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Manufacturing as the “Giving Tree” – Phil Ruffy

Load-of-rubber rolls-Mitch and Phil

In this episode, we talk to Phil Ruffy, Value Stream Leader for one of the North American facilities of a $7 Billion / year Tier 1 supplier of wire and cable harnesses and connectors. This company is also known globally for its cutting-edge Continuous Improvement program and ability to rapidly bring new hires up to speed. Listen in as we discuss a wide range of topics from Engineering school to CI program impacts and what people graduating from college these days are looking for, and why manufacturing could very well be “The Giving Tree.”

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Show Notes

EPISODE TITLE: 10 – Manufacturing as the “Giving Tree” – Phil Ruffy


In this episode, we talk to Phil Ruffy, a Manufacturing Engineer in one of the North American facilities of a $7 Billion / year Tier 1 supplier of wire and cable harnesses and connectors. This company is also known globally for its cutting-edge Continuous Improvement program and ability to rapidly bring new hires up to speed. Listen in as we discuss a wide range of topics from Engineering school to CI program impacts and what people graduating from college these days are looking for, and why manufacturing could very well be “The Giving Tree.”

About our Guest Phil Ruffy: 

Phil graduated from the University of Connecticut’s College of Engineering with a B.S. in Management and Engineering for Manufacturing. Currently, Phil serves as a Value Stream Leader, for the cable and wire giant, Legrand North America. He oversees all aspects of SQDC for metallic raceway, plug mold, prewire, and the poles product lines. He also spent seven years at two other global leaders in Continuous Improvement, Jacobs Vehicle Systems “Jake-Brake” as Production Supervisor leading 50 UAW associates across three shifts, and right out of school he was a LEAN Specialist at HABCO Industries driving process and operational improvements with multifunctional teams. We are pleased to have someone representing the new, incoming talent in the Factory of the Future®..


Phil Ruffy – Jake Brake

[00:02:46] Okay. All right, fire it up. Welcome back to another episode of the Factory of the Future®.org podcast. I’m Mitch Kennedy, and with me today is Phil Ruffy. Hi Phil how are you doing?

[00:03:00] Phil: great.

Mitch: Phil, why don’t you give us a quick origin story on how you got started in manufacturing? And where you are now and that sort of thing.

 [00:03:08] Phil: Sure. Growing up, I had always been exposed to manufacturing. My uncle had a machine shop. He actually used to do a lot of work for Kaman Aerospace, prototype work. So I was always around machines and making stuff. And then when it came time to choose a career I went into engineering and specifically I went into manufacturing engineering because it was something that it was a lot more interesting to me to be on the floor and then work with the people than to just sit behind the desk and decide, a bracket for a helicopter or plane or something that, that didn’t really appeal to me as much. I wanted to be on the floor with the people, with the machines in the process.

[00:03:45] That’s really what appealed to me. So I went to UCONN and graduated from UCONN. I worked as a manufacturing engineer for the aerospace industry, in a small ground support and test equipment company in Glastonbury, Connecticut. I left, I went to [00:04:00] where I work now, which is Jacobs Vehicle systems, which is an automotive company, makers of the famous Jake brake, a company rooted in Lean.

[00:04:12] So I worked there two years, two years, a manufacturing engineer, I’m the production supervisor now. So I was promoted. So now I’ve worked in a few different areas of industry and then in manufacturing specifically. So I touched a few things and it’s been fun. It’s been fun so far.

[00:04:27] Mitch: Excellent. I like to hear stories like that because a lot of people listening and people in the general public, maybe don’t understand. You don’t have to, in order to have a job at manufacturing, you don’t have to sit at a machine turning a piece of metal. All right. And so we’ve talked to people in EHS and S which is environmental health and safety.

[00:04:45] We’ve talked to people in quality all sorts of different things, supply chain management. And so now I think you’re our first podcast guests to talk about lean on and actually beyond the management. For that sort of stuff. So this is going to be great. 

[00:04:56] Phil: Get to shoulder the burden for the whole profession.

[00:04:59] Mitch: That’s great. So that’s how you got started in manufacturing. What is it you like about making things, the idea of creating? 

[00:05:07] Phil: I think I think about this a lot and it’s the, it’s like the tangible seeing something from start to finish if you work in. Let’s say and not to pick on an industry, let’s say software development, right?

[00:05:18] You may see a small portion of what’s being developed. And at the end, you come out with a tangible product that you’re building and like maybe an operating system, whatever you come up with a tangible product. But like manufacturing is only industry where one of the only industries where you come out at the end of this process, this chunk of metal and it just changes.

