Are these acts of war?
March 1, 2013
It is good to have someone from inside Washington DC express views on national security that make sense to me and that align with topics that are written about frequently on this blog. Retired General Stanley McChrystal recently responded to a question on Face the Nation about the greatest threats to US national security. His reply was that we can deal with terrorism and with a nuclear armed Iran, but...
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Will industry accept manufacturing skill standards?
August 31, 2012
Today the Governor's office in my home state issued a report on the status of manufacturing in Pennsylvania along with a series of specific recommendations for encouraging growth in manufacturing. As has been discussed many times in this blog, the report confirmed: "the most pressing problem now and for the near-term is finding people with the education and skills to fill the high-quality manufacturing positions currently available"; and "Of equal...
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Are smartphones sending the wrong message?
July 30, 2012
Was one of your smartphone apps updated today? Hardly a day goes by that I don't have at least one app updated. One day this past week, eleven of my apps had updates. Most of these are listed as 'bug fixes'. What message are we sending to the next generation of engineers, bankers, and software developers about doing things right and complete the first time?...
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Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden briefed by packagers on mechatronics training
April 24, 2012
Packagers Bayer Healthcare and The Hershey Company today (April 18, 2012) briefed Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Under Secretary of Education Dr. Martha Kanter on the value of community college based mechatronics training for their high tech, high speed manufacturing operations. Drs. Biden and Kanter visited Reading Area Community College (RACC) in Reading, PA to learn directly from educators, industry leaders, and students how the mechatronics program is paying...
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Kudos for promoting manufacturing
February 29, 2012
Lack of an adequately skilled workforce remains one of the greatest issues for American manufacturers. Despite the availability of some excellent educational programs and despite the high paying gold-collar jobs available, many schools report an inability to attract students into these programs. Some schools are shutting down their daytime advanced manufacturing and mechatronics programs for lack of students - this at a time that a Deloitte study reports 600,000 unfilled...
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Can we repatriate manufacturing?
November 30, 2011
People are beginning to discuss bringing back to the US some of the manufacturing operations that were previously taken off-shore. This is an exciting prospect, potentially good for our economic well-being, quality of life and national security. But it is not without its challenges. I was privileged to participate in a meeting of the Manufacturing Leadership Council, held in conjunction with Automation Fair, where experts in manufacturing, government policy, and...
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How many jobs can one technician create?
November 9, 2011
In this week's FeedForward newsletter, colleague Gary Mintchell pointed me to a blog by Penney Herscher about the importance of engineers to bringing manufacturing back to America. This piece contained two tidbits of data that support what I have been witnessing and harping about to whoever will listen. Without more engineers and engineering technicians, we will not see manufacturing come to the US no matter how cheap or expensive labor...
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More progress on the education front
September 29, 2011
The effort to refill the employment pipeline with skilled technicians took at least two more steps forward this week. If we can sustain a sequence of continuous small wins, we may be able to bring manufacturing back to its rightful and necessary place in our economy....
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Schools recognized for teaching PMMI competencies
August 21, 2011
Schools across Pennsylvania are establishing and being recognized for their ability to provide programs of study that teach the competencies underlying PMMI's first three mechatronics certificates. On August 18th, the Industrial Maintenance Training Center of Pennsylvania (PA) recognized nine schools spread across the Commonwealth for their ability to provide current and prospective workers with the skills needed to qualify for the Advanced Manufacturing / Integrated Systems Technology (AM/IST) certificate. The...
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Manufacturing and education and politics
June 24, 2011
Manufacturing jobs and the education required to obtain them appear to be hot topics that we will be hearing about as the presidential campaigns accelerate. The President is today in Western PA speaking on manufacturing. I was in the same area two weeks ago auditing the capability of schools in the region to train people for today's manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs have been in big demand, although that demand seems...
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Canada speaks mechatronics
May 31, 2011
Entrepreneurship, innovation, mechatronic education programs and mechatronic systems are all well represented at the Discovery 11 conference in Toronto, Ontario this week. The University of Waterloo's Mechatronics Engineering Applied Science program is certainly having an impact on innovation in Canada. In a brief walk through the exhibit floor, I was immediately attracted to the mechatronic solutions of two startup companies: Hockey Robotics, "Leader in Hockey Stick Testing" and Clearpath Robotics,...
