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The Bright Future for Veterans

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By: David Johnston, Manufacturing Manager Metal Supply at Arconic

Every day thousands of veterans retire from the military, struggling to match their passion with their next career move. Many don’t fully recognize that the skills they have honed, the experiences they’ve had and the values they’ve lived during their service are those that can translate extremely well to manufacturing careers. Smart hiring managers are the ones that commit time and resources to hiring and advancing veterans in the workplace because they recognize the unique assets we veterans offer.

While we know firsthand what our military brothers and sisters are capable of and how valuable their insights are, helping America’s military veterans transition into manufacturing is easier said than done.  By working together throughout the manufacturing supply chain to develop a strong network of veteran ambassadors who can lead the charge, we can make a compelling case that attracts the best and brightest veteran talent to a wide range of manufacturing jobs.

As veteran ambassadors, we each play a critical role that positively impacts the lives of other veterans. Today, The Manufacturing Institute and Arconic Foundation released a video that highlights the value veterans bring to the manufacturing workforce, and encourages veterans to explore the career options available in manufacturing. The video shows a real, tangible example of Arconic’s veterans resource group at work, helping our employees adjust to civilian life, and ultimately, finding a home at Arconic.

At Arconic, we are committed to helping veterans prepare for success in their civilian careers; we are present across the US at military recruiting fairs and transitioning summits; we direct support to military spouses; make available community volunteering opportunities that extend veterans’ service into their communities; and engage newly hired vets in special onboarding experiences. Our aim is to make the best possible use of their skills, and create an environment of inclusivity. The company supports an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for veterans – and non-veteran allies — at our locations around the world. In military terms, the Veterans ERG is a “force multiplier” for Arconic.

Leadership. Team deployment. Project management. Supply chain expertise. Technical and engineering skills. Loyalty. Goal orientation. These are just some of the skills that are unique to veterans, and highly valuable in today’s advanced manufacturing environment.  With the right support and knowledge of what veterans bring to the table, American manufacturing stands to gain so much from these individuals in their post-military careers.

Boots Are Boots

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By, Diane Wilhelm, Chief Engineer Advanced Manufacturing, Harley-Davidson Motor Company 

As a West Point grad in the early years of integrating women and serving in the U.S. Army for 12 years, I often reflect on my military roots and the foundation that the military has provided me for success in my manufacturing career.   My transition from Army boots to Steel-Toe boots was not without challenges.

As young Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division, I was elated to have the opportunity for my platoon to support one of the combat brigades in an upcoming FTX (Field Training Exercise).  I reported to the prep meeting and realized that I was the only female in the room.  Half way through the meeting the Colonel noticed me, stopped the meeting and asked why I was there. I responded, “I am your Military Police support, Sir.” He shook his head negatively.  Everyone in the room stared at me; but I stayed and they continued the meeting.

Afterward, I waited until most had left and approached the Colonel.  I told him that I had the best platoon in the company and that we would not fail him.  I told him that if he didn’t agree that I and my platoon were the best, I’d never again set foot in his area.  I asked for him to give me the shot, unless he was concerned about a female making other men look bad.    He stared at me for a long time before answering, “Lieutenant, you’re in.” From that moment on, my platoon shined and he asked for me by name.

For women in non-traditional career fields, I sum this up into one mantra, “Show No Fear!”

As a new Maintenance Engineer/ Supervisor for a major automotive company, I noticed a large, colored paper sticking out from underneath a stack of newspapers when I entered the Pipefitter’s break area.  Making small talk, I purposely picked up the newspaper exposing the large paper that had 30 blocks drawn on it, almost all of them colored in with red or blue; some had both.  The men fell silent.  I picked up the colored paper and asked “What is this?”  After a lengthy pause, the Millwright replied, “It’s a pool.”  “About what?” I probed.  The men started to squirm.  The same Millwright answered, “It’s a pool about you. Blue indicates when you will cry and red is when you will quit.”   I was stunned!  The tradesmen all stared at me.  I looked back at the paper and realized that my peer supervisors had bought blocks too.