[00:05:37] And at the end of it, you have something completely different, right? Just a chunk of nothing. You have a blade or a some widget and that’s always been really cool. And I’m this concept of just like shipping things. So one of my, one of my favorite experiences was just like, like the end of the month, like rolling stuff off the end of the dock into the truck and just like watching stuff go and just like that personal feeling of victory and just yeah, there’s a lot of different, like positive emotions, with the factory floors and it’s good. It’s good.

[00:06:05] Mitch: It’s it must be really fulfilling to have gone through that whole month, as you said. And then at the end of the month, you just, there, it goes out into the world. Yeah, no, that’s cool. When you were getting started with your professional career, did you do an apprenticeship program or internships? How did how’d you get into the factory? 

[00:06:24] Phil: Yeah, so no apprenticeships. I was an engineer. Degreed engineer. So I did internships. I worked yeah. And a lot of it is just who, and what you do. And then the other part of the internship is like different companies work differently.

[00:06:35] So there are larger organizations that have very structured internship programs. I was not in a very structured, any sort of very structured internship program, which was really good. I thought I got a lot more out of just I thought I got a lot more out of just Being able to work on different things all the time and make my own path.

[00:06:53] And I was very self-motivated to get in there and learn and do different things. Cause the work I started with originally was like quality rules. So it was a lot of doing radar in our studies and kind of internet work. You’re just crunching a lot of numbers and I didn’t really want to, I didn’t really want to do that for another summer.

[00:07:10] So I went back to the company the next summer and I was working in just like hops. Ops just worked for the plant manager and do just a process improvement, in turn, was the blanket term? So let’s title. Yeah, it was made up, so I was able to go it’s going around this kind of midsize company and dig around in different areas.

[00:07:28] And now it’s, that’s where I really started to get a passion for kind of lean and process improvement. I didn’t, I don’t think the quality is going to be my long-term. I tried it. It was fun, but it wasn’t really a. It wasn’t really for me, but it shows you have a lot of different facets and manufacturing, so there’s quality guys, manufacturing guys, there are different things.

[00:07:45] So you can find something that really suits you. 

[00:07:48] Mitch: Whatever your niche is. And I think a lot of people don’t necessarily know what they like or what they’re good at until they try things. The sector of industry where you can try a lot of things, [00:08:00] shift around and get internships 

[00:08:01] Phil: or whatever, and just yet even within the industry, there are different sectors, all operate differently. So what, so I’ve been medical devices, aerospace, and automotive so far and they’re all very different, so what’s what passes in automotive? Is not probably not going to pass in aerospace. There’s a different kinds of standards, which is fine, but you’re dealing with different costs, different price points, different I don’t know, I don’t want to say quality standards, but different kinds of quality expectations.

[00:08:30] If a truck part if there’s a failure on a truck part or some automotive, probably it’s probably not going to resolve fatalities. Whereas in aerospace, if you have like a flight component on a plane that fails, that could be a serious issue. And a regulatory perspective and just like a personal liability perspective. There’s a lot, there’s a lot more exposure, I think,, in aerospace and medical devices. And there isn’t say automotive, but all three are equally important industries. 

[00:08:55] Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I can’t think of anything.

[00:08:59] I get [00:09:00] medical that’s life it related to and so is there an aerospace and defense and there are just the tolerances and the crossing the 

[00:09:10] Phil: millions. Yeah. 

[00:09:10] Mitch: Yeah. That’s wild. Okay, cool. So how long have you been working in the industry? Would you say? 

[00:09:18] Phil: Probably.

[00:09:18] About eight years now, 

[00:09:20] Mitch: eight years, eight years. Cool. Very cool. Okay, cool. And just to wrap up that sort of topic of finding your niche what kind of advice would you give to young people that want to get into, or don’t even maybe know that they want to get into manufacturing and have a rewarding career?

[00:09:37] What should they try? Internships first, they get into a trade school or what it 

[00:09:43] Phil: depends on what your interests are really because there are so many different career paths now. So if you want to be and even just, even within that, there are so many different branches, if you want it to be in like a toolmaker you want to do work with machines or maybe like a tool dye maker, very specifically building things you’d need an [00:10:00] apprenticeship program would be the route there.

[00:10:01] If you want to be an engineer, you don’t necessarily have to go to college to become an engineer, but most, most of the time people are going to college or out, they go into the bachelor’s degree and taking internships during the. That seems to be the most common route and probably one of the best ways to get experience.

[00:10:17] And then if you just want to be in manufacturing, like running, operating equipment, most jobs there are entry-level positions where you can learn how to operate machines, but so there’s all different. Yeah. It’s all different levels of what you want to do. And then even if you look at that’s just like a call cork, core capabilities or a core Skillsets or competencies core competencies.