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Education and Training for Manufacturing Careers
May 20, 2011
Finding adequately trained workers for manufacturing operations is not just an issue in the US. I was invited to travel to the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 11 Conference in Toronto to share what I and my colleagues have learned about developing and delivering education and training programs for advanced manufacturing in the US. Following my presentation, I was asked if my remarks were available to the audience, so I...
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Take heart - our education system can turn out qualified students - but will it?
April 25, 2011
Our secondary education is turning out a few students capable of tackling world class manufacturing systems, but certainly not enough. It was the right thing to do to eliminate high school sewing classes for young women and type setting classes for young men. But the problem was and remains that, few within the education system had the foresight to see that it wasn't the elimination of "shop" that we needed,...
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Documentation - the MOST important tool
December 17, 2010
An effective industrial maintenance program for packaging, or any other advanced manufacturing operation, depends upon three things: workers with well-developed technical skills; workers with job-specific knowledge and experience; and complete and adequate documentation. It has become of concern to me that, just as we are facing a severe a lack of both skills and experience, I am now hearing that more and more corporations are losing control over the one...
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PMMI work cited in report by PA Governor's office
November 30, 2010
Last week the Commonwealth of PA issued an insightful report on the state of workforce readiness for advanced manufacturing careers. The report identified challenges and growth opportunities, cited identified best practices, and set out strategies for a path forward. In the area on opportunities for education and training, the industry standard in mechatronics under development by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) was cited as a best practice....
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Mechatronics at PackExpo
October 29, 2010
PMMI has been hard at work creating their new mechatronics certificate program, the next phase of which is being rolled out at PackExpo. Be sure to stop by the PMMI U booth to take a "demo" test and learn more about the certificate program. Visit the education pavilion and speak with the colleges that are offering the training and education that will prepare your workforce for our multi-skilled world....
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Words are important- Mechatronics
August 31, 2010
Words are important to our lives. Careless use of words gets us in trouble with our wives, children and coworkers. Incorrect use of words obscures meaning. Overuse of words reduces impact. Today the word mechatronics is being carelessly, incorrectly and too frequently used. The result could be a setback to innovation, education and workforce development. Let's review the definition of mechatronics and what we should do to keep its use...
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The bar is being raised
July 20, 2010
The bar for entry level workers continues to be raised. This is one reason why the economic recovery will be prolonged. Many unemployed are unprepared for the skilled jobs that exist and others are over-prepared for jobs that don't exist. Our society and our systems of secondary and higher education must adjust....
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PMMI Launches Mechatronics Certificate Program
June 30, 2010
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) has launched their certificate program in mechatronics. The first test in the series of certificates is now avaiiable to be taken online. This test covers the principles and applications of basic industrial electricity and electronics as they relate to packaging machinery and systems. This is the first of a planned twenty one tests for certificates covering packaging-oriented mechatronics skills required for industrial maintenance, design,...
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Let's create a demand side education system
June 20, 2010
Because in America we believe that everyone should have equal opportunities, we have developed a supply-side education system. The results have been that we have severely limited the opportunities for many who graduate from the school system with no marketable skills or don't graduate at all. Yet, there are many high paying skilled jobs that go unfilled or under-filled, thus hurting our economy. If tax dollars are to be used...
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Hannover Fair by video conference
April 30, 2010
I was one of thousands whose plans for the Hannover Fair were disrupted by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. I didn't make it to Germany, but I did get to keep my most important fair appointment, with a group of US high school students, by video conference on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day....
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German Companies Supporting US Technical Revival
March 31, 2010
German technology companies are opening their wallets and leading the way in the revitalization of science and engineering programs for youth in the United States. Kudos to them for bringing a bit of their educational culture back to our shores! This past week, I had the privilege of participating directly in one of these programs which will be life-changing for a group of young students....
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Mechatronic Solutions for OEM's and Training for Users
January 29, 2010
This isn't a tweet, but I am on the train returning from a visit to Festo, the sponsor of OnTheEdgeBlog. I must admit that I didn't know to much about Festo beyond their pneumatic components, and readers may be in a similar situation, so without getting too commercial, allow me to share a few observations. If you want to learn more, check out one of the links in the left-hand...
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Breaking News - US Department of Labor Recognizes Importance of Mechatronics for the Economy
August 31, 2009
This week the US Department of Labor acknowledged the importance of mechatronics to the packaging industry and to the US economy by publishing a hybrid-industry, packaging-oriented mechatronics competency model on the Career One Stop website. The Mechatronics Competency Model is one of only fourteen featured by the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration in the Competency Model Clearinghouse. This compentency model may be used by industry, government and education...
