson.

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Are Mastering Data

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When it comes to data management, most manufacturers are basically teenagers. They’ve gotten past the early stages but have yet to reach full maturity and mastery in their approach. In fact, it is often unclear what the data strategy is, who is responsible for it or even what the data is worth in the first place.

A new survey from the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council shows us how manufacturers are progressing in their quest to harness the power of data—a capability that could have transformative power for many manufacturers throughout their operations. Below are some highlights.

Data collection: Most manufacturers rate their organizational data skills as just average, saying they struggle to collect the right data and interpret it.

  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents said their company had just a moderate ability to collect data that is meaningful for their business needs.

Data analysis: If gathering data is a challenge, gaining insights from that data is an even bigger one.

  • Seventy-five percent of respondents ranked their organization as only somewhat capable in their ability to analyze their manufacturing operations data.
  • Even more worrisome, 11% of respondents said their organization was not at all capable of this type of analysis.

Applying insights: The practical application of data to create value is also a challenge for many manufacturers.

  • Almost one-third said they expend greater than 80% of their efforts on gathering and organizing data—as opposed to analyzing and applying insights from it.

Other stumbling blocks: The survey revealed additional impediments to using data:

  • The lack of systems available to capture the data (46%)
  • Data inaccessibility (43%)
  • The lack of skills to analyze data effectively (39%)

Opportunities: The good news is that even with these imperfect efforts, organizations are largely leveraging the data they do have to make informed decisions.

  • Forty-eight percent said their organization makes data-driven decisions frequently, while 18% said they make data-driven decisions constantly.

The bottom line: Seventy-five percent of respondents said data mastery will be essential for future competitiveness. Indeed, data mastery is crucial to the industry’s transition into Manufacturing 4.0—the next big wave of industrial innovation—and the MLC will be tracking the industry’s progress closely.

To see more insights from the latest MLC M4.0 Data Mastery Survey, read “Growing Pains” in the August 2021 issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal.

Policy and Legal

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Keeps Promises After Tax Reform

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Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a West Columbia, South Carolina–based manufacturer, has been instrumental in helping American hospitals during the pandemic. The company produces inhalation solutions and suspension products, as well as prefilled sterile syringes, vials, IV bottles and IV bags. Meanwhile, Nephron also launched a COVID-19 diagnostics lab and vaccination center last year and recently announced plans for a new U.S. plant that will produce medical-grade nitrile gloves.

It is thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that Nephron has been able to keep investing in its workforce and facilities. Nephron President, CEO and Owner Lou Kennedy recently spoke to us about the company’s expansion and the benefits of the tax reform law’s provisions.

An early start: Nephron didn’t wait to begin sharing the benefits with its employees. Within days of tax reform’s passage, the company announced that employees would receive a 5% raise.

An expanded workforce: Tax reform also helped the company grow over time, from its pre–tax reform size of 485 employees.

  • Today, the company has nearly 1,200 full-time employees and almost 800 more part-time employees, including educators, interns and apprentices—a massive expansion that shows no signs of stopping.
  • In fact, Nephron expects to have 400–500 jobs to fill in the next 12 months alone.

In addition, the company skews young and diverse—around 53% of the workforce are women, more than 36% are people of color, and the average employee age is about 35.

Offering good jobs: The company now offers a starting salary in the range of $17 per hour. Meanwhile, it has also increased its long-term incentives and bulked up its 401(k) plan.

Growing operations: In addition to its workforce expansion, Nephron is using the benefits of tax reform to invest in its facilities and expand its footprint.

  • The company is in the midst of five multimillion-dollar projects, including one worth $215 million that Nephron has said was made possible by tax reform. This project will bring 380 new full-time jobs to the surrounding area by 2024 and add new office, warehouse and production space as well as a vaccine production facility.

How tax reform helped: Nephron is organized as a pass-through entity, which helped the company benefit from the lower top tax rate (37%) that tax reform offered. It also benefited from the 20% pass-through deduction and a full expensing provision that allows for the immediate deduction of equipment purchases.

  • The tax code’s research and development incentives, including R&D full expensing, have also been hugely important to Nephron, helping it develop the therapies that stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

The last word: “Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed, we have plowed dollars back into our businesses and our workers,” said Kennedy. “We would certainly have to pump the brakes if tax reform were to be rolled back. We’re hopeful that Congress and the administration will leave tax reform in place to incentivize domestic manufacturing.”

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Are Dealing with Delta

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As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps changing, plenty of manufacturers are looking for answers on how to protect their employees. To help clarify where we stand and what comes next, the NAM hosted a town hall on the strategies manufacturers are deploying to keep workplaces safe as well the vaccine policies some companies are implementing in response to the delta variant.

