Catching Up On The News Again


A long overdue catch-up on news of interest to lean manufacturing leaders ….

There May Be Hope Yet

GM has announced the closure of their elite treasury Department office in New York. Originally established by Alfred Sloan (who viewed it as his primary office, as did Donaldson Brown, the ‘Father of Modern Cost Accounting’) and has long been the real seat of decisions making – those elites had the power to make or break just about anyone or anything at GM. But the doors are closing and the financial types are heading for Detroit to be closer to where things really happen of significance to GM.

The HBR Blog Nails It

Jeffrey Rayport, an old Harvard guy, wrote a great piece in the HBR Blog the other day titled, “The Rise of Virtual Brick-and-Mortars”. He wrote

“Ever since Amazon's Price App appeared on the retail scene some 18 months ago, pundits have prophesized the demise of big-box retailers. There's no question that Amazon's innovation went right for the jugular of any volume- and price-focused retailer selling commodity goods like consumer electronics and household wares. Indeed, retailers from Best Buy and Target to Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, and Toys R Us are in danger of becoming mere showrooms for Amazon and its ilk. But innovative retailers are responding to this threat by turning "showrooming" to their own advantage.”

The future is becoming more and more apparent. Everything downstream from manufacturing adds lots of cost and little value. This is obvious in retailing, but reality everywhere. Manufacturers had better be giving a lot of thought to the channels through which they sell and how the cost of the channels is impacting their ability to sell. Whoever figures out a better channel first wins.

GE and Toyota At Their Best

GE is exerting some leadership through something called the Get Skills to Work (GTSW) program. “Founded last year, the GSTW coalition helps veterans and employers translate military skills to in-demand advanced manufacturing positions, accelerate skills training for U.S. veterans, and empower employers with tools to recruit, onboard, and mentor veterans. The addition of 190 new manufacturers represents a significant expansion of the coalition whose original members include GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Alcoa and the Manufacturing Institute.

The GSTW coalition also announced an additional 1,000 training slots for veterans at TechShop, a membership-based do-it- yourself workshop and prototyping studio that supports both advanced manufacturing skills and entrepreneurism. The Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation has also linked its partnership with TechShop by joining the GSTW coalition.”

Not to be outdone, the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program was announced jointly by Toyota and Vincennes (Indiana) University. “The Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program combines cutting-edge curriculum, paid work experience, and instruction in highly sought after business principles and best practices from a world-class manufacturer. The program results in a two-year associate degree from VU. Designed to be the strongest manufacturing-supportive degree in Indiana, highlights of the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program include a virtual full-ride scholarship and a coordinated career pathway. Graduates will be able to compete with the best technical graduates in the world.”

Where Manufacturing is Booming

Forbes published an article called "America's New Manufacturing Boom Towns", listing the places where manufacturing growth is the greatest. Houston, then Louisville followed by Seattle lead the list. All of California except Bakersfield where oil is flowing, bring up the rear. An interesting read ... you can find it here.

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