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ADVANCED MANUFACTURING NOW Kim Shacklett


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aluable talent is leaving manufacturing faster than it’s coming in. But before sounding the alarm, consider this: In addition to the aggressive networking and partnership


efforts we typically employ to identify and attract skilled workers, the workforce challenge requires that we think differently about the assets at our disposal. These are our current and talented workers—a vast, engaged community of like-minded profes- sionals, and the recent boom in manufacturing technology. With collaboration and ingenuity, these may be the most important keys to solving the skills gap and, more specifi cally, the diminished productivity, adaptability and competitive- ness associated with it. In many ways, the US is undergoing a manufacturing renaissance. Cloud-based technologies, advanced equipment and automation, additive technolo- gies and more are changing and creating opportunities for increased effi ciency and productivity. Thus, manufacturing is being asked to rethink how it does business. A major change we can make is to leverage new technolo- gies and specialized training initiatives with existing employees in order to drive greater effi ciencies on the shop fl oor. This is one area where MSC Industrial Supply Co. has invested signifi cantly. Instead of assuming that when a worker retires the only op-


tion is to fi nd a replacement with manufacturing experience, we must consider providing existing employees with new technol- ogies. Creating operational effi ciencies and offering continuing education can help reach the same goal even more effectively. Someone else on the shop fl oor could increase their productiv- ity—and bridge the gap left by the departed employee. Many manufacturers have also found success in embrac- ing educational opportunities that are helping the industry stay competitive. One example is Manufacturing Day, an initiative created to help inspire the public to pursue oppor- tunities in manufacturing, debunk common misconceptions about the industry and educate individuals on the new and exciting things happening in our industry. Last year more than 2600 events were held worldwide to celebrate Manu-


12 AdvancedManufacturing.org | July 2016


Vice President-Customer Care MSC Industrial Supply Co. Melville, NY


www.mscdirect.com MODERN MANUFACTURING PROCESSES, SOLUTIONS & STRATEGIES Rethinking the US Skills Gap in Manufacturing


facturing Day. As an example, MSC partnered with Seco Tools and Joe Gibbs Racing to host hundreds of students at workshops that highlighted manufacturing career options. A common refrain heard from manufacturers is that they


have trouble keeping up with change. They need greater support and more reliable information to adapt to the changing landscape, adopt the technologies that come with it and stay competitive—a great challenge without workers who possess the right skills. The truth is that manufacturers must proactively equip their workers with the right support and tools to operate in this fast- paced environment. One way to access this expertise without additional investment is through strategic supplier partnerships with those who possess the expertise to help manufacturers increase the skills, knowledge and productivity of their current workforce and effectively transform their operations. MSC has achieved this by developing a unique recipe for bringing sought-after technical skills to the plant fl oor. Through a customized program developed in partnership with Tooling U-SME, along with its own rigorous, proprietary technical curriculum, MSC employs a multipronged approach to bringing solutions to manufacturers that enable them to grow their business. This intensive development program focuses on bringing the concept of total cost of ownership to the plant fl oor. MSC associates are measured and held ac- countable for developing innovative solutions that will enable manufacturing customers to overcome their challenges. MSC also serves as a strategic partner. We help cus- tomers by understanding their business and delivering knowledge vital to improving it. To date, MSC’s network of fi eld technicians has delivered more than 10,000 custom application-specifi c solutions. The US skills gap presents an opportunity for manufacturers


to explore new ways to solve challenges. This is a chance to fi gure out how we can all work smarter by harnessing the power of partnerships, knowledge, information and new technology.


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