[00:10:40] Yeah. So outside of that, there’s all this kind of stuff on the periphery. So every facility, requires certain things in order to run, manufacturing, operations, and something to support it. So on top of like your operators, your toolmakers, your Engineers, all that there’s, your management team, there’s your HR professionals [00:11:00] your EHS team, your maintenance team.

[00:11:03] So you talk about like maintenance, mechanics, maintenance, maintenance, mechanics and maintenance, electricians. Like those are hugely in-demand roles because the equipment needs to be repaired. Equipment breaks a lot, equipment breaks a lot. And you could do, You could do things to improve your reliability, but at the end of the day, you do need your maintenance team to come out and work on this stuff and fix it.

[00:11:25] Yeah it’s why I feel like manufacturers kinda like the Giving Tree, there’s just so many different things that stem from it. I love that manufacturing 

[00:11:32] Mitch: is the 

[00:11:32] Phil: giving tree. That’s really cool. Yeah. It’s just so many different things that stem from maybe one single like manufacturing 

[00:11:39] Mitch: footprint.

[00:11:40] Yeah. 1, 1, 1. Sports, all these other 

[00:11:46] Phil: there’s room for it. There’s plenty of room for everyone to eat in there. 

[00:11:49] Mitch: That’s great. I love that. I’m going to that. That’s a, the t-shirt I’m sure a bumper sticker or something. So let’s focus on what’s going on with you in the [00:12:00] field you’re in now regards to maybe you could just give us an idea of what you do on a daily basis.

[00:12:06] What was your. 

[00:12:08] Phil: Okay. Yeah, it’s like a supervision supervisor role. A lot of it’s just the day-to-day. So I’d say the job is maybe 25% administrative stuff. Which is your routine, doing time cards. Okay. Yeah. Paperwork and handing out like discipline, that sort of thing. 

[00:12:23] Mitch: Is it all internet 

[00:12:24] Phil: based on cards or on an ADP?

[00:12:29] And we still, we still do have some manual systems, but it’s all, it’s like admin work, keeping the, keeping everything in line and keeping get people paid properly, making sure everything’s tied up on that. And then I’d say the other 25% or 25% would be. What I would call it just like standard work tasks, like leader standard work.

[00:12:45] So checking this, checking that and make sure this is going kind of day to day, like lists of tasks that I do daily to ensure that everything’s running smoothly, that the processes are being followed, that we’re, on, on production schedules. And then 50%, I’d say [00:13:00] about half my time in a week would be spent on just.

[00:13:04] Problem-solving process improvement investigating whatever needs to be investigated supporting continuous improvement activity, that, that sort of stuff. So that’s kinda how I try to structure my week now that doesn’t always happen. But I think flexibility is a great quality in a manufacturing professional, but 

[00:13:20] Mitch: so that’s one of the requirements of the 

[00:13:22] Phil: job being flexible with your scheduling is good.

[00:13:25] Or your expectations of scheduling. Yeah, definitely. So that’s kinda how I structure my days and weeks. So when you get to that 

[00:13:31] Mitch: 50%, which sounds like the fun part more or less always w give us an idea of one or two things you might do specifically in that 50% as a problem solving.

[00:13:41] What’s 

[00:13:41] Phil: a problem thing. So like problem-solving exercises it’s just a. Say we had a problem where we had a quality complaint from a customer. So it’s, getting our part back and going and looking at the process and they use, know, use tools like fishbone diagrams and five whys and all the kind of traditional problem [00:14:00] solving things to isolate, what could be the root cause of this problem.

[00:14:03] And then putting, getting together, brainstorming something that, that really effectively cuts that off. So you don’t have to deal with it. Ever again, the ideal situation for to fix a problem is something so it never recurs ever again. But I very much, don’t like to have to deal with the same thing, every other week, it’s the same thing I said, oh, I thought we fixed this last time.

[00:14:20] That’s really where that robust problem-solving kind of ideology comes into play and Just being methodical. It’s how you’re, how you’re piecing things together. And then the other kind of the other pieces is like highs, NS. So doing little Kaizen bursts are fully in a full week causing changes to processes or digging into one specific problem.

[00:14:37] They’re a little more depth. That’s really where that’s what’s in that bucket. 

[00:14:40] Mitch: Can you, for people who may not be familiar with the terminology or what it is, we’ll go into 

[00:14:45] Phil: Kaizen in a little bit more Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese term. Comes from the Toyota production system, which was created by Toyota who borrowed some kind of Henry Ford, [00:15:00] some American manufacturing con.

[00:15:01] Japan it up over 50 years and it became just a very robust manufacturing methodology. And then we borrowed it back in the eighties and nineties when we were falling behind. So one of the key kinds of fundamentals is Kaizen. So Kaizen is a word that means a positive change, right?