Who participated: Moderated by NAM Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Robyn Boerstling, the webinar featured Dr. Michael Ybarra of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association (PhRMA); NAM Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary Linda Kelly; Senior Director of Global Compensation & Mobility R.J. Corning of Whirlpool Corporation; and Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Shannon Lapierre of Stanley Black & Decker.

The vaccination deal: Dr. Ybarra gave a rundown of the current state-of-play in the pandemic, detailing the various kinds of vaccines—protein-based, viral vector, and mRNA—and laying out which vaccines have been approved for use in the U.S. (Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna). He explained the reasons why variants are occurring, and the possible need for booster shots as the effectiveness of vaccines wanes and variants create further challenges.

  • Who’s at risk: “It’s still the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Ybarra. “It’s people who are young and think they’re invincible and don’t need the vaccine, and people who maybe just got one dose of the vaccine and didn’t complete their series. That’s the super high risk.”
  • Masks on: “Even if you’re vaccinated, you should wear a mask indoors,” said Dr. Ybarra. “You don’t want to stress test the vaccine.”
  • An important reminder: Ybarra noted a “humbling reality”: that almost all of the current COVID-19 deaths are among unvaccinated people.

“The best thing you can do right now is get the vaccine if you’re not vaccinated,” said Dr. Ybarra. “It’ll provide protection against the worst impacts of COVID-19. And if you’re in that high stress environment of being indoors with people whom you don’t know are vaccinated, it’s important to wear a mask because it will provide that extra layer of protection.”

An NAM policy rundown: Kelly provided an overview of the NAM’s policies and explained its phased approach to a vaccine mandate for all employees.

  • A vaccine mandate: In July, the NAM made a decision to require all NAM employees to be vaccinated or to seek accommodations for medical or religious reasons by September 20.
  • A NAM, a plan: “This decision was not taken lightly,” said Kelly. “We talked about it for a long time, we worked through a lot of issues, we sought outside legal advice on it. But we saw it as the next evolution on our ongoing workplace safety posture during the pandemic.”
  • Good feedback: “As we have been rolling this out…we’ve actually heard from a number of employees who have thanked us, because the policy has made them feel safer about being in the office,” said Kelly.
  • Useful advice: “No matter what you’re doing on your vaccine policies, you need to have your HR, your legal team, and your communications team working very closely together,” she added.

Cases in point: Corning and Lapierre discussed the actions they have taken at Whirlpool and Stanley Black & Decker to prioritize employee health and safety.

  • Masking up: Both Whirlpool and Stanley Black & Decker have responded to the increase in cases by re-imposing mask mandates.
  • Incentivizing vaccines: While vaccines are not yet mandatory for employees, Whirlpool is focused on making it easy for people to be vaccinated—in particular by holding large onsite vaccination clinics where possible. It is also providing $250 to people who get vaccinated. Stanley Black & Decker has sent its chief medical officer and local doctors to facilities where vaccine uptake is low to answer questions and provide encouragement. The company has also set up on-site vaccine clinics where possible.
  • Collecting data: Whirlpool is working to collect data from its employees to better understand who is getting vaccinated, and to gather information on any breakthrough infections. Stanley Black & Decker, meanwhile, surveyed its employees early on in order to gauge interest in vaccinations so it could target its efforts appropriately. Both are taking care to protect their workers’ confidentiality.

The last word: “We’re not going to have all the answers, but we can help guide people in the right direction and help them make the best choices for their circumstances,” said Boerstling.

Business Operations

ML Awards Recognize the Best of Manufacturing

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For almost two decades, the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council has been showcasing the best-performing, most innovative and most influential manufacturers in the field. Its yearly Manufacturing Leadership Awards recognize organizations of all sizes and from all sectors, along with the individual leaders who are spearheading their transformations. Now, your company or leader could be among the next cohort of winners: nominations for the 2022 season opened on Aug. 16.

What’s involved: Since 2005, the ML Awards have recognized more than 1,000 outstanding leaders and projects that have sped the transition to Manufacturing 4.0, the next wave of industrial progress created by digitization.

  • Nominations are judged by a group of seasoned industry executives with expert knowledge of digital transformation. Past judges have come from companies such as Lockheed Martin, GM, Merck and 3M.
  • Any manufacturing organization is eligible, and all may apply through the MLC’s online application process. Project nominations include a timeline and written overview of a project’s business and operational impact, while individual nominations ask for details about a leader’s achievements and influence on his or her organization and the manufacturing industry at large.

Highlights of the 2022 season: This year, the awards will feature 11 categories, nine for projects and two for individuals.

