Podcast 226 Respect for People

Show notes: Get outside. Get outside into nature, a park or something, to refresh your mind and body. Get outside your preconceived ideas and prejudices for better thinking. Mary Donelan came to KMC Systems to use Lean to improve productivity. She had to overcome existing prejudices that improvements meant reducing workforce. She exemplified the basic Lean principle of Respect for People leading personal growth along with improving productivity allowing the company to take on more work. Then I wondered about adding software and knowledge workers and any impact on productivity. This leads to considering Cal Newport’s new book A World Without Email and a look at improving knowledge worker workflow. Finally, a challenge to Americans about adopting standards and productivity-enhancing methods. Thanks to long-time sponsor Inductive Automation.

Slow Down, Accomplish More

Slow down 

You move too fast 

You gotta make 

The morning last, just 

Kickin’ down 

The cobble stones 

Looking for fun 

And feeling groovy.

Paul Simon, 59th Street Bridge Song

Henry Ford imagined a new way to build cars. Productivity per person in manufacturing increased tremendously in the 20th Century and prosperity followed.

By the 1980s continuing until today, much work is done by “knowledge workers” sitting in front of computer screens. No one (or very few) are imagining new ways to do this work. Productivity lags, people are frustrated, work never ends thanks to the always-on mobile phone.

Well, one person is thinking about it. Cal Newport. I am in the midst of his latest book, A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload. His previous best seller changed the way many of us thought about work–Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

You can sort of summarize the latest book with a quote from a 50s-60s comic strip by Walt Kelly, Pogo. One time, Pogo, the title character–an opossum in the Okefenokee Swamp, said, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.”

In this latest book, I’ve gotten to a section where, after discussing Henry Ford and increasing productivity making Model Ts, brought up the story of a German entrepreneur Lasse Rheingans. He looked at the way people worked in his small company. He then told the employees–you will work 5-hour days. Come in about 8 and leave about 1. When you leave, you’re done. No more work. No more checking emails. No more on-call. You should be able to get all the important work for the company done with 5 5-hour days per week.

How?

No social media during those five hours. Severely restricted meetings. Severely restricted email checking. Two years down the pike, the concept is still working. This sounds a bit like the terrible approach that Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp just tried. But they didn’t reduce hours or work with employees (see below). Just a sharply written blog post to the people.

He did hire some outside coaches to help the employees through withdrawal. They showed that it was in their best interest to not check all those distracting apps. They also encouraged stress reduction through mindfulness and meditation. And physical health through exercise such as Yoga.

Rheingans’s goal was for everyone to slow down; to approach their work more deliberately and with less frantic action; to realize that they were’ running all the time without getting anywhere.’

Cal Newport

I bet that no matter what we’re up to, this is sound advice.

Dana Adopts Additive Manufacturing For Machine Parts

While I’m on an additive manufacturing theme today, here is some news I picked up revealing additive manufacturing applications at a major manufacturer. It involves Dana, a supplier to the “mobility industry”, namely automotive, commercial vehicle, and off-highway markets.

The problem statement—Dana was seeking a way to expand its engineers’ ability to rapidly ideate and prototype more efficiently and effectively. A team was assembled to explore the opportunities that additive manufacturing could bring.

“Additive is a situation where if you’re not engaged, if you’re not learning, if you’re not driving innovation from it, you’re going to miss the boat,” Terry Hammer, Vice President, Light-Vehicle and Global Core Engineering at Dana. “Dana took a very structured approach to additive manufacturing. We wanted to define the value first.”

The team at Dana had heard about Markforged’s 3D printers and software solution and started exploring the technology as an option. The company invested in two Markforged X7 3D printers and two Metal X systems, putting one of each in Maumee, Ohio and Trento, Italy.

“From the beginning, it was about being able to leverage additive manufacturing to provided more cost-effective replacements for specialized tooling,” says Hammer.

The company now has Markforged 3D printers across seven countries — including Italy, the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Germany, India, and China.