[00:15:16] So it’s a positive change. It’s like this gradual thing. So we have a problem rather than the kind of Western traditional way to solve a problem is saying, all right, we’re going to bring in the $30 million machine and we’re going to fix it. That’s gonna be it. And we’re gonna run this thing, like every single day, a hundred percent utilization.

[00:15:34] And if you don’t like, God, God help you. Japan their take on this was like, okay we have people and we have brainpower here, but we don’t actually have $30 million quick. Or space, like they were space confined over there. So they said, okay, we’re just going to use brain power here.

[00:15:49] We’re going to put, six or seven people in a team we’re going to throw them in a room for a week, are going to go out on the floor. We’re going to look at stuff. We’re just going to keep rapidly problem-solving. So part of this is trying something, moving on, [00:16:00] trying something, moving on, trying something, moving on, trying something.

[00:16:02] So you may be trying like five or six, six different kinds of iterations of a solution before, in a week. So there’s, it’s very, it’s, you’re under pressure to can rapidly move through this stuff. At the end of it, you come up with, or you come out with a solution that’s, maybe say you want it to be twice as good, or you said it really stretch, stretch goal.

[00:16:20] You want to be like, twice as efficient at the end, you either usually get close to that or even exceed that generally. But So it’s like a group problem solving with just the emphasis on trying it and moving, not really chalk boarding it out a lot and then thinking too much, just kinda let’s go out there.

[00:16:35] So I’ve been in Kaiser dance where we were laying out footprints with of like cardboard. Traditionally when you go to lay out a machine line, you’d get on AutoCAD and you can just cat it out and then you go to lay it out. It’s oh, that poles they’re like, oh, okay. So the Japanese responded to this and said, okay instead of doing that, let’s just cut these things out of cardboard.

[00:16:56] One-to-one Lam out little [00:17:00] cardboard machine lines and lay them out there. And I’ve seen some crazy hardboard cells. So when the Chena Jitsu guys, so these are the ex Toyota guys, the old Toyotas guys, they formed a consulting company called Chena Jitsu, shin Jitsu. And they.

[00:17:15] They do consult. Now they do Kaizen. They’ll come out to your site for a good fee and they’ll help you with you, help you with yeah, they get they demand a premium, these are the old heads. So they’ll come out to the site and help you with your activities. And they always want, they’re very fundamentally sound.

[00:17:31] They want let’s do cardboard. Let’s make this out of wood and see if it works. Let’s try this. So I’ve seen salt wholesales where they were just built up cardboard and they simulated the entire. Through the thing, to the point where they had like robot one robot to like person was like simulate it.

[00:17:49] And there was a laser marker that wasn’t there and they, someone had a laser warning normally, it’s, it was crazy. But what’s it like? And then in the end, it’ll work because you had tried 

[00:17:58] Mitch: it, you tried it all the way [00:18:00] through all the little details with the laser marker and everything.

[00:18:02] That’s a profound level of simulation. 

[00:18:04] Phil: It’s yeah, I think it’s more commonly referred to in America’s try storming. I think they’ll figure that out a lot. Try storming yet. Got to have our own word. I got it. Got it. That’s, that 

[00:18:15] Mitch: sounds like that’s, that can be really fun, but stressful also, 

[00:18:18] Phil: maybe in a good way, it’s good that it’s always like Kaizen weeks are always a stress pot, but as long as you’re moving towards a goal, everyone’s there.

[00:18:25] And at the end you get the payoff. Cause it’s just all that emotional investment time investment and leading, leading them is stressful. Being in them is stressful, but they’re good. It’s good. Good stress. Growth stress. 

[00:18:37] Mitch: So that sounds like for your organization right now, that’s one of the key things that you do to remain competitive and move forward.

[00:18:46] And, 

[00:18:46] Phil: It’s a combination. So I see where you’re going here. It’s a combination, so Kaizen very good way to improve your existing processes. To a point, right? You can’t always, you can’t always get that productivity [00:19:00] gap or that equality gap solved. This is why you do more and more cousins.

[00:19:04] The idea is not the kind of kill it in one, you do one, you chip a little bit off-chip, a little bit off-chip, a little bit off. But there is like increasing pressure and I think the increasing trend towards automated. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So if you look at competitive as cost competitive, as I get all that, Most of the times we’re dealing with, so like production times or cycle times we’re dealing with for maybe say like a machine housing is several minutes, right?

[00:19:27] So you’re talking about maybe three or four or five minutes for one machine. 

[00:19:32] Mitch: Okay. So let’s say your check, when you say cycle time, you’re talking about 

[00:19:35] Phil: taking something from all the time, how long the machine runs. And then. There’s a there’s, what’s called like a tack time, which is how fast you need to produce to meet your customer demands.

