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Gears Matter Blog

Gears Matter Blog
11th December 2018

Why You Should Keep Your Association Membership

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In the age where all the information you ever wanted is right at your fingertips, what do we need our associations for anymore? With the cost of living always rising and wages not budging so much, why do I need to pay someone else to find things out for me when I have the internet? Have you ever asked these questions? Do you think, as the year comes to an end, what good was that membership?

I know that I ask that to my gym all the time, hah! But seriously, the end of the year is a great time to evaluate what it was that worked and did not work regarding my hard-earned dollars. It comes down to the fact (including my gym membership) that with associations, you only get out of it what you put into it. I have heard, far too often as a communications person, that people may not have heard about our programs or they were not aware we offered certain tools to our membership. When I ask if they get our Emails, I literally get the response, “yes, but I don’t read them.” Um. . .

Before you cut the cord on your association, I want to you look through your inbox (or even perhaps your junk folder) and go back and see what is being said; read about what programs are being offered. Look on your social media accounts and peruse through the posts that asked for your input, did you answer? Were you actively engaging with people that are working hard just to help your business? I know time is thin and you don’t have the ability to answer every survey, or post pictures of your products or send people out of the shop to attend a class, but associations are so much more than that.

A good association is always working to improve the livelihood of its members’ businesses. From education to standards, from conferences to information sharing, from business intelligence to emerging technology, you should be able to rely on your association to provide you the tools you need to be smarter in your industry. You should also realize that you get more out of it, when you use it. So, one conference isn’t for you, that’s okay, but don’t write off the rest of what is being offered. Get involved, join a committee, get on the board and make a difference with your association which trickles down to making a difference in the lives of your peers.

As we get closer to “resolutions” for the new year, make 2019 the year to think smarter, deeper and more proactively with your association. Innovation is a real thing and the only way you can be a part of it, is to join in.

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Gears Matter Blog
28th November 2018

Are you Bias? And does your bias hurt your business decisions?

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By Todd Palmer, President of Diversified Industrial Staffing

As good leaders and managers within our businesses, we make hundreds of decisions each day. Those decisions typically revolve around strategy, execution, cash, and people.

We read articles and books on how to grow our companies or teams, we attend seminars on strategy and execution, and we faithfully listen to the latest podcasts on people management. We are committed to knowing more so that we can do our jobs better.

Whether we are willing to admit it or not, oftentimes we make the wrong decisions, yet we consider ourselves to be smart leaders. Why is it that smart leaders make dumb decisions? It’s because they rely on Cognitive Bias.

What’s a cognitive bias, and how does it work? A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects how decisions and judgments are made. It is usually a result of our brains trying to simplify information processing or, simply put, the brain’s rule of thumb that helps us quickly make decisions.

Things like social pressures, individual motivations, emotions, and limits on one’s ability to process information can all contribute to biases. Memory and attention span can also have a major impact on cognitive bias.

There are several types of cognitive bias. Here is a small sample:

Confirmation Bias: People like what they like. A confirmation bias is when a person listens only to information that confirms what they already believe, instead of being open to another viewpoint.

Self-Serving Bias: A self-serving bias is the tendency to blame others when bad things happen and give yourself credit when positive things happen. When you get a raise, it’s because you’re a stellar employee, but when you don’t get the raise, it’s because your boss is a jerk.

Availability Heuristic: People often ignore research or access to information that is readily available to them. For instance, one might argue about the effects of driving without a seat belt by saying he or she knew someone who survived two car accidents because they did not buckle up.

Choice-supportive Bias: When someone makes a choice, they often defend it, even if it is ultimately a flawed or the wrong choice. For instance, you may believe your dog is the best in the world, although it has a history of biting people.

While it is very normal to rely on your biases for your decisions, psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown that reliance on cognitive bias decision making often results in poor decisions being made. Our intuitions lead us astray, or deliberate reasoning is absent from the decision-making process when we are stressed or tired.

To get away from relying too heavily on our biases, we need to broaden our scope of decision-making thoughts. Here are some ideas to shake up your cognitive bias thinking:

Think about the future and make three estimates: To improve your accuracy, work up at least three estimates — low, medium, and high — instead of just stating a range. People give wider ranges when they think about their low and high estimates separately, and coming up with three numbers prompts you to do that. Your low and high guesses should be unlikely, but still within the realm of possibility. With this approach, you’re less likely to get blindsided by events at either extreme — and you can plan for them. Chances are, your middle estimate will bring you closer to reality than a two-number range would.

Seek advice: Outline objectives on your own before seeking advice so that you don’t get “anchored” by what others say. And don’t anchor your advisers by leading with what you already believe (“I think our new CEO needs to have experience with acquisitions — what do you think?”). If you are making a decision jointly with others, have people list their goals independently and then combine the lists.

Use joint evaluation: In separate evaluation mode, people pay attention to what they can easily evaluate — for example, previous employment history — and ignore what they can’t. They make a decision without considering all the relevant facts. A proven way to snap into joint evaluation mode is to consider what you’ll be missing if you make a certain choice.

Vanishing Options Test: In their book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, authors Chip and Dan Heath suggest you assume you can’t choose any of the options you’re weighing and ask, “What else could I do?” This question will trigger an exploration of alternatives. When people imagine that they cannot have an option, they are forced to move their mental spotlight elsewhere — really move it — often for the first time in a long while. If more than one idea looked promising, you might split the difference.

If you want to have different results within your company, you must continue to learn beyond our biases. Different information and thinking can create better results.

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Gears Matter Blog
20th November 2018

Customer Service Starts With The Name

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Romeo said “What’s in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell so sweet?” AGMA faced this question over the past two years and many companies face this question when making changes to their core products and services.

Take Netflix. Millions of us awaited their little red envelopes when DVDs were all the rage a decade ago. Netflix saw that their DVD service was going to eventually compete with streaming services, but in order to protect what they saw as their core business they decided to rebrand their streaming service Quikster, minimizing what they saw as an off shoot of their brand. Customers had a field day with the change mocking the service because it was obvious that in order to survive as a company Netflix was going to need to get out of the DVD service and rely solely on the streaming service. The company quickly realized that their core market was the streaming service and reverted back to the Netflix name for both services.

Now look at Dunkin’ Donuts. This year, Dunkin’ dropped the donuts from its name and is going solely by the Dunkin’ name. While this is still new in the marketplace, it recognizes a significant change in Dunkin’s core business model and its core customer. No longer do the majority of Dunkin’s customers stop by in the morning for a cruller and joe. Instead they now stop by for a breakfast wrap and a latte. In order to cater to their current customer and attract their future customer from the likes of Starbucks, they needed to adapt the brand to reflect the scope of what the offer today. Unlike Netflix, this was a complete shift from one business model to the other—it was recognizing the broad offerings that the company now provides.

So too did Gear Expo have to change for AGMA. Gear Expo began in 1986 as a small table top show in a hotel ballroom to offer machine tools and cutting tools to the gear manufacturers that are AGMA’s core members. Over the last 33 years, Gear Expo has grown to more than 60,000 square feet and a million pounds of machinery and product representing the entire supply chain of gear manufacturing, loose and enclosed gear manufacturers, and heat treating services.

Now with the shift to the Motion + Power Technology Expo, AGMA is embracing the challenge that the gear manufacturers are facing in their own companies. OEMs and gearing customers are no longer “gear experts”, they are end-users looking for the best technologies to build their latest products—whether that be a mechanical, electrical, fluid power solution, or a hybrid of technologies. AGMA and its members represent power transmission innovation, and we want to bring everyone to the table presenting the best solutions possible to end users.

Motion + Power Technology is not leaving gearing behind, just like Dunkin’ isn’t abandoning donuts—they are both a recognition that there are a lot of options in the marketplace and that we all win by leveling the playing field and offering our customers all of their options.

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Gears Matter Blog
14th November 2018

Electric Trucks in the News

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology

This week electric trucks and the surrounding industry got a lot of play in a variety of publications. Nikola, who came to market in 2016 with a newly designed hydrogen-electric hybrid, debuted its third truck. Named Tre, the truck is specifically built for European roads. With a snub nose, this truck claims to be the ‘first European zero-emission commercial truck to be delivered with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800 Vdc batteries, and a redundant 120kW hydrogen fuel cell.’ (NewAtlas, 11/6/18) But what this article also discusses is that Nikola is saying they have already secured $11 billion in pre-orders for its 2 previous models and is working on a hydrogen station rollout plan in the U.S., which will include more than 700 fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada in the next 10 years.

I started with Nikola because they are one of the new and shiny newcomers to the fight for electric truck dominance. Some of the big names here in the states did not disappoint this week with their comments. Roger Nielsen, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, (which also has brands Mercedes-Benz trucks and Freightliner) commented during a recent conference that “The best battery solution is going to win,” as he addressed their rivalry with Tesla Semi. (Electrek, 11/5/2018) Daimler’s eCascadia, is an electric version of the diesel-powered Cascadia. The only problem is that the eCascadia’s range is significantly less than the touted range of Tesla’s similar model.

And Wired (Wired Magazine, 11/5/18) had an article that again marries electrification with autonomy. Which, as the article points out, is something that is very popular in truck development today without the two having much to do with one another.  But the article highlights Einride, a Swedish trucking startup, that is saying that removing the driver actually makes it easier to run a truck on batteries. Einride just started moving goods in its “human-free” vehicles in the southern Swedish city of Jönköping. This test runs just one truck about 6 miles per day and the truck speeds along below 25 mph.

Also, this week was an announcement by Greenlots that they are collaborating with Volvo Trucks to provide EV charging infrastructure in Southern California. (Greenlots press release, 11/7/18) “This is the first heavy-duty fleet-charging project stemming from a significant public-private partnership with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).” Greenlots will work with ABB and other charging station manufacturers to provide the equipment, which will include solar energy harvesting.

We will be watching as all of these trucks come to market in the next 2-5 years. Whatever happens, it will mark a fundamental shift in this industry.

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Gears Matter Blog
12th November 2018

From The President

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By Matthew Croson, President of AGMA

I just toured four of the most advanced gear and bearing manufacturing facilities in the world.  I was with 11 gear industry professionals who agreed with my assessment. In fact, they all said variations of the same thing:  “I’ve never seen anything like this, anywhere, ever.” 

 

Each was between 400,000 and 1,000,000 net square feet of manufacturing space.

 

Each was running 20 hours a day, putting out the highest volume of gears I have ever seen.

 

Each had the most advanced testing technology available in the market, to ensure quality control.

 

Each had the most advanced controls in place, and could monitor the process, remotely, and throughout the whole process.

 

I saw the most advanced robotics and automation techniques being applied, including one location that is deploying both the Internet of Things and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to distribute blanks, and partially completed pieces to the right machine, at the right time. 

 

Innovation.

Volume.

Quality.

Advanced Manufacturing.

 

It was truly mesmerizing. 

 

The 12 day AGMA China Trade Mission blew away my personal views, based on media reports and anecdotal conversations with other gear manufacturers.  China is not just a low cost, low quality producer.  PERIOD.  I’ve seen it first hand, with 11 other gear leaders who agreed 100%.

 

No matter your politics, your business, your personal views – China is a gears powerhouse. Sure, there will be companies that operate at a lower level, and fall into our traditional views on China as a low cost producer. . .but so many more companies have “grown up” in China, and they are 100% focused on delivering value to the internal Chinese gear demand needs.

I’m going to share a few blogs on the China Trade Mission in the coming weeks. This first one, just gives you my first impressions. . .next up, size and scale that you won’t believe.  Think 28 million cars, 150% growth in subway construction growth, and five new high speed trains being made next year. 

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Gears Matter Blog
8th November 2018

Is #GivingTuesday Right For Your Company?

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director of the AGMA Foundation

What is #GivingTuesday? Should your nonprofit institute a special #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign?

#GivingTuesday is an international day of philanthropy that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in 2018 that’s November 27.) #GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a counter balance to the commercialization and consumerism of the holiday season, and as an early kickoff to traditional holiday giving. #GivingTuesday follows on the heels of the major shopping days; Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. It was an immediate success leading to the major online donation processing firms (Blackbaud, DonorPerfect, Network for Good and others) recorded $28 million in online donations on #GivingTuesday 2013. By 2016, a grand total of $177 million was donated online to over 6,700 nonprofits. That total soared to $274 million in 2017, and GivingTuesday.org estimates a total of $300 million will be donated in 2018.

These are impressive numbers, but do they show a true increase in charitable donations, or are these donations coming from people who would have donated without the #GivingTuesday campaign? In 2017 GivingTuesday.org set out to answer this question with an analysis of data voluntarily provided by 36 corporate and nonprofit organizations. The resulting #GivingTuesday Insight Report shows that regular charitable donors give more than usual on #GivingTuesday  - the average donor increased their contribution from $160 to $184. Also, the study found that over 60% of #GivingTuesday donors only made a charitable contribution on #GivingTuesday. Finally, the data show that #GivingTuesday has surpassed December 31 as the largest giving day of the year.

These are truly impressive statistics. So how can your nonprofit promote itself on #GivingTuesday? A great source of information is the Giving Tuesday Toolkit, available at GivingTuesday.org. The Toolkit contains ideas and case studies for all types of nonprofits; large and small, local and global. I hope to see you in cyberspace on November 27, #GivingTuesday!

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Gears Matter Blog
1st November 2018

Engage! Three Strategies to Keep Your Top Talent from Becoming Someone Else’s

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By Lisa Ryan, Chief Appreication Strategist, Expert Speaker with seven years in the welding industry

 

If you have had more than two jobs in your career, you have probably had several bosses to go along with those positions.  Most manager personalities can be broken down into three categories. I like to call them my “A-Team” because they all begin with a letter A.

The first type of boss is the awesome boss.  When you think about your favorite boss of all time, what characteristics does that person possesses?  Some common traits include “trustworthy,” “has my back,” “challenges me,” “approachable,” and “fun to be around.”

The second kind of boss is the average boss.  For this boss, you probably worked hard enough so that you didn’t get fired, and you were probably paid precisely enough so you did not quit.  This type of boss is neither inspirational or offensive.  He or she did not really make a positive or negative difference in your career.

The third type of boss is, of course, the awful boss.  Words that describe this person often include “plays favorites,” “unfair,” “backstabber,” “takes all the credit,” – you get the picture.

Using the following techniques will help you to become the “awesome” boss that you would have liked to report to you in your career.

Here are three ways you can create a culture of appreciation in your workplace.

Build trust.  Trust is the foundation on which you build your culture.  If there is no trust, nothing else matters.  Your company culture took a long place to get to the point that it is right now, and it’s not going to change overnight.  What often happens to leaders is that they suffer from a condition called BSO – Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. After attending a seminar, conference, or industry event, they discover “the next big idea” to increase engagement.  Managers then excitedly implement these new strategies, but when they don’t see immediate results, they discontinue the program.

One frequently used example is implementing “Lunch and Learns” for the professional development of your team. Don’t get me wrong, having Lunch and Learns is a terrific idea.  You have people from your organization gathered together, learning new ideas, and having the same conversation.  After the program, they can help and support each other in taking action.  Terrific, right?

Unfortunately, here’s what happens instead.  The idea of a Lunch and Learn is proposed, and the person in charge gets really excited about the big event.  Managers promote the event. They post fliers everywhere. They splurge for lunch or snacks for the session, and they may even bring in an outside trainer.  The big day arrives, and only three people show up, instead of the 42 they were counting on to “make it worth their while.”  The person in charge figures, “Well that didn’t work.  We’re not going to do that again.”

Instead, what if you asked those three attendees, “What did you like and what can we do better next time?” Be interested in their feedback, implement their ideas, and try it again.  Maybe the second time, you’ll have eight people show up.  Same thing, “What did you like and what can we do better next time.” This is how you build a program – over time.

Because employees are used to managers chasing BSO’s, they know that it only takes a few weeks for things to go back to “normal.” Employees won’t trust you until they see consistency in your actions.

Trust takes a long time to build, and it can be erased in a moment.  The deadly eye roll, the lack of follow-through, and not setting the example that you want to see within the organization are all things that destroy trust.  When you, as a leader, commit to making a change no matter how long it takes, you are well on your way to creating a culture of trust.

Invest in training.  Help your employees become better tomorrow than they are today.  This means investing in their personal and professional development.  Out of all the attributes that potential employees are looking for in their next job, one of the most important is the opportunity to grow and develop.  Some managers feel that spending money on training is a waste of resources.  Those managers may say, “Why should we spend money to train our employees, they’re just going to take what they learn and leave anyway.” And, while in a few cases that is true, here is a little food for thought.  What if you don’t train them, and they stay?  What you’ll find is that when you invest in your employees, they will work harder for you.

While speaking at a conference, I asked the participants what they did to invest in their employees.  One woman shared that they get each employee 2,500 dollars per year to invest in their own personal and professional development.  There was a collective gasp in the room, as several people blurted out, “I have way too many employees to be able to spend that kind of money in training.  We’d go broke if we did that.” So I asked her, “What percentage of your employees take you up on this generous offer?” and she responded, “About 3 to 5% of them.” These are the percentages that are mentioned just about every time I ask the question, so you don’ t have a lot of risk. The good news is that those employees who do take advantage of your financial support for education-those are the ones to watch.  Those people are your future leaders.

When trying to figure out the best ways to invest in your employees, you may directly ask them what they would like to see in that training or professional development program.  You’ll also want to change the conversation when it comes to training.  Most employees, who are being “sent” to training, look at it as punishment.  If instead, you let that employee know that you see something in them and would like to help them expand and grow their capabilities to help them grow both personally and professionally, you have a better chance of that employee taking full advantage of the educational program to which you are sending them.

Acknowledge positive action.  Catch your employees in the act of doing things well.  In other words, find ways to acknowledge, appreciate, and applaud the efforts of your team members.  Mother Teresa once said, “We are more starved for appreciation than we are for bread.” Showing appreciation is just as valid at work as it is at home.

Research by Marcial Losado finds that high performing teams work with a 6 to 1 positivity ratio.  This statistic means that for every one negative comment that employees hear, they hear at least six positive reactions.  These opinions are not necessarily, “Yea! Everything that you do is perfect,” but rather, “That’s a good start of an idea, let’s see how we can build it from here.” It’s respectful communication.  In an average performing team, there is a 3 to 1 positivity ratio.  At this point, the company is barely surviving.  Employees are doing just enough work so that they do not get fired, and the company is probably paying them just enough so that they do not quit.  It’s an even balance.  Finally, on a low performing team, there is a .3 to 1 positivity ratio.  People on a low performing team are hearing three times more negative remarks than they are positive comments.  It’s almost like the old saying, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” That doesn’t work.

Stop trying to always fix what’s broken and instead, acknowledge what’s working.  What gets recognized gets repeated, so if you want your employees to behave productively, let them know you notice their good work. The chances are good that they will like the positive feedback and will look for ways to get more of that.

When you give positive feedback, don’t just say, “Great job!” Be specific so they know that you were paying attention to them.  Look for ways to recognize your employees in the way that they like to be recognized.  Some of your employees will love public applause, while others will hate it.  Maybe for those more reserved employees, you’ll set up a one-to-one conversation with them.  Written notes are also a terrific way to connect.  When you tell someone you appreciate them you create a wonderful memory, when you write it down, you create a treasure.  A well placed a Post-It notes can make all the difference in someone’s day.

To get started, sit down with your leadership team and determine the type of culture that you want to create.  Don’t focus on the things that you “should” do, but rather the unique things that make your workplace a great place to work.  And then, choose one or two of the top ideas that you will commit to doing over the long term.  Then do it.

*****

Lisa Ryan helps organizations who want to keep their top talent from becoming someone else’s. She is the Founder of Grategy and is an award-winning speaker and best-selling author of ten books, including “Manufacturing Engagement: 98 Proven Strategies to Attract and Retain Your Industry’s Top Talent.” Learn more at www.LisaRyanSpeaks.com

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Gears Matter Blog
30th October 2018

The Future of Manufacturing — Three Major Shifts Are Upon Us

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By: Todd Palmer, President of Diversified Industrial Staffing

 

Recently, I was fortunate to see a speech from futurist Peter Diamandis. He spoke about what the future world of work would be like, and specifically talked about the workforce within manufacturing. It’s about to be transformed.  

Old constraints such as specialization in manufacturing skill set and tooling are going away, new technologies are being added rapidly, and the type of employee needed in manufacturing is going to drastically change, according to Diamandis. 

New technological capabilities will enable manufacturers to customize everything, while turning consumers into inventors. And as price points decline while accessibility increases, manufacturing juggernauts and early-stage startups alike have infinite possibilities ahead.  

3-D printing farms, smart factories, and autonomous co-bots will turn concepts into commodities overnight. There are about to be three major paradigm shifts:

1. Mass customization: Fixed costs will begin to reach variable costs in the production sphere, meaning companies will no longer fabricate millions of the same product or part. Customer data-driven design will allow for cost-effective, tailor-made commodities and one-off production items.

2. Democratized Invention: Incubator studios and fabrication equipment labs are jumping onto the scene. Flaunting AI-aided robots and swarm 3-D printers that work overnight, these urban workshops basically serve as new testing grounds — the physical hands for digital designs. 

Whether in-house or entirely outsourced, design-to-production technologies allow anyone to invent. This will eliminate operational costs, fabrication equipment, prototyping, tooling, and far-flung production plants.

3. Smart and Autonomous Factories: Industrial IoT (IIoT) and smart factories are ushering in a new era of autonomous production, severely reducing recalls and freeing corporations to expand product lines.

Let’s examine each further.

Mass Customization

Technological convergence will soon allow startups and corporations alike to personalize products at unparalleled scale.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will go from merely automating production to custom configuring products to meet individual demands.

The greatest game changer of customized manufacturing at-scale is 3-D printing.  Previously a niche and prohibitively priced tool, 3-D printing is hitting its exponential growth phase, says Deamandis. By 2021, IDC analysts expect 3-D printing global spending to be nearly $20 billion.

With newly accessible design software, companies can customize products such as personalized dentistry products, adapted airplane and auto parts, or microscale fabrication products such as sensors, drug delivery technologies, and lab-on-a-chip applications

MX3D, a Dutch company, is using its six-axis robotic arms to 3-D print the Arc Bicycle, a futuristic bike with steel lattice frame. Potentially the greatest breakthrough in its manufacturing process is MX3D’s multiple-axis printing capability, which enables printing from any direction in mid-air. 

While conventional 3-D printing requires some form of support for objects as they’re printed, multi-axis printing technologies almost entirely eliminate this dependency, opening up incredible new structural possibilities.

Smart products and electronics no longer have to be manually embedded with circuitry. Using a wide array of conductive inks, manufacturers can print circuitry directly into their products all at one time with conductive inks. With high thermal stability and at only a few microns thick, evolving conductive inks have the potential to revolutionize hardware production.

Cost-effective 3-D printing takes manufacturers directly from design to production, eliminating lengthy design processes, multi-stage prototyping, tooling costs, and mass production, where design becomes adaptable and production is expedited. 

Democratized Invention

With Democratized platforms, everyone can be an inventor via newly accessible CAD-like design software and easy-to-use interfaces.

New hardware studios and accelerators are springing up daily, eager to collaborate with digital startups and designers by providing the physical building space and manufacturing capacity for now unencumbered entrepreneurs. This allows any manufacturer wanting to build any product to become completely dematerialized.

Companies like Playground Global want to take care of material constraints like engineering, fabrication, supply chain management, and distribution.

Large companies like 3D Systems and Stratasys are also embracing distributed manufacturing. With its Continuous Build 3D Demonstrator, Stratasys supplies 3-D printers that work simultaneously and are centrally controlled through a cloud-based architecture. 

