Some of our greatest business stories read like real cinematic feasts. And they come from manufacturers.Read More
“A requirement is an opportunity for improvement.”
Quality Engineer for Aurora Specialty Textiles Group
The scene: white cinderblock walls, speckled linoleum floor, a couple refrigerators, circular tables scattered like coins. Aurora Specialty Textiles Group’s lunchroom was standard fare — until you looked through a large picture window along the south-facing wall.
There, you saw the inner workings of an earnest manufacturing company, the kind striving to show up as a leader, the one hosting this second in a series of meetings by Valley Industrial Association’s Sustainability Committee headed up by Tim Tremain, president of MTH Pumps.
Beyond the single pane was an amalgam of clean silver metal, a patterned ceiling of conduit pipes crisscrossing like a maze, and massive industrial pendants showering brilliant light among people moving, walking, working with large rolls of multi-colored cloth and swaths of tape for industrial applications. In the distance, steam hissed and machines hummed.
ASTG President Dan LaTurno pointed to the window and said, “Out there, we have the best group of people.” Referencing ISO 14001, he added, “We’re a 100-plus-year-old company (that) needed more conformity.” For most manufacturers, conformity means ISO certification. ASTG’s Quality Engineer Paula Kirby (a Six Sigma Black Belt herself) talked about how the organization, a wide width coating and finishing company, approached ISO 14001.
To the more than 20 members and guests of the VIA, Paula shared: “ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 are about continuous improvement. It’s a journey. It’s an evolving management system.”
ISO 14001: Start Here
According to Paula, the first step is grabbing a copy of the “ISO 14001 Overview.” It outlines: benefits, challenges and key factors for successful implementation. Then, encourage everyone across the company to take a balanced approach to quality and environmental management systems (EMS).
• Look at the environmental needs and goals within the context of your organization
• Identify key stakeholders and their expectations
• Assign key roles and responsibilities
• Review requirements — the bulk of ISO 14001 is planning
• Get the leadership team on board
• Draft procedures and policies
The Plan-Do-Check-Act Approach
Getting ISO 14001-certified provides third-party feedback, which inspires confidence from others outside your company. Objectivity gives you critical improvement advice and may even exempt your company from some customer audits. Paula recommends putting a system in place and then getting certified. ISO experts will come in and do a gap assessment first.
Paula adds that ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 are 75 percent the same, but also cautions that ISO certifications do not remove legal requirements or even translate into 100 percent success. Instead, EMS is about continuous improvement.
• Find a registrar for certification
• Use a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach (see below)
• Implement and audit internally before bringing in the registrar
• Understand the relative severity of compliance points — know the difference between nice-to-haves and must-haves
Here’s a quick summary of a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach:
PLAN: Start here. A continuous improvement approach means you may be circling back to planning if you want greater improvement.
DO: Implement specific goals, requirements and steps to follow for line operators.
CHECK: Monitor key data points like electric use and paper recycling.
ACT: If you’re not performing up to par according to the data, take corrective action. Ask: can you do better?
Timeline to Certification and Critical Factors For Success
Aurora Specialty Textiles Group began allocating resources to ISO 14001 in 2009. The next year, they conducted internal of audits with an expert outside the organization. It takes about a year of preparation before a registrar comes in. In 2011, the company earned the initial certification. ASTG had five minor non-conformances. It responded with an implementation plan.
“In 2015, we started over because we moved (to Yorkville),” says Paula, “and we got certified that same year. They don’t have to fill in all the lines anymore. We have a mature system now with less than two minor non-conforms. We want to be sure we’re doing the right thing and controlling our impact. (ISO 14001 is) everything that impacts the environment, determining what is a risk, and the planning to minimize those impacts.”
Critical factors for success include:
• Invite top level managers to drive the program
• Inspire commitment and engagement from all levels of your organization
• Fully integrate ISO 14001 with your existing management system (the two are not separate)
• Embrace transparency — this may seem hard, but it’s necessary in order to improve
• Organize your information so it is easily accessible for auditors
• Provide resource allocation and training — get your workforce engaged
The biggest challenge with ISO 14001, oftentimes, is not knowing what may arise. An example: An auditor finds an aerosol can left by the cleaning staff. He or she asks: What’s your plan for aerosol? Having a cross-functional team to brainstorm possible scenarios is key.