[00:19:44] So you take how much time you have in a day divided by them or parking you to make, and you design your processes below that line. And that’s right. If you get below that line, it’s just a good way of planning and structuring your processes. So that’s the other core fundamental of lean [00:20:00] manufacturing or Toyota production system.

[00:20:02] We’re not dealing with extremely short times for a lot of this stuff. Now, some things we’re talking about, I have, a 22-second tact time. Which is pretty fast. That’s pretty fast. And if you have six, eight, or nine operations to produce this. So say it’s a little part or like a solenoid or a, whatever, any sort of, little widget You have to think differently, right?

[00:20:21] Because even you could throw people at your problem, you could put labor in the cell and say each, each person’s just doing a third of the work, and that way you’re making the parts under your time. But where that starts to get you into trouble is when you have kind of fatigue factors and things like.

[00:20:35] People generally can’t operate at, 14, second kind of chunks. If you’re doing like, say you’re at doing three different things in 14 seconds like that’s a lot, that’s a lot to ask people. Yeah. And that’s where I think automation starts to become super powerful.

[00:20:48] So you have people doing tasks that are almost too quick or too strenuous for them to do. And, but you need to produce them at this level. The obvious solution, that is we can just automate that function. [00:21:00] And there’s, there’s a wide variety of reasons why you can, why you would choose to automate something outside of kind of cost or whatever.

[00:21:05] But I think there’s this misnomer that like the robots are coming to America to take all the jobs. Thank you for saying, I know Andrew Yang. That’s like his big, that’s like his big thing right now where his AI has gotten rid of all these manufacturing jobs and I get it right to some extent.

[00:21:19] I think that some of the lower, like lower, skilled jobs. Are going to be automated away. But if you look at manufacturing, there’s no like single cookie cutter, a solution to every single problem. And then the other thing to keep in mind is like for every automated system you have there you need like somebody to like work with it, to know how it’s tended and support it.

[00:21:43] So it’s really this transition from maybe like lower skill or like lower-skill jobs to maybe more sophisticated jobs or like better-paying jobs. So that’s how I like to look at automation instead of the scary, like the Terminator kind of future. I’m looking at it as more like people are going to [00:22:00] move is our skillsets or our like labor skill sets are going to move from lower to higher skill.

[00:22:05] Like people are, and there are people who are either going to go right there. Get the training or get the experience or work like most of our technicians right now, or like in-house or in, in-house grown. They trained, they train, they learn all this stuff here, so it’s not like they needed specific schooling to get leave and come back that much.

[00:22:22] It’s just the, it’s just, you need the attitude and the willingness to learn and then going and going out and working with the equipment and working through different problems. And that’s how they get the skill set. So it’s not even something where we have to send people out in mass because again, automated systems are mostly all different.

[00:22:37] Yeah. Yeah. But once you have experienced. Automation that translates, right? That’s a translatable skill. 

[00:22:44] Mitch: Yeah, that’s a good one too. I’m glad you brought that up about the robots aren’t going to take over. It’s been a theme in my interviews with these. I was telling you we’re doing positional interviews.

[00:22:54] Sure. And each person I’ve asked this basically said exactly the same thing and [00:23:00] wanting analogy was for facilities maintenance, 50 60 years ago you pro probably just needed a wrench and a screwdriver. Those were your main tools for maintaining machines. Maybe an oil can, whatever.

[00:23:10] Now you still need tools. It’s not like you got rid of the maintenance person. You’ve got ultrasonic leak detectors and varying measurements for vibration, and you’ve got infrared scanners. Yeah, all kinds of stuff. That’s just higher tech, but those are yours, your spanner wrench and your screwdriver now.

[00:23:26] Yeah, 

[00:23:27] Phil: Absolutely. And if you talk about just the equipment, whereas electrician, most electrical control systems, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, maybe more so old school was, it was like all relay control timing. Now it’s all PLC. It’s always, so you need, you need the computer skills to be able to work with PLC programming and all the products, which is pressure, switches, sensors, all that stuff you need that it’s just different.

[00:23:49] It’s a different game, 

[00:23:51] Mitch: right? It’s still manufacturing. It’s, there are still people. Another example of someone I was talking to saying we used to have this kind of task you were talking about is very [00:24:00] repetitive. There was a lot. People were getting injuries to their hands and because of the ergonomics, and so they decided to put a robot in to do the same task and it did it really well.

[00:24:11] But they found they needed someone to help load. The robot still had to do quality checks, sampling, and things. So they didn’t get rid of anybody. They just moved 

[00:24:19] Phil: to morale, but you haven’t heard anomic you have an ergonomic nightmare, right? That’s the thing you repetitive motion injuries at high, when you’re working at a high rate, you end up with a lot of a lot higher incidents of repetitive motion injuries.