With some three billion new minds joining the web as internet connectivity blankets the earth, now we can ask: what will today’s new inventors build? Crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter look to give entrepreneurs a leg up through initial finance.

As distributed manufacturing converges with the plunging costs of automated fabrication, we are about to see an explosion of innovative design.

Smart and Autonomous Factories

For established corporations with high production quotas, industrial IoT, AI, collaborative bots, and new technologies like Li-Fi, are the next frontier.

Manufacturers are now using the Internet of Things, whereby device connectivity allows smart products to communicate seamlessly and automate cumbersome tasks.

With new sensors, ML tools and inspection drones coming onto the market, not only can manufacturing equipment correct for errors instantaneously, but production will conform to changing demands in real time.  Smart factories will manufacture smart products through machine-to-machine (M2M) communication with data transfer between smart bots, with the goal of adapting to workflows in real time.

Aiming to eliminate the risk of recalls — one of the most costly and dreaded catastrophes for big manufacturers — AI is coming to the rescue. Landing.ai now produces machine-vision tools that can find microscopic defects in circuit boards and products hidden from our visual range. With precise on-site quality analysis, errors are communicated immediately, and IIoT-connected machinery can halt any output before it ever becomes a liability.

But what about defective machinery? As predictive analytics are engineered to near perfection, machine learning techniques can detect abnormalities and risky indicators long before they cause issues.

Yet as cloud-connected, collaborative machines begin managing themselves, what’s to stop fully automated factories operating in the dark or without heat? Potentially nothing.

Voodoo Manufacturing is massively disrupting 24/7/365 production with Project Skywalker. Geared with nine mounted 3-D printers and a huge robotic arm, Voodoo’s 3-D printing farms incessantly print parts, and a Universal Robots UR10 arm unloads products as instructed. In the near future, Voodoo estimates that a single arm will be capable of tending to approximately 100 printers.

Diamandis sees a staggering convergence of 3-D printers, collaborative 3-D printing farms, co-robots, robots that manage 3-D printers, 3-D printers that build robots… and this is just the beginning.

Smart sensors now convert data, communicate with fabrication machines, and turn off devices when performance or safety are at stake. IIoT allows us to analyze production quotas, do predictive maintenance, and input designs remotely.

Although many fear the job market losses caused by purely automated and smart manufacturing, democratized tools and dematerialized companies will allow anyone a shot at invention.

This means an upsurge of self-employed, creative minds building needed products; on-demand personalized commodities built at record speed; and an economic boom of unprecedented dimensions.

We’ve seen a skyrocketing software industry bringing millions of jobs and brilliant services to our economy. As physical constraints to fabrication disappear and design platforms abound, we are on the verge of a second boom.

Todd Palmer is founder and president of Troy-based Diversified Industrial Staffing and Extraordinary Advisors Coaching, 

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Gears Matter Blog
17th October 2018

New technologies will move people in new directions

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By: Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

There are those of us that are following developments in electric drive technology for vehicles – automobiles and trucks – with a watchful eye tracking what the future will look like and which technology will get a foot hold. But this week there have been a few headlines that made me think of the future of transportation with a wider lens.

First, there is the debut of the full-scale Hyperloop passenger capsule (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-03/the-future-of-transport-arrives-with-hyperloop-capsule-unveiling), and the related article with Richard Branson talking about the price of tickets on his Virgin Hyperloop. (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/09/richard-branson-virgin-hyperloop-tickets-to-cost-no-more-than-high-speed-rail.html)   I have been hooked on the Hyperloop for about the last 8 years watching the contests to develop this quick inter-city transport system. I loved the pneumatic tubes moving stuff in banks and in movies on t.v. so the idea of moving people in similar fashion caught, and has kept, my interest. These recent headlines are really bringing the fantasy to reality. If the tests are successful will we start seeing construction of tubes from DC to NY and San Francisco to San Diego?

If you are a history buff, you should check out this great ‘History of the Hyperloop’ that Business Insider put together earlier this year that dates back to innovative ideas in the late 1700s.

(https://www.businessinsider.com/history-hyperloop-pneumatic-tubes-as-transportation-2017-8#in-1799-inventor-george-medhurst-proposed-an-idea-to-move-goods-through-cast-iron-pipes-using-air-pressure-in-1844-he-built-a-railway-station-for-passenger-carriages-in-london-that-relied-on-pneumatics-until-1847-1)

The second bit of news came from the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, announced that we will be seeing the first operational self-driving airborne vehicles in under five years. (https://www.geekwire.com/2018/1st-operational-self-flying-cars-less-5-years-says-boeing-ceo/) Flying cars appear in so many of our science fiction literature, film, and of course The Jetson’s, but so many of the realists have been talking about the barriers to bring this technology to reality. And these barriers are real. There have been hundreds of inventors who have worked to bring us flying personal vehicles over the past decades, but recent innovations may change this mostly sci-fi idea to reality.

With people speeding through tubes and flying overhead in the next 3-5 years in a city near you – how will this impact our car-loving nation? And it is not so much about how it will disrupt manufacturing as we see it today but much more about what opportunities will there be for future projects and new ways to continue to prosper in manufacturing.

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Gears Matter Blog
3rd October 2018

There were 3D printed gears at IMTS

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

Over the last year, there has been a lot of movement in the 3D metal printing market. Company after company has debut their technology. It has been very exciting for this science junkie to read about the differences between approaches and the variety of machines being developed to create dense metal parts from powder metal with unique twists and contortions that are difficult or impossible for conventional metal manufacturing. The additive pavilion at IMTS did not disappoint this year with more than 50 companies, up from approximately 20 in 2018, and a noticeable significantly increase in floor space.

From HP front and center and their big press push last Monday about their new Metal Jet 3D printers to searching the back of the South Hall to find Velo 3D (who was too late to get into the additive pavilion) I was able to see the technologies that I have been reading about these past months. And to not go down the rabbit hole here and start talking about the nuances in the various technologies and the work that is being done on the materials side of the equation – suffice it to say that a lot is happening. For this gear audience, the most relevant thing to point out is that there were 3D printed gears that were specifically showing the strengths of this technology.

Both HP and GE had gears on display that were not solid pieces of metal, but instead had lattice filled structures holding the dense metal gears. While these are not pieces being mass produced for anyone at the moment, they show the forward progress of this technology, and highlight the possibilities for light weighting of gears.

The HP gear was printed as an example of what can be done with jet binding technology. HP states that they have the ability to jet metal nanoparticles. In an interview with Tim Weber, HP’s Global Head of 3D Metals, he states “So you can take materials – maybe not stainless – but other materials and actually change the phase. So you could have softer materials in the inside and harder material on the outside.” You can see an image of the gear that was in HP’s booth by clicking on this link and going to the bottom of the article: https://www.3dprintingmedia.network/hp-tim-weber-hp-metal-jet-imts/

The GE gear was a feat onto itself. They showcased a 3D printed gear for an off-road vehicle that was printed using the world’s largest power bed system, known as ATLAS. The gear is approximately 650mm in diameter and is made from HS188 alloy. The gear was still attached to the build plate so that visitors could see how it was built in the system. As with the HP gear, this gear was not a solid piece but again utilized a lattice structure. The part was developed to replace three separate components. While still an experiment, it showcases the movement in this technology. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to test these gears.

If this is something of interest to you, I encourage you to consider joining our Emerging Technology sub-committee on 3D printing. Participation in this committee is open to all employees of AGMA member companies. For more information, contact me at doran@agma.org.

Photo credit:

GE Transportation OHV Gear

Printed on A.T.L.A.S. Machine, HS188 material

Diameter 610mm

GE Additive

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Gears Matter Blog
1st October 2018

A Toolkit for the Ages

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director of the AGMA Foundation

I find the challenges of managing today’s multi-generational workforce fascinating. These challenges are at the forefront of my thoughts today, as I work to design a gear industry Employee Recruitment Toolkit to help Baby Boomer and Gen X owners/managers attract younger people into gear manufacturing. How can I design a Toolkit that older generations feel comfortable using, but will also appeal to Millennials and Generation Z?

The problem is that each generation has a different approach to communication. Baby Boomers (born 1945 – 1964) and the older members of Gen X (born 1960 – 1976) entered the workforce when hard copy pieces (letters, brochures, ads, etc;), the phone and later, email, were the only methods of communication. These generations are less likely to communicate via text and online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. For Millennials (1977 – 1995) and Gen Z (1996 +) texting and online platforms are their natural and preferred form of communication. According to Socialmediatoday.com, Millennials use their smartphones an average of 43 times per day! Furthermore, 1 in 5 Millennials only use a tablet or phone to access the internet – meaning 20% never access the internet with a desktop/laptop computer. We expect this percentage to grow in the future.

To address this challenge, the Toolkit will have an instruction manual on how and where, to best use the different components. To appeal to the owners/managers, the Toolkit contains hard copy pieces (templates for print ads, a brochure and poster) for distribution at job fairs, plant tours, school visits, etc. The manual suggests customizing these pieces – making the company website address prominent for the younger generations. To more effectively reach Millennials and Gen Z, the Toolkit has templates for use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email, again with detailed instructions on how and, most importantly, why, to use these mediums.

The Toolkit launches in December – make sure to download it!

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Gears Matter Blog
20th September 2018

The Down and DIRTY on Manufacturing Jobs

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Forbes.com had an interesting article posted on September 12 that discussed the growing needs and wants of manufacturing workers. Although pointing out that manufacturing jobs still boast a 20% higher pay rate than that of other industries, there are some other parts about working in manufacturing that lack the luster of choosing it as a career. I want to discuss one of those in detail.

One of the points from this article; and as I believe to be a large perception from those outside of the industry, is that manufacturing is a “dirty” job. Many picture the blue-collar man with calloused finger tips and dirt under their nails working in hot temperatures in a giant warehouse building. Well, they are partially correct. There are jobs out there that fit this description and there are some that do not. There are positions in manufacturing where you work with lubrication, metal, sharp tools, heat treating equipment and find yourself dirty, hot and tired at the end of the day. What they don’t always tell you though, is you leave satisfied that you have accomplished something with those dirty hands.

One person interviewed in this article explained that this dirty and perhaps dangerous nature of manufacturing jobs is why the younger generation isn’t interested. If that were the case, then becoming a policy officer, military member, first responder, oil rigger, coal miner, heck, even a teacher these days, would not be an option either. Some of those jobs are way dirtier and more dangerous than jobs in manufacturing. In fact, there are plant floors that are so clean, you could eat off the floor. There are so many regulations and protocol for manufacturing plants, that safety is the top priority of employees.

I am going to support this notion by sharing a lit of the ten most dirty jobs in America as described by a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Dr. Charles Gerba.

  1. Teacher/daycare worker
  2. Cashier, bank employee
  3. Tech support/computer repair
  4. Doctor or nurse
  5. Lab Scientist
  6. Police Officer
  7. Animal Control Officer
  8. Janitor or plumber
  9. Sanitation worker
  10. Meat Packer

No where did I see manufacturing on that list. I could go on, but I think we all get the point. We no longer can point to dirtiness as a reason behind the gap in finding employees for manufacturing. There are other problems.

The Forbes article does point out that there are ways that manufacturing companies can improve their image and hiring processes to appeal to the newer generation that value time over money and conditions over benefits. I just think that if we are going to be honest about the nature of manufacturing, let’s understand that sometimes jobs can get dirty and that can really work for some people; we just need to stop acting like those kinds of jobs are bad. Perception is reality and we, the people who understand manufacturing, set that perception; let’s start to show all the amazing things we can build to start moving the future!

Forbes article.

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Gears Matter Blog
4th September 2018

The ROI of a Technical Conference

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By Phillip Olson AGMA Staff Engineer

Before coming to AGMA, I was a manufacturing engineer.  There was hardly a day that some new problem needing immediate attention didn’t arise, and hardly a process that I didn’t work on to save a nickel.  So how does one convince people in the manufacturing world to take the time, and spend the money to attend a technical conference?

One way is to break it down like any other process and examine the return on investment.

Once you know the costs in time and money, you simply have to put a price on the following:

Networking:

  • What business are you missing out on by not meeting the experts in the field face to face?
  • What business are you missing out on by not advertising your brand as cutting edge in the field?
  • What collaborations to solve problems across companies and across academia are you missing out on?

Staying up to date on the technology in your field

  • What’s the cost of re-inventing the wheel?  At technical conferences you can learn the latest innovations and best practices in the industry, who knows maybe someone else has already solved the big problem that has been costing you a fortune for weeks.

Staying up to date on the technology in related fields

  • In our busy lives we rarely get a chance to learn about technology outside of our immediate expertise.  Technical conferences spoon feed you information on lots of closely related topics.  Attending one of these talks may give you ideas that relate back to your area of expertise in new and interesting ways.

Professional development

  • For the individual it always looks good to put in the time to advance your career.
  • If you feel like you can contribute to the industry, giving a conference talk is a great resume point.

These, and many more great reasons, should weigh into your decision to come to a conference or let one of your employees go. I look forward to seeing you at the FTM!

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Gears Matter Blog
29th August 2018

Solving the People Impact: How Can AGMA Help?- From the President

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By Matthew Croson, AGMA President

I recently completed my 70th tour of a member company, during which I spent time with AGMA Board Members Michael Engesser of Reischauer, Cory Ooyen of Global Gear, and Mike McKernin of Circle Gear.  Additionally, I was able to visit with the Meritor engineering team and talk shop with Joe Arvin from Arvin Global Services whom is an AGMA Distinguished Service Award Winner. 

Member tours are great opportunities to hear challenges and opportunities facing our industry, in a direct setting, where you can capture core issues and values quickly and effortlessly since it’s just the two of you talking one-on-one.

I’m hearing capacity is our issue—companies are giving 110 percent to meet customer expectations as the demand curve swings almost violently from the extreme downturn of 2014-2016, to a strong uptick in 2018.  It’s not unheard of to tell a customer you need 11-12 weeks over the timeframe they are used to receiving a gear in . . . and, I’m hearing of three shifts and companies asking for capacity help from other local AGMA members to make gears and components for larger systems. 

I’m hearing employment is another issue—finding and retaining operators, technicians and other floor personnel is becoming THE priority for AGMA members.  In fact, in a recent survey conducted on behalf of the AGMA Foundation, finding and retaining technicians was the primary challenge facing our industry. In the survey, it didn’t matter what type of company you were—suppliers, manufacturers and end users all listed “people” as the primary challenge facing their companies. 

We are on the brink of a major crisis for our industry that I call “The People Impact” which is hitting all 482 AGMA member companies. 

How many technicians are going to retire in the next five years from your company?

How many other technician and operator level employees do you currently need, or forecast to need in the next 18 months?

What is your plan to retain any new employees you hire over the next year?

How will AGMA help me with this?

The first three questions are yours to answer, but the last one, AGMA has the following solutions in the works:

 

  • AGMA and the AGMA Foundation are committing resources to develop the Employee Recruitment Toolkit. This marketing kit will highlight and promote the great things this industry does and provide your company with materials to use when promoting jobs in our industry.  Materials will include a PowerPoint Presentation, a video, posters, a brochure and advertisements that you can add your logo too.

The materials are designed to be used by your company and highlight jobs you might have.  But it also can be used by AGMA staff when speaking to technical students, that will ultimately lead them to our jobs board on our website. 

Your membership with AGMA and your contribution to the AGMA Foundation, are helping to ensure our industry gets the employees that it needs.

  • By 2019, AGMA will have developed 5 new operator level courses.  These courses could be part of your internal retention program, by supporting your team members with great training that you cannot find just anywhere.  These courses will be held at Daley College in Chicago, making it easy to attend by a majority of AGMA members—and by sending your employees to these classes demonstrates your support in their professional development. This is a powerful retention tool for all companies.

These programs were also developed by AGMA and the AGMA Foundation.  They are the first time we have developed programs for operators and is a direct response to the industry challenges communicated by each organization. 

 

Big Picture:  AGMA and its Foundation is allocating money directly towards the industry’s primary challenges, as described by 467 individuals who participated in our survey in 2017 and approved by both the AGMA and AGMA Foundation boards. 

Small Picture:  AGMA and its Foundation are developing tools that can be leveraged by industry to both attract new employees and to retain the ones you hire.

What’s in it for me? Picture:  Your direct support of AGMA and its Foundation means you have tools to help your company grow and be sustainable.

These new programs add value to the existing 13 different face-to-face engineering level classes, the Fall Technical Meeting, the Annual Meeting and other events AGMA holds during the year.  All of them are designed to keep your team up to date on emerging technologies, industry trends and the latest news, and your active participation in each event ensures you are getting to network with the right people.

AGMA is here to help the industry thrive, and working closely with our members, we are on a path that directly responds to current industry challenges. 

 

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Gears Matter Blog
23rd August 2018

A Field Guide to the IRS 501(c) Nonprofits

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By: Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

When it comes to donating to a good cause, it is always good to know how the money you give is used and what purpose it might serve in the long run. 

 

As the director of a 501(c)(3) Foundation, that was founded by a 501(c)(6) Association, I am often asked how a (c)(3) is different from a (c)(6), and what is a 501(c)(4)? Here are the answers–a field guide to the 501(c)’s.  

501(c)(3) is the most common type of nonprofit, with over 1.1 million in the U.S..  (c)(3)’s must be organized for one of the following activities: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals. (c)(3)’s exist for the public good, and cannot distribute any profits to their officers or directors. (c)(3)’s are prohibited from most political activity, but may lobby if it comprises an insubstantial portion of their activities. Contributions to a (c)(3) are generally tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

501(c)(4) is broadly defined as social welfare organizations, homeowner associations and local fire departments are the most common types of (c)(4)’s. Like (c)(3)’s, (c)(4) profits may not benefit any individual shareholder or member. (c)(4)’s can spend unlimited funds on lobbying and other political activities. Contributions or payments to a (c)(4) are not tax deductible.

501(c)(6) exist to promote the common business interests of their members and not the public at large which is a key difference between a (c)(3) and a (c)(6). (c)(6)’s are generally trade associations, business leagues, chambers of commerce or real estate boards. Trade association (c)(6)’s, like AGMA, often support their members with trade shows, education classes and certification programs. Like the (c)3’s and (c)4’s, (c)(6) profits cannot benefit individual members. (c)(6)’s can lobby on a limited basis. Members usually contribute to a (c)(6) by paying dues which are not tax deductible as a charitable donation but may be deductible as a business expense.

While most 501(c)(3), (4) and (6) organizations must file a tax return, they are generally exempt from paying any income taxes. 501(c) tax returns are public record, and may be accessed at guidestar.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
6th August 2018

Find the Right Person

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By Jill Johnson, Director of Membership, AGMA

Associations are great at communicating what they do and their value to members. But are they communicating to the right people? Sometimes, but not always. Amid the data feedback on open rates, click throughs, hard bounces, soft bounces and unsubscribe rates, perhaps the most important aspect is: who took action in terms of attendance or participation? Trade associations that operate with a primary contact can see that person become a bottleneck of information to the rest of the company. In other words, you—the association—are sending loads of information to one (or two or three) people in a company. These people are also getting loads of information from other sources. The primary contact simply gets overwhelmed! However, there are many others working for the member company that could benefit from the association activities and they aren’t getting the information. The best solution? communicate with them directly, of course.

For example, AGMA, like many other associations, runs education courses and conducts industry wage and benefit surveys. This information is incredibly helpful to human resources department managers, but they weren’t always aware it was available to them. We learned the importance of asking member companies for contact information for people in specific roles within their company (like HR, or CFO, or Sales VP) and importantly, we learned it was important to explain why we were asking for this information. Moving forward, we’ll send communications about these activities directly to these contacts—they won’t miss out! A more focused database allows us to market our events and products more effectively. It also allows primary contacts to not be bogged down with information that may or may not be useful to them. It’s a lot of work in terms of database management and keeping this information up-to-date, but very worth the effort. So, make sure to ask for the right people!

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Gears Matter Blog
1st August 2018

Autonomous–At A Farm Near You

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In emerging tech news, one of the hottest topics this year is the autonomous car. And while there is so much to talk about in that area, I would like to turn the dial just a hair and focus on the developments in autonomous and robotic vehicles for agriculture.

Semi-autonomous vehicles have been used in farming for some time. Agriculture provides a great canvas for testing this type of technology—not many other vehicles or people to worry about. Typically, the vehicles are doing a repeatable process, and most farming is conducted in nice even rows. But in recent months, we are seeing wider adoption of truly driverless farm equipment, and a wider array of vehicles entering the market.

While some of the big companies were first to market, in the U.S. there are more farmers who have brought their own products to market. David Farb, a seed potato farmer, has invented the Farb Guidance Systems in Idaho. (VIDEO). And, people from North Dakota State University have created drones capable of spraying 33 acres per hour; click here to read. Meanwhile, Purdue University just announced the launch of an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center, which will focus on commercial uses for autonomous vehicles.

This is also a growing market abroad. Osaka-based diesel engine manufacturer Yanmar is introducing a new line of robotic tractors.  And, Seedmaster DOT is growing traction in Canada. IDTechEx Research’s study released last month forecasts, “agriculture robots and drones to become a $35Bn industry by 2038.”

It has been so interesting to watch the development of these products. But one piece that I find interesting is that unlike in the automobile sector—where I am watching autonomy moving in tandem with electrification—many of the agriculture autonomous tractor-style vehicles are keeping their diesel engines, at least for now.  Much of the more stationery equipment, like robotic cow-milking machines are incorporating electric drives and robotics. But, I am sure we will learn more as more research is being completed in this area.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

From Professional to Professor—A Second Career Track

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By Casandra Blassingame, Director of Education, AGMA

You have 40 or 50 years in the industry. You are ready to retire, but, you are not ready to go home just yet. You feel like you have so much to offer future generations. You think to yourself, “All of this institutional knowledge can’t go to waste. I mean, somebody needs it. Right?” Well, the answer is—and I say emphatically,“Right!” Who better to continue to serve the industry and how it has evolved with the insight and talent to assist in the adaptation of future technologies than you! The retired professional who desires to ‘give back.’ Why? Not only does the industry need you, the next generation does as well. 

One of the challenges that education program administrators face is the shortage of technical talent with the ability to disseminate the information where learners can grasp the concepts stated in the learning objectives of the course. Most professionals don’t know where to begin. Well, it begins with your desire. Your desire to give back. Is that all? Yes. Does this mean you’ll be good or great at it? No. Can someone help you become great and fulfill your next steps? Yes! 

One research study showed that there are four primary struggles identified by participants who were making the transition from practitioner to professor. They struggle with role, self, cultural and future. Making the transition is not always easy. These struggles can lead to very real feelings of inadequacy. They can leave a person questioning whether this is right for them as they may feel like an impostor in the academy with colleagues who have been around their entire career. The cultural shift can be shocking and they wonder should they even continue on this path? 

Yes, yes, and yes! Your students are just like you. Quite frankly, you may have even been your student! They are adults who are employed. They have families and prior learning experiences both formal and informal. They have interests and most of all, they have goals. YOU can help them fulfill those goals by sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience as an industry professional. 

How do you find such an organization that can help put you on the journey from Professional to Professor? Your local 2 and 4-year colleges and technical schools, training organizations and membership associations who provide training opportunities to various industries. A good program administrator will provide you with a supportive environment that is inclusive and informational. Instructor meetings, focus groups, pairing with a peer, professional development and continual support that keep you connected to the organization. 

As your career comes to a close, I am sure you are asking yourself what’s next? If it’s not the golf course, social clubs or traveling the world, seek out an opportunity to share what you know with the next generation of the workforce. Your gifts and talents paired with practical and real-world approaches are priceless to the industry and your successors!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Uncertainty in What to Believe About Tariffs

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By Christopher Porsch, District Manager, Central USA, Blaser Swisslube Inc.