I had a choice. I took out my wallet, “how much to get in?”  He answered “5 bucks.”  I gave him 10 and told him to mark me down for NEVER on both! I won of course, and donated the money to the department holiday meal fund.

You cannot always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. #ShowNoFear #BootsAreBoots

Why hiring veterans could solve the skills gap

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By, John Buckley, manager of military relations at Koch Industries

I served more than 30 years in the Army, with tours of duty from Bosnia to Iraq. But perhaps my biggest test of all came when I returned home: transitioning to the private sector.

Millions of veteran service members face the same challenge every day, with another million troops returning to the private sector over the next five years. It is also a tremendous opportunity—both for those who honorably served and for a grateful nation. As the manager of military relations for Koch Industries—one of the largest manufacturers in the United States—I see firsthand the value of recruiting and retaining employees who have served.

Almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, but the vast skills gap means that roughly two million of these positions will stay vacant, according to a study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. These open roles mean decreased productivity, lower earnings and a reduced GDP, as well as less innovation and flourishing in society.

Companies and entire industries are losing embedded institutional knowledge as an entire generation retires. As technical education offerings decline in public schools, we may have new workers who may lack the skills necessary to do these jobs.

But there’s hope. It is no coincidence that employers of military veterans, including Koch, have found that the traits which define the men and women who served our nation—character, dedication, perseverance and courage—match those of our most successful employees.

At Koch, we educate both business leaders—on understanding military culture and its applications in our daily business—and employed veterans—on how to recruit more quality talent. We recognize that only about 7 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. As such, we take great care to bridge the gap between employees with different experiences and skill sets. We hold a monthly Skype session with veterans, and our military careers website features helpful tips on searching for jobs, writing a resume, and preparing for interviews. Our website devotes a section to veteran recruiting, including a guide to managing the transition to civilian life. The results are undeniable: For the last two years, we have increased our protected veteran hires by an average of 30 percent each year, and Koch has received six awards from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program, for providing a supportive workplace for employees who served.

Adaptable, accountable and focused on compliance, veterans have years of skills, knowledge and leadership under their belt—important assets for any line of work, but especially manufacturing. When we hire veterans at Koch, we know that we are getting individuals with a proven track record of making their team—and their country—even better.

John Buckley is manager of military relations at Koch Industries. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel who commanded Soldiers in combat and peacekeeping operations, and contributed to the strategic and operational planning of multiple operations. 

Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap

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By Chris Muhlenkamp, Allegion Senior Vice President of Global Operations & Integrated Supply Chain

October marks Manufacturing Month, an opportunity for manufacturers across the country to highlight modern-day manufacturing, the many diverse sectors within our industry and the opportunities and challenges we’re facing. With a widening manufacturing skills gap, it’s more important than ever that we use this month’s momentum to continue pushing for recognition of our vibrant industry in 2018 and beyond.

Consider this: Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute recently reported that, over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. However, in that same report, it’s predicted that nearly 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled because of the growing manufacturing skills gap. Linked to a lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers and fueled by a decline of technical education programs in high schools, closing the skills gap is imperative to the success of manufacturing in the United States and millions of American workers.

As someone who has worked in the manufacturing industry for 40 years, I believe manufacturing has a bright future. Manufacturers are innovators, and we continue to see the invention of new technologies and processes that result in shorter delivery cycle times and higher-quality products for our customers. As a result, it is critical to have employees who have the desire, knowledge, expertise and capability to run, manage and maintain such investments.

Informing and inspiring the next generation of manufacturers will require a good deal of work within our communities, but it’s a worthy cause. At Allegion, we’re committed to investing in our manufacturing processes and equipment, our people and the communities in which we work to further advance the manufacturing competency.

However, to get to where we want to be, we also need government leaders at all levels to work with us, prioritizing more resources in STEM education and supporting initiatives such as trade apprenticeships and tuition reimbursement programs. Manufacturing Month only underscores the need for our nation’s leaders to continue delivering on manufacturing priorities to boost the economy and bolster our workforce. Together, we can combat the skills gap and invest in the future of the country’s workforce and the communities we serve.

