Manufacturing Forum

On Friday, February 7th, I attend the Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Forum. This flyer (PDF) and an OMI page describe the program. The New Manufacturing Economy is a key part of the regional brand message, so that means I need to better understand what potential and current manufacturers need.

I tweeted from the event with hasthtag #nwomfg. This recap repeats a few of those tweets and includes some additional thoughts.

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Ford Weber of NORED kicked off the forum

Introductions from NORED, Ohio MEP and CIFT were given. The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association was another sponsor/organizer.

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Jim West talked about what he does for Boeing and the history of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership

It was nice to hear some familiar terms from Dr. West, such as human factors, IBM, and ACM/information technology.

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Tony Iriti talked about workforce development

Workforce development is a hot topic, part of my talent trio: attraction, retention and development.

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Mark Birnbrich talked about OhioMeansJob.com

Lots of interesting user experience aspects of OhioMeansJobs.com were presented. It was hard to tell how usable the screens were (some still under construction), but the features mentioned sounded impressive. I found it interesting that user experience aspects like branding and business processes are being baked into legislation:

  • House Bill 1: Require a local workforce investment area to use OhioMeansJobs as the local workforce investment area’s job placement system, to rename county one-stop systems.
  • House Bill 2: require an unemployment compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs, require a claimant to contact a local one-stop office beginning with the eighth week

From what I can tell, however, a certain level of usability is not part of the legislation. That is, the law requires users to do certain tasks with the web site, but it does not explicitly set benchmarks or criteria to make sure users can indeed perform those tasks. In a business setting, stating those metrics and making sure they are met would be crucial.

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Rick Spivey talked about his work with the Ohio Manufacturing Institute

I found it interesting how Rich was assigned from Honda to share his expertise at an academic institution. He presented a fascinating analysis of the manufacturing ecosystem (that I will need to study more to understand). I nodded my head when he talked about the need to organize information by production processes (across industries) because that is how manufacturers work. I chuckled when he showed the information architecture of the future Ohio Technical Network web site (even though he did not call it the site IA).

nored-mfg-portmanSenator Rob Portman presented 5 things he is focused on to create an environment for economic success

The Sentinel-Tribune article “Senator Portman down to business” is a better recap of his talk than I can provide.

Overall, I am glad that I went. Still lots more for me to learn about how manufacturing works. If I can get my hands on the slides, then I will add them here, and be able to learn more.

There are a few things that sort of bugged me about the forum, though. I think the name should be Toledo Region Manufacturing Forum and include more of our Michigan colleagues. Also, I think “New Manufacturing Economy” should be explicitly discussed. “Advanced manufacturing” was a common theme, but if we want the region to be the heart of the new manufacturing economy, then we need to be talking about it ourselves, and showing the world that we not only know what it means, we are making it happen.