How is it that as we watch more and more tariffs being implemented on both sides that the market continues to go up? As we see daily guidance by the Federal Reserve System and by companies in general, we hear all doom and gloom, but we are not seeing it at any point.  And, therein lies the problem that we may come across at some point: what are we, as business people, to believe when it comes to our future?

I am no supporter of the tariffs in general as I see them as a modern-day participation trophy for those industries that are not competitive.  That being said, I do believe our farmers are getting a raw deal from our NAFTA neighbors, but that does not include all the other areas we are pushing back on.  The big issue coming up is going to be uncertainty, not tariffs in my opinion.

As we move forward, prices will continue to go up as more and more products receive tariffs from all governments involved.  It is simple math. As inflation increases, our buying power will go down, and I don’t believe it will be offset by higher wages.  The tariffs go directly to the government, almost as a tax revenue, so there will be no offset in wages from the tariffs—just a reduction in global buying power.  Although it may take away some of the tax benefits businesses received in the tax overhaul, they certainly will not help businesses in general.  While there might be in increase in people buying more domestically, they won’t be buying as much, so the bump will be muted.

Now, I don’t pretend to know anything more about economics than I learn from the TV, from Jim at AGMA or what I read, but I know the tariffs are leading to uncertainty and Wall Street and the American consumer hate that.  My concern is that business will pull back on spending and hiring and, consumers will pull back on spending.  This won’t be because the economy is bad, but because they think it might get bad.  Everything going on has still allowed Wall Street to hold their own, but how much longer can we hold on to believing we’ll be okay when deep down we all think that we won’t?

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Feedback: How it is Essential to Education and the Creation of New Courses

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By Kellyanne Broom, Education Coordinator, AGMA

Growth and expansion do not happen when you stick to the same routine over and over. The role of an education institution or organization is to provide people with not only the basic knowledge but also new and current ways of doing one’s job. At AGMA we have created four new face-to-face courses in the last two years from feedback that has been given on the evaluations. These evaluations are given in every class format we offer; webinars, self-paced online courses, face-to-face courses; it is one of the most important processes we follow to expand our program.

In educating members, it is okay to consistently have the basic courses available because they will always be needed for incoming employees in their industry. However, you always need to entice your members to keep coming back; and to do that, you need new material that has not been touched upon in your current catalog. There are a couple ways in which to find out what new material you need to bring in. One way is to perform a gap analysis in which you can bring in a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in a roundtable fashion and work through the catalog to brainstorm what subjects need to be taught to the industry that are not currently offered.

The second way to find new material for your curriculum is by paying attention to the feedback from students taking your courses. As mentioned above, AGMA has created four new courses in the last two years as a direct result from students telling us what subjects they would like/need to learn to best perform their job. At the end of each course, an evaluation is given out and it must be filled out to receive your certificate and, on that evaluation, there is a question asking what subject matter is not offered to you in other education realms that we could possibly create and implement. Of course, if they do not fill in all the sections that is their choice, but that at least gives them a moment to think on what they want to learn more about. And 9 out of 10 times they do fill it all out and that gives us the information and ammunition to move forward with planning and implementing these new courses.

In order to create a new class, there has to be a demand for it. And demand can mean many things; jobs, careers and industry are moving in a new direction and people need to learn the new information for their new space. Or, they have moved up to a new position and need to take a class on a subject matter that is not offered elsewhere to perform in their new job. Whatever the reason, the demand creates an opportunity for your program to fill their need.

Our role in the association education realm is to bring our members the most up to date, trending information and offer them the courses to learn it, while also having the core education that makes them do their jobs in the best way they can.  

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Responsibilities of a Non-Profit Board Member

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

At some point you may consider joining the Board of a nonprofit organization with a mission you support. And, you should. With the help of board members, an association can benefit greatly from industry professionals who step up to give their perspective. While board service can be very rewarding to the person as well, it is important to understand a Board member’s responsibilities prior to joining.

The National Council of Nonprofits puts it best, “Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission.” The Council goes on to list the three most important duties of the nonprofit Board member as:

1) Duty of Care: Board members are expected to make careful and informed decisions on the use of the nonprofit’s assets. Assets include funds, facilities, people and good will. Board members need to stay informed by attending Board meetings, and actively participating in the nonprofit’s strategic direction and management.

2) Duty of Loyalty: Board members must make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit, and put the nonprofit’s wellbeing ahead of their own personal or professional interests. Board members must disclose any actual, or potential, conflicts of interest.

3) Duty of Obedience: Board members are required to know, and ensure the nonprofit’s compliance with, applicable federal and state law, IRS regulations, and the nonprofit’s bylaws. In addition, Board members should make sure that the nonprofit fulfills its mission.

Many people take great satisfaction from steering a nonprofit with a mission that is dear to their heart. But believing in the mission isn’t enough. Potential nonprofit Board members should know the hefty responsibilities of Board membership, and make an informed decision on whether they have the time and patience to serve.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Mind-Numbing Summit takes the lead in petaflops

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

The National Spelling Bee finished out this past week. It is always fun to go down the long list of words that the winners had to spell for the contest. Some are familiar, some so odd. So I guess I should not be surprised that I find myself focused on another unusual word that kept coming up, petaflop. Not listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary online (as I checked when I was looking up some of the spelling words) it is defined elsewhere as “a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million floating-point operations per second.”  That second ‘million’ is not a typo. It is a term used to describe supercomputing and is on my brain because of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announcement of their latest, fastest supercomputer named, Summit. https://www.energy.gov/articles/oak-ridge-national-laboratory-launches-america-s-new-top-supercomputer-science

Summit, ORNL announced, has a peak performance rate of 200 petaflops. ORNL’s last supercomputer that debuted in 2012, called Titan (https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/olcf-resources/compute-systems/titan/), was amazing with peak performance at 27 petaflops. It was truly fun and yet mind numbing to read through the variety of situations used as comparable examples for the computing power. Summit has the ability to compute 30 years’ worth of data saved on a desktop computer in just one hour. (That would have been helpful when I was trying to locate a specific photo I needed this weekend). Titan was 200,000 times more powerful than a desktop computer (in 2012) and Summit is eight times more powerful than Titan. And, if that isn’t enough, Summit is the first computer able to handle scientific calculations requiring at least one billion billion calculations per second (again the second ‘billion’ not a typo) known as exascale calculations.

This announcement made my brain spin with delight for all the next-gen that I may be able to see in my lifetime as scientists find even more ways to speed computing power. My thoughts turned to bitcoin and 3D simulation software that are such heavy sucks on computing power. If we can compute faster than we may be able to have the really complex simulations work well—soon. Further thinking,  I thought of those great dog robots that Boston Dynamics keeps improving. This year they are opening doors—what will they do next? Lastly, I thought about what we will humans be able to do next. Well I, for one, am very excited at the prospects.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Look Deep Into Your Bench

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

We have gone over brand awareness and how important it is to cross-pollinate in your company and information share. Now, we need to talk about how to create a unified front for external communications and how your company can tap into resources it might not realized it had. Far too often, companies don’t realize that employees they hire can be their best marketers no matter what position they hold, but you must look outside the “job description box”.

Manufacturing companies often have two very different sides to them. In short, there are people that make a product and people that sell it (obviously much more to this, but you get the point). You cannot have one without the other and so making sure those two sides are in constant communication is the key to a successful brand. However, a common mistake is to expect that each employee stays on their side of the business, when merging those job descriptions could really benefit the value of the company.

For example, at AGMA we offer many different types of engineering courses.  Some of our members send their sales team to these courses to gain a deeper knowledge for the gear manufacturing process. In turn, these classes and information allow them to sell their products more intelligently. This is a great way to get sales people to connect better with operators and potential buyers. Conversely, smaller companies, that do not have a large marketing/sales/communications team, can use the people that make the product to sell it. Grab a machinist or design engineer from the plant floor and have them do a quick video to help explain what it is that your company does and the products you make.

Yes, you have hired someone to do a specific job, but when you lock them in that job description and never reevaluate how their job can improve innovation, then you are just hurting your bottom line. We forget that it is easier and often less expensive to look down the bench and see what utility players we already have before going outside the team to find a solution. Our biggest assets are the ones we have already put time and energy into. Take a look at your bench and make sure you are tapping into all your resources.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Technology Transfer with the Department of Defense (DoD)

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

With more than 120 labs and research facilities across the country the Department of Defense provides some of our Nation’s leading research. But what happens to many of the inventions that go unused? Did you know there is a free service provided by the DoD that markets these inventions and facilitates license agreements with industry for these inventions?

Techlink (www.techlinkcenter.org) is a center within Montana State University’s Office of Research and Economic Development that serves as DoD’s primary national partnership intermediary for technology transfer. They have been helping the Department of Defense to establish licensing and other technology transfer agreements with U.S. industry, enabling companies to create new products and services, and stimulating economic development.

There are currently more than 5,000 DoD inventions available through TechLink in 10 technology areas: Renewable Energy, Materials, Sensors, Photonics, Software/Info Technology, Bio-Technology, Military Technology, Electronics, Communications and Environmental Technologies. This is the nation’s only comprehensive fully-searchable database of DoD-patented inventions.

TechLink offers a free service where its technology managers help companies evaluate these inventions and submit license applications. The technology managers have expertise in many industry areas including advanced materials and nanotechnology, aerospace, electronics, environmental technology, medical and biotechnology, photonics and sensors, and software and information technologies. The goal is to create “win-win” situations.  More than 1,270 technology transfer partnerships brokered between companies and 110 DoD labs or centers, including all 65 DoD labs that generate patented inventions have been completed. And more than 600 license agreements have been facilitated between DoD and companies nationwide, transferring over 1,000 DoD inventions to industry.

Most DoD inventions have civilian and commercial applications. DoD technologies licensed by TechLink have generated $1.68 billion in direct sales and $4.4 billion in total economic impact.

You can find out more and immediately search their database through the website at www.techlinkcenter.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Generation Z in the Workforce – Get Ready!

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation 

Millennials (born 1980 – 1994) are the most studied generation in history. Research is just beginning on Generation Z (born 1995 – present), and the results are intriguing. Z’s number is 2.52 billion in the US – making them a larger generation than Baby Boomers or Millennials. With these numbers it is important to know that they are going to be filling up the workforce, so how can employers attract Z’s to their company? 

First, it is important to understand that every generation is shaped by their childhood experiences. Most Z’s do not have clear memories of 9/11, but the war against global terrorism has continued throughout their lifetime. The 2008 economic crash, the student loan crisis, and their parents’ and older siblings’  struggles to find and keep a good job have profoundly affected Z’s. While Z’s share many of the same traits as Millennials, overall Z’s feel less secure about their future.

Forbes says it best: While millennials are often seen as more idealistic, and more motivated by purpose than a paycheck, Generation Z may lean more toward security and money. This is a pragmatic generation – they care about making a difference, but are ultimately motivated by ensuring they have a secure life outside of work. 

Many Z’s, having seen a loved one suddenly lose a job, strive to be self reliant entrepreneurs instead of employees. Employers will need to offer job security and upward mobility to attract Z’s. Self reliance is good, but that attitude also makes Z’s less suited for team tasks than Millennials.  Employers should prepare for a lower percentage of Z college graduates. Z’s question the ROI of college as they see their elders burdened with student loans, and stuck in jobs for which they are overqualified. 

Generation Z is very diverse and good with technology. They most likely have never  lived without a computer. This makes them the generation best suited for global business at a fast pace. Attracting Z’s will require employers to gain an understanding of the hopes and fears of this unique generation. How you market jobs, train them on the job and keep them will be a different process than the generations before them. Like it or not, get ready for Z’s!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Economic Impact of Business Tourism

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By Leah Lewis, Meetings Manager, AGMA

These days, it feels like there is a holiday to celebrate just about everything—National Lost Sock Memorial Day, anyone? But there is one holiday you may not have heard of that deserves to be celebrated across all professional industries. Global Meetings Industry Day, which took place on April 12, 2018, is an annual celebration that brings together professionals from the meetings and events industry. This event is used to showcase the impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions and trade shows have on people, businesses and communities. According to the Meetings Mean Business coalition, 2018 was the biggest celebration yet with more than 200 events held in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia, resulting in over 54 million social media impressions, and 19 government issued proclamations.

Global Meetings Industry Day is not just a celebration of meetings and the events industry but is meant to showcase to the economic impact that business meetings have on the workforce and local communities. A study released in February 2018 by Oxford Economics shows that in 2016, face-to-face meetings and events supported 5.9 million jobs and $845 billion in economic impact in the United States alone. The direct spending on meetings and conventions associated with 43 meeting participants supported one US job, on average in 2016, with both direct and indirect impacts. The full report on the economic significance of meetings to the US economy can be found here.

You may think that the only benefits of your next business trip are for your company or personal professional development but keep these figures in mind next time you are traveling to a meeting or event. Spend some time exploring the local area, check out a museum or local attraction, and spend your tourism dollars at local restaurants instead of the national chains you can find at home. Use the local city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau as a guide to find local events, activities, and places to visit. For those attending AGMA’s Fall Technical Meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois this September, check out the Discover DuPage County website for local activities or consider staying an extra day to make a day trip to Chicago for a baseball game or walk through Millennium Park. The footprints you leave on the cities you visit for business travel leave a major impact on not only the local economy, but the national travel and tourism economy.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Value Equation

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By Jill Johnson, Director of Membership, AGMA

Your association does a ton of stuff for your members, right? Meetings, education, advocacy, standards—the works! It’s not hard to communicate what you are doing for members or why you’re doing it. But if they don’t care or, most importantly, don’t find value in what is offered, they leave, or never join in the first place.

 

Value is in the eye of the beholder (or member). But many, if not most of the activities are difficult, if not impossible, to assign a single monetary value. So how do you communicate your value to members or prospective members? With everyone being so time-starved, one important way is to open up the channels you’re using to get to your members—using webinars, magazine articles, snail mail and blogs(!) to grab their attention. If they see the same message several times in different formats it may sink in that they should start paying attention.

 

Assigning actual monetary values to benefits, where possible is a big plus. Does the member want to send five employees to training? Show them that the member discount helps “pay” for the membership at each event. Free participation in webinars can also be quantified. What about the ubiquitous “networking?” Add up all the travel costs associated to visit the multiple customers that members will already see in just one association meeting. Plus, the value of all they’ll learn with the superior programing usually from industry experts. Well, that last one is actually harder to quantify, but there is value there.

 

Getting out to visit members is an important aspect of value too. Having staff take the time to travel to member locations to meet their teams can make a big difference. The human resources specialist, the engineer, the new employee, and the CEO may all have different points of value in the association. It helps to show them value at each level of their company so that you can engage members in all directions. Putting a face to the name and knowing who to send questions to – it’s a great value!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Q&A with Amber Fulmer, Rethink Robotics

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

How safe are collaborative robots to work with?

Traditional industrial robots are not designed to be operated in close proximity to humans. On the other hand, Sawyer and other collaborative robots were built specifically to work alongside humans, with safety as a guiding design principle. Sawyer has high resolution force-sensing capabilities built into each joint, so that it stops when it comes in contact with another entity. With safety in mind, Sawyer is able to automate tasks that have traditionally been untouched by industrial automation. Collaborative robots do not require the same safety caging that traditional automation needs to protect workers, ultimately resulting in a much smaller footprint on the factory floor, ideal for high-volume operations.

What is the realistic speed of deployment for one Sawyer in a typical mid-sized manufacturing plant?

Sawyer is the fastest  cobot to deploy on the market, so we've seen plenty of examples where Sawyer is up and running on the same day it arrives. One of our customers, Harrison Manufacturing, is a plastics injection molding manufacturer that deployed Sawyer within hours. The robot is deployed in a task where it de-gates plastic parts and passes them on for packaging. Without having to hire an automation specialist, Harrison employees were shown how to program and interact with the robot, and were able to get to work shortly after. After being able to deploy so quickly, Harrison is already working on deploying a second Sawyer in the near future.

Are there common misconceptions about cobots and their impact on workers?

Unfortunately, there is a common misperception in the media that robots are destined to take jobs away from human workers. In our experience, the roles that Sawyer fills are jobs that are repetitive or strenuous to humans, and manufacturers are having a hard time filling them. Manufacturers across industries are facing a shortage of workers, often concurrently dealing with high turnover rates. Sawyer was recently deployed at Plastics Molded Concepts (PMC) to meet these workforce challenges head on. PMC found that when Sawyer took on boring, monotonous tasks, their human workers were freed up to do more value-oriented work. We’ve also seen many situations where deploying Sawyer on the line has a rejuvenating effect on employees, who are excited to work with a robot and appreciate the investment in innovation from their employers. Automation is not taking away factory jobs, but rather filling necessary gaps and transforming what the factory floor looks like in 2018.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Robot Standards - The Safety In A Robotics Installation

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emeriging Technology, AGMA

I just returned from the Collaborative Robotics Track of the Vision Show in Boston. It provided a very wide view from medical to automotive, research to current application, as well ,as a couple of visionaries. It was a terrific learning experience. But I was struck by a cord that seemed to organically weave itself through each presentation – safety, and the need to put the current formal standards at the forefront of your list when doing ANY robotics installation. Maybe it is just because I work for a standards’ writing organization, but the standards were mentioned so much that I found myself remembering the document numbers. So here is an overview of the standards for your own knowledge.

The rule of thumb is that robotics can be a great alternative to humans to do the dirty, dangerous, or repetitive (dull) jobs on the factor floor. Industrial robots have been doing this for many years in automotive plants. Collaborative endeavors have moved the robots into the same space as humans. Robots can do repetitive or ergonomically challenging tasks freeing up the human worker to provide inspection or other support to the manufacturing process. Having robots in such close proximity to humans makes safety a top priority. There is the general ISO 10218:2011 standard for plants. But specific to the robot industry, the Robotics Industry Association has developed ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012, American National Standard for Industrial Robots and Robot Systems – Safety Requirements (link: https://www.robotics.org/robot-safety-standards-documents) that is the guidelines for industrial robots. It includes everything from manufacture to installation, including safeguarding methods for industrial robot systems. There are also four Technical Reports available (TRs 306, 406, 506, and 606) that are supplemental documents to this standard. The RIA TR15.606-2016 Collaborative Robots is a supplemental guideline specific to collaborative robot systems

And the ISO/TS 15066: 2016 Robotics and Robotic Devices – Collaborative Robots (same link as above) provides the safety requirements for collaborative industrial robot systems. This is an ISO standard that has been adopted by the U.S. It is important to note that the use of either of these standards assumes that your robot system is in compliance with Parts 1&2 of the more general safety ISO 10218:2011.

So, if you are considering a robot cell on your plant floor, make sure you get the standards to conduct your risk assessment to make sure you are making the correct choices for your project. And if you are interested in more information, please contact Carole Franklin, RIA Director, Standards development at cfranklin@robotics.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Recruiting Manufacturing Employees – 6 Things To Do Today

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA

Labor is in short supply (see my 12/1/17 blog entitled, “Manufacturers Need to Address Labor Shortage.”) According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “In the manufacturing arena, recruiting employees is harder now than at any time during the past nine years. . .” It is a good time to pay attention to what might help in the recruitment process of new employees. Here are 6 things every manufacturing company can do:

 

Number One: and the most important, recognize that you have to sell yourself. The days of sitting back and letting applicants come to you are gone. Young people want work that is important, that requires problem solving, is team oriented, and that pays a living wage.  Formulate a marketing strategy to counter the common perception that manufacturing is dirty, dumb, and low paying.

 

Number Two: be where your potential workforce is – on social media. Keep your website updated, start a blog, post YouTube videos, Tweet. Go where they are looking!

 

Number Three: make it easy to apply for a job with an online application process that works on computers, tablets and smart phones.

 

Number Four: have a local presence. Sponsor the Little League Team, support employees who volunteer at local charities, offer to speak to civic groups; everyone should know your name.

 

Number Five:  invite people in to see what you do (and sell yourself) with a plant tour. National Manufacturing Day is a great time to do this.

 

Number Six: be the cool table at job fairs. Sitting with a stack of paper applications gets you nothing.  Show off your product, play your Youtube videos, hand out product samples, staff your booth with younger employees who are excited about what they do.

 

Attracting new employees into manufacturing requires training people to see the all the amazing benefits to working in the industry. It is about changing their mindset and grabbing their attention. So, don’t wait any longer, get started!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Cross-Pollination in your company - How to communicate a better brand internally

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

Communications Within Your Company

When you think and operate in unique ways internally, you can produce the unique identity and image you desire externally. You need to have employees who understand and embrace the distinct ways you create value for customers, the points that differentiate your brand from the competition, and the unique personality that your company uses to express itself — and your employees must be empowered to interpret and reinforce these themselves. You achieve this by cultivating a clear, strong, and distinctive brand-led culture. (Yohn)

This thought came from a Harvard Business Review article on creating a company culture that matches your intended brand. I used this quote because it compliments the concept of using internal communications wisely to develop a strong workforce that knows exactly what you are offering to your customers, or for associations — your members. In other words, your internal culture can affect what the external image of your company is; make sure it’s the right one using smart communication tools.

It is not enough anymore to have a group of employees that are just good at what THEY do. They need to be good at what they do and know how their job works with what others are doing to display the company brand within the strategic plans set by the leadership. Gone are the days where departments are siloed and independent of each other. How can you display a unified and organized look to your members, if internally you are not aware of what value you offer as a team?
My suggestion is simple. Learn to cross-pollinate. Bees are successful when they are working, moving and sharing pollen with everything they touch. Do this with in your office.

If you are working on a project, make sure to ask yourself the following questions before even starting:

1. How does this fit into the bigger, strategic picture of my company?

2. What other departments have stake in this to collaborate with?

3. Do others know the importance of what I am going to be working on how it can affect them?


If you find that many of the answers result in needing to use another department, then its time to reach out and communicate what you are doing and what you need; it’s time to cross-pollinate your work information. If nothing else, sending a staff Email for an update or scheduling time in an all-staff meeting can be very effective. Don’t miss out on other employees’ great ideas and input by holding information back. And, you do not want to duplicate efforts, so perhaps by sharing you will learn if anyone has tried what you are doing before, and can obtain valuable insight.
Making sure your association or company sticks out is an ongoing competition. The best thing you can do is to make sure that your departments are talking to each other and that employees are using the resources they have right down the hall from them. When your team is on the same page, the value of your services will be stronger, and your company will benefit from efficient and consistent work to drive your goals forward.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Invest In Your Employees

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By Kellyanne Broom, Education Coordinator, AGMA

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

 First things first. Investment. What does that mean? Well at first thought, it may be stocks, bonds or real estate. But what also should come to mind is you. An investment is something you allocate money towards that brings some benefit to you in the future or as Merriam-Website defines it, “the outlay of money usually for income or profit.” When I say ‘you’ I am speaking to the CEOs, the Directors, the shop floor managers, HR managers; this applies to everyone. Investing in your education, although not always looked at as an investment, never loses value.
 

When we invest in something we see what benefit that brings to us in the future. Whether that be financially and/or strategically. Let’s take a look at both even though they have a symbiotic relationship. Now, employers this is for you: when you educate your employees, you are doing much more than checking a box saying your employees have had the appropriate training. You have told that employee that you value them and that they are worth the investment. Valued employees leads to loyal employees which in turn is great for your bottom line because they are less likely to leave. This is because they know they are employed with a company where they feel they can grow and contribute more to their workplace. Yes, most STEM fields require each employee to earn continuing education credits every year but by creating an environment where it is encouraged to continuing learning rather than only a mandatory checklist can change the game. Additionally, adding forums where employees can network and connect can increase job performance and productivity.