The Business Imperative to Tackle Sustainability Now

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By Cristian Barcan
Vice President of Sustainability and Industry Affairs, The Vinyl Institute
Executive Director, Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council

Proven support of sustainable development is the new business imperative. And it’s not just about being an environmentally responsible company, but also considering the social and economic impacts of your decisions on the communities in which you live and work and across your entire supply chain.

Indeed, a recent Unilever survey found that one-third of consumers today are making purchase decisions based on a company’s environmental and social impact. The company surveyed 20,000 adults across five countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.

Need more proof that you need to embed sustainability? It’s not just consumers asking. Stakeholders and financial markets are asking questions about a wide range of non-financial business drives (e.g., human rights, labor rights, anti-corruption) and looking for this information to be included in annual reports. Moreover, there is a growing list of exchanges that have adopted environmental, social and governance disclosure rules.

Companies must not only embrace the idea of sustainability, but also walk the walk.

Your sustainability journey starts with data.

When it comes to your business, you may think you know what people care about. You might have innovated on the factory floor to mitigate chemical emissions or invested in more sustainable product packaging. Perhaps you have a carpooling initiative or a telework policy to reduce your company’s transportation footprint. You’ve written the story on your blog, put out a press release and maybe even gotten some publicity for your efforts. All good. But what if people don’t care about your employees’ commuting habits but are really concerned about how much oil and gas you’re using shipping products to market?

You have to know what your key stakeholders really want.

Every business operates with a certain amount of anecdotal knowledge. To take your business down a truly sustainable pathway, you need to move from “how do you know” to “here’s how we know.” You need the proof points. You need to undertake a materiality assessment.

The importance of mapping hotspots.

A materiality study is a process for obtaining an overall snapshot of how your company or industry is doing in the environmental, social and economic spheres—and where it could do better. The aim of such a study is to identify the “hotspots,” changes (e.g., emissions, wastewater use) you can put in place quickly to have the biggest immediate payback.

Step 1 in a materiality assessment is to identify the major categories of importance to your company. Think of it as a spreadsheet with columns for the major steps in your supply chain and rows broken down by category. Step 2 is research. This research should start with a literature review to understand what has been published or said about you by your many stakeholders. As you do this, you can start to count the number of times that people focused on “emissions to air,” for example, versus “water use.” Following the literature review, it’s important to interview key internal and external stakeholders to get fresh insights into how different audiences perceive your business and to test your hotspot assumptions against the literature review and what others tell you does and does not matter to them.

Your materiality assessment will give you the data your company needs to make informed decisions about how to prioritize your sustainability efforts.

Led by the Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council (VBSC), the vinyl industry is undertaking its first materiality study. Because it’s an industry-wide initiative rather than a company-specific one, our materiality assessment will include information across nine distinct market segments. The VBSC is hoping to have preliminary results this fall and a clearer picture of our hotspots and where to focus next.

Infrastructure: But How Do We Pay for It?

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Written by Fluor Chairman and CEO/NAM Board of Directors Vice Chair David Seaton.

There is widespread consensus that America’s infrastructure needs help. It ranks 11th in the world, and the American Society of Civil Engineers has repeatedly graded it a D+.

As noted in the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Building to Wininfrastructure plan, “Without immediate action on the infrastructure crisis, the United States will lose more than 2.5 million jobs by 2025 and more than 5.8 million by 2040.” We have a big job ahead of us; the estimated funding needs exceed $1 trillion. So how do we pay for it? Read More

Manufacturers Are Only as Strong as American Infrastructure

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Blog written by Barry Pennypacker, President and CEO of The Manitowoc Company, Inc.

At Manitowoc’s crane manufacturing facility in Shady Gove, Pennsylvania, countless truckloads of material come in and out our facility every day. Interstate I-81 is a central outlet for those trucks, and any problem with that highway is a problem for our business, our customers and our workers.

