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    What the Heck is a Co-bot?

    The bogeyman of manufacturing is automation & robotics. You either love them or you really hate them. About half of the manufacturing employees in the world have heard how robots are going to take over the business and they will be out of a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. While some very dangerous or very difficult jobs may be taken over by robotics, for the most part the use of robotics in manufacturing is taking place alongside and with the help of their flesh & blood counterparts.

    Those interactions with co-bots, or robots working in cooperation with humanity, are providing some of the biggest improvements in manufacturing that we’ve seen in decades.

    Co-bots got their start about 20 years ago but they have only been commercially available for about 10 years.  They were invented originally in the 90s and some of the grants that went into researching them came from giant motor companies such as General Motors. They wanted robots that would work in collaboration with humans, helping them with lifting and other things.

    In the latter part of 1996, two people at Northwestern University came up with the cobots of today. GM called them IAD or intelligent Assist Device, but the Cobot term stuck and was more rapidly accepted.

    What are the Benefits of Co-bots?

    It’s a whole new world so far as the competition in manufacturing. With AI and Machine learning and many other things, falling behind your competition simply isn’t an option. It’s the fast and easy way to be out of business. Co-bots can help you to do more and do it more quickly. Simply stated they are the way to get ahead of the competition and stay there.

    They are suitable for small to midscale production and they offer you a far improved return on your initial investment. Co-bots also offer you a much safer work environment because they can do much of the difficult and dangerous work that you require completed.

    The other added benefit of co-bots is they still require engineering and tech support.  Many engineering jobs that seemed obsolete are now back in play so don’t neglect hardware engineering specialization. It’s back in vogue.

    Co-bots, no matter how you slice it, are the wave of the future. Companies need to take a hard look at what they have to offer. In manufacturing as in any other technology driven arena… you either ride the wave, or you sink.

    James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers.  Register to receive regular blog posts and industry specific articles at: http://eepurl.com/dtKsDL or visit at www.whmeanor.com



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    A Sustainability Problem in Manufacturing.

    If you work in an industrial capacity, especially if you work in manufacturing, there are a few things that you should worry about. Sustainability is a huge worry in any type of manufacturing these days, though IoT is helping a lot. Sustainability can be a difficult task for any manufacturing company due to operating challenges. However, it is still something that should try to be achieved. Different aspects of the business can affect sustainability such as energy efficiency, the role of the equipment, and even saving water. It doesn’t matter how well you are planning from an equipment standpoint, everything can be undone by bad operations and conversely, good operations and bad planning can also cause all your efforts to go awry.

    Whether you are a facilities manager or a backroom employee, there are plenty of instances of operations messing with the sustainability goals. There are times when this is unavoidable, for instance if production has to be ramped-up because of a spike or demand. Unfortunately, in a situation like that, it is unavoidable. You can be doing everything right and still have your sustainability efforts take a hit.

    Normally, the issue will have something to do with people taking shortcuts or changing things that they shouldn’t be changing. While these may seem obligatory on the surface, they can influence the underlined part of the process. For instance, they might affect your water bill or the electric bill. That can cause you an issue. It would be nice if there was an easy answer, but sustainability is an ongoing fight and in a lot of cases, it is a knock-out blow that puts them down for the count.

    You should never just throw up your hands because of sustainability as a challenge. You must ask yourself the hard questions; What caused the problem? When did it start? Who could have prevented this? Why did this happen? What can I do to fix it? Once you have answered these questions, you need to try to fix the issue. Sustainability can’t just be something that is ingrained in the culture of a company. If you are not consciously trying to improve, you will get left behind and that is not what anyone wants. Most people can also do amazing things if they have the proper training and techniques.

    James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers. Register to receive regular blog posts and industry specific articles at: http://eepurl.com/dtKsDL or visit at www.whmeanor.com


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    How to Handle Tough Interview Questions

    Be Prepared. It’s a tired old cliché in many cases but it works for more than just the Boy Scouts.
    Presumably, when you applied for the job, you actually wanted it. That means taking steps to anticipate and prepare for the questions that you may be asked is the best way to make sure that you have a good answer.

    Interviewers from top companies in the world stated that the key to making an impression on them was to be ready for the interview in every way.

