Be a change agent to win the manufacturing game

These are interesting times we live in. Sometimes you need to be a change agent to survive. With changing times, some of us will be changing jobs. And as a change agent, there are many challenges to overcome whether starting a new position, starting in a new company or starting in a new market. There are some big issues to focus on when you are in that situation.



These are interesting times we live in. Sometimes you need to be a change agent to survive. With changing times, some of us will be changing jobs. And as a change agent, there are many challenges to overcome whether starting a new position, starting in a new company or starting in a new market.


There are some big issues to focus on when you are in that situation. First you need to understand the company, secondly know their strengths and weakness, next understand the company culture, then understand the work force and lastly, how will you become successful (have a plan). Once you get a handle on these issues, the sooner you can start earning your keep.


To earn your keep, you need to bring value to the company. Before you can do that, you need to understand the business you’re in, i.e. what products or services are profitable, where are the profit makers and where are the loser. As a change agent, you need to improve the losers or get rid of them. For the winners, you need to bolster and protect the product so you do not lose market share to completion.


As you walk the path reviewing products and services, undoubtedly you will start to learn the organization’s strength and weakness. These attributes come in many forms: machining expertise, machine versatility, materials and capacity. Capacity in absorbing more shop hours or speed of throughput. Tying together strong products in your market to machining and fabricating capabilities is important for growth. Identifying the weak products leads to opportunities to enhance capabilities or make the tough decision to stop losing money. Either way, use the facts, let the data lead you to manage the business.


As one steps into managing the business it is inevitable to find the “sacred cow,” %%MDASSML%% the process or product that no one will kill. Tread lightly in these waters. Bad habits die hard and slow. However, these issues can be addressed later as the data and facts come into light. To get data, you need help. Get others involved.


To achieve buy-in one needs to get a cross-functional team together to address the business. There are many ways to get team involvement. Look for quick hits and opportunities to succeed early, then take on bigger and bigger challenges.


A change agent has to build trust. Without trust you have no chance of buy-in. The most effective manner to build trust is to use the facts and data. The organization may not be used to managing by fact but they speak for themselves. In these challenging times, we need to address the bottom line. Put a value on the facts and soon the tide will change in the right direction. Once there is a direction, there needs to be a plan.


Making it happen, executing the plan is not as difficult as it sounds and is not as easy as writing it down either. First, divide and conquer. Use your team. Establish a plan with an agreed upon timeline. There will be set backs but stick to the plan and you will be a successful change agent.


These are interesting and challenging times we are in. Keep your focus. Be flexible. Make sure you understand the company, the markets you play in. Know the winners and losers in your product line. Use the facts to drive improvements. Most importantly remember work is a team sport and teams win together or lose together. As a change agent, you need to be the leader and make it happen if you are to win in the manufacturing game.


Mikel Janitz, Director Technology & Engineering
Submersible Pumps Inc.
Cushing, OK


No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me