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Can education pass the common sense test?
May 26, 2009
There's lots of discussion about testing in education. Tests are required to be fair, legally defensible, and unbiased. Debate rages about No Child Left Behind and its testing requirements. Legislatures debate the use of statewide testing for graduation from high school. Packagers debate if they dare to test their workforce at all. PMMI is struggling with the psychometric requirements for their certificate program in mechatronics. Companies question why they should...
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Lack of skills stifles competitiveness, but funding isn't following the need.
January 30, 2009
Lack of skills ranked second behind high tax rates as the issue that makes US cities uncompetitive, according to a report issued in December by the US Chamber of Commerce. We all want to complain about taxes, and given what I know about European tax rates, I question if American companies are at a global tax disadvantage. This even further highlights the disparity in and importance of skills when we...
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Senator Specter addresses issues of interest to packagers
January 26, 2009
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania responded to questions of interest to the packaging industry presented to him by yours truly and others at a town hall meeting held on January 26th at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. The outcome of the Employee Free Choice Act and government support of technology education will be important to many packagers and their suppliers. Senator Specter will have a significant role in the...
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Mechatronics: Vocabulary is important
December 7, 2008
Mechatronics is a word that I have used frequently in this column, but one that not many outside of the immediately affected industry are familiar with. That has got to change, and there are signs that it is....
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Packaging education shifting emphasis
October 20, 2008
Packaging education is undergoing a change, with more attention being given to the machines and the underlying technologies that support them. A rapidly expanding emphasis on mechatronics is causing schools and organizations to add, modify and rename programs. Expect to see new players, new programs and some significant educational announcements at PackExpo 2008....
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Scouting PackExpo 2008
September 18, 2008
It will soon be time to jet off to Chicago for this year's installment of PackExpo. One hopes that every show of this size brings something new or exciting to the industry. This year's PackExpo should be no exception. Here are some things that I plan to be scouting for....
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Handlungskompetenz: Fahrvergnugen for packaging?
August 18, 2008
Many of us will remember the American advertising campaign of almost 20 years ago in which Volkswagen introduced us to the German word Fahrvergnugen, meaning driving pleasure. Pre-dating my memory, the German word Kindergarten introduced new and unique meaning regarding childhood education. Today the Germans have another new word for us to learn: Handlungskompetenz. Mastery of Handlungskompetenz along with developing skills in mechatronics will be enablers of taking our packaging...
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Funding education...What's a good capitalist to do?
July 28, 2008
Someone asked me a question this week about why industry doesn't do more to support education in manufacturing technologies like mechatronics. After all, it costs a bundle to put together a state-of-the-art technical program complete with labs, equipment and instructors. Packagers should be particularly concerned since mechatronics is at the heart of competitive packaging lines. That question got me to thinking and questioning some of my long-held beliefs. What do...
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Chinese manufacturing excellence: why we should be nervous
July 1, 2008
Our mature Western societies just aren't scared enough yet about the threat to our standard of living as the result of a rapidly developing China. If we really understood China's potential impact, we would be embarked upon crash programs of education, infrastructure building and revitalization of our manufacturing base....
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Does packaging get sufficient respect?
April 22, 2008
Does packaging get the respect that it deserves? Some say no, but the tide seems to be turning. The message at the recent Pharmaceutical Packaging Forum was somewhat mixed. Some quipped that packaging was treated as an afterthought. It wasn't planned for, and wasn't put on the critical path of activities for their company. Yet others had a much more positive message. Perhaps this indicates that packaging is turning a...
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Will they discuss science or just religion?
April 22, 2008
In December I suggested that we needed a presidential debate on innovation. Last week the democratic candidates Obama and Clinton did participate in a discussion on religion. Held not far from my home in Pennsylvania, this event has for a time occupied not only the national but also my local news. In contrast, a very thoughtful discussion on the promise of science and the role that it should play in...
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OMAC should maintain a simple focus on packaging
February 25, 2008
At the annual OMAC Users Group meeting, held this month in Orlando, a discussion was generated on the topic of putting a more general face on OMAC by dropping its focus on packaging with regard to PackML and PackTags. The argument goes that since the technical product is elegant enough to be applied to other industries, it shouldn't be referred to as PackWhatever, implying that its use is limited to...