[00:24:34] These are all contributing factors when you’re talking about automating or partially automating things away, or, say that. 

[00:24:39] Mitch: Yeah, we can pull, we can work here. Cut that one. 

[00:24:44] Phil: Let’s say it’s bad. 

[00:24:48] Mitch: I’ll take out, automate away 

[00:24:49] Phil: your sandwich, automating.

[00:24:54] Mitch: No problem. Positive

[00:24:55] So I’d like to touch on the concept of [00:25:00] data. And I know in the cornerstones of lean, there is data in. But I think what I know about is you gotta know what you’re measuring and what you want to measure and how you want it to come out before you start collecting the data. Otherwise, you’re just collecting data.

[00:25:17] And I think one of the things I’d really like you to, just to speak to, if you can, is when you’re bringing technology in for that sort of purpose, what is the process that you like to see? Or how’s it work at yours. As far as what? Let’s say for example you said tech time, right? And then you need, maybe you need something to know how you’re doing a tech time and you’re going to automate that process maybe with electronic eyes or whatever part counter.

[00:25:45] And you can collect some. And how do you know what’s the process you use to find the right data to collect, or, what do you, how do you not collect too much of the wrong kind of data? Like you don’t need necessarily need to know the [00:26:00] color of each part. You just need to know whether it’s a part or not.

[00:26:02] Phil: So I guess it’s a lot simpler than that. You think, at least in my industry, traceability is the big the big push. So like VDA there are requirements for what to VDA mediate is just the, it’s traceability it’s like an ISO almost, but it’s very it’s a lot more rigid.

[00:26:19] And it’s a lot more robust and it’s as it relates to kind of product traceability. So like down to the component. Okay. So if you’re looking at like widget X, you should be able to take a serial number off widget X, and it should be able to tell you, like, all of these lots went into this part.

[00:26:32] So that’s the big push right now. Get everything fully traceable down to the component level. So medical devices they’ve had this forever aerospace I’d imagine some something similar. So automotive is making that push now to. So a lot of the data you’re collecting is related to that serial number of that part.

[00:26:52] And it just follows it through. So a lot of the time this stuff answers itself. Like you want to know, like for park counters and stuff. Sure. Like how [00:27:00] many parts you’re making, that’s easy to, that’s probably, that’s a given, right? You remember running a machine 1, 2, 3, 4, that’s fine.

[00:27:07] A lot of it’s determined by kind of the design and the function of the parts. So if you have something that has a certain supposed to have a certain flow through it, and you’re going to record the test, result on that and log in to the seal number all the sort of different key characteristics you’re going to record those and then cause customers to like to see this stuff.

[00:27:25] If there’s an issue with a part, they say show me the data first. You’ll never be your fault. Yeah. 1, 2, 3, 4. And you say here’s 1, 2, 3, 4 it’s good. So it really, a lot of the time it’s taken care of. Now when it comes to more sophisticated testing, I, I can’t really speak to that.

[00:27:39] Okay. Because I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s, I’m sure there are methodologies of figuring out what you want to record. I know when you’re designing something new and testing something new, they tend to just record everything, and gather it. All right. Design designers just want to get it all, and they crunch it later.

[00:27:53] So 

[00:27:53] Mitch: in your shop, do you guys have I dunno you probably have an ERP system, right? Yep. Yep. Is it integrated with the machines so [00:28:00] that all the data of what the machines are getting picked up, pushes back to the ERP 

[00:28:05] Phil: he’s they call you in manufacturing execution systems. Now that’s a new idea.

[00:28:08] That’s MES system. So yeah, we’re actually working on Fenn ERP system and ERP is great for Yeah. Taking some, taking care of the kind of material planning requirements and stuff helping automate some of those functions, and doing a lot of the work on the back end. But ours is not connected to our machines.

[00:28:24] So what we are doing is we are integrating, we were just starting to integrate a MES system in our shop. So it’s like a tablet display. And this is part of the traceability push because this thing has a really good traceability map. This thing is capable of recording your punch into a workstation.

[00:28:39] You work, you complete parts. So it does that. So it is doing production recording and efficiencies, quality kind of tracking MRB transactions can be done through there. So it’s all a booster traceability, and it also reduces the work. Let’s say me doing my admin work. So instead of having to punch in, 50 or 60 of these production charts a day, or a lot of different areas, this thing just [00:29:00] monitors, keeps the production monitors the production.

[00:29:01] And it outputs that information to you. Just cool. 

[00:29:04] Mitch: Yeah, that is cool. And it comes directly from 

[00:29:06] Phil: little sheet. Yeah. You get machine output to it. So it knows when you’ve completed a site. Not always, but it’s flexible, right? Everything in manufacturing, it’s flexible. 