And I-81 has problems. Read More

Sustainability: Central to Covestro Innovation

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This guest blog post is authored by Rebecca Lucore, head of CSR and sustainability, Covestro LLC.

At Covestro, we think of ourselves as the “new-old company.”

Formerly Bayer MaterialScience, Covestro was “reborn” in the fall of 2015 as its own, independent entity. Being independent means we can chart our own course—one that’s fully embedding sustainability into the heart of our business strategy.

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In July 2016, Solar Impulse completed the first solar-powered flight around the world without a single drop of fossil fuel. As an official partner, Covestro supported the project with its advanced materials and technical expertise.

As an innovative producer of advanced materials, it’s true our products enable other industries to make more energy-efficient products. In fact, this past summer, our ultra-lightweight coatings, polycarbonate and polyurethanes propelled the groundbreaking Solar Impulse—the world’s first 100 percent solar-powered aircraft—to complete its historic flight around the world without using a single drop of fossil fuel.

Solar Impulse was a virtual flying laboratory for clean technologies and material innovations. The cockpit featured our adhesives and coatings, as well as our polyurethane foam, which provided the insulation that kept the pilot safe and comfortable in wide-ranging temperatures. This highly efficient insulating foam, which saves 70 times more energy than is used to make it, is now being used in modern refrigerators. The plane’s polycarbonate windshield was another real energy saver, which is why the auto industry uses it in cars and trucks, understanding that the lighter the weight, the more fuel efficient the vehicle.

We know the manufacturing process behind these materials requires a lot of energy, so we’re continuously developing processes and solutions that reduce our energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Going forward, four-fifths of our research and development will be dedicated to delivering sustainable solutions through our products and processes, and these projects will be tied directly to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations Global Compact, which we’ve signed on to.

But this isn’t just about the future. We’ve already made real progress. Read More

Sustainability in the Fabric of our Family Business

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

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By Mariel McAllister, Director of Public Relations, Leigh Fibers, Inc.

Leigh Fibers, based in Wellford, S.C., is a nearly 100-year-old family-owned business that uses sustainable product engineering to create branded products and specialty fibers that provide unique solutions to specific problems. Sustainability is literally embedded in the fabric of what we do every day. It is what has allowed us to be in business for generations, providing high-value products to consumers and serving as a bedrock of the Wellford community.

The company’s strong commitment to providing sustainable products and solutions led to its acquisition of ICE Recycling in 2014. ICE recycling2reprocesses post-industrial polymers, cardboard, paper and metals for companies throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. With the acquisition of ICE, we are able to serve as a sustainability force-multiplier by helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals. The company provides full zero to landfill services or individual waste stream management utilizing both on-site waste-stream management as well as off-site reprocessing services. In late 2015, SmartVista, a third sister company was founded to aid in the company’s commitment to providing technical and sustainable solutions for a diverse range of industries.

While Leigh has been in business for nearly a century, there are still hurdles to overcome in the recycling market. Leigh strives to educate manufacturers around the world about their waste and the value it would serve to a diverse range of end users. The company drives value through the entire process to benefit the waste generator in addition to the end user. Since the decline in commodity prices over the past few years, Leigh Fibers and ICE Recycling have the unique challenge of educating end users of the benefits they gain from using recycled materials. For our customers who decide to use recycled materials, we help them limit their environmental footprint, while still offering a quality product.

recycling1Leigh and ICE have built a unique infrastructure for handling waste streams that includes initial segregation of the waste, size reduction, repurposing and consolidation. Not only is Leigh the largest textile recycler in North America, but the company is seen as a solution provider among their suppliers and customers. Leigh Fibers offers guidance to their suppliers regarding equipment, packaging and recycling solutions, while ICE Recycling offers a turn-key recycling solution for industrial facilities that want to generate value from their waste streams or those committed to being land fill free.

Leigh Fibers was built on a foundation of providing sustainable solutions and products, which has allowed the company to divert more than 700 million tons of textile waste and byproducts from landfills over the past century.