According to Society for Human Resource Management, “employee replacement can cost a company between six and nine months of the department employees salary…and with a high turnover rate can also affect the company’s market position.” This fact is directly applicable to both the financial and strategic aspects of your investments. In the financial standpoint, you’ll lose revenue because you’ll be trying to find a new employee and strategically if you have a high turnover rate, that will reflect in the market and your products.  With a competitive job market, new hires could read about all of this before applying to your jobs which can discourage them to put their resume in. Providing employee development benefits in your company such as education & training, networking events, and forums will keep your current employees and entice the best and brightest to join your team. Part two of this blog will be for employees with how and why to invest in yourself. 

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Securing Your New Connections-Making Sure Your IoT Endpoints Are Reliable

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

In 2017, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) went from something that people talked a lot about to something that managers started to apply on their factory floors. The bigger players, who got into this a little earlier than the rest, spent time making more connections within their wide, multi-continent platforms. Smaller players saw value in pilot projects and still others learned how to use inexpensive sensors to start to gather data that showed them how to track vital information in hopes of waste reduction and streamlined processes.

The prospects for 2018 are that more pilot projects and proof of concept undertakings will still happen,  but many of the people who just dipped their toe into the water in the past will invest in more IIoT projects in their factories. Bigger players, up the supply chain, are starting to demand smart technologies. IIoT vendors are creating plug and play products that make for easier adoption; and, edge technologies are providing faster results. Matt Littlefield from LNS Research went so far to predict that ‘IIoT platform adoption gains critical mass in the industrial sector,’ this year.

However, the most critical step on the horizon will be securing all this high tech. The inexpensive sensor that can collect all this great actionable data is connected to the cloud. The supplier up-chain wants real-time information from your manufacturing floor, and leaders want to be able to monitor machine data and factory analytics from their phone while they are on the road. All these actions need to happen securely. This month, the Industrial Internet Consortium is working to that end. They have published a white paper entitled “Endpoint Security Best Practices.”

The document is specifically designed to be a concise guide on safety, security and reliability of IoT endpoint devices for factory managers, equipment manufacturers, operators, and implementers. Endpoint devices are defined as Internet-capable computer hardware devices on TCP/IP network and can include everything from sensors and terminals to electronic control units and communications infrastructure. This document gives ‘best practices’ when applying countermeasures or controls to achieve specific levels of security for individual projects.

http://www.iiconsortium.org/pdf/Endpoint_Security_Best_Practices_Final_Mar_2018.pdf  

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Keeping AND Attracting New Members

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By Jill Johnson, Director of Membership, AGMA

Nearly everyone is familiar with the adage – it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. It’s the same with membership organizations. And unlike membership (or customer) recruitment, which often falls under a sales or marketing team, retention efforts take a lot of energy from all corners of the organization.  Once a member has joined, they access several areas including your events, technical experts, education courses, news sources or other disciplines. That is why they joined in the first place, after all.

A member joins with an expectation that they will see value and sometimes that value is difficult to quantify into a number – an ROI. We may not hear from the member that met several new contacts at our executive conference that led to lucrative business partnerships. We may not know the return on that interaction, but we know that members vote with their feet (and checkbook) by remaining in the directory.

The most vulnerable time for a member that is considering renewal is in their first year. Your organization may have an amazing set of member benefits, but if the member isn’t taking advantage of them, they’ll probably drop. Having a strong on-boarding strategy can help. It starts with a personalized welcome via email or phone and then follow-up with a membership kit. It’s also useful to organize a call with the member and their team so that all can hear how they can take advantage of the membership and create an engagement plan.

If participation in an annual members-only meeting is one of the benefits of membership, make sure to help out the new-comers! Assigning a meeting buddy or mentor to help with introductions or even as a peer to answer questions can ease any anxiety in what can often be a clubby atmosphere. The goal is to make the meeting (and thus the membership) experience valuable regardless of how long ago the member joined.

There is a balance to keeping members while offering new and exciting things to reach out to new members. Finding the right equation and working from all pillars of the organization can make the process easier and hopefully more exciting for your members.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Global Business Requires a Global Focus for Trade Associations

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By Matthew Croson, President, AGMA

AGMA members are involved in a supply chain that spans the world, with components coming together from Hungary, China, India, other parts of the EU and North America.  To recognize this fact, AGMA changed its Bylaws back in the 1960s to incorporate international members. . .an incredibly smart long term strategic play as it allowed AGMA to deliver its primary value – Standards Development – on a global level. . .and put the organization into a solid position once ISO level standards came about in the 1970s and 80s.    

 

At this point in AGMA history, 30% of membership is made up of global companies – including 15 from India.  These companies join because they want to learn how to become better companies, and leverage the latest standards in their own gear designs.  Very few of these companies join because they are looking to export into the United States or other parts of the world.  Put another way, they aren’t an existential threat – they are colleagues of ours looking to get better at what we all do. . .deliver power transmission solutions. 

 

AGMA Membership Director Jill Johnson and I just returned from a week in India, where we represented AGMA at IPTEX/GRINDEX – a solid show that brings the leaders of the India gear manufacturing community together.  AGMA has attended this event since its inception 10 years ago, but this show was different because we held our first ever face-to-face training session in India at the show.  We were encouraged by the response with 30 attendees participating, and learning about Steels for Gears featuring Goran Nystrom, an Executive Vice President at the Ovako Group.  Now let’s break that down. . .30 India-based engineers attended a class produced by a US-based trade association, which featured a Swedish-based company’s executive as the teacher.  If that doesn’t clearly explain the global nature of this industry – I’m not sure anything else will!

 

AGMA’s Board of Directors and membership supports AGMA’s global strategy – where we are asked to attend leading events in important markets, host networking receptions, and hold education programming – because they know the importance of raising AGMA’s standards development profile on a global basis will help us all – when more companies reference our documents in their product development documents, our industry is strengthened – not weakened.  We are not encouraging competition between members, we are expanding our collective opportunities.

 

We saw many of AMGA’s leading member companies at the event, including Gleason, Klinglenberg, Reishauer, Machine Tool Builders and Gibbs Machinery.  We also saw our leading India-based member companies participating or attending including Shanthi Gears, Essential Power Transmission, Pragati Transmission, Bevel Gears India, Elecon Engineering Co, Tafe Motors and Tractors, and John Deere India.  AGMA held a dinner with 25 CEOs and leaders from our member companies, who invited AGMA to come back in early 2019 to talk about other ways we can support member company growth in the region.  Additionally, we put together a world class training for gear engineers. 

 

IPTEX/GRINDEX was a great example of how a market comes together to develop a solid downstream platform for sales and engineering sharing.  Congratulations to Anitha Raghunath and Raghu G. from Virgo Communications; we were proud to be partners in this event, and proud to help grow the gear industry in a global manner.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Workplace Collaboration – Bridging the Generation Gap

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA

“Generation gaps are as old as history. Nevertheless businesses seem to be more worried than before about managing three [or four] age groups with such differing attitudes.” (The Economist) My last blog post concluded that cross-generational collaboration leads to a successful company. So how can companies get their different generations, with their varying world views and work styles, to collaborate?

The answer lies in leadership. For successful collaboration to occur management needs to value the unique talents and life experiences of all employees, and create opportunities for everyone to work together.

Each generation has value. The older generations lived through the head spinning changes of the technological revolution and experienced, firsthand, the triumphs and pitfalls of their industry’s reaction to it. This is a wealth of valuable experience!  However, that experience can constrain their thinking, making older employees more cautious than their younger colleagues.

The younger generations are short on experience, but tend to have a more global worldview, and a passion for new technology. But the best thing about the younger generations is that their thinking is not encumbered by the past. Their free, forward thinking, often results in creative, out of the box, ideas!

The new ideas, tempered by the in-the-trenches experience, is a winning combination!

Successful cross generation collaboration doesn’t happen naturally. Management needs to stress the value of each generation, create collaboration opportunities, and praise the teamwork. It is said (ad nauseam) that Millennials crave attention and praise, and need to know their work is valuable. Guess what? Everyone, regardless of age, wants this. So value all your people, get your generations collaborating, let the great ideas flow, and dish out the praise!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Your Meeting Experience Starts with your Hotel Reservation: Why to Book in a Meeting’s Official Room Block

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By Leah Lewis, Meetings Manager, AGMA

There are so many ways to book a hotel room in today’s digital age that it’s almost overwhelming, especially for business travelers. Conference organizers work to make this process easier by offering special room blocks for travelers attending meetings and conferences around the world. A room block is a group of hotel rooms put on hold at a negotiated rate for a specific group of travelers. Event attendees are not required to make a hotel reservation using the official hotel room block, but there are plenty of perks for those who choose this method.

If you are making travel plans for an upcoming conference or business event, here are a few ways to ensure that you get the best hotel experience possible by making your room reservation using the conference’s official group reservation block:

Take advantage of negotiated rates and upgrades The biggest incentive of booking your hotel reservation in the group block is the perks that come along with it. Amenities vary based on the hotel, location, and host organization, but most group room blocks offer conference attendees a range of booking perks such as competitive daily rates, waived or discounted resort fees, or complimentary amenities such as wireless internet or bottled water. For example, attendees of the 2018 AGMA/ABMA Annual Meeting can stay at the Naples Grande Beach Resort at an astonishing rate of $289 per night, inclusive of the resort fee which is typically $35 daily. These rates are also available before and after the meeting so you can make a vacation out of the trip. You may think that better rates at the same hotel are available by booking through a third-party hotel booking website, but there are often unforeseen downsides such as hidden fees and disqualification for hotel loyalty points. Look at the big picture and not just the daily rate!

Do your part to keep conference fees low

The larger the guest room commitment an organization can make on behalf of their attendees, the bigger their buying power becomes. This gives meeting hosts the ability to negotiate for complimentary meeting space, discounted food and equipment, and other amenities and ultimately pass the savings along to the attendees by keeping registration fees at a reasonable rate. When organizations cannot fulfill their commitments to the hotel because attendees are booking at other hotels or outside of the group block, there can be steep financial penalties which may ultimately lead to registration rate increases in the future.

Stay where the action is If a meeting takes place at an expensive resort, it can be tempting to book at the budget motel a few blocks away and skip out on the amenities of the host hotel. By staying at the host hotel, you can conveniently network with attendees in informal locations such as the hotel bar and lobby lounge after the official meeting hours. Commuting from another hotel means more time spent traveling, extra parking or public transportation fees, and less time enjoying the event. Staying at the host hotel keeps you close to the meeting activities, other attendees, and makes it easier to get a front row seat at the sessions you are looking forward to the most.

Be prepared for anything No one wants to think about a negative conference experience, but it’s best to be prepared for anything from a crisis situation to a minor inconvenience. Staying in the conference room block means you are listed on the group’s roster for important announcements and updates in case of emergency. Your room in the group block is also protected from hotel relocation, so if the hotel is oversold on your night of arrival you are guaranteed a room without having to worry about being relocated to another property.

How do you typically book your hotel room for meetings and conventions? If you use alternative methods to the official group room block, perhaps it’s time to take another look and ensure that your next meeting experience is safe, convenient, and worth the investment.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Silver Tsunami

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By Jenny Blackford, VP of Marketing, AGMA

A recent Forbes article mentioned that one of the biggest threats to manufacturing today is the upcoming “Silver Tsunami” – the huge number of open jobs that are being created as the baby boomers retire.  The article had some interesting statistics:

1.       Nearly half of all privately held companies (with employees) in the U.S. are owned by baby boomers.

2.       Less than 15% of these owners are passing their business on to the next generation of family.

3.       Of the remaining 85% of businesses only 20% of those ever try to sell their company.

It isn’t all that surprising that nearly half of American companies are still owned by baby boomers – but it is shocking how many of them may die out because the owners have no succession plan. As Forbes puts it, “Imagine nearly half of an industry just disappearing within a decade because of lack of succession planning.  In the manufacturing sector, that amounts to $120 billion in payroll at risk.”

These days we are all focused on finding new, qualified workers to fill open jobs on the factory floor or in our offices – but what about the CEO chair?  Is your company or family currently having conversations about succession planning? AGMA still has a significant number of family businesses – and many who have transitioned away from family ownership in recent years.

Obviously this is a monumental, and sometimes emotional, task – and one that is easy to shelve for “tomorrow” – but its crucial to secure your company’s future today when you can still have a say in the decision process.

What would you like your legacy to be – continued family ownership, employee ownership, private equity ownership or closing up shop? In AGMA’s membership we have companies that have gone through all of these types of transitions.  As a member, we can put you in touch with other owners who have sold their companies, a great resource to find “lessons learned” from their experiences.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin succession planning and securing your legacy.  Engage an adviser or look to AGMA to put you in touch with resources to help you begin the process.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Benefits of a Multi-Generational Workforce

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

Five generations are in today’s workforce. Unless your company was founded yesterday, you probably have employees spanning 3 or 4 generations. How do the generations differ, and how are these differences beneficial? Let’s explore how having a multi-generational workforce can improve the way your business thinks and works.

The 5 Generations Traditionalists: born before 1945, loyal, proud, good at personal interaction, no tech childhood, most have retired; tend to shy away from trying different things Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964, optimistic, competitive, also good at personal interaction, low tech childhood, now retiring en masse; do no always like to try new things Generation X: 1965 – 1976, aka “Baby Bust” era, self-reliant, “latchkey” kids. X’ers developed most modern technology, but are outnumbered by Millennials; Millennials: 1977 – 1995, often considered lazy and entitled, never experienced the world without the internet and cell phones. Not just tech dependent, tech obsessive. Large presence in the workforce; eager to try new things and improve processes; Generation Z: 1996 +: very technologically advanced, the most diverse generation, they aspire to be entrepreneurs, not employees, just now hitting the workforce

It is easy to see why each generation is different, but why is it beneficial to have a multi-generational workforce? Small Business Chron puts it best, “A workforce composed of different age demographics creates an environment where each generation brings different skills and talents to the table.” Imagine a company composed entirely of Boomers. The Boomers have a wealth of business experience and perfected personal interaction but lack the skills (or desire) to communicate or market via social media or try new things. Now, imagine a company with only Millennials. This company is all over social media but doesn’t put the personal interactions with customers fact-to-face first, and due to less time in the field, they can make mistakes. It is easy to see how each of these companies is going to run into trouble. Successful companies embrace, and encourage, cross-generational collaboration. How do you do that? Next blog post.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

3D Printing Has Come A Long Way, But the Software Might Go Even Further

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In September I wrote my first blog post on 3D-printed metal and its possible implications to the production of gears. Since then, we have seen a lot of development in this space. New machines, new techniques, new materials, new players—it has been fascinating to watch this industry.

Just today, Sandvik announced (https://www.home.sandvik/en/news-and-media/newslist/news/2018/02/sandvik-invests-in-metal-powder-plant/) an investment of 200 million SEK ($25 million dollars) in a new plant in Sweden for manufacturing titanium and nickel fine metal powders for use in additive manufacturing. There is a lot happening in this industry.

But I want to focus on another announcement that I saw today on the software side of 3D that I just find fascinating.

Desktop Metal announced a strategic partnership with Dassault Systèmes and its SOLIDWORKS brand. This announcement touted the companies “coming together to develop advanced tools for generative design”. In conjunction with this strategic collaboration announcement, they debuted their software platform, Live Parts™, at SOLIDWORKS World 2018. Generative design is not new to additive manufacturing, as many products currently use it in the marketplace. The software offers a new approach to designing for additive manufacturing. They call it ‘experimental technology’ but it is just a great use of the current power of computing.  

The concept is pretty cool. Instead of drawing specific objects, the software ‘grows’ models from a set of predetermined factors that may include weight, size and purpose.  The wording that they use: “applies morphogenetic principles and advanced simulation to shape strong, lightweight parts in minutes.” The piece that is unique is that Live Parts™ auto-generates designs in a real-time cloud environment so the result is this design that grows and reshapes itself in front of you until it comes up with the optimum design for the concept, including material suggestions, costs, and design flexibility.

One additional fascinating step forward for 3D printing technology.

And to update my burning question from September: Is anyone mass producing gears via 3D printed metal? The answer today is still, no. But now must put the disclaimer, not that I have been able to find in my watch of this marketplace. So checkback often and watch this space.

 

You can find the Desktop Metal press release here.( https://www.desktopmetal.com/news/press-release-desktop-metal-announces-strategic-partnership-with-dassault-syst%C3%A8mes-and-its-solidworks-brand/)

You can see a video of Live Parts™ narrated by its creator, Andy Roberts here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSvOgc_VTVE)

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Creating The Right Work Environment For Younger Employees

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“I think [millennials] are just different and different in a way that makes sense,” Halligan says. “I’m a Gen X'er—for us, it was all about leadership and Jack Welch. Now it’s all about inspiration. [Young people] want to work with a mission.”

This quote comes from business owner, Brian Halligan who has developed a workplace environment tailored for a younger generation that includes unlimited napping and vacation days. Some might think this is crazy, but he believes it is getting better talent in the door and keeping employees longer. 

Now, we don't all have the luxury of creating businesses that run the way Brian's does. We can't always allow our employees to nap when we have deadlines and demanding projects going out the door. I know many of my members are manufacturers and putting nap rooms on the plant floor is not an option. But, that doesn't mean you cannot create a comfortable environment for a younger generation to get excited about. High pay and a hefty pension don't resonate as much to millennials; don't judge them, instead give them what they want. Building a healthy workplace environment that encourages growth, importance and working together to improve processes will be the key. 

How can you achieve that? Well start small but smart. I always question leadership when they have hired someone new, but they don't even know what the persons real background is or haven't read their resume. Often times, HR is doing the background searches, but the CEO who has them working on one thing, doesn't realize that they would be perfect for another thing. Put the right people in the right seats, get to know your employees; this shows that you are paying attention to them. Creating this type of environment is allowing younger employees to take ownership over their work. 

After you have become familiar with your “bench”, start using them correctly. It can be from inviting some of the younger employees to participate on a committee, share their ideas and then truly listen to them. This team approach and environment makes people want to come and be part of something; it makes them invest in the job and therefore, work harder. Expand on that inclusiveness by having them lead a presentation or teach others something they are strong at. Often times, places look to outsource workshops or education sessions, when there are people right there that have the experience- save yourself time and money and ask those that already work for you! 

These two things are just a start to creating the right environment for younger employees, but they are a foundation that will encourage longevity in their employment. It was unheard of for my colleagues to stay in one place for longer than five years. They felt that after that time, in most companies, there was no room to grow-up or out mentality. But, perhaps if they worked in a place that wanted their input and their ideas, they might feel like they had a future because they were defining the future of the company?

So, in my last three posts we have established why generational differences can create the skills gap/lack of potential employees. We have discussed how to hire millennials and why it is important to seek them out. And, now, we have gone over the environment in which to keep them. These tools might not answer all your problems, but they should get you started.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

From the Classroom to the Workplace: Personality and Learning Style and Why it is Important to Recognize the Connection

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By Kellyanne Broom, Education Coordinator, AGMA

Personality and learning style, what do these have in common, and how do they translate to your workplace? Well, your personality makes up who you are. It encompasses your mindset, emotional patterns, environment, cognition, etc.. Your learning style is how you apply your knowledge, which reflects the behavioral and emotional aspects of yourself. Think about it for a minute. If you tell someone how you like to work, what you need from them; doesn’t that sound very similar to how you would like to be taught in the classroom?

I recently took a training on instructional design principles for adult learners for educators.  Amongst a vast amount of valuable information there was one topic with an activity that captured my attention. It was the discussion on personality and adult learning styles and how that can be translated into the work environment. Our class participated in a group activity which began by everyone taking a personality test that placed you into one of the four personality groups. Once everyone had their results we were placed into whichever personality group we tested in to. The purpose of this activity was to work with our group for about twenty minutes to create a presentation for the rest of the class on how “we” (our personality group) likes to be taught. This is where things got interesting and became so clear.

One look around the room and immediately I observed that each group working together imbued their personality type to the letter. In fact, the instructor of the course made aware to of this observed behavior, where then everyone in the class laughed, with many of us saying “Yes, this is so accurate.”  To help you understand the connections, I am going to use the DISC Personality Types (Dominant, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientious). The Dominant grouping had some difficulty at the beginning letting everyone share their ideas and could not decide on one until some time went by but did eventually come together on an independent type of activity for the class. The Influence group enjoyed their time working together, laughing and writing down a bunch of ideas. They were rather social during the process. The Conscientious group had everyone sit down at the table with one person writing the ideas. By the time most tables had one page of ideas, this group had 6 pages of well thought out, very detailed instructions on their learning style. Finally, the Steadiness group had everyone gathered around the table where each individual who wanted to share a thought or idea, was given the chance to take a turn to speak. This group listened, conversed like old friends, but when time was running out, they then quickly gathered their top ideas and put them on paper.

Once each group presented their views on how they wish to be taught it all fit together like a puzzle piece. You could directly, via each presentation, see how each group worked in its single form.  After the presentations, adding the fact we all observed how they worked together, putting two and two together we could use those observations in the workplace or in the classroom with our learners.

So, to answer the question at the beginning; the commonality between personality and learning style is the way in which individuals’ personality drives their approach to learning, which translates to their professional work. To reinforce my point, remember when you were in school and you may have been asked, “Do you learn better by listening or are you a visual learner?” Well your answer is right there. That tells you what you need to accomplish your task which directly correlates to verbalizing to a colleague or employer what you need from them to get your work done efficiently and correctly. By recognizing the connection this will only enhance the collaboration and success of your company and that of your employees.

Another great takeaway from this seminar is that each working/personality group was encompassed of people of varying genders and age range from mid-20’s to early 60’s. We could all connect to what each group taught us about themselves regardless of these external factors. We could connect that to a student we taught, a colleague we work with or even the simplest of things; recognizing new pieces of ourselves.  Do you know your colleague or employer and perhaps what group they may be placed in? Try a group activity like this or a similar one that lets each team member communicate how they work best. If you want to read more about the personality types I used here visit DISC Insights at https://discinsights.com/disc-theory.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Things To Consider When Planning An International Conference

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By Courtney Payne, Manager of Technical Division, AGMA

During my few short years at AGMA, I have discovered that when planning the program for an international conference, there are certain needs that international speakers may have that domestic speakers do not.

I have no doubt that international conference program planners out there have encountered countless instances of speakers not meeting all international travel requirements, which prevented them from presenting. Not only is this bad for your pockets (thank of the sunken cost of a non-refundable plane ticket), but how disappointing would that be for an author to put valuable time and effort into his/her research and writing a paper and then not be able to have it published or present their findings to their colleagues!

Let’s take a look at some of the things I’ve run across:

Visas. With the ever-changing policy regarding non-citizen entry into the United States, it is important to keep an updated list of countries that are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. When the conference speakers are selected, I review the list to see which countries they are traveling from. I then check the VWP list and contact any speakers that are from non-VWP list countries to remind them that they need to start their visa application right away. I have previously prepared a visa invitation letter to an embassy and a port of entry letter for speakers.

Travel expenses. With international attendees having higher travel expenses, speakers sometimes need to apply for a grant or monetary assistance from their organization. This may require me to provide extra information, such as past conference attendee numbers, planning committee members, etc.

Language barriers. It is perfectly acceptable that the language of the conference may not be the native language to all speakers. Some things I encourage authors to do are to have a native English speaker proofread their paper and to practice their presentation ahead of time. And, if they do not feel confident enough in speaking English during a presentation, they can certainly have a colleague make the presentation for them.

