News and announcements from the web that might be of interest to Vermont manufacturers and other employers.  You can look up past posts on our News & Views blog.

Managing a multigenerational team at a manufacturing company.  The Fabricator 12/6

"Manufacturers in the U.S. find themselves in a challenging position as they try to find the right people to fill the job openings within their ranks. The generational gap has never been greater in the manufacturing workforce. . . ." 

Employers are 'the spearhead’ to get people vaccinated: PR executive.  Yahoo Finance 12/4

"Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama will all be getting their coronavirus vaccines on camera in an effort to show the vaccine is safe and promote the necessary herd immunity to crush the pandemic. But in an interview with Yahoo Finance, Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, the world’s biggest PR firm, said celebrities and politicians are not the key to convincing Americans to get vaccinated. That job, according to Edelman’s research, falls to employers. . . ." 

Blockchain Attempts To Secure The Supply Chain.  Semiconductor Engineering 12/3

"Blockchain technology is starting to be deployed more widely In the battle against counterfeiting, often coupled with component IDs to allow device authentication. . . ."

AI on the Factory Floor Challenges Cybersecurity.  EE Times 12/2

"From the standpoint of cybersecurity, the use of AI and machine learning on the factory floor has both strengths and weaknesses. Both can help improve monitoring, detection and prevention of threats and attacks, especially for Industry 4.0 endpoints. But smart manufacturing systems that rely on these technologies can be probed and manipulated by bad actors. . . ." 

Five Emergency Maintenance Best Practices All Plant Employees Should Follow.  Occupational Health and Safety 11/30

"Have you encountered a sudden machine failure of a critical asset that needs instant repair? That is what we call emergency maintenance, an unplanned event of repair or maintenance to make the equipment operational again. Here are a few examples of emergency maintenance: . . ." 

Indirect procurement: Insource? Outsource? Or both?  McKinsey 11/24

"For many organizations, indirect procurement—purchases of services and supplies that support business operations—is a source of tremendous untapped value and savings. But even though indirect spend can represent ten, 15, or even 18 percent of revenue in some industries, it typically isn't fully managed by a single function or business owner, and is frequently overlooked as "noncore" spend. . . ."

Recruiting and Retaining Today's Manufacturing Workforce.  Area Development 11/24
"Area Development recently asked Kylene Zenk — director of the Manufacturing Practice at UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), a leading global provider of HR services and workforce management solutions — for her input on recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce in the age of COVID-19. . . ."

Do Your Managers Lack Courage?  Gallup 11/23

"Management is a tough job. According to Gallup's recent study of the manager experience, managers on average work four hours longer per week than individual contributors. They are 50% more likely to strongly agree that they "have too much to do." And 37% of managers strongly agree that they felt a lot of stress on their most recent workday. Some managers may feel like their job is impossible -- trying to please the people above them and below them at the same time. . . ."

U.S. manufacturing, services activity expanding rapidly in November: IHS Markit.  Reuters 11/23

"U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest rate in more than five years in November led by the quickest pickup in manufacturing since September 2014, a survey showed on Monday in an indication the economy keeps making progress at clambering out of the COVID-19 recession even as infections surge. . . ."

Micro 3D printing: When tiny parts mean big impact.  Smart Industry 11/4

"Most conversations around additive manufacturing have focused on printing larger and larger parts, yet many of the world’s products are actually getting smaller and smaller. Think of all the tiny parts that are nestled into the handheld electronics we use on a daily basis, for example, or within the devices that make new forms of microscopic exploration and implantation possible in the medical field. . . ."

US trade deficit falls to $63.9 billion in September.  AP 11/4

"The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad fell to $63.9 billion in September, a decline of 4.7%, from a $67 billion deficit in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. September exports rose 2.6% to $176.4 billion, pushed higher by the food and beverage category, where shipments worth $12.9 billion were the highest since July of 2012. Soybean exports rose 63% in September. . . ."