[00:29:13] Mitch: Do you are you involved in changing the machines over or do you have technicians to do 

[00:29:17] Phil: that?

[00:29:18] I don’t do anything specifically with the machines. But we do have set up men who do that. And I do have a technician that works on those. 

[00:29:24] Mitch: I’ve heard some of the legacy equipment that’s out there. Cool. Cool. 

[00:29:28] It’s 

[00:29:28] Phil: Yeah, it doesn’t communicate and communicate well, you need to actually hook up.

[00:29:31] Now you can’t get them to communicate, but you generally have to put on like a PLC add-on or something to signal it for you. But yeah we have equipment that’s from, and some equipment that’s from like the eighties or like old Matsuura machines. Okay. And they don’t, they don’t output singles like that, but all the modern equipment, you can get them.

[00:29:49] Yeah, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. Whatever 

[00:29:50] Mitch: happens. Yeah. That’s cool. That’s cool. So this is, this has been fabulous by the way you get the award for the best podcast or, yeah. [00:30:00] What let’s see. So I keep digging back into the technology question because I think in some cases, you can collect too much.

[00:30:12] Or the wrong kind of data. And are these systems any better than what was already in place via a paper-based or a, a visual-based system of some kind that actually is me writing on the board or me, throwing a ticket? Like the traveler, the paper traveler thing, where the travel that goes with the job and everyone signs off on it as you go, 

[00:30:32] Phil: oh, that’s still a thing though.

[00:30:33] That’s the paper traveler still follows the parts around still. Yeah. You’ve got all those. Oh, certainly because. Yeah, because at the end of the day, like visual management, right? So you have a bin of parts on the floor. You’re looking, you go over and look at it. You say I don’t know what that is.

[00:30:46] What is that? No, one’s 

[00:30:47] Mitch: no, one’s just got a barcode scanner. 

[00:30:49] Phil: Oh, the traveler. So goes on top of that thing, you still absolutely, you need that visual aspect because at the end of the day, like technology’s great. Eyeballs are also really good too, right? Because you could write, [00:31:00] this is going into the over overdoing it section where you say like you’re overdoing it the point where, okay.

[00:31:06] Yeah. You could grab the bin of parts. You could go get your barcode scanner to do, to figure out where it is. Or I could just look at the traveler on top of the parts and know exactly where I’m at within three seconds. That’s the idea, right? So you don’t want these, you don’t want these systems to be like a hindrance to, to normal, intuitive, everyday processes.

[00:31:23] And that’s the challenge, right? Cause there’s this like obsession with just going huge, it’s the Western thing. I think 

[00:31:29] Mitch: everything’s going to be digital. As long as you share your VR goggles, walking around, 

[00:31:33] Phil: I’m a big fan of kind of all that concept. But you have to, it has to make sense within the scope of your organization, like your operation.

[00:31:41] So if you’re, if you’re Tesla and you’re setting up a new facility, like sure, go all in man. Cause you’re agreeing with your Greenfield, nothing there. Yeah. Have you seen the Tesla facility? It’s all super robotic, everything, but that’s what they designed it to be. As older legacy organizations are growing up.

[00:31:59] It’s going to [00:32:00] be different. Everything’s flexible and manufacturing. 

[00:32:04] Mitch: Okay. Okay, cool. I like that. That’s I, especially what you said, like the Western obsession with, going big, buying the $30 million machine, as opposed to by some brainstorming time were a group for a week, 

[00:32:18] Phil: The other thing is sometimes you need that $30 million machine.

[00:32:22] You have a specialized applicant. Okay. Makes sense. This is the only machine I know there’s some company in Connecticut where they have like only one of three of these machines ever, that they do specialize somethings, okay. I get that. There are going to be times when you make large investments because you need to.

[00:32:37] But it’s this, I think it’s just having the first instinct to say oh, okay. Let’s just step back before we pull the trigger. And is there any other way we could do this? Let’s go and do it then, make it the second option instead of the first. 

[00:32:49] Mitch: And then the last question in line with that is obstacles or limitations.

[00:32:52] Holding people slash organizations slash manufacturing from wider or faster [00:33:00] tech adoption. 

[00:33:02] Phil: What do you. 

[00:33:02] Mitch: I know that’s the number one, one number one would be 

[00:33:04] Phil: capital money yet. It’s always right. 

[00:33:07] Mitch: There’s the capital, but I think there’s also to some degree maybe a stubbornness or resistance to change.

[00:33:12] Will you see this probably in your continuous improvement 

[00:33:15] Phil: work? So I thought, yeah, I kinda thought about it. Number one is always money, right? Money is the biggest roadblock for anything in manufacturing here. Cause it’s always this balance between we’re going to reinvest the CapEx. Are we going to keep that but clear that hurdle and as the cost for this stuff comes down that turtle is going to be lower and lower?