 

And now that I’ve encountered these bumps along the road written these sorts of letters once, I have templates for future use! If I was an international speaker, I would find it exciting to share my ideas with experts from another part of the world – the sharing of ideas furthers breakthroughs in technology, after all.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

http://connect.agma.org/blogs/jill-johnson/2018/01/29/dont-ignore-those-surveys

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By Jill Johnson, Director of Membership

Ugh, another survey? We’ve all been there. Sometimes it seems as if everyone is asking for our feedback on what we think, whether it's about a recent purchase, or a charity asking for input on their issues or the organizers of the 5k you recently ran. Most want to know what you liked (or didn’t) or what would you change; and yes, completing these surveys can sometimes be a bit annoying and take some time.

For associations, gathering information through member surveys is crucial. Association staff or leadership aren’t able to meet in person with members every week (and you wouldn’t want us to!), so surveys are the best instrument we have to determine if a new or long-standing program or event is of value. Its an essential tool for determining what members need most and linking those needs to relevant products and services that the association delivers. Plus, many times a survey can uncover a member need that isn’t being addressed. In other words, an opportunity. Members appreciate this concept since they’re doing something similar with their own customers as well.

And the thing is, staff isn’t just doing this for fun – the data collected and comments recorded are taken seriously and can lead to real change. For example, last year we surveyed members regarding how much they valued a list of programs which were then ranked. The survey results showed that some programs fell below an acceptable standard – a benchmark – that was set. That doesn’t mean those programs are bad and will automatically be whisked away because there were also many people who found merit in them. It can indicate, however, that some members aren't using the program to its potential, or maybe they don't know what it can do for them. Regardless, we have to change something in order for it to work for people. And then, in a while, when we send another survey, we’ll ask the same question about this program’s value – and see if the needle moved.

Staff may think we understand what members value, but why guess? Good surveys and good research ultimately add value to the association and thus its members.

So tell me what you really think – I want to know.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Robotics Golden Age

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology

When you say the term ‘industrial robots,' most likely images of articulating arms on an assembly line do not come to mind. This makes logical sense, as these systems have been the mainstay of robotics companies for many years. We know that there are many other types of robots that exist: Cartesian, Delta, SCARA, Polar, and Cylindrical just to name some of the major ones. But what I want to talk about is some of the more creative robots that have come to market as some are calling this the “Robotics Golden Age.”

Powerful platforms and more streamlined integration processes have led robotics manufacturers to be able to create robots that have more specialized tasks. Robotic Drilling Systems (http://www.rds.no/home), based in Norway, has some new robotic technology for fully unmanned drill floor operations. One of their robots stands more than 70-feet with an autonomous arm that runs almost the whole distance.

Electronic Design had an article (http://www.electronicdesign.com/industrial-automation/omni-chassis-evolutionary-step-robotics) a couple of days ago that discussed the ‘omni-chassis’ which it defined as “a powered robotic chassis that can carry different payloads or functional modules.” The article breaks down into explanations of the various sections of the chassis.

And researchers at Harvard have created a new robot that is the “smallest, fastest, and most precise of its kind.” Dubbed the miliDelta, it moves so quickly that it is just a blur on camera. One use for this robot is surgery, but think of the possibilities.

If this is truly the ‘Golden Age’ of robotics, then I look forward to other problem-solving instruments that we will see roll out in coming months.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

What Does Leadership Mean to You?

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By Casandra Blassingame, Director of Education

“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.” - Queen Elizabeth II. Professional experiences have a way of shaping your philosophy. If you’re lucky, you can find yourself working under the leadership of some incredible people. My own past experiences under the guidance of leadership has shaped the way I lead and manage my team today. 

I believe that leadership is a duty, not a position: A duty to lead by example. It is a duty to work with employees and encourage a sense of community that extends beyond the unit and transcends the organization. This is a privilege that is charged with vast responsibility; the responsibility to inspire, develop, mentor and empower the staff to believe in the mission, vision, and goals of your organization and put it into action.

It is important to be transparent and approachable. Your employees must be recognized as the single most important asset and the foundation of your organization. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth is essential and increases employee satisfaction and in turn, causes one to take pride in their work. They should feel comfortable in sharing the bad news as well as the good. For this to occur, open lines of communication and trust must be established very early in the relationship. Information sharing and shared governance—when appropriate—should be implemented to gain buy-in and participation at all levels of the organization.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” - Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership should recognize that everyone has unique roles and talents. Creativity, freedom of action, and innovation should be encouraged in consistency with the mission, vision and values of the institution. It should create a culture of pride at all levels. Employees should feel proud of what they do and understand how their job contributes to the organization in its entirety.

Empowering your employees teaches them how to lead from where they are and assists in developing future organization leaders. Leadership should never micromanage however, trusting others, providing guidance and support and offering constructive criticism is essential in empowering and developing the skills of others. It is important that we take interest in them as individuals and recognize their achievements and contributions.

What’s your leadership philosophy? Everybody has one or at least should. In leading from where you are, start to develop your own. Give it a foundation that is rooted in the value system that has been built over the years. Roy E. Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” I believe that. . . what do you believe?

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Managing in Times of Disruption and the Twitter-verse

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By Matthew Croson, President, AGMA

I just returned from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Council of Manufacturing Association’s (CMA) Winter Conference.  This confab of 150 or so CEOs and senior executives of manufacturing associations allows colleagues to discuss policy impacting our sector, share best practices in association management and develop a “go-to network” between allied organizations who are facing similar challenges.

 

It's also a place where I gain inspiration by listening to leaders like Jay Timmons, the President of NAM – and a friend, who every single day, spends considerable time and energy advancing the manufacturing agenda.  His efforts lead to conversations with Administration leaders, including President Trump and Vice President Pence.  The NAM played critical roles in getting the Tax Bill done and is now focusing its time and effort on Infrastructure, Trade and Immigration. 

 

Timmons was asked how he manages when a President, who has a twitter following of 30+ million, can turn his opinion on a dime. He was asked how he prioritizes policy and determines which ones to bring to the attention of leaders. And, he was asked how he reconciles personal beliefs with the manufacturing agenda — especially when the individuals he is visiting don’t see eye-to-eye.

 

His response was simple:  he relies on core principles, which I believe, as power transmission professionals, we can all get on board and support.

 

He believes the following fundamental principles guide his focus and decision making when it comes to the manufacturing agenda:

 

Free Enterprise – this economic system unleashes innovation, opportunity, and positively transforms the human condition more than any other economic system this world has seen.

Competitiveness –our ability, when untethered from the chains of government excess, allows us to prosper and win in a global economy.

Individual Liberty – unique freedoms, enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, enable us to live and succeed as we were made by our Creator. 

Equal Opportunity – a shared belief that we all can contribute to the betterment of our families, our companies, our communities and Country. 

 

These are powerful fundamentals that guide his thinking and his considerable leadership at the NAM – and positions all manufacturers in the best possible light, no matter who is speaking to regarding the REAL issues facing the United States . . . and I thought you would value this take on managing in times of disruption.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

New Material Development is Happening on the Nano Scale

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

I want to thank materials scientists today. I don’t feel they get the credit that they are due. Stephanie Kwolek should be a household name for her 1965 discovery of what we call Kevlar. She found this compound while working to find fibers that were stronger and lighter than steel. How ironic that in 2018 we continue to see unnamed scientists searching for the next ‘lighter and stronger than steel’ material. I believe that the tenacity of the individual researcher is the same, but in 2018 scientists have some pretty nifty tools to assist them in their quest.

We highlighted an article in the AGMA Tech Deck on a recently acquired Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP) by a group of institutions under the leadership of IITMadras, in India. Globally 90 LEAP platforms are currently in use. They utilize high-performance microscope that “provides a precise atom-by-atom view of materials, enabling a true 3D atomic scale reconstruction.” Working on the nano scale is the way of the future for new materials development. Well – it is the work of the present too. In December alone, I read a myriad of scientific articles discussing work that will impact future gear making. I have put a sampling of the articles below. But, this is only a small sampling of interesting work that is being done in this area. Here at AGMA we hope to provide you with information on research that is being conducted in new materials that may impact how gears are made, or finished in the future. We look forward to sharing the research, getting your expert feedback, and moving our industry forward.

So here is your first taste of 2018 into material science developments. May you learn something new and tip your hat to the researchers who make it happen.

Nanotexturing creates bacteria-killing spikes on stainless steel surfaces, December 13 – Phys.org

https://phys.org/news/2017-12-nanotexturing-bacteria-killing-spikes-stainless-steel.html

 

New Irish-led €8.2m EU project to make scratch-proof super materials, December 21 - Silcon Republic https://www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/amber-sun-pilot

 

Developing advanced graphene materials for industry, December 8 – Nanowerk

https://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=48856.php

 

Can computers help us synthesize new materials? December 22, Nanowerk

https://www.nanowerk.com/news2/robotics/newsid=49008.php

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Overcoming Challenges As A Community

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By Leah Lewis, Meetings Manager, AGMA

September, 2017 was a historic month for Southwest Florida, when powerful storm Hurricane Irma collided with cities like Naples who haven’t experienced a hurricane of that intensity in over a decade. While it’s easy to focus on the destruction left behind by the storm, the Naples Grande Beach Resort took the opportunity to rally their staff and work as a team to clean up the damage and prepare for an extensive remodeling effort. 

After closing to the public for 97 days, Naples Grande’s doors are back open, and they are ready to show off the renewed and revitalized property for event attendees such as those coming to the AGMA/ABMA Annual Meeting, which will take place at the resort April 26-28, 2018.

While the beautiful property was impressive on its own, I thought it was important to note the stories told by the resort staff and local residents we interacted with during our stay about their ability to work through a large disaster, as a team. Nearly all the staff members employed by the Naples Grande Beach Resort returned to work quickly after the storm was over, and many of them took on unconventional jobs such as painting, spackling, and removing debris from the damaged building, even on the days prior to the resort’s power and air conditioning being restored. Christopher Adams, the director of housekeeping at the Naples Grande, put it best when he said “The best thing I think that happened for all of us was going through the experience together. People take a great deal of pride in what they do, and now they feel an ownership stake in the whole environment here.” We felt these inspiring words first hand and truly felt like a part of the Naples Grande family as guests of the resort and cannot wait to share this experience with AGMA and ABMA members in April.

While many of us do not live in areas affected by recent natural disasters, the lesson we learned from the Naples Grande Beach Resort is universal: coming together as a community is the best way to overcome challenges, whether big or small. Let the AGMA/ABMA Annual Meeting in April be your go-to event to connect with your peers from the gear and bearing communities to discuss problems you are facing in your day to day business, find out how other like-minded professionals are overcoming similar challenges, and build a network of colleagues to be your trusted support system for whatever the future holds.

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

http://connect.agma.org/blogs/karina-nunez/2018/01/12/why-in-person-member-visits-can-make-all-the-diffe

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By Karina Nunez, Database Administrator, AGMA

Establishing strong member relations is essential for the wellbeing of an association. Members are a valuable revenue resource and without them an organization cannot survive. Providing excellent customer service, creating a positive impression and building a brand loyalty is important but not enough.

Member visits is another way of communication. It is crucial for building and maintaining member relations. Visiting a member makes them feel important, they feel like you care because you took the time and resources to come visit them. You are establishing a connection, you are bonding.
 Visiting members is also the perfect time to marketing your business, communicate your member benefits and talk about how they can take advantage of your career resources.  You can also talk about any current events, news or updates within your organization/industry.

You can get feedback from your members as to what they will like to see or change within your organization which came become very useful when planning on making changes within an organization. Having an idea as to what is working for your members and what is not is essential. Having this conversation face-to-face allows them to ask questions in real time. Through member visits, the individuals express their needs and address their concerns; it’s another way of communicating. Member visits also gives you the opportunity to meet others within their organization, which can be helpful if someone leaves, retired or gets promoted.

Visiting members is most important because you can put a name to a face. When you call a member by their name at an event without looking at their name tag,  it makes that connection more personal and makes them feel appreciated. So, when you have a little extra room in the budget or you are thinking about how to increase member engagement, go back to the basics and go see your member in person. Sometimes those members who got lost in the shuffle will become the most engaged once they know you are thinking about them. 

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Understanding Credit Vs. Non-Credit Courses

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What is the difference between courses for credit and courses for Continuing Education Units (CEUs-non-credit)? Well, I’m glad you asked! The confusion is warranted; however, the answer to the question is quite simple. Courses that one would take for credit are courses that are applied as a core requirement or an elective requirement for a degree program – associates, bachelors, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Credit courses require a specific number of hours of attendance, learning activities and assessments, evaluation, and are regulated by the Department of Education. You can earn anywhere from 1-5 credit hours for any given course, depending on the discipline.

 

Courses that one would take in a continuing education institution or organization are non-credit courses. Non-credit courses are for personal or professional enrichment and cannot be applied to a degree program unless it has been evaluated by the American Council on Education. All non-credit courses have a scheduled time of instruction, learning activities, and evaluation however, all non-credit courses do not require an assessment and are not regulated by the Department of Education. An example of a personal enrichment course would be basket weaving, painting, swimming, exercise, etc. An example of a professional enrichment or development course is any course an individual uses to enhance their professional development in their respective career. It is industry specific.

 

Individuals who seek professional development education and training course experiences usually ask: “Can I earn CEUs or Professional Development Hours (PDHs) if I take this course?” The answer is yes, if and only if, there are learning activities and an assessment of learning. Often, the necessity for one to earn CEUs or PDHs is related to the maintenance of a professional license. As you move through your career, and seek professional development opportunities to maintain your professional status, it is important that you understand the differences between the credit and non-credit learning opportunity. You don’t want to find yourself in a learning event that will not assist you in reaching your goals!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

What Does Membership Engagement Mean?

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It’s often said that the more you put into an activity or organization, the more you get out of it. Association members have many different reasons for joining and many different levels of participation. Some members are “all in” and participate in leadership roles and on committees. Others have specific needs – like an education course, business report or publication. And, then there are some of course, that are happy to just be a member and support the organization. Whatever the reason for joining; however, the member is always looking for value.

A healthy trade association has opportunity for engagement for all levels of members. By joining a board or committee you are helping to lead the industry. Yes, it is a time commitment, but it will pay off with the relationships you’re able to create. Opportunities that may not have been obvious before will present themselves just by meeting new people.

Attending continuing education courses have an obvious benefit of increasing your knowledge. But you’ll also meet a variety of others in attendance that will help broaden your network in the industry. And being a part of industry meetings, whether they are large annual events or smaller, local or regional events, are all a part of being an active, engaged member. That engagement can also take place in the association on-line communities and social media as well. You don’t have to travel in order to take part. Becoming an event sponsor can add another tool to your marketing strategy. The value, many times, if not most, is in showing up and being active-getting your name out there.  

Associations are only as strong as their members; AGMA is always looking for people to get involved regardless of where they are in their career, so check out our website or talk to me, Jill Johnson, and let’s see where you can get started!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

Organizational Change: Necessary, but Hard

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

President Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” I spent the last half of 2017 thinking about this quote. My small Association Foundation (the American Gear Manufacturers Association Foundation) underwent a strategic planning process in 2017. The process is bringing significant changes to the Foundation’s future programming and funding. While I don’t think the Foundation has made actual enemies, the changes are definitely causing some discomfort. Which leads me to write this blog on organizational change.
Whether we like it or not, change is happening. The world of manufacturing is transforming and evolving at lightning speed. We know that only the agile and adaptive will survive and thrive. We also know that no organization, for-profit or non-profit, can afford to waste precious resources on programs that no longer deliver desired outcomes. Still, our Foundation is finding it hard to alter, or terminate, long standing programs. Establishing new programs; even if they are data driven, logical, and beneficial; feels like a gut wrenching leap of faith. Why is change so hard?
The answer lies at the core of human behavior – people want to feel safe. The world is chaotic and confusing, and one’s natural instinct is to shut out the turmoil and retreat into the safety of consistency. Big change will naturally bring big resistance. Blogger Bill Braun says it best, “The greater the threat against the certainty of the present, the greater the doubt and fear people have of the future.” How can an organization jump the hurdles of doubt and fear, and get its stakeholders to embrace change? By guiding those stakeholders to see past the pain of change, to the bright future the change will bring. Too often, in organizational change, the focus is on what will be lost, and not on what be gained. People cannot let go of the past, unless and until they have a clear vision of the future. We need to tell our stakeholders, loudly, proudly and often, how the changes will benefit them. In order to successfully change, my small Association Foundation needs to have a clear vision of the future, and an effective plan to communicate that vision. These are the things I am thinking about in early 2018, as my small Foundation stands at the brink of major change. Wish us luck!

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Gears Matter Blog
30th July 2018

The Value of Networking

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By Leah Lewis, Meetings Manager, AGMA

 

We’ve all been told that developing relationships through networking can help open doors to new professional opportunities. According to research by the Adler Group in 2016, an astounding 85% of all jobs today are filled via networking. Not only is networking valuable for job seekers, but it’s a great tool to make connections to find a mentor, exchange ideas with peers who may experience the same challenges you face in the workplace and to make a name for yourself in your industry.

For some, building a trusted professional network is easier said than done. Let’s face it, approaching people you don’t know can be awkward and uncomfortable. Like anything, networking gets easier the more you practice. Here are a few tips to use at your next networking event to help make connections like a pro.

Finding the right event to meet your needs and make sure you are networking with the appropriate group of peers can make all the difference. For example, if you are an engineer and love the technical side of the gear industry, consider attending the AGMA Fall Technical Meeting in September. You will automatically have common ground with participants by attending an event tailored to you.

The easiest way to break the ice when meeting new industry peers is to find common ground. This can be as simple as admiring something they’re wearing or reading their nametag to make a personal connection with their employer or hometown. By finding something to bond over, you are no longer strangers.

One of the challenges of networking for some is that it’s hard to measure your success. Try to come up with a realistic number of people you want to meet and use that number as motivation and to help you feel accomplished when the event is over. Working towards a goal can make the event feel less overwhelming and will give you a larger sense of satisfaction when you are counting the business cards you collected at the end of the night.

Social situations can be draining for anyone, so it’s important to recharge when necessary. Don’t feel obligated to be constantly making connections. Take a few minutes to refresh yourself by taking a short walk outside or tucking away to enjoy a cup of coffee privately. Taking time for yourself can help you present your best self, which will ultimately lead to better conversations when you are back at the event.

Once the networking takes place, don’t be afraid to take notes after a good conversation. It will help you remember the connections you made and make it easier to follow up after the event. You can jot down a personal anecdote or your observations from the conversation you had on the person’s business card and refer to it when you reach out to follow up after the event. Your new connection will appreciate the personal touch and will value that you remembered the conversation you shared.

The most important thing to remember about networking is that it’s not designed to make you a salesman, but to make you a relationship builder. You never know what opportunities your new connections can bring you, so put on a smile and sign up for a networking event to build your professional support system for whatever lies ahead!

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Succession Plan (Part 2: It’s Work To Hire A Millenial)

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

I am back; but this time, I have some communication’s strategies for bridging that generational gap for hiring purposes. It is not just important to understand where the problem lies but now let’s focus on how to over come it. Some of this information might not be new to you, but I promise that to attract a younger work force, you will need to think like them and what better way to learn than to hear it from me, a millennial!

The days of putting an advertisement in a newspaper or even springing for a booth at job fair might not be the best tactic for manufacturers to hire the next generation. Nowadays, everything is done digitally and you need to get yourself out there as a brand that a younger employee would want to be apart of. We have discussed the importance of using social media before for many reasons, and finding the next great talent to come work for you is one of them. Using employment sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com is a start for getting the job out there. It isn’t enough; however, to post a job without building that online presence to make sure a potential candidate gets to know who you really are. It is important to get creative, post a video, use testimonials and put your job openings in places that might not think to—places that go beyond the big job boards.

According to How Millennials Are Shaping The Hiring Process, “The point is, recruiters are missing a big part of the picture if they’re only cornering “traditional” jobs boards to find talent. Increasingly, we need to be proactive about going where the talent lives rather than assuming it will come to us.”

Sounds like a bit of work right? Well I can assure you that the investment to get the right person for the job can be worth the extra effort.  So, go online, make a video about your company, get out there—not just for the jobs, but to help your brand. This is the start to hiring the next generation. Next time, we will talk about how the culture defines the job and what that means for millennials.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

First Connected, then Customer-centric – What will be the buzz phrase for IIoT for 2018?

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

As Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gained traction in the manufacturing space in 2014 and into 2015, the buzz word was “connect.” IIoT discussion was on connectivity in two ways. First, by being able to connect your manufacturing machines to collect AND USE big data to create smart plants and smart manufacturing lines. Second, manufacturers were utilizing IIoT solutions to create products that would help their customers better connect and/or capture their own data that can be used to streamline, and make better business decisions.

Then there was the shift from just connectivity to outreach. The term “customer-centric” started to show up in all the articles and there has been this shift in the IIoT discussion from connectivity to customer focus. The concept that manufacturers need ‘full transition to an IIoT-enabled, customer-centric and service-oriented organization.’ This “Customer-focus” shift has been driving a lot of conversations lately. Caterpillar’s Director of Innovation and Digital, Tom Bucklar, gave a presentation at Smart Industry 2017 and discussed “Our customer focus has driven us back to the digital strategy we have.” In November, Sales force executives discussed their plans to enter the manufacturing section because of this shift that they was seeing “Most manufacturers are moving away from product-centric strategies toward becoming customer-centric organizations.” And any good report on IIoT that has come out recently lists the need to be a ‘better partner and customer engagement’ as focal points for development of IIoT systems in manufacturing.

Where will the IIoT discussion move next? I have gone through the myriad of posted IoT predictions that have been posted over the last several weeks and found some commonalities. (1) Security. Computing power will push edge computing that will reduce security vulnerabilities. (2) Standards. Many predict that industry-wide standards will be better established in 2018 and some cite open systems and interoperability as musts. (3) Artificial Intelligence. Predictions are that AI moves from the fringes to front and center next year. But when it comes to buzz words for IIoT, I look to a recent article in IoT Business Week where Majeij Kranz, VP Strategic Innovation at Cisco, states as one of his predictions “We will see the rise of co-everything.”

So here is to 2018 – the year of co-everything! We shall see.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Benefits of Using Sponsorship in Marketing

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By Leah Lewis, Manager of Meetings, AGMA

The month of December is a great time to take a moment and reflect on your businesses successes of the year. Did you develop new relationships, engage and educate your industry and focus on building awareness around your brand? If your answer is not a resounding yes, perhaps it is time to add event sponsorship to your 2018 Marketing Plan.
 

Sponsoring an industry event is not just about collecting leads and making a sale, it can be a creative and impactful way to achieve your long-term business goals. Here are a few reasons to add event sponsorship to your radar for the upcoming year:

Get Respect Determine what makes your organization special and share it with the industry! Whether it’s innovative new products or a unique emerging technology, your peers want to hear about it. Use the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and educate around your solutions, it can help build trust around your brand and create a positive reputation in the industry.

Get Social Use event sponsorship as an opportunity for outreach to your current and future customers. Let your clients know you are attending the event by sending a press release or sharing the event details on social media. Many conferences offer sponsors a registration discount code so they can invite their customers and social media followers to attend as a courtesy for their support. Check with the event organizer to access tools and tips to use the event to build social buzz around your brand.

Get Competitive If your company isn’t present at a major industry event, chances are your direct competition is. By adding your organization’s name to the list of sponsors, you are not only ensuring that you keep up with the competition, but you’re also getting the opportunity to learn more about their products and marketing strategy and therefore, how to set yourself apart for a competitive edge.

Get Connected Relationship building is arguably the most valuable benefit of sponsoring an event. Interacting with industry leaders face to face in a comfortable, professional setting can lead to engaging conversations and positive connections down the road. Attend the meeting’s networking events and ask potential customers about the challenges they are facing, their priorities and objectives and collaborate on how your product or service could help them achieve their goals. Events like the AGMA Annual Meeting bring together hundreds of business decision makers in one place so you don’t have to go far to directly access your target market.