  • Digital Transformation Leadership: This category is for accomplished operations leaders who have transformed their companies through technology adoption, performance and process improvements or business culture changes. Leaders at any level of the organization may apply.
  • Next-Generation Leadership: This category honors remarkable manufacturing professionals aged 30 or younger who demonstrate the leadership needed in the digital manufacturing era. If you have a young, inspiring leader on your team who acts as a role model within and outside your organization, nominate him or her today.
  • Project categories: This year’s awards recognize excellence in artificial intelligence/machine learning, supply chains, business culture transformations, organizational collaboration and more. The complete list is here.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforced how much manufacturing matters to our entire society, at every level and in every household. The 2022 ML Awards will recognize many of its most remarkable accomplishments, showcasing an industry that remains unceasingly dynamic even in the midst of crisis.

Don’t wait: Nominations are due Dec. 20. They can be submitted directly by manufacturing organizations or by their consulting partners or PR and marketing firms. You can complete your application here.

Policy and Legal

The Importance of Supporting U.S. IP

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As part of its budget, the Biden administration proposed earlier this year to end a tax provision that helps keep intellectual property in the United States—and the NAM is advocating against the move.

The background: The foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) deduction was created as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It is intended to encourage companies to develop and maintain intellectual property in the United States, as well as bring it back to the country, by providing a lower tax rate for foreign sales based on U.S. IP.

Why it matters: By incentivizing the location of IP in the U.S., FDII ultimately helps support high-paying manufacturing jobs—because IP leads to the development of new products. Moreover, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the amount of IP coming to the U.S. increased significantly after passage of the 2017 tax reform law.

The global angle: Other countries, including U.S. competitors, have policies in place to encourage companies to locate their IP in their own nations. If the U.S. scraps FDII, other countries might pull ahead.

What we’re saying: “This important provision is working as intended to support the people who create things in America,” according to NAM Senior Director of Tax Policy David Eiselsberg. “Keeping FDII in place is key to supporting U.S. innovation, job growth and competitiveness.”

Workforce

FAME Program Grows Despite the Pandemic

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The past 18 months have been trying for students of all ages, as they have navigated virtual learning in place of or in combination with in-person classes. But for many of those enrolled in the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) program, 2020 and 2021 have presented a unique educational and professional opportunity.

The background: Founded by Toyota and now operated by The Manufacturing Institute, FAME is the top U.S. program for training students who seek careers in manufacturing. Enrollees who complete it earn associate degrees and certification as advanced manufacturing technicians (AMTs), while working part time in manufacturing facilities—and being paid competitively.

  • “After two years of increasing experience, consistent organizational and cultural acclimation, as well as professional growth—coupled with the company’s investment made in wages—most graduating AMTs (about 85%) go to work for the sponsoring employer upon graduation,” MI Workforce Initiatives Senior Director Tony Davis told us.

The first pandemic opening: Despite the global outbreak of COVID-19 less than six months prior, FAME saw the opening of a new chapter in fall 2020: FAME on the Plains, based in Opelika, Alabama.

  • “It was a challenge, to say the least,” says Davis. “But they recruited about nine students.” Three will graduate in May 2022, having overcome some unprecedented challenges.
  • In fact, the chapter remained undaunted and, thanks to the appeal of the earn-and-learn FAME model, is heading into fall 2021 with 25 AMT students.

Nine more chapters, coming soon: That one chapter was only the beginning. Thanks to its successful virtual recruitment efforts and other outreach, FAME will open nine new chapters in 2021. This explosive growth—nearly 40% since last year—brings the number of national FAME chapters to 32 across 12 states. Here are the new chapters by state:

  • Colorado: Colorado will get its first FAME chapter, CO FAME of Pueblo.
  • Florida: Florida, also a first timer, will get not one but two new chapters: the FL FAME – Gulf Coast Chapter of Bay County/Panama City and the FL FAME – Sunshine Chapter of Volusia County/Daytona Beach.
  • Indiana: Indiana will acquire chapters two, three and four in the state: the Central, Hoosier and NEI chapters, which are located respectively in Indianapolis, Anderson and Fort Wayne. These chapters join the IN FAME – So.INFAME Chapter of Vincennes.
  • Michigan: Michigan will also get a new entry on the FAME map, thanks to the MI FAME – JAMA Chapter of Jackson.
  • Texas: Texas will get its second location, the TX FAME – Dallas Chapter of Garland.
  • Virginia: And last, Virginia is also starting its first chapter, the VA FAME – Central Virginia Chapter of Prince George County/Petersburg.

The last word: “We are proud to welcome so many new locations into the FAME network,” said MI Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Gardner Carrick. “It is a testament to the seriousness of the workforce shortage and the success of the FAME model that companies have been willing to invest in this solution during this challenging year. We’re excited to support these new companies and look forward to welcoming hundreds of new FAME students this fall.”