Automation upgrades warehouse execution systems to essential status.  Supply Chain Dive 11/3

"Robotic arms, autonomous goods-to-person systems and knots of electric conveyor systems attract a lot of attention in the world of warehouse automation. But behind the scenes is technology controlling automation. And in recent years, a new kind of software emerged to help orchestrate automation: the warehouse execution system, or WES. . . ." 

Training in the Age of COVID-19.  Quality Magazine 11/2

"The U.S. manufacturing industry’s skilled labor shortage has been widely reported in the past decade. Millions of jobs became vacant due to the retirement of baby boomers and economic expansion. Until recently, experts predicted that half of these open positions would remain unfilled due to the fact that fewer than 10 percent of high school and college graduates annually enter the manufacturing field. . . ." 

How to protect backups from ransomware.  CSO 11/2

"Despite a recent decline in attacks, ransomware still poses significant threats to enterprises, as the attacks against healthcare organizations demonstrated this month. It is also becoming more capable. In particular, ransomware writers are aware that backups are an effective defense and are modifying their malware to track down and eliminate the backups. . . ."

Educators Say Computer Science Lifts Students' Job Options.  Gallup 10/15

"With computing driving innovation in almost every field -- art, business, communications, healthcare, STEM, etc. -- it is important for students to be exposed to computer science education early to help ensure they can thrive in their careers and as informed citizens. . . ."

5 ways to empower the manufacturing workforce to survive the pandemic and thrive beyond it.  World Economic Forum 10/13

"Ten months ago, the first cases of COVID-19 were detected. In the time since, companies, supply chains and entire economies have been disrupted and forced to adapt to a "new normal" where change is constant, and agility is critical. More than 48% of respondents in a recent Forum survey of the world's top risk experts said they were most worried about a disruption of global supply chains. Another Forum report states that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted more than 75% of the world's manufacturing outputs. . . ."

COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Update.  Gallup 10/13

"The coronavirus pandemic has affected U.S. workplaces like nothing else in modern history, including high unemployment, the shuttering of businesses, and the shift of many workers to off-site, remote work. . . ."

Manufacturing operations face key disadvantages when returning employees to work.  Insurance Business America 10/12

"Returning to work for manufacturing operations in the United States after COVID-19 related shutdowns hasn’t been smooth sailing. According to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, manufacturing has been the fourth most impacted industry when it comes to COVID-19 workers’ comp claims, with the sector making up 7.6% of total COVID-19 workers’ comp claims – the same percentage as the retail industry. . . ."

Manufacturers: Our Front-Line Defense Against COVID-19.  IndustryWeek 10/12

"As the rate of COVID-19 cases ebbs and flows throughout the country, manufacturers have risen to the challenge in much the same way they did during WWII and other times of national crisis. Working day and night and over the weekends, they have helped us emerge from the early days of the pandemic by keeping shop floors open and making vital products, including the medical supplies and protective equipment people need to fight the coronavirus. Now manufacturing workers are spearheading our recovery, ensuring that the American economy reopens and generates prosperity. And we’ll need many, many more of them. . . ."

At a Crossroads: Manufacturing Needs A New Employment Attitude IndustryWeek 10/7

"Dealing with the pandemic has unfurled a profound discussion on the fundamental tenets of workforce culture. . . ." 

Girls' Interest in Computer Science Still a Challenge.  Gallup 10/6

"Emblematic of the barriers to learning computer science that girls have faced for years, a new Google/Gallup report shows that girls are less likely than boys to express interest in pursuing a career in computer science. About one in eight girls (12%) in grades seven through 12 in the U.S. say they are likely to pursue a career in computer science someday. Nearly three times as many boys (33%) say they are likely to pursue a career in this field. . . ."

Below you can find selected news and analysis from the web that might be of interest to Vermont manufacturers and other employers. You can look up past posts on our News & Views blog.

Manufacturing Blog: How Manufacturers Can Implement Digital Transformation.  ASME 6/14
"As the digital economy grows, manufacturing companies will need to embrace the steps taken by direct-to-consumer businesses to keep pace. . . ." 