Put aside some time to set your goals and objectives for the upcoming year and consider if event sponsorship can help achieve them. Your competition and customers are connecting and collaborating at industry meetings around the globe – are you?

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Newer Technologies Benefit From Artificial Intelligence but Lessons Can Be Applied To Other Industries

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The wind and solar industries fall into a newer technology category when comparing to that of general manufacturing. It is interesting to think about these industries’ development versus a much older sector, like gear manufacturing. The renewable technologies grew up in a time of computers and technology. Wind turbines and solar panels have had built-in sensor technology gathering data for many years. In a way, these technologies have an advantage to utilize big data through artificial intelligence practices because one of the needs for AI is big data dumps of information. DNV GL put out an interesting position paper last week: “Making Renewables Smarter: The benefits, risks, and future of artificial intelligence in solar and wind.”

For me, on the AGMA emerging technology front, we may not be pursuing renewables as a sector of direct interest. But, this position paper outlines clearly adoption of AI that can be adapted for other industries. It provides a straight-forward way to understand AI, and provides clear information on both benefits and pitfalls. It also provides a short discussion on robot technology and the various robots that are being developed for use in the renewable sector. There are many that view the continued development in robotics as a disruptor, but also an inevitable next step for much in manufacturing. Removing humans from the dangerous, dirty and dull jobs and utilizing them in other ways. The paper outlines flying, crawling, driving, sailing and diving robots. While these are feasible for renewables, it will be interested to see how many of these technologies cross over into other areas of our life.

On the heels of posting this blog, I just saw that McKinsey Global Institute has put out a 160-pg report, “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in a time of Automation.” Check it out here.

While I see AI and robotics as only part of the automation discussion, I just felt that I needed to point out this report given that we are already on the topic. I am looking forward to digging into this and providing more information to the emerging technology discussion.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Manufacturers Need to Address Labor Shortage

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Labor is in short supply. “Finding Qualified, Hourly, Plant Staff” was identified as the top workforce development concern for U.S. gear manufacturers in an August, 2017 survey conducted by the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) Foundation. Interestingly, the gear manufacturers’ second top concern was the closely related—“Aging Workforce, Including Knowledge Transfer Issues.”  In other words, not only do gear manufacturers have a hard time replacing retirees, the retirees’ wealth of knowledge is not being transferred to the next generation.

 

I walked the floor at Gear Expo this year looking for the real stories behind the survey data. I heard the same stories over and over again:

 

“We can’t find people to work in our plant.”

“I can find plenty of engineers to design parts, what I can’t find is people to run the machines that make them.”

 

And the very horrifying, “We had to turn down a job because the only people that knew how to make what the customer wanted had retired.”

 

Is the labor shortage unique to the gear industry? The experts do not think so. The problem is widespread across manufacturing, and is not going away anytime soon.

 

A 2015 Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute study estimates that retirements will create 2.7 million manufacturing job vacancies between 2015 and 2025. At the same time, economic expansion will create an additional 700,000 new jobs. This adds up to a need for 3.5 million new manufacturing workers by 2025. Furthermore, the younger generation slotted to fill these jobs are not interested. Thus, 2 million of these jobs are expected to go unfilled.

 

What does this mean for the average company of 1,000 people? This means, according to a March, 2017 article in Forbes, by 2025 that company will have to hire 220 new people just to replace its retirees. If the company grows, it will need to hire even more. And finding those people won’t be easy.

 

The gear industry is taking steps to address the problem. The AGMA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded and funded by AGMA members, will fund new initiatives in 2018 to help the gear industry with workforce acquisition, retention, and development. Stay tuned for more details!

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Updates in 3D-Printed Gears

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

Let’s talk 3D printed gears again. There was an interesting article published in 3Dprint.com earlier this month that has some photos that I think you will find interesting. The content of the article itself is really worth a read—it discusses a company that wanted to reduce the downtime of a MIG welder that had a failed gear. So they created a temporary replacement gear using their desktop 3D printer. The original gear for this machine was made from nylon. The temporary replacement gear was made using Folgertech PLA. The 3D printed gear (which only took 30 minutes to print at a cost of .20) held up for 7 months in the gearbox!  3DPrint.com posted some great photos where you can see the wear and tear on the component. You can also see the original gear in comparison to the temporary piece. The fact that they printed the gear in PLA is interesting. This is the typical product that is used in a lot of the lower-end 3D printing machines. So, it is also interesting to note, that the printer that made the gear is available today for only $220. This article highlights how we can use 3D beyond prototyping for short-term fixes and it shows the attraction for using 3D printing for custom product tools or specific end-use parts.

But beyond just the obvious facts of the article, I want to stop and reiterate that a gear was printed in a low-end 3D printing machine. It took only 30 minutes at a cost of .20 cents. And that gear held its intended job for 7 months. That to me is a feat in itself/ 

 So, what are the current possibilities if we use some of the newer, stronger polymers that are currently available for use in 3D printers? And what happens if you use these strong polymers in the high-end 3D printers currently available to the market? 3D printed gears are here in the present. So, the question does remain: “When are companies going to be able to mass produce 3D printed gears?” But, we add to that—what products will be re-designed to capitalize on this new technology? What will we be using for short term, and will we be recycling as we print a brand new one? Let’s watch this space.

Take a look at the article and tell us what you think?

https://3dprint.com/192661/3d-printed-replacement-gear/

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Speed of Standards

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By AGMA Technical Division

One of the most frequently asked question I receive from members of the gear industry not intimately involved with AGMA Technical Committees is: When will you have a standard addressing this new emerging technology?

This question makes me smile. On one hand, it is encouraging that there is interest in a new, exciting technology in the industry, and the questioner understands the impact that having a standard for that technology will have on the industry. On the other hand, it is frustrating because I know that even the rosiest estimate I could give will probably be very disappointing to the questioner. Realistically, the answer is five to ten years away. The speed of standards is slow.

For the most part, this speed is deliberate. As mentioned in a previous blog post, “The Importance of Gear Standards,” ( click here) I discussed how Standards are a set of rules, guidelines, and requirements developed by industry experts, based on proven and verified practices. The fact that the information has been proven and verified by industry experts means that there are thousands of hours (and dollars) of data (R&D and field) backing up the information found in a standard.

Let’s assume that the new technology could be considered being added to an existing AGMA document. Over simplifying the process, which can and probably will be its own future blog post, the typical revision of a standard takes roughly three to four years to complete, and the typical standard is opened for revision every ten years. The new technology also needs a majority of the Active members of a committee to agree on its inclusion to the standard. In this context, I look at the maturation of new technologies as it relates to AGMA Technical documents in three phases:

       Emerging technology phase– This is brand new technology as discussed in AGMA Fall Technology Meeting (FTM) papers and presentations. Limited use outside of the laboratory;

       Early adoption phase-  The early adopters have leaned on their previous experiences and have limited but positive experiences with the new technology. At this point it may be appropriate to include the technology in an AGMA Information Sheet or in the Annex of a standard;

       Widespread adoption phase- The new technology is in widespread enough use that a majority of the experts on the relevant Technical Committee have statistically significant data and experience with the use of the new technology that they could (are willing to) share with the committee.

 

So, depending on when a new technology matures to each of these phases in relation to the revision timeline of the appropriate document, a new technology may be waiting awhile to get into an AGMA publication.

All of this is not meant to discourage the use of new technology. In fact, quite the opposite. Developing a new technology to the point of inclusion into an AGMA publication is a sign of progress in the industry.  

To get involved with progress in this industry, please contact tech@agma.org. 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Long View

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By Adam Gimpert, Koepfer America, LLC

“Invest for the long term.” This statement is a no-brainer, but I fear too many gear manufacturers replace this with “invest in a good deal.”

 

A good deal is great ― don't get me wrong. But if the good deal means a company settles for decades-old technology, it will remain equipped only to handle basic manufacturing. I might go so far as to predict that the company's quiet end is not over the horizon; the company will simply be “tech-ed-out” within a generation. As access to information continues to spread and becomes seamless, manufacturing will be dramatically transformed, and the good deals won't even be enough to stay in business.

 

I'm in the fortunate position to listen in on stories from multiple OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) on customers' gear manufacturing operations and their long-term investment strategies. A strikingly large number of job shops and gear manufacturing departments focus on “good deals” when making capital investment decisions. Their view is simply too short. They must lengthen their view to align with a long-term strategy for maintaining business and hopefully seeing some growth.

 

Yes, one can eBay a circa World War II “productive” hobber / shaper / et cetera for relative drops in the bucket compared to today's cutting edge machine tools. And, yes, that would provide productive gear manufacturing measured 50+ years ago. Unfortunately, today, this investment may add only a little capacity, no competitive productivity, and will certainly distract the purchaser's growth if not derail it altogether. Moreover, purchasing old tech might be a good deal today, but it adds nearly zero to a company's long term assets besides the value of scrap metal.

 

Gear manufacturers must keep a long view, especially with today's pace of technological change. They must choose proven solutions that will remain versatile for the future. They must measure success by productivity relative to tomorrow's industry leaders, not just their own today. Such a long view will help keep gear manufacturers untethered to old technology, and they will be equipped for the future.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Succession Plan (Part 1: Understanding the Generational Gap)

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communcations Manager, AGMA

Many talk about the gear industry suffering at the hands of disruptive technologies and certain innovations that will remove the manufacturer and replace them with machines. Although there is challenge ahead of current manufacturing processes, is there a real reason to fear that robots and automation will swallow up all gear industry jobs?  Probably not. However, what I do know is that there is a much more pressing situation that many are experiencing but not a lot are talking about: what is my succession plan?

Manufacturing and Millennials seems to work like oil and water. Companies have a difficult time finding a strong work force in the younger generation. Some blame the Millennials for being too picky or say that they believe manufacturing to be a dirty low-paying job with no security. Millennials in turn, don’t understand the full advantage of a secure manufacturing job that could lead to a lifetime of growth and cutting-edge technology. I would go on to say that some even don't respect the industry and process it took to get manufacturing where it is today. So, there is an obvious communication issue. The generational gap is a real thing and perceptions at each end only add to the growing lack of skilled employees because neither will budge to see things how they really are.

So how are things really? For one, manufacturing is changing. There is more automation, software and a higher degree of technical knowledge than there might have been thirty years ago. Companies that do not (or cannot) invest in these types of changes are left with trying to find people that want to work in a plant, with their hands. This predicament is where the industry must rely on the education system and vocational schools to bridge the gap. Workforce development and apprenticeships will be key to this happening. You will have to market your company by attracting students to manufacturing.  I believe that there will always be a need for people to work with their hands and have a skill to make gears. The companies, cities and states will have to see it this way too so they encourage the next generation of workers to back fill retirement-caused shortages.

Secondly, those companies that are investing in the newest technology and eliminating the need for laborers, don’t need the same type of employee that they used to. Millennials prefer a collaborative environment that allows innovation and new products. Honing in on the new skills of young engineers that will run software and programs vs. machines is going to be key. The marketing of manufacturing is going to have to change with the technology itself, in order to attract the younger pool of potential employees. Explaining what manufacturing in its entirety might have to happen (maybe even a redefinition).

Attracting the next generation of manufacturing employees or someone to take over your company so it is around for generations to come isn’t a black and white answer. Not every company is on the same level of where they are in the technology transition, but there millennials out there willing to work in manufacturing, we just have to communicate what those jobs really look like. I will share what this communication looks like in my next entry and what schools and programs are already doing to help bridge the gap.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Crowdsourcing is Bridging Industries For Innovation

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

Let’s take a minute and talk about Crowdsourcing. It is not a new concept, Linux was developed by an open community process back in the late 1980s. But in the past few years it seems to be not only trending, but thriving. The idea of bringing together people from disparate industry to conceptually work together on a problem is fascinating stuff. It is interesting to consider brain surgeons working with mechanics or marketing specialists collaborating with economists providing viewpoints that together have led to some interesting, and profitable, ideas.

At Gear Expo, one of our keynote presenters, Jay Rogers - CEO of Local Motors, discussed his online collaborative environment that they have tapped into to create all of the vehicles that they have made to date. He used the term ‘Co-creation’, but essentially, it is crowdsourcing. Local Motors has provided ‘challenges’ to their community with specific parameters, and some pretty sweet prizes for the winners. Local Motors has used the ‘crowd’ to co-create Strati, the first 3D printed car (printed at IMTS 2014) and Olli, a self-driving vehicle that is like a small bus. They have also created Crossroads, an all-terrain vehicle;  a 3D printed longboard; and a road trio camper/gear hauler.

This community has grown and recently, Local Motors has moved it into its own thing. Called Launch Forth (https://launchforth.io/), the community can be opened up to other partners who have projects they would like tackled by crowdsourcing. From what I have learned, the community is up over 160,000 members and growing. Local Motors still does its co-collaboration through Launch Forth. But in addition to the vehicle work, the community can participate in FUSE – funded by GE, Fuse is an ‘open innovation platform that accelerates the development of new products.’ Recent projects have brought a special ice maker to a counter-top version, and solved an issue for a candy thermometer. Their latest challenge deals with high-temp clamp design.

One other group, which I saved for last, is looking to use crowdsourcing for something a little more ‘far-out.’ Launch Forth is working with HP on their MARS Home Planet project. The HP “Mars Valley Urbanization Concept Challenge just closed on October 17th and is in the voting phase. 467 entries for initial concept have been submitted to provide ideas on Mar’s future transportation and infrastructure needs. This is definitely a ‘watch this space’ https://launchforth.io/hpmars/mars-valley-urbanization-concept-challenge/brief/

So if you are a tinkerer, thinker, or just the curious type, check out what is happening at Launch Forth – and maybe even join. https://launchforth.io

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Sourcing Manufacturing Parts Using The Internet- Making better time with Maketime

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Can you provide our blog audience with a quick overview of your company?

 

MakeTime uses software and technology to streamline the procurement and production management of CNC machined parts. We have built an online network of over 1,000 suppliers across the US and continue to grow it everyday. By collecting data from parts uploaded to our platform and suppliers in our network, we connect manufacturers who need CNC machined parts made, to the right supplier for the job. These manufacturers range from multi-billion dollar OEMs to small hardware startups. 

 

In a nutshell, for no upfront additional costs, our suppliers have access to new sources of revenue while eliminating the operational burden of hunting down new business. Our purchasing customers have an easier, safer, and more cost-effective route to outsource domestically. 

 

MakeTime is very forward-thinking, many manufacturers are resistant to the internet and resistant to change for that matter. How hard has it been to sell this concept to manufacturing companies?

 

In the beginning, it was a challenge. The idea of using the internet to source parts was pretty bizarre to most. There were a few online auction sites at that time, but they weren’t doing anything to protect the companies using their services, so this left a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth. 

 

Fast forward three years and the market has changed dramatically. Companies know that there is no way around relying on technology if they intend to survive in today’s global climate. It has flipped so many major industries upside down that it is inevitable. Some of our best shops aren’t even companies that are in need of new revenue streams, but rather forward-thinkers who recognize that this is the future and the time to get on board and establish yourself is now.  

 

Can you tell us about some of the more interesting projects your company has been able to work out? Or your favorite projects?

 

Several come to mind. Of course, seeing a large customer come on board is always exciting, but helping smaller companies achieve their goals is something we find very rewarding. A few years ago we had a supplier who had spent several decades thriving in the oil and gas industry. They recognized that the large decline of their primary market meant they needed to diversify and they were able to do that with us. We sent work their way, the irony being that they were making components for electric vehicles. They did great work and are a valued part of our network.

 

Where do you see your company in three years?

 

Three years is a relatively short period of time for our industry, but technology is moving faster than ever. MakeTime is helping push the “data and machine learning” revolution in the manufacturing industry. We are working to gather, analyze, and distribute data in a way that will help businesses to be even smarter in all aspects of the procurement, production, and delivery of machined parts. 

MakeTime was one of the companies featured at the Emerging Technology Pavilion at Gear Expo. If you have any questions regarding the technology, please contact Mary Ellen Doran at: doran@agma.org. 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Q&A with Vuzix before Gear Expo

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Vuzix is a leading developer of smart glasses and video eyewear. Their technology end users run the gamut from consumer, industrial, commercial, academic and medical markets. Mary Ellen Doran, AGMA Director, Emerging Technology recently spoke with Joe Surprenant from Vuzix.

 

Hi Joe. I am really excited to have Vuzix be a part of Gear Expo both with Paul Boris, COO as a Keynote speaker and having you in the new Emerging Technology Pavilion this year. It fits well with our work to bring emerging technologies in front of the AGMA membership. I say that this is an emerging technology, but I know that Vuzix has been developing this type of technology for several years now. The company won the “Best Buzz Award” at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show. Can you tell us a little bit about the evolution of the company?

Thank you Mary Ellen, Paul and I are also very excited to participate in this year’s event.  Vuzix has been developing best of breed optics and smart wearable devices since 1997.  Our founder and CEO, Paul Travers, developed and sold high grade thermal optics to the military back in the 90’s and he had the vision to bring smart glasses to enterprise back in 2011.  Since then we have focused solely on the enterprise and consumer smart glasses space.  Vuzix has worked hard to produce the most ergonomically sound device in the market today - the M300.  The M300 is the evolution of its predecessor the M100 and is often referred to as the preferred smart glasses solution for industry.  Between the M100 (released in 2014) and M300 (released this year), Vuzix has shipped over 10,000 devices to enterprises all over the world in a vast number of industries.  This is an explosive market in which most of the Fortune 1000 is expected to have production roll outs of smart glasses over the next few years.  Our strong leadership team, coupled with our intense desire to innovate, has allowed us to set the stage for smart glasses to break beyond industry and into the consumer space as well.  Our latest design, the Blade 3000, leverages waveguide technology and are delivered in the form of smart sunglasses.  We are excited about bringing these to the consumer market in 2018.

Your solutions are used in a wide variety of settings from gaming to medical use in the low vision market. But for our audience I would like to focus more on your business and enterprise glasses. Can you provide some information on how the glasses are being utilized in manufacturing?

Having spent nearly 20 years around manufacturing companies, I can confidently say that while technology is cool, industry demands outcomes.  Therefore, we focus on use cases that drive worker productivity, have quick time to value and increase safety and quality.  Our glasses are most often used in 5 general ways:
1) Hands-free remote assistance (live “see-what-I-see” streaming video without the need to hold a tablet or phone),
2) Hands-free work instructions (the ability to promote step by step instructions, content or video to the user’s eyepiece to aid in his or her task at hand,
3) Hands-free standard work capture (record best practices by enabling experts to put the glasses on and record their work for others to learn from),
4) Hands-free compliance/quality checks (ability to ensure measurements or other compliant steps are performed before the user can proceed), and
5) Hands-free picking and put away in the warehouse. 

What is one of your favorite use cases?

Great question!  There are so many innovative use cases but my favorite are those that drive the most value for our customers.  Airbus eliminated ALL errors in their fuselage manufacturing process leveraging smart glasses and AR (augmented reality), GE improved shop floor worker productivity by 34%, but one of my favorites is DHL.  DHL ran a pilot in 2016 that improved their picking efficiency by 15%!  This is one of the most efficient picking companies in the world, and smart glasses and AR made them 15% better at what they do best.  To me, that is truly impressive and it proves that even the best can get better.

What will you be showcasing at the Pavilion, what can people look forward to seeing?

We will have our M300s, the M100 and perhaps a pair of the Blade3000s will make a guest appearance.  We will show the ergonomics and power of the device and couple examples of partner applications running on the glasses.

Well I really appreciate your time. And I want to invite all our blog readers to attend Paul’s keynote at 1:00pm on Tuesday in the Solutions Center (back of aisle 1600) and stop by the Emerging Technology Pavilion (booth 245) to see Joe and make sure to put your business card in the bowl for your opportunity to win a pair of glasses. Winner will be pulled in the Solution Center on Thursday at 2:00pm.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

PT Barnum Could Sell Anything… But Gears

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By Kevin Potter, GearTec, Inc.

We all know Phineas Taylor Barnum.  Of course, American lore remembers him as PT Barnum.  PT, renowned as the quintessential hoax-ster and one of the most astounding businessmen of the 19th century, still reigns in our minds as the greatest showman on Earth.  Proving his “sale-ability,” Barnum even mastered his craft enough to be elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives four times.  Barnum’s innate sense of “what the people want to see” and even more importantly to PT, “what will they fall for while paying for it?” is rivaled by maybe, maybe, no one in American history.  After all, Barnum did coin the phrase “A sucker is born every minute.”  

Barnum’s gargantuan influence on American culture and entertainment stems largely from his exploitation of ex-slaves, dwarfs or Siamese twins.  His prowess and stature are the result of his undying energy, creativity and unhinged appetite to “make a buck.”  The wild haired and spirited PT, even had a short run in gear manufacturing in the United States. 

After decades of moderate rises, precipitous failures and then huge successes in the world of menagerie and “freak” shows, Barnum tried his hand (pun intended) in clock making.  In 1852, Barnum began the Terry and Barnum Manufacturing Company and moved the Litchfield Clock Company to East Bridgeport Connecticut.  East Bridgeport was the “gadabout’s” latest exercise in deal making.  This time, PT disguised his motive as a civically minded enterprise designed to help working families obtain jobs and property ownership.  

Then in 1855, an acquaintance, Chauncey Jerome, paid the ever-intellectually curious and venturous Barnum a visit.  Jerome, of the Jerome Clock Company, planted a seed that his world famous clock manufacturing company would be an ideal candidate for Barnum’s growing East Bridgeport.  The Jerome company was seeking expansion and thought that the Barnum brainchild and new town of East Bridgeport was the perfect candidate for a proposed migration.  PT could not resist.  Or rather, Barnum the swindler turned swindled and took the bait.  Falling hook line and sinker, Phineas Taylor Barnum lent his credit worthy name to Jerome. The once prosperous Jerome had over extended his clock manufacturing company and was peddling bait and switch promissory notes with banks and independent financiers far and wide.  Barnum’s fortune was swallowed up and the clock companies failed.  Barnum left manufacturing for good and returned to the world of nonsense and sleight of hand.  The outrageously clever and always deft at turning a buck Barnum, only took several years to clear his name and remount his fortune. 

Leading into Gear Expo, I sit here and wonder; what if PT Barnum would have succeeded in clock and gear making?   Would 3 giant ring gears be centered on the floor of the Columbus Convention Center? Might the rings hold an array of classic Barnum characters?  Say, triplet Iranian fire eating muscle men, dancing seals and “Jumbo” the elephant?   Would I be hearing “Step Right Up!  Step Right Up! See the world’s tallest contortionist work his way through this hollowed bore pinion shaft!”  Or perhaps we might have seen Tom Thumb and Matt Croson sword fighting in a giant pit of machine tool oil.  

 See you at the Gear Show!

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Standards From My View

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

According to the International Standard Organization(ISO), “ISO creates documents that provide requirements, specification, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.” I use this ISO description because it demonstrates that standards are used to provide a best practice, not necessarily a competitive advantage. This reflects AGMA processes regarding standards as well. Gear standards function as a common language through which gear manufacturers and users can evaluate various gear products. They provide users with reference points as to the reliability and performance of a product based on either design or application experience.

In my short time at AGMA, I have heard a couple people discuss how some gear standards are considered outdated or at least seem to be behind the current industry capabilities. I have read articles discussing this exact same thing and I figured I might, as a communications person, be able to share my understanding as to what I have learned. There is no question that the process of developing and changing standards is around 48 months (shortened from a previous five years). But there are some things to consider when understanding why the timeline is longer than many would like and what the real role of the standard is.