Business Operations

Rethink 2021: Manufacturing’s Future on Display

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Hundreds of manufacturing leaders came together this summer to discuss the industry’s next century of technological dominance. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics and more were all on the schedule, with companies unveiling their cutting-edge techniques and exchanging invaluable knowledge.

This premier gathering of talent is called Rethink, and it is the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s yearly conference on Manufacturing 4.0—the next wave of industrial progress created by digitization. It offers manufacturers a range of ways to engage with leaders and experts, including interactive case studies, collaborative think tank sessions and keynotes.

This year’s Rethink showcased a number of innovative technologies that are already transforming companies around the world. Here are some highlights.

Augmented reality is the new reality: PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann explained the benefits of augmented reality, which can give much more information to frontline workers and help manufacturers bridge the skills gap—the lack of sufficient skilled workers to fill available jobs.

  • For example, augmented reality allows companies to record the expertise of workers who may soon retire, thus improving the training programs for new workers, Heppelmann pointed out.

Read more of Heppelmann’s expert advice here.

Robotics will support workers: In a keynote address, MIT’s Dr. Daniela Rus explained the coming evolution in human-machine relationships. She predicted that robots will enable workers to control production lines more precisely and configure them for rapid, customized production.

Read more about Dr. Rus’s predictions here.

Intelligent platforms are key: Intelligent platforms help manufacturers capture and understand data—the key to success in manufacturing’s digital era, according to Sid Verma of Hitachi Vantara and Mike Lashbrook of JR Automation.

  • One of the biggest challenges is learning how to collect data strategically—because a plant floor can generate tons of it. “Just collecting data on the [operational] side does not work for us,” said Verma. “We have seen horror stories where people spent their entire IT budget just collecting data because they didn’t know where to start.”

Read more of Verma and Lashbrook’s insights here.

The bottom line: No matter where you are in your digital transformation, Rethink can help you move forward. It is the perfect place to discover new technologies and learn best practices for implementation.

For more information about the MLC, including Rethink 2022, email [email protected].

Policy and Legal

Why Trade Promotion Authority Matters

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While Americans have largely focused in recent months on the recovery and renewal of our domestic economy, manufacturers also recognize the critical importance of global markets for their success. That makes trade agreements incredibly important—and underscores the urgency of renewing Trade Promotion Authority, a current focus of the NAM.

We recently spoke to NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Ken Monahan about this essential issue.

What it is: Trade Promotion Authority is a legislative framework between Congress and the executive branch that details the priorities and consultative process for U.S. trade negotiations. Essentially, said Monahan, Congress lays out its trade negotiation objectives and oversight obligations in TPA legislation, and in exchange, the president is able to negotiate trade agreements that will ultimately receive an up or down vote in Congress.

Why it matters: TPA can help ensure that new trade deals will reflect the priorities of manufacturers in the United States, said Monahan. With 95% of consumers living outside U.S. borders, and with more than 6 million U.S. manufacturing jobs depending on exports, trade agreements are needed to give manufacturers access to other markets on the right terms.

  • “From a business perspective, having a TPA that reflects the priorities of manufacturers on the front end is vitally important,” said Monahan. “We are urging the Biden administration to prioritize a robust trade agenda that will open markets with countries with which we don’t already have agreements.”
  • “We’re rightly focused on the domestic market, including through our support for the infrastructure package moving through Congress, but manufacturers also need to be able to compete overseas and access markets around the world.”

Where we are: To date, the Biden administration hasn’t detailed a strategy for the negotiation of new trade agreements. TPA was last passed by Congress in 2015, but that authority expired at the end of June.

What manufacturers want: Last year, the NAM laid out manufacturers’ priorities for trade agreements in comments submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission. “In broad strokes, manufacturers want four things with respect to trade agreements,” said Monahan.

  • “First, reverse unfair trade barriers that impede our ability to export.”
  • “Second, protect intellectual property through technology leadership and innovation.”
  • “Third, raise global standards to ensure a level playing field and ensure that other countries have standards that are consistent with ours.”
  • “And fourth, codify respect for the rule of law and the pivotal role of free markets around the world.”

What the NAM is doing: The NAM has been leading the charge on TPA, ramping up engagements in recent weeks with members of Congress and the Biden administration. Most recently, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons called on President Biden to work with Congress without delay to renew TPA.

The last word: “The United States needs to be back in the game,” said Monahan. “Our trading partners are negotiating agreements among themselves that are excluding the United States. Manufacturers need to access new markets. We need more exports that support good-paying jobs. And in order to accomplish that, we need to get off the sidelines and negotiate new trade agreements that will support growth here at home by reducing barriers faced by manufacturers around the world.”

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