    They said that they could always tell when a candidate had prepared themselves mentally for any eventuality. Those were invariably—according to them—the people who stood out and stood the best chance of a second interview.

    When candidates research and anticipate the most likely questions they will be asked and then research the answers to those questions they are well prepared to handle the interview gracefully.
    Preparing for the interview in such a way as to have concise, positive and very persuasive responses to the interview questions is the best way to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
    Most of the questions that you’ll be asked in any interview, from executive to manufacturing are going to be geared toward finding out more about the candidate. Companies want to know who you are, what motivates you and why you should be hired.

    Nearly every interviewer in the world is going to be focused on 3 points. Can this person do the job well? Will this person do the job well? Does this person fit into our company culture and with our other employees?

    To that end, some of the questions that you can anticipate are going to be tough questions designed to give your interviewer the answer to those three points.

    The first interview there are are going to be tough questions asked –mainly about your skills and about you and you need to be very at ease with those subjects in a way that many candidates are not.
    Really sit down and ask yourself hard questions about the job and why you think it’s a good fit for you. Err on the side of caution if you must but ask yourself what skills will serve you best in this job, what you bring to the table and what will make you the best fit. Why should the job go to you?

    What makes you a good fit? Know your skills intimately. Most of us know what we can do and we tend to be more critical than we are aware of our going points. To come out on top of an executive interview you’re going to need to be both.
    Don’t just state that specific skill but be prepared to give examples of it from work or home or a volunteer job. The best responses that you can give include when you had to use a given skill. An example might be ” I can think on my feet” and then give an example of when that was necessary and how the situation played out so that the interviewer can see where your ability benefited you or your job.

    Critique your own performance if you must but be sure that you allow yourself credit where it’s due. Answer the questions that you are asked truthfully and fully, giving them insights into what does make you the person who till take their company to new heights.

    What are the most commonly asked questions at executive interviews? If you’re going for an executive job in the medical field, research the most commonly asked questions about that arena and then prepare your responses so that you know what they will be long before the questions are asked.

  • What the low unemployment rate and high growth means to your talent strategy?:

    With unemployment rates lower than they have been in years, there are some real down sides for employers. Notably the pool of available talent is smaller than it has been in nearly a decade.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In January, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the fourth consecutive month. The number of unemployed persons, at 6.7 million, changed little over the month.”

    By way of comparison, in 2014, more than 1.5 million jobs were created, the largest gain to be seen in the past 8 years. With so many new jobs and far fewer people scrambling to take the small menial jobs, there are plenty of people looking for a step up. Fast forward 3 years and in 2017 the number of jobs created was even higher, and with far fewer people being displaced than have been in the past 5 years.

    What that boils down to is that far fewer people are losing their jobs. Too, far fewer people are seeking new jobs. Many are happy and staying in their jobs and since tney are not being displaced, that means recruiting talent is a whole lot harder than ever before.

    How can we attract and engage the people that we’d like to add to our pool of talent? It’s going to take a bit more than just adding that extra 20 cents an hour at this point. It is, as the recruiters say, a candidates market and they are taking advantage of it to ask for the things that they want.

    Employers now have to take a hard look at adding things like relocation package for the employee who has a special skill set that could be useful anywhere. Getting them on board will be rough enough on a regular day but if you are talking about having them relocate in order to get them into the new job, then funding that move may be necessary in this market place.

    Paying on a scale that is commensurate with their skills and experience is going to be an absolute necessity. If you don’t they will find someone who will and that leaves your company behind the 8 ball.

    Pay is not the only the factor as on boarding has to be on point too.  It will be imperative to not only make the role well compensated but a situation and an environment in which people want to work.

    In addition, find engagement tactics that will compel your talent and keep them on board as well as engaged until you are able to negotiate a good package deal for them all. The advantage of having your preferred recruiter involved is that they can do the heavy lifting and get the dirty work done so that you can keep clean, so to speak.

    Hiring the right people is imperative in this day and age. Get creative &  make it happen more easily by adding some perks to the package.

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    Job market is tight – How to stand out

    The job market has tightened up and it’s among the best that has been seen in years.  The 2017 Regional Hiring Report, undertaken by Execu|Search Group shows that the job market is markedly improved and that employees finally are beginning to get the upper hand in the job search.

