2011 Mid-Year Report: Question 3

Manufacturing leaders share their challenges within their operations that needed to be addressed in order to grow as a company.

08/08/2011


Question 3: You are a manufacturing supplier, but you’re also a manufacturing business. What challenges have you found in your own operation that you’ve had to address in order to grow?

Andy Gravitt, Schneider Electric
In our current workforce, the shift is moving towards more white-collar jobs. We are facing mobility challenges of our people; for example, they can’t sell their homes, or one spouse would lose needed income. There is more need than ever for advanced virtual work environments to mitigate these constraints.

That being said, you can’t virtually build a product. Some of our market segments rebounded quickly from the recession to double-digit growth during 2010. That growth has continued into 2011, driving the need for talent in our operations. We invested significantly in engineering, quality, and manufacturing engineering to put resources in place to meet our customers’ demand. High unemployment levels eased labor hiring challenges. For skilled positions, we support organizations like Dream It, Do It in an effort to expose high school students to the opportunities in manufacturing and the skilled trades. Schneider Electric also has targeted university relations programs in place to establish a pipeline of talent for professional positions.

We see a huge talent pool with a lot of high quality resources, but the pool is starting to dry up. We, and our customers, are concerned about university relationships—hiring interns, offering co-ops. What are our career tracks? What about sponsoring test and lab environments on campus, or sponsoring local robotics contests? Schneider Electric worked with the Automation Federation and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to develop a comprehensive competency model for careers in automation, helping to increase the number of individuals pursuing careers in industrial process fields. We need to use this with universities, along with expectations for today and in the future, so that they can create and offer the appropriate curricula and train the engineers of tomorrow.

Jay Mellen, Savigent Software
There needs to be a clear, consistent focus on improving visibility into manufacturing operations and the ability to resolve and act on meaningful information. Tools don’t solve problems; people do, and they won’t increase efficiency unless they are adopted and used effectively.

Mike Pulick, Grainger
Grainger’s product line has more than quadrupled over the last five years, and we’re constantly evolving our supply chain to make sure our customers have quick, easy access to everything we offer. One of the most exciting projects we have underway right now is construction of a new 800,000-sq-ft distribution center near San Francisco, which will improve our next-day availability on the West Coast. In addition to infrastructure investments, our supply chain has a constant focus on continuous improvement and engaging our team members in helping identify waste and improve our core processes.


Return to 2011 Mid-Year Report: Grading on the curve.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.