When the initiative was approved, Kelly Puckett, Senior Manager of Additive Manufacturing, who has been with Dana for twenty years, was asked to lead the additive manufacturing efforts. “I’m tasked to ensure Dana uses additive more frequently or in a better way,” he says.

Markforged VP of Sales Bryan Painter says that bringing the technology in is just the starting point. “Your need to then think about how you’re going to be successful and the values that you’re going to get if you are successful,” Painter says. “The rest of it is just technology. People and process are really what makes the difference.”

From whiteboard sessions about the deployment plan to the creation of Markforged University — the educational program that aims to teach Markforged users about how to best use its technology — the two companies have collaborated with one another to continuously learn how to improve their businesses.

For Markforged, this collaboration has resulted in the creation of new products and services, as well as improved hardware, software, and professional services — thanks to Dana’s candid feedback. Some notable products and services made possible or better with Dana include Enterprise Eiger, Markforged University, Turbo Print, and Blacksmith. 

More than 150 people from Dana have taken part in Markforged University so far, either in-person or online, meaning that more and more engineers and designers have the tools they need to use their Marforged printers effectively. Andrea Aylward, Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Dana in Canada, says that the team gained a lot from completing Marforged University. “We got a handle on best practices and things to keep in mind when trying to design or adapt a design for additive manufacturing.”

With a large network of Markforged 3D printers at their fingertips, the Dana team can quickly iterate and innovate.

Each manufacturing facility has a different need for additive manufacturing. In Ontario, Canada, the Power Technologies division has used its X7 3D printer to create functional forming dies — stamping sheet metal into proof-of-concept designs that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming to create. This allowed the team to rapidly test products and prepare for customer analysis in a more efficient, scalable way. 

In Italy, Dana’s Off-Highway advanced engineering team can often be found using their Markforged printers for internal tooling and fixtures. 

“The good quality of the composite parts of the X7 opens some very good opportunities in terms of tooling and fixtures,” says Fabrizio Zendri, Advanced Engineering Manager at Dana in Rovereto, Italy. An application Zendri is most proud of is workholding gears that hold parts as they are being processed. At the end of 2020, the fixtures had been in use for over a year without failure and have resulted in 70% cost savings and a 90% reduction in lead time per fixture.

In Maumee, Ohio, each tech center’s additive manufacturing lead joins a monthly meeting with other leads to share findings, ideas, and concerns. Some centers even share designs that are printed in other global locations, and they’re finding new and exciting ways to use their printers. This mindset has set them up for success, according to Marforged’s Cady. “Dana as an organization is going to be able to move faster than many because they’re designing with an additive mindset, even for the subtractive process.”

Though many of Dana’s engineers are spread out across different time zones, Eiger’s cloud architecture allows them to work seamlessly as if they were in the same room together. They’re able to share designs, get real-time analytics, and live telemetry in one place for easy global fleet management. “Eiger itself is a very simple software to use. It’s very intuitive,” says Puckett.

Now that Dana has started to adopt and deploy Markforged printers, software, and training, Dana is looking forward to the future and how they’ll continue to be leaders in the mobility industry with the help of additive manufacturing. “We’re expanding our facility to another floor of the building so we will have a better place for the machines, and we’re finalizing the installation of the Metal X,” says Fabrizio Zendri in Italy.

Scaling the speed and efficiency of prototyping operations across their global locations is key to the future success of additive at Dana. “We have begun to produce some of the tools and fixtures that we might have purchased on the outside before,” says Puckett. “Especially as we go to the plants, the plant engineer that needs something printed with a machine—they ned it today. And the faster we can get it to their hands with the least amount of effort for them to get it produced, the better off they are.”

Primer on 3-D Printing

There are a couple of blogging trends I’ve seen recur. They are back in a current cycle. One must be students somewhere who are told to write posts on existing blogs with a link back somewhere to build some street cred. I write a personal blog, so I don’t just post other people’s articles. Most are not relative to my topics, anyway.

Lately, people have been doing searches and find my blog. Usually they find something I wrote years ago and say, “Since you cover this, perhaps you could go back to this post and reference my site.” This, of course, is a blatant search engine optimization ploy.

