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


Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me