For one, technical committees are made up of a volunteer workforce that dedicates their time to develop or improve standards that help the industry meet the needs of its intended market. They do so following the rules that been prudently established to obtain a clear consensus among the committee members, and the public at large that are given the opportunity to review and constructively critique the content prior to final adoption. This process is at the mercy of the busy schedules of members that have graciously decided to join a committee. We cannot force people to join these committees and we definitely cannot force them to commit more time than they have. 

Secondly, the data necessary to make changes to the current standards come from those in the gear industry directly. AGMA’s technical division pays attention to membership that shares data or suggestions on how some standards need to be updated. Without this information there will be no ability to make changes. It is understood that data sharing isn’t possible by all companies and that there are R&D restrictions that limit accessibility to pertinent information. It is in this same understanding, that we have to remind some that standards are made for everyone at every level to use as an essential tool in establishing consistent engineering practices, unified nomenclature and streamlined specifications for equitable bidding practice.

Let me fully break it down for people who are not engineers or engineer-minded like myself. I am a pastry chef. I make a pie that I suggest serves 8 people. If you decide that you want to go ahead and serve 12 people with that pie, that is your choice. But, I, as the chef, won’t be held accountable or certify you as the server if someone doesn’t get a piece of the pie.

AGMA standards are the foundation, the baseline, for industry use. We encourage everyone that wants to see growth and movement in standards to join a committee and share their data so that we can always be on top of updates so the standards work for our industry’s needs.
 

To learn more about how you can contribute to the development of standards which guide the gearing industry, contact the Technical Division at tech@agma.org or 703-684-0211.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Marketing Your Scholarship Program

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

College is expensive. The College Board reports that 2016 tuition averaged $33,480 at private colleges, and $9,650 at public universities. With these high price tags, finding scholarship applicants should be easy. But, like everything else, finding scholarship recipients is all about effective marketing.

When my small Association Foundation (the American Gear Manufacturers Association Foundation) established a scholarship program in 2010 it was hard to find applicants. The scholarships were for students interested in a career in gearing, which is a small niche in mechanical engineering. One student applied in 2010, zero in 2011, and one in 2012. Marketing of the program was limited to the Foundation’s website, and a hard copy brochure mailed to colleges. Clearly more effective marketing was needed.

The Foundation decided to take the program directly to the students. First the Foundation acquired an email list of student led mechanical engineering societies. Emails sent to the student societies contained basic information on the program, and a link to the Scholarship webpage. This led to a flurry of visits to the webpage, and a dramatic jump in applications. Next, the Foundation took the program to social media. The program was marketed via Facebook and Twitter.  Scholarship winners were sent a big sweepstakes type award check, and sent back creative selfies. The Foundation Director and Trustees even visited the winners for photo opportunities. The photos were plastered on Facebook, Twitter, the Foundation website and in the Association newsletter.

Even after the scholarships had been granted, winners were asked to make a “thank you” video featuring them working in their lab or at their company. The videos were posted on YouTube, incorporated into the tweets and Facebooks posts and were played at the Association annual meeting. Association members started noticing the scholarship winners, encouraging their employees to apply for the awards, and treating scholarship winners as a hiring pool. Scholarship winners were hired into the industry (one smart company hired 3 scholarship winners!).

The Foundation was delighted with the increased number of qualified applicants (7 applicants and 3 recipients in 2013, to 27 applicants and 10 recipients in 2017) and scholarships awarded. The shift in marketing strategy worked!  Today, The Foundation still produces that hard copy brochure, only because some Universities and member companies like a hard copy to display in the financial aid office or HR department. But the most effective scholarship marketing is done online, and by the students themselves. Get creative in how you reach out to audience because the more applicants, the better help your scholarship will be. Check it out at agmafoundation.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

For The Overall Good

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

When working for a non-profit, it is easy to develop a work ethic of using less to create more. Budgets can be tighter, resources are limited and being short staffed is a normal way of operating. It never surprises me to see the hard work of associations, foundations and non-profit folks that put the needs of others before their own. The bottom line is important but not always the focus.

What does surprise me; however, is how the “for-profit” gear companies put the gear industry needs at the forefront of their interests, and many times at their own expense. The amount of time, money and personnel that businesses allocate to improving the overall industry and communications is impressive. But it makes me think, why would companies that compete against each other want to work on a committee together?

The answer is easy. Innovation. We use this buzz word at AGMA a good amount to describe the advancements that gear manufacturers are making to evolve into the changing industry. I am using this word today to explain that innovation takes collaboration. When you have a bad year in the industry, there are many people affected down the line. The end user isn’t buying, the manufacturer isn’t making and the supplier has no need to supply. We could say, “we are all in the same boat”.

Coming together to work on a committee (whether it is a technical, business or emerging technology) and investing in the future of the entire industry, allows companies to take ownership over where they are headed. Competitors from many areas come together to study trends, changes and supply information necessary to have innovation. This innovation protects the industry itself and therefore protects the future for them to be able to compete.

It is important to recognize that innovation does not happen solely because someone has a great idea and implements it. Many of the changes and new technologies that the gear industry is faced with have been developing over the years with joint efforts from many people. The only way that we, as an industry, are going to deal with it, is together.

John Dickinson once said, “Together we stand, divided we fall,” and this makes perfect sense to the challenges and opportunities we face in today’s global market. The “for-profit” company has to figure out the ways to implement and execute on innovation, but working together, we can figure out where the market is heading and collaborate to get as many success stories as possible.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Innovation Driving Production

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By Matthew Croson, President, AGMA

Jill Johnson and I just returned from Greenville, SC where AGMA hosted 25 members for a networking dinner.  It is one of the best ways to connect with our members to see what is going on in their businesses. It was great to visit with members including Baldor, Griffin Gear and SEW Eurodrive.

 

All great companies, doing great things as they work hard to serve new and existing customers – and taking different paths to foster long term growth.

 

While visiting SEW-EURODRIVE, we had a chance to talk with Mathias Loewen, who manages many of the critical functions at its Lyman, SC facilities.  The locations they have include a 125,000 NSF assembly center that has one of the most sophisticated inventory management systems available to any company.  They also have a much larger, fully-automated gear manufacturing facility full of robots and equipment that makes 600,000 gears on a five-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day schedule.  Incredible.

 

The tour was full of innovation and execution was defined.  We appreciated the time that Mathias, Chris and Adam gave us.

 

The company looked at the opportunity automation could deliver—and they jumped right into the deep end of innovation to make it work.  They’ve gotten so good at automation, they are now developing an entire business consulting line—with supporting products—to help customers fully automate their production.

 

The company looked at the challenge of managing a complex supply chain can have on inventory control and, again, they jumped right into the deep end of innovation to make it work.  The system can pull any supply, at any time, within seconds of ordering—and will soon be tied to production in order to streamline in a just-in-time manner.

 

The company looked at the challenge and opportunity that electric drive is bringing to the market and they absolutely jumped right into the deep end of innovation to make it work.  They now have mechatronic and full electronic drive systems—to balance out a portfolio of small, medium and heavy drive systems supporting everything from packaging lines to sugar cane production. 

 

Answering the challenges facing our industry today—in a manner that ensures that we have opportunities years from now—takes innovation and courage.  I was pleased to see so much new and different thinking while visiting the company, and look forward to working with their leadership team as AGMA also considers the market and how we must change and adapt to ensure relevancy. 

 

What is your company’s long-term growth strategy?

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Funding the Trade Association Foundation

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA

We recently went over the advantages to having a foundation connected to a trade association. Foundations serve the public good, and are restricted by the IRS to activities of a religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purpose. It is important as an association member to understand how trade association foundations receive their funding so you can choose how to be involved. Many association foundations receive funding through:

·         grants from other Foundations. Often times, these grants come from members of the trade association that have established a company or family                foundations.

·         grants from federal, state, county or city governments.

·         planned giving/bequests. Members of the trade association can easily will funds to the trade association foundation.

·         direct giving campaigns, typically conducted via direct mail or e-mail. Individual or corporate gifts to the association foundation may be eligible for a            tax deduction.

·         special events. Trade association foundations hold fundraising auctions (silent & live), raffles, golf tournaments, casino nights, fun runs, and a                      myriad of other events to raise funds.

·         capital campaigns called “brick and mortar” campaigns. Capital campaigns are used to raise large amounts of money for a specific purpose, such                as acquisition of land and/or buildings, and purchase of expensive equipment or supplies. These campaigns generally have a well defined                            fundraising goal, and a definitive starting and ending date.

·         dues checkoff. Finally, some trade associations collect funding for their foundation through an amount added to member dues. Some associations              automatically add a certain amount to the member dues statement, and allow members to opt out of paying the extra amount. The opposite method            asks members to add a foundation donation to the dues on their statement.

Knowing how your association foundation receives funds can help focus your efforts.  Grants are a great way to receive money from other interested parties. Capital campaigns are the best option to fund expensive, tangible items like buildings and equipment. The dues checkoff can provide a steady source of funds for operations and programs and they ensure the association members are strongly connected to the foundation.  And lastly, special events, these are fun for the trade association members to come together and see all the work the foundation is doing. Association foundation boards and staff must look carefully at all options to choose the best funding mechanism to help grow and support the association.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

SHOW Them What You Got!

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

I have been discussing the importance of social media for your business. I highlighted the fact that even those in manufacturing need to have a presence online to keep up with their competitors and the new technologies out there.

Articles, blogs, op-ed pieces filled with intelligent words are only one way to share your expertise. My suggestion is that if you want to show your potential customers, your peers or your competition how good your product is, then you need to actually show them. When you use pictures and videos, your viewership will increase. MIT News reported that tallied posts on the MIT Facebook page showed: “Of the top 20 posts, 70 percent had photos. Similarly, on Facebook, the engagement rate is 37% higher for posts with images.”

I use an MIT example because they represent an engineering audience that prefers the use of visual aids when trying to make an impact. As a manufacturer, social media will not be able to replace an in-person visit to your plant floor. Talking about recent automation to your operating equipment or investment in IoT devices that affect your processes will not come off exciting by just writing about it. Taking a video of your machine in use or show pictures; however, might give readers the exact visual for them to understand why your business is the one to watch.

With manufacturing, many parts of the “making’ process can produce challenging barriers when trying to explain them to people. A picture really can take the confusion out of that. You want to tell a story that engages readers, and using a graph, photo, info graphic or a video will add to the overall experience that someone will have when following you on social media.

We all have attended those presentations where a speaker has a Powerpoint full of words that they just read off to you. We yearn for the pictures to pop up to break up the novel that is on the screen. The same applies for your social media accounts. You have a lot to share about your business so make sure that your audience sees exactly what you want.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Why Tradeshows are Worth the Investment

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By Adam Gimbert, Koepfer America, LLC

IMTS, Gear Expo, Westec, Eastec and plenty more trade shows remain an important part of manufacturing. Wasn't the internet supposed to make finding new products and technologies effortless? Why do we still spend gobs of money and time exhibiting and attending these things all over the country?

 

As an exhibitor of machine tools, I know firsthand the heavy cost of being part of a trade show. Instead of exhibiting, we could just hold a lottery and give away a machine. Same cost! Ok, perhaps not a new machine—maybe a used one. . . But, that would be missing the point. I shake my head when I hear gear industry personnel say something like, “Gear Expo? I'm not planning to go. I was at the last one so there won't be much new stuff to see.” I would argue; however, that new technology is not the most valuable part of a trade show anyway.

 

At trade shows, exhibitors and attendees share a focused common interest. People who attend want to be there for a reason. It's no secret that we're all into gear manufacturing in one way or another, whether as a manufacturer, a supplier,or a user. As a group of professionals, we hold tremendous knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and vision that attendees are looking for. This is our industry's treasure. This is far more valuable than the latest piece of equipment or a newfangled hunk of software.

 

But to gain from this industry wealth, you must meet people. You must reach out to those you don't know. You must embrace those new to the industry. Talk. And, where is this easiest and most cost-effective to do? Trade shows. Especially ones such as Gear Expo where each person shares a tie to the industry. You may meet a future coworker, learn a new manufacturing concept, get the chance to win a new contract or find a better supplier.

 

Trade shows aren't just for discovering the latest products. Not attending means there is no chance to share in our industry resources. Not attending costs more than you may realize, and this value of attending is why trade shows remain such a vital part of industry today.

Adam Gimpert is a Business Manager for Koepfer America, LLC and a guest blogger for AGMA. 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Tips to Running a Productive Trade Show Booth

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By Jenny Blackford, VP of Marketing. AGMA

Have you ever attended a trade show and seen exhibitors who don’t have any business in their booths?  Or, have you ever wondered why some booths (even small in size) are jammed with people?  Trade show booth traffic isn’t necessarily a reflection on the quality of your product is–it’s a reflection on the quality of your personnel running the booth.

When I attend a trade show, it’s always amazing what people think is acceptable booth behavior.  You’ve seen these people too–they have their backs to the aisles, sitting down reading a magazine, talking on their phones and looking at the floor.  These exhibitors are missing sales opportunities.  When you’re an exhibitor, you never know who could be walking up to your booth at any time and if you’re not prepared, your biggest prospect may walk right on by.

Yes, trade shows are long days and sometimes boring when you’re an exhibitor but that doesn’t give you an excuse to slack off.  Your attitude is visible to all the attendees that walk past you–so act like you want to be there! 

Here are a few simple tips to have a better show experience.

Prior to the show:

·         Set objectives–How many leads are you looking to generate?

·         Invite your prospects–Most trades (including Gear Expo) offer complimentary guest passes for exhibitors to distribute to customers.  This is a great way to get your prospects (and current customers) to come visit you.  It saves you having to make a separate sales call!

·         Make sure all your staff are aware of your objectives and are briefed on all of your offerings

At the show:

·         Greet visitors with a smile

·         Listen–don’t launch into your product pitch, find out what problem you can help solve.

·         Don’t sit (unless you’re with a customer)

·         Have mints or breath freshener (but not gum)

·         Don’t play with your cellphone, or eat in your booth

·         Wear comfortable shoes (and bring several pairs)

·         Do qualify your leads–Is your lead the decision maker, or part of a buying team?  What time frame are they looking at for a potential order?

After the show:

·         Follow up with ALL leads. This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do. You’ve invested a lot of time and money exhibiting at a trade show so make sure that visitors to your booth remember you after the event is over. 

You have invested money to have your company, products and employees attend the trade show. It would be a complete waste if you stopped the work once the booth was set up and missed out on the face-to-face opportunity to make a good impression. There are many tradeshows coming up this fall, come show your booth manners at Gear Expo this October and visit AGMA at booth 823.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

To the Weird and Wild

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

A big part of my job is to stay on top of developments in our emerging technology areas. I spend a good deal of time reading new studies, research reports, and articles on new applications in 3D printing, robotics, and Industrial IoT. Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the odd and new that may not completely help you to make your factory smart, but just may be inspiring. So my tribute to the weird and the wild:

Hyperloop

I have been following the Hyperloop development for the past couple of years now. I am sure I am not brave enough to be a volunteer on their first full runs, but I am amazed at the ingenuity. And WIRED posted a really interesting article that talks about the many teams of students who have been working hard on vehicle designs that they hope to translate into a new form of transportation for us all.

Click here to see the article.

 SureFly Personal Octocopter

The company SureFly puts a new spin on the helicopter with their Octocopter. The ‘personal aircraft’ (which I have to say is just fun to type) has eight independent motors each driving a single carbon fiber propeller, a backup battery power system, and a ballistic parachute to safely land in the event of an emergency. You can check out their video here:

Watch the video here.
 

Nissan Reinvents the 1940s race car – Prototype 9

Nissan has produced this beautiful cross of new electric car with retro 1940 race car with its concept Prototype 9. The car looks like it belongs on the old Italian race tracks – and adheres to the roadway specifications needed in the cars of the time. But it has one unique trait – an electric engine. So when the designers zoom around the track – there is silence. It is pretty neat.

Read article here.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Clean Data Equates to Better Business

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By Karina Nunez, Database Administrator, AGMA

Businesses and marketing departments rely on their databases to send Emails, mail correspondence and to gather information regarding membership demographics. Having a “dirty” database can have many implications. Poor data can have a ripple effect on the entire business when you don’t maintain records. It can destroy marketing efforts which then can affect sales/services. Low quality data can impact Email deliverability and sender reputation, making it hard to reach effectively those individuals who are actually interested in your services and not bother those who are not.

According to Digital Print Management, “Data cleaning refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate, irrelevant, parts of a record and then replacing, modifying or deleting it.” If old data, records or duplicates are no longer needed or are not in use, it’s best to delete them on a regular basis. The more work you do up front, the less work and money it will take to clean the database later. If you check the data the moment you receive it and make sure it is correct before entering it into your system, you will not have to waste time later flushing it out. Don’t spend money sending Emails and mail to people that are not going to read them or do not even exist!

In addition to flushing out the bad data, capturing the right data is also very important. Consistency, accuracy and completeness is the key. Making sure the data gets collected effectively and gets entered correctly can improve communication which could improve sales and performance. You want to be able to save yourself time, money and effort by obtaining the right data up front and entering it the same way each time. You want your database to be easy to use and navigate.

Many facets of your business probably use the database. Whether it is the sales team getting ready to visit a member, the communications department looking to market some events or you need to pull analytics for the next board meeting, the database and its information are at the center of it all. Maintaining excellent-quality data is essential to ensure that for all of the database uses, there will be no issues in the content that it produces to help each department of the business succeed.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

AGMA, ISO and Great Debates

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By Matthew Croson, President, AGMA

One of the greatest value drivers for an association is standards development.  A single company will not ever want to ask its greatest competitors to come together and work out a problem with them.  Self-interest – and current anti-trust law – keeps this from happening.  Associations are created under strict anti-trust rules to deliver this value – to bring industry together to focus time and attention on a challenge in a collaborative manner. 

 

I spent a day attending the ISO TC 60, Working Group 6 meeting, recently held in Garching, Germany at the FZG facilities.  I was a guest, and attended the meeting with Robin Olson of Rexnord, who served as the U.S. representative to this working group.  Amir Aboutaleb of AGMA also attended, representing his role as the ISO TC 60 secretary.  We were joined by working group representatives from Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Great Britain and Denmark.  About 25 total attendees participated in the two-day meeting.  This was a great opportunity to observe how standards are developed.

 

We debated terms, we debated process, we debated wording. . .and it took eight hours of dialogue to move through 11 critical agenda items aimed to revise four standards in the ISO 6336 series that deal with load capacity calculations for spur and helical gears.   It was a great first day, and it was only the beginning.

 

But the second day was when the dialogue became business critical.  For eight hours, the attendees spent time debating the topic of tooth flank fracture.  There were considerable differences of opinion, and a true consensus driven effort was leveraged to gain agreement on various aspects of the topic.  At the end, convergence was reached on all outstanding issues marking this meeting as successful and productive as the ones before it. 

 

This was my first and only exposure to how standards are made; two days of tough, math-driven, at times contentious, yet results oriented dialogue that is, I was told, par for the course at every AGMA/ISO standards’ meeting.  And that is what one should expect you want any association to be doing – especially when it comes to the standards that are supposed to DRIVE the industry it serves.  Working together, associations make a considerable difference – something a company can’t do on its own.  Join AGMA and help us ensure the long-term success of our industry and the standards that DRIVES it.  Your industry needs you!

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Gear Technology is Safe for Today

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

We are living in a technological boom. Some days it is impossible just to get through the news on the breakthroughs of the day. But for the gear industry, this is important work. Where will the next industry disruptors arrive? Can we prepare for them? These are tough questions to answer and our new Emerging Technology Committee is just beginning to scratch the surface.

There is one burning question; however, that I can provide an answer to: 

Is anyone mass producing gears via 3D printed metal? The answer today, is “No.”

Technology author, Rawal Ahmed, admits in a recent article about metal printing that “It’s no secret that metal printing still has a long way to go. As of now, metal prints are inconsistent in size and durability among other things. As a result, companies are putting a lot of manpower into R&D for achieving an ideal print.” One factor holding this technology back in many industrial applications is the lack of consistency and inability for identical mass-produced pieces. For now, 3D printed metal gears are not pushing into the gear industry space. But the R&D that is happening is looking at very specific aspects of this technology. So breathe a sigh of relief today, but make sure you keep up with us as we monitor the research and advancements.

Ahmed goes on to discuss the work that is being done at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), outlining their new testbed metal printer that uses Additive Manufacturing Metrology Testbed (AMMT). This process works to focus on the consistency and quality problems by measuring melt pool temperatures and light brightness that process has produced.

Work is simultaneously being conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) at their Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). Where they are using high-speed x-rays to focus on the melt pool and study particle behavior as it translates from powder to liquid to solid.

So today, I can answer that our current gear-making technology is safe. Our committee is working to stay on top of this topic to continue to monitor the technology and provide AGMA members with information in this area. Watch this space.

 

Sources to look at:

https://3dprinting.com/news/nist-develops-testbed-3d-printer-to-improve-metal-printing-techniques/

https://www.ornl.gov/news/engines-going-distance

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Three Considerations with Social Media in Your Manufacturing Business

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communcations Manager, AGMA

I am sure after my last entry, you all went back to your companies and started social media accounts as a new marketing tool, ha! Or, maybe you are still on the fence about how social media can help the manufacturing industry. Either way, here are some great tips on how to approach the beginning stages of social media for your business.


First things first, social media, as with any new endeavor in your business, is a commitment. It takes work to develop a look and feel to your platform that best represents your brand. Once you start putting information out there and gathering a following, you need to keep it up. Show your're dependable to stay on top of what you started. It is terrible when I find a blog or a twitter handle that has great stuff only to find that they are inconsistent about posting. 

Calm down! No really, relax, it is just social media. People, companies and those enabled with a keyboard and Wi-Fi will tend to go crazy in the first few weeks and tell the world everything they can about themselves. Don't do this. We know that you are special, that your company has hit major milestones and that you have the most amazing things to offer but you have to treat this like a conversation. We all know that guy in the room that never stops talking about himself; let’s remember to put stuff out there but to listen as well. You can engage readers to come back because they feel like they are part of the journey.

Finally, stick with what you know. I read once that a sign of intelligence is being aware of what your strengths are and not pretending to know more than you do. Your company is good at something and you need to make sure that your social media is used as a way to showcase this expertise. Become a leader in your space and then ask questions on what you are still learning. You will attract industry experts the same way you attract bees—honey; make sure your honey is the sweetest it can be and the rest will follow.

Next time we will discuss videos and pictures vs. just words. We need to show how important your industry is not just talk about it. 

 For any questions or interest in becoming a guest blogger, please contact Rebecca Brinkley at brinkley@agma.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The IoT Wildfire

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

One of the biggest trending topics in manufacturing today is the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). At its most basic, it is the linking of industrial equipment and products with electronic-based or internet-based tools and networks that allow extraction and analytics of big data. But, when it comes to working to apply it to plant floors, it becomes a dance of the IT and OT departments—or more like a dance of an alligator and a crocodile. Which—I want to make clear—have equal footing in this scenario.

The Industrial IoT adoption has been quick. The first we heard of this stuff was only in 2011 with the discussions of Industry 4.0 in Germany. It is spreading like wildfire as brilliant programmers across the world use their skills to create new solutions.

The interesting piece for me is that these new technologies are not just software and hardware components for computers and networking systems; but instead, they are using a whole new breed of technology. Tablets, phones, wearable sensor gloves, AR/VR eye wear, sensors and so much more have hit the market in the last two years. There are many stories of these applications having remarkably quick ROI. Probably one of the most profound is the use of smart eyewear to position seats during fuselage construction. By having measurements programmed into the AR system, the technician knows exactly where to drill the first hole—that leads to the back seats fitting on the plane. This industry has seen their error rate cut to 0. Not just by a small percentage—but to zero.  Other technologies are alerting operators quickly of issues, or even alerts of issues that are pending and have not happened yet.