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OEE is like sailing
February 13, 2008
The story goes that for sailors, life is about the journey; while for power boaters, life is about the destination. According to OEE expert Paul Zepf of Zarpac Inc., OEE is also about the journey....
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A national skill standard for packaging technicians?
February 1, 2008
Do we need a national skill standard for packaging machinery technicians? There is a growing chorus of people who think that we do. Other industries have skill standards, accredited certificate programs and accredited educational programs at the high school, community college and university levels. But to my knowledge, no such standard exists in the USA for packaging machinery technicians....
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Let's have a presidential debate on innovation!
December 17, 2007
Could we have a national discussion on innovation? I don't think that I can stand 11 more months of harping on the same old topics by the US presidential candidates. If they want to talk about something constructive - something that will have long term political, social and economic impact for our nation and our children - let's turn the discussion to the imperative for more innovation....
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How cool is your job?
November 26, 2007
The US is in the early stages of a labor crisis. Packagers and other manufacturers can't find enough unskilled labor to keep plants running at full capacity, so they are choosing to automate. But, they can't find enough high skilled labor to support their automation initiatives. Lacking both coherent imigration and technology education policies, government is putting packagers in a position that makes off shore manufacturing look that much more...
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Wins for the packaging industry
November 14, 2007
Positive signs of support for the packaging industry have been evident during the past quarter from educators, government and the private sector. A stream of small (and not-so-small) wins bodes well for the industry. Consider these events:...
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It's 2007: Do you know where your drawings are?
September 24, 2007
There may be one piece of intellectual capital that packagers value less than their aging workforce (see Packagers undervalue intellectual captial) and that is their equipment documentation. Lack of good documentation is one of the greatest contributors to poor productivity in American manufacturing. All too often, management finds it easier to point fingers at their employees for lack of skills rather than pointing at themselves for lack of a coherent...
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Getting technology education suited to packging - A how-to guide
May 18, 2007
Technology education in America has been driven by the automotive, metals, aerospace and petro-chemical industries. Certificate programs from organizations like ISA do a good job in preparing technicians for the petro-chemical industry. Programs from NCIST (National Center for Integrated Systems Technology) prepare technicians for employment in the automotive or metals industries. But where does one go for a certificate that prepares technicians for packaging and consumer packaged goods? The available...
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Packagers deprived of talent by misunderstanding of manfuacturing
May 18, 2007
If you ask the average parent, guidance counselor or high school student what manufacturing is all about, you will probably get a description of a steel mill, auto factory, refinery or machine shop. You may also hear that manufacturing is no longer viable in the United States and that manufacturing jobs are hot, dirty, mindless and vanishing. Our general perception of manufacturing is a narrow and outdated one. I call...
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How packaging can compete for workforce development $'s
May 18, 2007
Federal, state and local government agencies can provide significant financial assistance to an industry segment for the updating of skills and technology. Programs such as the Presidents High Growth Job Training Initiative and similar state initiatives target industry clusters that are perceived to offer high growth and stability, often as the result of underlying high-tech. Is packaging getting its share of these dollars? Probably not- but it can. Here are...
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Community activism or tribalism for automation industry?
May 14, 2007
Automation professionals used to behave as a community. End users, technology providers and systems integrators would convene at industry-wide events, much like county fairs, to share ideas, best practices and lessons-learned....
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Why demographics will drive your packaging automation
March 26, 2007
Indications are that capital spending for packaging automation is on the rise. PMMI reports increased sales among their members; automation companies are reporting a brisk business environment; and machine suppliers that I have talked to report both increasing backlogs and forecasts. One reason often cited for this is workforce demographics....
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How risk aversion robs packaging machinery buyers--and builders--of innovation
February 20, 2007
I've heard from several end user and supplier sources that packaging machinery customers are becoming more risk-averse. This is really too bad. Risk-aversion is one of those insidious diseases, like cancer, that can eat away at a company's growth and development....
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|About Keith Campbell
|Leaders learn from the past while
looking to the future - and bring both to bear on the here
and now. This is the philosophy that has steered Keith Campbell's
30+ years in manufacturing. It has worked for him in operations,
maintenance, engineering, R&D, education, consulting and
professional organizations--and now he's putting it to work
for you--taking you to the edge of his thoughts on packaging