Category Archives: Management

It’s Not a Sin to Get Your Hands Dirty

David ColeDr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.

One of the great challenges facing our economy today and into the future is the availability of an appropriately educated and skilled workforce. In a Wall Street Journal article on Ft. Wayne, Indiana we saw a snap-shot of a broader national issue: the shortage of talent in manufacturing regions. In Ft. Wayne they have high unemployment and a large number of job openings suggesting a mismatch between the needs and skills available. In fact one of the most severe shortages is for skilled trades and technicians, skills that are taught in a local community college. The community college in Ft. Wayne was using only about 70% of its capacity to educate young people in these disciplines.

In Michigan, at a recent Summit on Jobs organized by the governor, the number one shortage of talent in Michigan was skilled trades and technicians. In second place were engineers with mechanical/electrical abilities. One important fact about both of these is that you have to “get your hands dirty”. Another way of looking at it is that it doesn’t necessarily mean getting oil and grime on your hands and clothes but you really must know how things work and have a deep understanding of how things work in the real world of manufacturing.

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OUR COMPUTER AND DIGITAL “GIZMO” BUSINESS WORLD AND DAILY LIFE

Dr. V.E.”Bill” Haloulakos is an AIAA National Distinguished Lecturer and a contributor to The Business Thinker. Aerospace Science Consultant/Professor; AIAA National Distinguished Lecturer and Legacy Member; Distinguished Engineering Educator Award Winner.

On June 21, 2013, the longest day of the year, an item in the evening news reported that Southwest Airlines’ computer crashed and as a result all their flight operations came to a halt. Not only their planes could not take off, they had big problems with landings as well. About two months prior to that, American Airlines experienced a similar computer system failure resulting in hundreds of flights being delayed or cancelled. As a matter of fact such system breakdowns and complete business stoppage happens to banks, supermarkets and all types of business establishments large and small.

It seems that we have come to accept such major business interruptions as “normal” in spite of the great inconveniences they cause. Perhaps this is because we may feel that we can not question the nerds that may be the causes of all this by having sold us all these digital “gizmos” that are supposedly helping us in and easing our daily lives. Who might these “nerds” be? Apple’s Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Dell’s Larry Ellison, or who knows who else? Actually none of these are the true causes of the computerization and the digitization of our lives. Yes they developed and sold us the modern gadgets from the desktops to the laptops and the handhelds, along with the requisite operating, software that we seem to be so enamored with and we definitely feel unable or unwilling to do without.

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Angel II Investment Model for Manufacturing

David ColeDr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.

There is universal agreement across our economy that innovation is a critical success factor for any enterprise. However, the challenges are many in creating an innovative culture in an organization from “Not invented here” to “We don’t understand the technology”. The challenges are particularly severe in the manufacturing environment with its high capital costs, tough schedules and shortages of skilled people to name a few of the problems.

One particular challenge is the interface with smaller Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) companies that are often the source of some of the most significant innovation. In general, it is difficult for large organizations to relate to smaller ones, particularly very small ones that are often the source of cutting edge technology. The complex structure of large organizations is really quite formidable and often hampers effective introduction and utilization of new knowledge. The elephant and the mouse typically find it difficult to establish a relationship.

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