[00:33:31] The bar is going to be substantially less than it is right now or where it was even five years ago. So that’s one of them, I think. I think some of it is, I don’t want to say technological resistance, but maybe like training or generational gap. So the way I look at this is you have a population of people that work in your facility, right?

[00:33:49] A population. It could be anywhere from 20 to 60 years old. Okay. If you’re working with technology and you have regenerations in your facility, you’re going to have different [00:34:00] kinds of results with each of those. So I look at millennials and I say, oh, they’re probably getting, this is probably fine.

[00:34:05] You do a technological implementation there. They’re going to get it right easy. For the most part. And then you have maybe the baby boomers to be, somewhat less comfortable with it. And then you got. It was after that there older generation it’s just the older you get, there’s less comfortable with technology in general.

[00:34:21] Now I’ve been blown away before by people where they’re like, oh, I got this mic. All right. People always surprise you. But that’s I think the fear, right? Or there’s some fear of technology as you older in the workforce in manufacturing specifically, because if you look at other industries like it there are older people working in it.

[00:34:37] And they’re fine and they’re fine, right? They’re not afraid of technology cause that’s their day-to-day. But when you’ve been working in a facility for 30 years and you’ve seen it change so much, this just seems kinda oh, it’s the next big thing, right?

[00:34:50] Mitch: I think also a culture of change within an organization does a lot to help people to change.

[00:34:56] Yeah. 

[00:34:57] Phil: Yeah. It definitely does grease the skids. [00:35:00] Yeah. So yeah, those were the two things I was thinking about. And then Maybe the other thing was, it was barriers to why we’re not fully industry 4.0 yet. It’s just, yeah. Like anything, it takes time. There are some early adopters that come on and then there’s, it’s just like apprehension.

[00:35:15] Nobody wants to be the first mover here. Even though the benefits, the risk is low, right? If you think about it, the downside outside of like laying out this money and getting less return than you were expecting is pretty like. What’s the worst that happens? You have all this sensing equipment on your machines and a lot about your machines and maybe you’re not using using that data as effectively as you could, but, you’re definitely at a better place than you were.

[00:35:37] So it’s all balanced, 

[00:35:39] Mitch: I think. Also, there’s that old phrase. You don’t know what you don’t know. Yeah. And like you just said, even. We invest the money and we install the sensors and then we don’t properly use them. We’re still getting data until we know more. And that’s a benefit to everybody [00:36:00] for that single reason alone.

[00:36:02] It’s usually good to know more about how you’re making 

[00:36:04] Phil: things. Yeah. And there’s this whole movement of big data, right? You talk about big data in manufacturing. So I was reading some interesting stuff about it. Where, yeah, so you’re saying, oh, you used to be able to target what kind of data you’re collecting?

[00:36:15] Yeah. Big data says we’re not going to do that anymore. We’re just going to take huge datasets and just data, mine, them for what we need. So that kind of even takes the thought process out and lowers the barrier to entry. So instead of having to think through this whole thing as methodically, we can say like, all right, we’re just going to collect all the information off.

[00:36:33] And we’re going to use kind of data cubes or crunch, Aaron would be great for this. Cause she, she works in like she crunches all this stuff down and got mine out what we need and that, and visualize it too. You have programs like Tablo, that’ll just visualize you getting dashboards and things out of these huge datasets.

[00:36:51] Right? That’s the move. 

[00:36:52] Mitch: Yeah. 

[00:36:53] Phil: Yeah. That’s cool. Yeah. So it’s all kind, it’s all kind of meshing together out of all these things. All these kinds of like [00:37:00] different disciplines too are coming together at the same time. And once they all clicked together, it’s going to be something crazy. Yeah. 

[00:37:06] Mitch: Yeah. It’s going to be interesting.

[00:37:07] Phil: 4.0 yeah. Yeah. 

[00:37:09] Mitch: This has been fabulous. You’ve given us a lot of depth and you’ve been very clear and I think someone who’s just coming in will be able to listen to this and say that’s a pretty cool job. Maybe I want to do that. Yeah, sure. So I really appreciate your time. Oh yeah. And thank you so much for coming anytime.

[00:37:27] And. Yeah, we’ll keep in touch as we go forward. We’ll be posting this to the website and we’ll have a link to your company down there as well as anything else we’ve mentioned here in the podcast and as well as the transcription of the podcast itself. So people don’t have to listen if they don’t want to, they can just read it, know whatever works for everybody.

[00:37:47] All right. 

[00:37:49] Phil: Great. That was awesome. 

[00:37:50] Mitch: I enjoyed it. Thank you. All right. And that’s us signing off for another episode of Factory of the Future® thank you very much.[00:38:00] 

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