“Buy-in was never a problem. They care about the environment. They don’t want to have an adverse impact,” says Paula. “You just have to make sure everyone understands the environmental policy — even temps or an electrician working for the day.”
• Don’t get hung up on your score
• Do a sanity check to ensure scores match the reality of where you should be expending effort
• Document requirements concisely, clear and focused
• Identify all requirements — but don’t get mired down in reference material. It’s good to have these on hand, but not necessary to memorize manuals from places like the Illinois EPA, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, OSHA, Department of Transportation, California Prop 65, and European Reach.
ASTG’s Environmental Projects Beyond ISO 14001
“We’ve worked on some sustainability projects on our own. We found where we can make our lives betters,” said Kevin Shroba, a plant engineer for ASTG. ASTG’s energy efficient building was built from the ground up. The lights are LED. There are new, highly efficient boilers. The company has even analyzed paper recycling since losing their waste hauler in the move.
Since the company opened its new 124,000-square-foot facility, it has received about $640,000 back in incentives from Nicor and ComEd (ASTG is a big user of heat and water). Using variable speed drives has netted about $8,000 back and using LED lighting with 1,000-watt fluorescent bulbs has resulted in $131,000 in incentives.
Future sustainability projects the company is kicking around: solar panels, and turning coated product and packaging material into solid fuel waste. This would redirect materials (off-spec product waste, plastic packaging bags, stretch wrap, etc.) from landfill to productive uses.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from VIA’s Sustainability Committee meeting is found in Steve Jobs’ quote: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
As part of its strategy, ASTG embraced ISO 14001 as a company. VIA members and guests had the rare opportunity to learn how ASTG’s all-in, all-of-us culture is moving the company forward as a socially conscious, mindful manufacturer.
Michele Kelly is co-founder of K+L Storytellers, a B2B storytelling and content company for culture-driven organizations and the storytelling agency for the Valley Industrial Association.
Next VIA Sustainability Committee Meeting
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 @ Valley Industrial Association
2000 S. Batavia Ave, Suite 110 | Geneva, IL 60134
Compelling, captivating, intriguing. The latest bestseller? Hardly. It's the all-important job description. It was GREAT to be a speaker for the Valley Industrial Association along with my cohort and IT search and recruitment superstar Laurie Swanson, founder of The Laso Corporation.
HR professionals, tell your story and you will keep the talent pool abundantly filled. Here are highlights from our presentation entitled "The Job Description: A True Story in 3 Parts."
Part 1: The Story of Your Company and People: give people reasons to believe.
- The candidate is the hero, you are their guide to success (every hero has one. What would James Bond do without Q?). The villain: lost opportunity to contribute to your company's success.
- Your company story requires exploration: What are your roots? How do you slay the competition? How do others see your brand? How do you give back? What values guide your mission?
Part 2: The Story of the Open Position: show how your company helps people live an amazing life - then show how their contribution makes that possible.
- Define the career path and the vision.
- What's the day in the life of the position?
- Show, don't tell (No. 1 rule in writing): include vivid details.
- What does success look like in the role?
Part 3: The Story of the Successful Candidate
- Think of two buckets: required skills and nice-to-have skills
- Create a clear and direct call-to-action (I love it when people tell me what to do!)
Go on, tell your story, HR professionals. People are perched on the edge of their seats waiting for it.
Laurie Swanson is the founder of The Laso Corporation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele Kelly is co-founder of K+L Storytellers. Contact her at email@example.com.
By Roderick Kelly
The US Economic growth trajectory is expected to continue near a 2 percent tortoise pace into 2018, barring any unforeseen shocks, with the manufacturing sector increasing a "little below" that percentage, based on economic data being used by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
That's not necessarily a bad situation, according to William A. Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor for the Chicago Fed. The moderate growth is occurring around the globe and across all sectors. “Because of that (moderate growth) the risk of recession is reduced," he said at the Valley Industrial Association's 2018 Economic Outlook breakfast.