This is definitely a growing industry and the AGMA Emerging Technology Committee will be looking into these new solutions and work to provide members with usable information on these products and services. Watch this space for more.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Apprenticeships: A Strategy for Workforce Solutions

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By Casandra Blassingame, Director of Education

There are significant talent shortages and skill gaps that are slowing down the abilities of companies to expand, innovate, and thrive. Did you know that there are an estimated 500,000 people in registered apprenticeship programs in the United States? Did you know that 91% of people who complete registered apprenticeship programs are placed in jobs? The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is an excellent opportunity for the public workforce system to transform the lives of job seekers and workers!

 

Registered apprenticeship programs are a proven strategy that assist state and local workforce systems to develop partnerships that strengthen the opportunities for industry to find qualified hourly staff. It’s an effective work-based system that supports economies in your region. The approach allows workers to train-up thus establishing a path to higher levels of employment resulting in increased wages and ultimately, retention.

 

According to the New York Times, the manufacturing sector increased jobs at the fastest pace in the month of July than the sector had in more than four years. Also reported, that while the jobs report showed there were fewer jobs created than were expected overall, jobs in the manufacturing sector showed improvement. Due to smart and emerging technologies, manufacturing is more competitive today than it has been in decades. Apprenticeships can help meet the demand for qualified employees. 

 

While completing a federally registered apprenticeship program earns the job-seeker a national credential, apprenticeship programs are also a part of career and technical colleges manufacturing programs. It can also be integrated into your organization’s current training strategy.  Regardless of where a job-seeker enters an apprenticeship program, employers are at the center of the model. How can you take advantage of an apprenticeship program in your area? Contact me at blassingame@agma.org to assist you in building a strategic training model or to identify resources in your area!

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Double Blind Process of Peer Review for Technical Papers- Keeping it Objective

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By Courtney Payne, Manager of Technical Division, AGMA

For over 300 years, scientific journals have been using formal peer reviews as a way to evaluate the work of researchers before publication. AGMA’s Technical Division currently subjects gear industry technical papers through a rigorous double-blind peer review by three experienced industry professionals. I’ve been told that our technical paper selection process and detailed peer reviews by subject experts results in some of the most thoroughly vetted (and therefore technically sound) papers for gear conferences.

So first off, what makes a peer review double-blind? Elsevier defines it as a peer review where both the reviewer and the author remain anonymous to each other. This is in contrast with a single-blind peer review, in which the reviewer is anonymous but the author name is known to the reviewer. There are many benefits to using this process:

1.    It prevents the reviewer from potentially being biased against the author.

2.    It allows for papers to be chosen based on technical merit, not because of an author’s reputation–this is not a popularity contest, after all!

3.    It gives unknown mechanical engineers the opportunity to share their research and ideas – one day, we will need the new faces of a younger generation to take over the future of the industry.

How does the double-blind review process work? Once an abstract and paper are submitted, someone will check the document for author names/companies/company-affiliated brands, etc. If any of these items are present, they are stripped from the paper before it moves on to peer review. We want to make sure the reviewers will be able to be as objective as possible. While it’s not a perfect process, and it is possible that some well-known authors could be identified by their writing style, it is most certainly a start at keeping the technical integrity of research and work done by those in the field.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

How Social Media can Help Business in Manufacturing

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

In preparation for this entry, I typed in “manufacturing and social media” into my search bar and, well, my browser shut down. I laughed a little because the way my computer reacted is the way a good amount of people in the manufacturing industry do regarding social media – they shut down. This internet tool created by millennials to overshare everything including what’s for dinner, has blossomed into a business “must have” for networking and leads; moreover, a source of industry news.

If you are apprehensive about opening an account on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, don’t be. Know that these media platforms are here to stay and will open a new way to get your business out there. Many small business owners don’t see a need to invest time or energy into marketing on the internet, but let’s take a look at some reasons you should. According to a couple sources:

·         Seventy-eight percent of the U.S. population has at least one social networking profile (Pew)

·         Ninety percent of young adults are using social media (ages 18-29) (Pew)

·         The number of worldwide users is expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020 (Statista)

·         ”Fifty percent of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media.” (Social Media Examiner)

These are just a few statistics that should point out some important things to remember when you might be thinking social networking isn’t for your business. One, that is a lot of people using social media that your company could potentially reach. Two, the largest age group using social media the most is going to eventually, if they have not already, be the future of your industry. Why not start to influence them now? Lastly, your competition is most likely already on there and it is imperative you join to stay ahead of them.

Manufacturing is something this world will always need. The technologies around it might be changing but the concept of making a product for consumer demand will never change. How you grow your business and talk about your industry; however, is changing every day. Check back in to hear some ideas on how social media can help your business and become a staple in your marketing tools. I will go over some important things to do when developing your social media campaign next. Gears matter and we need to remind people why.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Additive Beginnings

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

Last November, the AGMA board of directors chose four topics for our work this year in emerging technology. One topic that grabbed me right away was 3D printing/Additive printing. I had had little exposure–only with my art background was I watching the use of 3D as a new medium for art. But, to focus on it through the lens of manufacturing has been an enlightening pursuit these last months.

My first toe-in-the-water moment was when I read an article on how 3D printing had fundamentally changed hearing aid manufacturing. Additive’s natural ability to print unusual shapes and one-off affordable capability made it a natural fit for the needs of hearing aid manufacturing. Apparently, it took something like nine steps to take a mold of someone’s ear and make a fitting that would comfortably sit inside it. With the use of 3D technology, this reduced the steps to a scan and a print – where the piece was ready in hours rather than days. This was also one of the first mass market uses of 3D printing. According to the Harvard Business Review, “The U.S. hearing aid industry converted to 100% additive manufacturing in less than 500 days. . .”  I understand that this is the optimum case for this type of technology, but the numbers were staggering nonetheless. What did that mean for other manufacturing endeavors? I started down the rabbit hole and found endless resources to get caught up.

If you are not well-versed in 3D printing, I recommend a book for you to read: 3D Printing Will Rock the World by John Hornick. It provides a nice primer for the actual history of the technology, patents and a great outline of the various techniques that are employed to make a 3D printed object and how it is changing. I won’t take the time here to write about all the various techniques, I will save that for future blog posts, but be ready for a whole new set of acronyms as you are transformed back in time to technological development that happened back in the 1980s. While some of us were hanging pictures of Simon LeBon on our walls, some smart cookies were exploring new technologies that in just the last few years have gone past their patents to open the market. When you take this technology and combine it with the speed of our current computational advances, you get some really cool new things that have potential to change the way we manufacture.

Some resources to look at:

 (https://3dprintingindustry.com/)

(http://www.additivemanufacturing.media/)

(http://www.metal-am.com/metal-additive-manufacturing-magazine/)

https://hbr.org/2015/05/the-3-d-printing-revolution
 

 Mary Ellen Doran is the Director, Emerging Technology for the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA). She is always curious and is passionate about getting good information out to members in this new focus area. She welcomes those curious in more information on this topic – doran@agma.org.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Benefits of the Association Foundation

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By Cindy Bennett, Executive Director, AGMA Foundation

Chances are most associations you know (and since there are over 92,000 trade and professional associations in the U.S., you may know many) have set up a foundation.  There are so many association foundations that they have even established their own association—the Association Foundation Group headquartered in Washington, DC. So why are foundations so important and why would an association set one up?

The simple/practical answer is taxes. Both associations and foundations are typically tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the IRS code. Trade associations and professional societies are generally organized under 501(c)(6) of the code, and foundations under 501(c)(3).  The difference:  501(c)(3) organizations are restricted to operating, “exclusively for educational, charitable, literary and/or scientific purposes.” Individual donors to 501(c)(3) association foundations can take a charitable tax deduction for their contribution; however, donations to the association directly cannot.  Associations running programs that qualify under the 501(c)(3) restrictions often set up a Foundation to allow their members to support the programs and have the benefit of a personal tax deduction.  This can make an association foundation a valuable tool for funding qualifying association activities like AGMA’s scholarship program. 

Who benefits from the association foundation? Everyone does. The activities of an association foundation benefit the general public not just it’s members.

Let’s say an association foundation is funding an educational program, the program can be (and should be) tailored to the interests of the members of the association.  However, there must be a way for those outside the association to participate.  Association foundations can be a great method for funding 501(c)(3) eligible activities. The trade-off for the donor tax benefit is allowing access to those outside the association. Most associations find this a small price to pay and a great way to get more people interested.

So, if you are looking for way to preserve the industry that you are in, find an association foundation that will put good use to your money. Investing through foundations can ensure a bright future for your field through education and scholarship programs.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Keeping Up With Development

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By Mary Ellen Doran, Director of Emerging Technology, AGMA

In very recent years, the development of much faster computational speeds has had effects on almost every sector of our lives. As the speed increases so does the rate of development and deployment of new products. Manufacturing executives are not only dealing with problems of skilled worker shortages and constant new and changing regulations, but they have to stay informed on the new products and processes changing their very landscape through emerging technologies.

The AGMA is committed to providing its member companies with relevant information on emerging technologies. It is our job to bring you the news relevant to the gear industry. In the coming months, you will see blog posts from me on the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, super alloys, robotics & automation and other emerging tech. This will provide industry insight specifically tailored to the complex world of gear manufacturing and power transmission and suppliers. 

It is also important that we explore trends found in your end-user markets so you can be ready for the inevitable changes and demands on the industry. Emerging technology products do not bring one-size-fits-all solutions but the more you know, the more you might be prepared. It is my hope to provide information that will assist you in making informed decisions for your organizations. Come back and check out why hearing aids got me reading about 3-D printing. 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Meeting Demands of Distance Education in Manufacturing

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By Kellanne Broom, Education Coordinator, AGMA

Do you remember those summers when you were in school? There were no classes but instead, vacations; the time for everyone to kick back and relax. AGMA realizes that even as adults, the summers can be sacred and that offering face-to-face classes can work against us during July and August. But as we know, business does not take a break and gears must be made. So, like many other educational programs, we decided to offer a learning tool that is convenient, cost effective and allows students another way to grow their knowledge.  

Webinars provide the opportunity for companies to continue education for their employees without the added costs of travel and extra fees. In our experience, we have found that webinars greatly increase participation because you can do it anywhere you have an internet connection, including from your hammock on vacation! We hold about 3-5 webinars during the summer months of material that students have specified in survey feedback. 

The best part of this education tool? If you cannot attend a live webinar, you can still
watch it when you have time. One of the reasons why webinars are becoming a “go to” in distance learning, is because of the capability of archiving the webinar for continued use. According to the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report, there is an increase in growth “of on-demand registration and viewing shows how the lifespan of webinar content is extending far beyond the initial live date.” This allows anyone who could not attend the live webinar due to time zones or work conflicts, to receive a similar experience as those listening to the live version.

Webinars also allow all sorts of integrated engagement tools to enhance the learning experience for the attendees. From surveys and social media to real-time group chats and videos, webinars are making each event as close to a face-to-face environment as possible. Educators can provide attendees with “how to” videos that will let them see exactly what they need to and they can reference it repeatedly. 

The demand in education for new and innovative ways of learning is always expanding. Webinars are just one of the many tools provided to reach those demands. So, if you or your employees cannot attend face-to-face training, I recommend looking into webinars to further their knowledge; AGMA has some great examples to get you started. 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Message From the President: Innovation is Gear Industry’s (near) Future

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By Matthew Croson, President, AGMA

It’s been a tough few years for gear manufacturers.

From 2014-2016, U.S. gear demand dropped 30% across the 11 different markets. A recent NAM poll indicated a 90% “optimism in business” rating from its members. That appears to be a positive story, but is it the real story? The revenue story? It will take years to recover a market that has experienced the following numbers:

Gears in oil and gas operations dropped by 72%

Gears in regular mining operations dropped by 63%.

Gears in farm equipment dropped 45%.

Gears in construction equipment dropped 40%.

Gears in turbines dropped by 37%.

Gears in shipbuilding dropped by 32%.

Gears in machine tooling dropped 28%.

Gears in material handling dropped 24%.

Gears in industrial machinery dropped 18%.

Gears in railroad equipment was flat for the period.

Only aerospace grew between 2014-2016 – by 11%. 

Total U.S. demand dropped from $5 billion in sales to $3.8 billion, over that time period.

$1.2 billion in lost revenue.

In 2017, AGMA is forecasting a recovery of sorts.  We expect overall demand to reach $4 billion – a 6% growth rate.  By 2021, we expect the market to reach $4.9 billion.  Put another way, it’s not until 2021 that AGMA expects total U.S. demand to be within $200,000 of 2014 figures. 

By then, it will have been seven years of holding on . . . managing cash, costs, and doing everything they can to survive as companies, while fighting in the trenches to secure new business. 

That is a perseverance story…

What is the way out of this trend line?  What needs to happen to speed up a transition from a perseverance story to a growth story?

One word:  INNOVATION.

The industry and AGMA need to be looking at innovative ways to partner with customers, suppliers and each other.

The gear industry needs to be connected directly to the research institutions, schools and organizations that are advancing innovative new ways to deliver power transmission via mechanical means.

The gear industry needs to have design engineers who are trained and capable of leading an innovation effort.

The gear industry needs to spend time focused on new forms of automation to speed production, new alloys for their products, additive as a manufacturing tool, and the Internet of Things (IoT) as a value driver. 

And the gear industry needs AGMA to right be smack dab in the middle of this, and support its members as we move from perseverance to growth.

What is your company doing to innovate? 

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

The Importance of Gear Standards

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By Justin Sikorski 

In 1916, the first 9 members of AGMA, that number grew to 19 by the end of 1917, came together to advance and improve their industry through the standardization of gear design, manufacture and application. AGMA now has around 65 current ANSI accredited standards that have been developed, with those same motivations in mind, by the now nearly 500 member-companies of AGMA. Impressive, right? But what do these important documents, these words and statistics that I stole from AGMA’s website, look like? What is a standard and why are they important to the gear industry?

First, I want to start with what a standard is not. A standard is not a how-to guide, text book, or “Gear Design for Dummies” book. They are written in such a way that assumes the reader is an experienced gear designer capable of selecting reasonable values based on their knowledge of the performance of similar designs. It is not intended for use by the engineering public at large. When someone is looking for more assistance than is typically found in an AGMA standard, they are directed to AGMA Consultant members and AGMA Education courses.

Standards are a set of rules, guidelines, and requirements developed by industry experts, based on proven and verified practices. This is a critical point to understand when reading these documents. The information has been proven and verified by industry experts. 

Standards also help provide the common language needed for effective and efficient communication between all interested and involved parties. These parties include manufacturers, vendors, customers, certification bodies and consultants. This not only benefits real-time communications, but also gives customers a peace of mind that they will be able to get replacement parts 10, 20, or 30 years in the future.

All of today’s AGMA Standards essentially provide gear industry manufacturers and customers with over 100 years of research, design and negotiation work. Not only does this significantly reduce overhead costs of every gear bought and sold, but it provides confidence in what members of the gear industry are buying and selling.

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Gears Matter Blog
25th July 2018

Manufacturing is Changing-AGMA is Here to Help

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By Rebecca Brinkley, Communications Manager, AGMA

It can be a confusing time for manufacturing industries around the world and the gear industry is no different. Headlines promise growth but the numbers don’t always accurately reflect this. We see many articles and blogs that encourage digitalization and automation in factories, only to find out that it might not be fiscally responsible or that it will open-up vulnerability for cyberattacks. Companies want to increase productivity but what is the best way to do it?

Not to mention, there is a shortage of qualified industry employees throughout middle America but the education system is not willing to invest in vocational schools to prepare large percentages of young people with the tools to fill these jobs. With resource availability and constantly changing international trade rules, it is no wonder there is not a defined path for manufacturers to find success.  

AGMA is here to help sort through much of this. Our dedicated team of employees at Headquarters is excited to join the world of blogging to start a conversation about what is happening in the gear industry and some cool things we do here. We want readers to know that it is important to stay on top of the developing technologies that can drive progress and innovation. With 3-D printing and electric cars threatening the traditional gear manufacturing world, it is imperative that we stay ahead of competition.

Full disclosure? We are not here to tell you what is right for your business, but we want to provide you with the information to enable you and your team to make the right decisions on how to sift through the changing industry. Please join us on this journey and feel free to discuss, share and challenge our thoughts because that is what this is all about—starting a conversation. Gears are everywhere and in almost everything; they may not always be seen, but they sure do matter. 

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Gears Matter Blog
10th July 2018

THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A NONPROFIT BOARD MEMBER

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At some point you may consider joining the Board of a nonprofit organization with a mission you support. And, you should. With the help of board members, an association can benefit greatly from industry professionals who step up to give their perspective. While board service can be very rewarding to the person as well, it is important to understand a Board member’s responsibilities prior to joining.

The National Council of Nonprofits puts it best, “Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission.” The Council goes on to list the three most important duties of the nonprofit Board member as:

1) Duty of Care: Board members are expected to make careful and informed decisions on the use of the nonprofit’s assets. Assets include funds, facilities, people and good will. Board members need to stay informed by attending Board meetings, and actively participating in the nonprofit’s strategic direction and management.

2) Duty of Loyalty: Board members must make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit, and put the nonprofit’s wellbeing ahead of their own personal or professional interests. Board members must disclose any actual, or potential, conflicts of interest.

3) Duty of Obedience: Board members are required to know, and ensure the nonprofit’s compliance with, applicable federal and state law, IRS regulations, and the nonprofit’s bylaws. In addition, Board members should make sure that the nonprofit fulfills its mission.

Many people take great satisfaction from steering a nonprofit with a mission that is dear to their heart. But believing in the mission isn’t enough. Potential nonprofit Board members should know the hefty responsibilities of Board membership, and make an informed decision on whether they have the time and patience to serve.

This blog was written by Cindy Bennett, the Executive Director of the AGMA Foundation.

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Gears Matter Blog
26th June 2018

Diving Deep with Data-Driven Manufacturing

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Whether you produce spiral bevel gears for the automotive market or internal spur gears for aerospace applications, your machines produce much more than the parts you make for your customers. They also provide data that can be used in myriad ways, including streamlining production, gathering measurement data directly from the workpiece, and maintaining your valuable capital investment by helping avoid spindle or tooling failure.

After many years of developing and refining machine monitoring technologies, data-driven manufacturing represents the next logical step. In other words, we’ve learned how to gather all this valuable data, but how do we make use of it? Stated simply, data-driven manufacturing takes that information and plugs it back into the production system, or delivers it to the machine operator in a way that it can be utilized to make better parts faster, all while using everything from cutting tool chatter, to spindle vibrations, to workpiece measurements and cutting fluid temperatures to optimize production seamlessly. Condition monitoring produces data from various downstream points of concern and harnesses connectivity — in the form of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and content management systems (CMS) — to make it available to the system upstream so that corrections can be made and calamities avoided. These types of procedures are at the core of Industry 4.0, and beyond (see The Internet of Gears from a past issue of Gear Solutions magazine).

Here are just a few of the scenarios I’ve witnessed firsthand while visiting manufacturers around the country:

  • A manufacturer of large loose gears for mining applications purchased a massive new grinding machine, and was able to hand the machine’s controls over to the German-based tech during calibration;
  • A designer/manufacturer of spiral bevel gears for auto racing that depends on a “closed loop” system in order to meet its prescribed parameters quickly and easily;
  • Companies that have been able to introduce lights-out manufacturing thanks to condition monitoring technologies that shut down the machine when something goes amiss, like an unexpected problem inside the machine tool;
  • Alarm systems that alert operators to system failure at any time, day or night, by sending text alerts via computer, smartphone, portable tablet, etc.

We are at a convergence at which more condition monitoring data is available than ever before, we have the technology to be able to transmit that information directly to the point in the manufacturing process where it will be most useful, and we have greatly increased our understanding of the underlying causes of equipment, tooling, and material failure. Savvy manufacturers understand that a holistic view of each part of the system, as well as how each piece works together with all the rest, is central to achieving increased production, process flexibility, and a healthy flow of information across the workshop floor.

About the author: Russ Willcutt is contributing editor for Gear Solutions magazine (www.gearsolutions.com). He helped produce Modern Machine Shop and Production Manufacturing and has written for Cutting Tool Engineering.

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Gears Matter Blog
21st June 2018

Understanding the external influences of the market and commodities

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When it comes to today’s consumer market, it’s never very clear what commodities are doing and why. Why are oil prices falling when there is supposedly high demand and OPEC/Russia have agreed to a production freeze? Why are steel prices climbing even though there is ample supply? Unfortunately, our market is not always based on supply and demand, and that is what is happening right now.

Even though oil prices are up from last year they could be higher if the dollar was not as strong as it is today. Since commodities—oil, copper, nickel and so on—are priced in dollars, they are not only beholden to demand but also to the strength of the greenback. As the dollar goes, it will affect commodities too. Again, will it be the only driving force? No, but it can either hold the prices down based on strength, or like in 2008, when the dollar was very weak, we saw a mixture of demand and dollar weakness send oil up to $147 / barrel.

Sometimes politics can play havoc with pricing of certain items. As we saw at the AGMA Annual Meeting, steel is climbing in pricing because of tariffs placed on trading partners. Even though the tariffs were placed on a very small amount of importers (most of the large importers were exempted at first) the steel prices for hot band and cold rolled climbed anticipating more tariffs later. While these items are not always going to be hard fast rules, sometimes our capitalistic market place is guided by other factors. While there is absolutely no chance of really doing anything to change the items above, it is good to understand where it is coming from and why.

Christopher Porsch is the District Manager, USA-Central for Blaser Swisslube Inc.

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Gears Matter Blog
18th June 2018

Invest in Yourself and in turn Create Growth Opportunities: Part Two

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Part 1: Invest in your Employees, was for the management, but now it is the employees turn to learn some tips on how to invest in themselves. Some of you may be looking into moving up and becoming the ones who do the hiring or simply taking leadership roles within your company, which is why looking at what is best for you now can help with the Part 1 Blog of this information. Investing in yourself is a long-term plan so it is important to set goals for yourself. Goals help to keep you on the path to what you want to do. Now, there are many different paths that one can take but to have that goal will make your decisions easier and more fluid. For many people in the job market, in the beginning are thinking, what do we want to do? What is my goal? Where do I want to be in five years? How do I get there? All of these are important questions to know the answer to because if you do not know, how do you expect to tell your employers what you need to best perform your job and reach your goals?

In your job now, whether that be entry level or an internship: you are gaining the most knowledge because you are amongst your peers who are also gaining new skills and building momentum to move up the ladder into a leadership role. Observe your leadership now and your peers; the interaction between the groups and what leadership styles work and which may not work regarding communication, managing and flexibility. It is important to make observations on your way up the ladder. You already have a step up if you pay attention and recognize what trainings and/or activities that are done in your company and how employees on all levels approach and react to them. That is invaluable to your growth and life experience. As said in Part 1 of this blog, take every advantage you can that presents itself in your company. You will learn something that may not matter or click in that moment, but will make sense years later. It has been said that millennials value their job and are passionate about their work especially their work environment/culture. As they age up in the leadership roles it will be important to remember all the above and apply what you learned and observed here.

In many instances in one’s career, you may or may not have a leadership position to grow into and that is just fine. But by observing your surroundings now and taking those opportunities given to you whether that is further education/technical training, lunch and learns on various applicable subjects, participating in networking events, you are not only creating your opportunity to move up but rather you are gaining the knowledge and skills in how to become an effective and rounded out leader now and for the future. Investing in yourself opens many doors for you and those doors can be internal growth (expanding your horizon) and external growth (financial and promotions).

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