Manufacturing Stories 2018

As the year draws to a close, we always like to take a look back on the events and people that made a difference in manufacturing throughout the past 12 months. We celebrate successes (Manufacturing Day 2018 was the biggest yet) and look at ways to overcome challenges, whether it’s maintaining growth or competing more effectively overseas. We also like to take a look at what interested you, our readers, the most on our blog.

Our Top 5 Most Read Blogs of 2018

1. The Role of Smart Sensors in Manufacturing

Sensors are not new to the manufacturing world, but their use was limited. That’s all changed thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), which has turned them into remarkably small and flexible smart sensors. These newer micro-driven smart sensors now include features such as communication capabilities and on-board diagnostics that provide information to a monitoring system and/or operator, increasing operational efficiency and reducing maintenance costs. Three key benefits explored in this blog include:

  • Monitoring equipment and environmental conditions

  • Improving and automating logistics and asset management

  • Controlling energy costs and meeting regulatory requirements of each industry

Read the full blog here.

2. Capturing Employee Tribal Knowledge—Before it’s Too Late

By 2025, nearly 25% of the United States population will be 60 years of age or older, and manufacturers will be losing a great deal of workers to retirement. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of talent waiting in the wings, meaning older employees will be leaving without having the opportunity to pass their valuable knowledge down to the next generation of workers (they’re prone to keeping knowledge in their head, not in computers or on paper). This blog explored how tribal knowledge helps manufacturers maintain competitive advantage while driving innovation and teaching the next generation. It also delved into ways to identify knowledge gatekeepers, why manufacturers should expect some resistance in knowledge documentation, and how to overcome that.

Read the full blog here.

3. How Good Job Descriptions Help Manufacturers Attract Skilled Employees

Who wants to waste time interviewing under- or over-qualified employees—or worse yet, hire one of them resulting in an unhappy or overwhelmed employee? This blog explored the ways manufacturers can develop good job descriptions in order to attract the ideal candidates. Our “Eight Ways to Engage” included:

  • One size should not fit all, i.e. write specific job descriptions for specific jobs; too many manufacturers advertise that “all experience levels” are welcome resulting in wasted time.

  • Defining a “Day in the Life,” so potential employees know what to expect if they are brought aboard.

  • Highlighting workplace culture to share the value of the company and its people.

Read the full blog here.

4. How Virtual Reality is Changing the Manufacturing Game

It’s no longer just for gaming! This blog explored the ways virtual reality, or VR, is shaking things up within a variety of industries, and how it may be able to improve manufacturers in the (very near) future. Through VR, manufacturers can:

  • Improve worker safety by allowing plant managers to simulate production processes and assembly line configurations virtually, identifying potentially dangerous situations before they’re truly performed

  • Create better products by allowing workers and engineers to “see” the proper parts and instructions for how to assemble a particular component correctly (Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Company, and Boeing have already embraced the technique)

  • Save money by creating virtual prototypes before actuals, eliminating the need to build full-scale models requiring testing and re-testing.

Read the full blog here.

5. The Drive Toward Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 65% of manufacturers plan to increase their spending in the coming years, and most of it will be going toward revamping facilities to meet the demands of today’s digital world. And while digitization helps manufacturers get more out of their machines and materials, the real driving forces remain these three factors:

  • Customers—Keeping up with shorter product life cycles and reducing effort so customers can get what they want, when they want it—faster and more efficiently.

  • Employees—Breaking down information barriers and departmentalized thinking to keep employees connected, leading to better job satisfaction and retention.

  • Suppliers—Staying agile, resilient, and responsive to customer needs by improving procurement, transparency, and analytics.

Read the full blog here.

Here Are the Five Honorable Mentions:

Cybersecurity for Manufacturers: 8 Ways to Prevent Attacks

The past few years have been widely considered the worst years ever for data breaches, and cyberattacks against manufacturers nearly doubled. This blog explored how to manufacturers can protect and secure their company. Read more here.

The 3 Biggest Myths About Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing

Robotics have changed a lot since first hitting factory floors in the 1960s. And frankly, they’ve got some people concerned. This blog delved into, and debunked, 3 common myths: that all robots are expensive, complicated, and taking jobs. Read more here.

California Aims to Put an End to Workplace Harassment

Recent scandals have harassment top of mind, and new legislation in the Golden State has manufacturers wondering how they can protect themselves and how to be compliant. Learn more here.

Six Industries Benefiting from Additive Manufacturing

Also known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing is changing the face of the industry. This blog looks at six industries where it’s really making a difference: aerospace, automotive, consumer products, energy, infrastructure, and medical. Read more here.

Resources Available to Help Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers

Help is out there is you know where to look! This blog provides valuable information and contact details for, Manufacturing USA, MEP National Network, MForesight, National Robotics Initiative, SelectUSA, and more. Read more here.

We appreciate all of the readers of and subscribers to our blog, and we promise to keep you informed on topics important to you in the future and up-to-date on the latest industry developments. Here’s to more great reads in 2019!

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