This one references a post from a year ago. I do find 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) interesting at times. And, I read their post. There is interesting information here for a hobbyist or even someone investigating the application for their shop.

My name is DanielWe’ve been working hard on a brand new article which we consider to be an informative Guide To 3D Printing. While I was researching this piece I discovered your site, and I think you have really fantastic pieces on there. It would mean a lot to me if you could help me out with some feedback.  When I read this page  I thought that by linking to my piece you could add some extra information for your readers.

Do Standup Meetings Inhibit Innovation?

Blog Stand Ups Inhibit Innovation

Andy Wu of Harvard Business School and his doctoral student Sourobh Ghosh embedded a field experiment in a Google hackathon to investigate the impact of stand-up meetings—a core component of agile management practices—on innovation. They found that the teams that engaged in them developed less-novel products. The conclusion: Stand-up meetings inhibit innovation.

This thought was quoted in a blog post by an acquaintance in Belgium, Yves Mulkers, whom I had met on a trip to Germany several years ago. His Website/business is 7wData.

Those of us with familiarity with Lean thinking know the standup as a daily first thing information and daily goal-setting time. You “stand up” to keep the meeting a short as possible, but no shorter. The standup is conducted where the action is. When people gather in conference rooms in the morning, they have their coffee or tea, a doughnut, and settle into their chairs. A 30-minute catch up time can become a 60-minute waste of time.

I am slightly familiar with the various software development organizing hacks. But this one seems to me to be applying the wrong tool for the purpose. There is a time to sit and have an intense discussion with coffee or Hint water or whatever. There is a time to do a standup in order to maintain focus and get done. 

Innovation does not come from committees or meetings. People need time to think on their own to come up with ideas. I insist on the 20-Things method. Sit alone with your coffee and a blank pad of paper and a pen. Put your topic or question at the top. Then quickly start listing possible solutions. By item 20, you should have evolved the idea completely away from where you started and come to a satisfying conclusion.

And when you are doing research, don’t make an observation and then just jump to a broad conclusion. Step back and take a different view. Maybe additional insights will come to you.

Return From Covid

It almost sounds like a ’50s SciFi movie.

For a couple of months into the Covid pandemic, my inbox collected a steady stream of press releases about what this or that company was doing to either fight the coronavirus or prepare workplaces and workforces for the return to the office. That mighty river has turned into a stream at the end of summer.

The CTO of a Siemens company on NPR’s Tech Nation with Moira Gunn (good podcast, by the way) and I have interviewed Siemens about its combining of technologies to provide for safer workplaces in light of infectious viruses.

Then I received this note from Marty Edwards, VP of OT Security, Tenable, whom I’ve known for years as a reputable security specialist. “Prediction: Workers who return to the office may well bring new vulnerabilities with them.”

“While many critical infrastructure workers who operate, manage and secure the OT that underpins our economy can’t bring their work home, some of their colleagues certainly can. It’s likely that functions such as sales, marketing, HR, finance and legal of many essential services –food and beverage, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies — have shifted to a remote-work model. When stay-at-home orders are eventually lifted, many of these folks will return to their offices with equipment that will be re-connected to corporate networks. With this comes the added risk of new vulnerabilities and threats being introduced to either the IT or OT side of mission- and safety-critical operations. During this transition, it’s imperative security teams have visibility into where the organization is exposed and to what extent, enabling them to effectively manage risk on a day-to-day basis. Put simply, the security challenges aren’t gone once everyone is back in the office.”

I have not worked in an office for years, unless you call a coffee house an office. But, many people will be returning to offices in the next few months. They will expect safe workspaces. As will all the factory workers (think about the morons running meat processing plants).

It took a while for cybersecurity to catch up with the sudden working-from-home IT challenge. Now, we’ll have millions returning to the corporate intranet bringing who knows what (computer) viruses with them. Another type of security to deal with.

One way or another, engineers will be busy dealing with this crisis for many months. Probably along with all their other work.