    If you’re looking for the best job that you can get, it’s still going to be helpful for you to determine what the employer is looking for in order for you to pinpoint the best way to meet their needs and nail down that new job—or—in the case of the recruiter, to give them the best candidate that you can?

    Every employer is looking for a quality and qualified candidate, that’s a given. Since we already know that, make it simpler for them to find the person they want.

    • Network broadly and make friends in the areas in which you want to work. If you’re an independent, work with a recruiter that is well known for their quality candidates and positive search completion.
    • Do your best to ensure that the resume and online profile you are using gives the employer the exact skills and results that were achieved in the current job.
    • Showcase your skills with real and tangible examples of the work by describing what may have been done and what the outcome was on the job.

    Execu|Search’s report also said that employers plan on working harder on employee retention in the immediate future. That means that the employee really is holding the upper hand so far as getting and keeping a job. Manufacturing Recruiters and employees can benefit from this in multiple ways.

    Aim for 2-3 or more prospects at the same time. Since attaining a strong candidate and retaining them is a big issue for employers, don’t focus on simply one employment position. Really look over what the possibilities are and how you can leverage your skills for a better salary or employment package.

    Keep in mind during all of this  that job searches and job attainment is about personalities and best fits so make sure that you’re a good fit for the positions that you are entertaining  as well as a good fit for the company.

    Be friendly and open minded. It’s not about being best buddies with the recruiter or the employer but people do tend to hire those with whom they want to work and with whom they have a good relationship. Try to be that person if you can.

    If you are an employer facing these issues of and need to attract & retain top talent or you are looking for that next career opportunity, we will assist.  Schedule a 15-minute triage call today and discuss what can be done to take you to that next level. https://whmeanorassociates.acuityscheduling.com/

    James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers.  He can be reached at: jms@whmeanor.com or 704-372-7640 #102 or visit at www.whmeanor.com




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    the Changing Face of Manufacturing

    About two decades ago many larger companies began to move outward, taking their businesses with them and in so doing, damaging the face of America in many ways. The situation today is very different from that even scant ten years ago when those who had not moved out to put their manufacturing plants offshore, were in the process of offshoring. Today, given the many changes, it appears that many of the companies who moved just 10-15 years ago are now considering reshoring, or near shoring and many have already done so.


    There are many reasons for these moves from higher shipping costs, rising wage and production costs in off shore locations to increased efficiency through technology and other such advances. This all means that the cost of manufacturing and operations in the home factories is also lower.


    Today we’re seeing many companies moving their businesses back home as well as changing what they do in the face of massive changes in technology. The technological changes that are taking place include:

    Improved IoT providing for better and faster movement inside the factory as well as the ability to change things inside the factory from miles away. It also allows us to be fully automated. PLCs are available that can change and correct problems prior to their actually taking place, allowing for better maintenance and better flow in the factory and on the factory floor. This saves money for the manufacturing company and allows them to have fewer employees, as well as to have a more streamlined business that can be run in a much smaller space.


    In addition to this, advances in robotics are helping everyone to move products to market more quickly and easily. Robotics are now helping in the warehouses of manufacturing companies while also helping to move the products to the stores. Just a few months ago a fully automated truck drove products to the market place several hundred miles away in a test that changed the face of warehousing, logistics and supply quite fully.


    As advances in technology and lower prices in warehousing, logistics and supply and the factory automation continues to change the face of manufacturing it will provide for the return of many companies to the United States where prior to now they were unable to be as profitable here as they were in offshore areas.


    This is of course the positive news there are however hurdles and headaches that come with these moves.  This is proving to be the largest obstacle and it is talent shortage.  We will be addressing this issue in our next article as well as what steps can be taken to mitigate these issues.


    If you are an employer facing these issues of and need to attract & retain top talent or you are looking for that next career opportunity, we will assist.  Schedule a 15-minute triage call today and discuss what can be done to take you to that next level. https://whmeanorassociates.acuityscheduling.com/


    James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers.  He can be reached at: jms@whmeanor.com or 704-372-7640 #102 or visit at www.whmeanor.com