Other economic points Strauss noted:
The US is in its ninth year of expansion and could break the record of 120 consecutive expansion months.
Employment increased by 2 million jobs over the past 12 months. Of those, manufacturers added 156,000 jobs year over year, which “is not an impressive gain historically.”
Unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent, with 25 percent of those unemployed have been so for more than six months.
Wages grew by 2.5 percent (nominally) or by about 1 percent when taking inflation into account.
The growth of manufacturing in the US is not expected to come from the automotive sector.
The housing market is slowly coming back and is expected to be back to normal by 2020.
The US economy is expected to expand at trend (2 percent) through 2020.
Light vehicle sales will continue to edge lower through 2018.
Inflation is expected to rise to the Fed’s inflation target next year with the possibility of one more rate hike this year (December) and a projected three more hikes in 2018.
In addition to these, Strauss is "hopeful" that manufacturers and other companies are in an "investment cycle," which can lead to higher productivity and growth.
By Roderick Kelly
The ear-popping screeches came in two parts with a low shrill separating them, much like the sounds of a child when a door slams on their fingers and they suddenly realize the magnitude of what happened.
What the “H...E...double hockey sticks” is that? I remember shouting when a newly-installed facsimile machine announced its inaugural transmission. People scurried from all departments to hear that piercing, yet catatonic sound. Twenty sets of eyes stood over the machine that was tethered to a telephone jack, and we all waited many minutes for the 1,200-baud computer to spit out the final word of the single-page letter sent from one phone to another.
We were witnessing history.
Fast forward 30+ years. I was left similarly slack-jawed at the Valley Industrial Association Annual Collaboration Conference when I learned that some manufacturers and other companies are still using Windows 2003, XP and Vista operating systems in their offices, plants and on production lines. The manufacturing industry has the most Windows XP operating systems in motion, according to the 2016-17 Annual Threat Report by the Dell SonicWALL Global Response Inteligence Data.
But there’s an explanation for why some manufacturers are playing catch up. In 2007 and 2008, many manufacturers were in survival mode. As a result, information technology projects often were postponed. Ten years later, manufacturers still are experiencing side effects from the Great Recessions, says Philippe Schmitt, chief operating officer of motherG, a Chicago IT managed services provider that consults with manufacturers, service providers, associations and other businesses about cyber security.
Additionally, manufacturers may have aging lines of business applications and personal computer control equipment, such as data acquisition, production control, quality control and CNC Machining. Many manufacturers are working at updating aging on-premise servers, installing new software and upgrading aging applications, Schmitt says.
In the meantime, as mission critical technology replacements are undertaken, companies remain susceptible to cyber attacks and industrial espionage. Schmitt encourages (actually, he insists that) companies include the IT department on the senior executive team. That move can ensure an across-the-board understanding of protections required to insulate sensitive information and mission critical data from malicious cyber risks.
According to the SonicWall 2016-2017 annual report:
- Ransomware (a threat to publish sensitive information if a ransom is not paid) has become the predominant threat. In 1Q 2016, 30.9 million ransomware attempts were made and that jumped to 265.5 million attempts were made.
- There were 7.3 trillion web connection s made in 2016, up 38% from the 5.3 trillion connections in 2015.
- 70% of the Distributed Denial of Service attacks occurred in the United States in 2016, which cost businesses an average of $22,000 per minute.
But manufacturers can reduce the cyber risk to their facilities by having a seat at the executive table and establishing a cyber security strategy, which Schmitt says includes:
- An internal compliance and risk assessment
- A well-designed cyber security protection plan
- The deployment of that plan
- Training of all employees on the plan
- Measuring the efficiency of the plan and improve upon it
So even though automation and technology has help increase production, improve delivery of content and make employees more accountable, it also opens a crack to potential criminal activity.
Moving forward keeps us from staying behind. Just like that day I witnessed history.
I’ve got to be honest. I’d welcome that two-toned screech emanating from the machine that translated 0''s and 1's that were delivered from one phone and received by another. Just once for old time sake.