Just-in-Time's Skewering Is Undeserved.  IndustryWeek 6/11
"The recent pandemic affected Americans and businesses in many ways. In business, the most revealing issues that were exposed were the problems with Just-In-Time (JIT, or the pull method) supply chains. Lean took a lot of blame for many of the resulting shortages. But the problems weren’t attributable to JIT systems. . . ."

Goierogle Research Reveals Where and How of AI Utilization in Manufacturing, and Barriers.  ARC Advisory Group 6/10
"While the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) transforming the manufacturing industry is not new, long-ongoing experimentation hasn’t yet led to widespread business benefits.  New research from Google Cloud, however, reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic may have spurred a significant increase in the use of AI and other digital enablers among manufacturers. According to their data—which polled more than 1,000 senior manufacturing executives across seven countries—76% have turned to digital enablers and disruptive technologies, such as data and analytics, cloud, and artificial intelligence due to the pandemic.  Another 66% of manufacturers who use AI in their day-to-day operations report that their reliance on AI is increasing. . . ." 

Why Are Women More Likely to Quit Jobs in Manufacturing? IndustryWeek 6/9
"Women are more likely to leave their jobs if they work in manufacturing compared to men in the same field. Women are also more likely to leave manufacturing compared to other industries. . . ."

3 Pandemic Productivity Hacks This Clothing Company Will Keep in the 'New Normal'.  Inc. 6/1
"Gihan Amarasiriwardena doesn't believe in multitasking. The 32-year-old president and co-founder of Boston-based business apparel company Ministry of Supply says using the same part of your brain to do similar tasks--like reading emails during meetings--makes it hard to get anything done. . . ."

Will Purchasing Change Ever Happen?  IndustryWeek 2/5
"In my forty-plus years in industry—most of them working in purchasing—I’ve never seen as many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) publically stating that they will be re-evaluating their procurement strategies and processes. This, of course, is in response to Covid-19 and the supply chain disruptions it caused across the globe. I wonder about this stated intent in at least three ways: . . ."

What You Need to Know About OSHA's Jan. 29 COVID Guidance.  EHS Today 2/4
"When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued its comprehensive guidance on what employers are expected to do to protect their workers from the COVID-19 virus, the bulk of the 6,000-word document repeated much of the advice that was contained in previous agency guidances issued over the course of the past year, but there are a few new wrinkles employers need to be aware of. . . ."

Five ways machine learning will transform manufacturing in 2021.  Plant Engineering 2/2
"Technology advances, such as complex robotic systems and artificial intelligence (AI), transformed manufacturing over the past decade and driven what’s commonly called the Industry 4.0 Revolution. COVID-19 has further accelerated this transformation for many manufacturers as more plant operations need to be run effectively, and in many cases, be monitored and managed remotely. Machine learning (ML) — a branch of artificial intelligence centered around creating computer programs that learn from experience and improve their decision-making ability over time — is increasingly important in many industries, and manufacturing is no exception. . . ."

Industrial control systems vulnerabilities rise as operational tech increasingly goes online.  TechRepublic 2/4
"Industrial cybersecurity company, Claroty, has released its biannual industrial control systems (ICS) risk and vulnerability report, which found that the number of reported vulnerabilities increased by 25% when compared to 2019, with critical infrastructure areas like manufacturing, energy, water, and commercial facilities being most affected. . . ."

Procurement and finance, it's time to cast your tensions aside.  Supply Chain Dive 2/4
"It’s time procurement and finance, two historically adversarial functions, join forces in an effort to create value for their company. The traditional scoreboarding relationship, built on distrust, poor communication and a lack of understanding of supply chain and financial realities, perpetuates misplaced tensions and missed opportunities. . . ."

COVID-19 Has Widened the Skills Gap. But It Also Presents an Opportunity to Close It.  Ed Surge 2/1
"America’s skills gap has been widely discussed. The friction between postsecondary institutions failing to properly prepare job seekers and unrealistic employer expectations has led to seven million unfilled openings. Not surprisingly, the challenge worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are still nearly as many unfilled jobs with near-record unemployment in a recession. . . ."