Manufacturing the Future

Manufacturing the Future is dedicated to helping manufacturing leaders future-proof their operations. Each episode features interviews with innovative manufacturing executives, subject matter experts, and thought leaders who share actionable insights, tips, and best practices to embrace technology so they can streamline operations, prepare for what lies ahead, and continue to keep the world turning.

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2 days ago

In this special episode of Manufacturing the Future podcast, Kerrie hosts a roundtable discussion about Epicor's second-annual Voice of Essential Manufacturing Workers report. 
Together with Marc Weinmann, owner of VEM Tooling and Arturo Buzzalino Vice President of Products, Innovation, and Design at Epicor, Kerrie explores the day-to-day work, upskilling and new skill sets, technology and modernization in the workplace, and the outlook on manufacturing work to gain a deeper understanding of those who make our industry thrive. 
This episode will be broken up into three chapters that will feature the key topics of the discussion. In today's chapter, Kerrie, Marc, and Arturo dive into what their workers’ day-to-day experience looks like and how Marc and Arturo see the outlook of manufacturing. 
Chapter 1: A Worker’s Day-to-Day and the Outlook of Manufacturing
The day-to-day work experiences of manufacturing workers, including creating healthy work environments and culture.
The outlook of manufacturing according to Marc and Arturo: the need to embrace change and the importance of leaning into the company’s culture rather than technology.
Chapter 2: The Impact of Tech and AI on Communication & Upskilling
How manufacturing companies have incorporated technology such as AI into their communications with their employees.
The challenges of prioritizing upskilling when a company already has a lot on their plate but also the industry is demanding an ever-expanding skill set.
Chapter 3: Modernization and Technology
The role of technology and modernization such as climate awareness in changing the work landscape for manufacturing workers. 
Importance of following new technologies like AI and cloud for future readiness: even if a company isn’t ready to adopt a new technology, it’s smart to keep up with new developments.

Thursday Apr 04, 2024

"Most immediately before coming to IDC, I helped provide research and background for CFOs,” says Lynne Schneider, Research Director, Location and Geospatial Intelligence, DaaS and Data Marketplaces at IDC. "CFOs, we think of them as having all the financial numbers, but I think that ambitious and interested CFOs want to go beyond that … and so when there was this opportunity at IDC to look at data really broadly, I was just really excited by that. I'm kind of a data nerd at heart."
International Data Corporation, or IDC, is a premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC has been providing strategic insights for more than 50 years. It has solidified its position as a trusted source of strategic insights for organizations looking to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technology and innovation. 
Still, despite its well-earned wisdom, IDC faces the challenge of nimbly adapting alongside the rapid pace of technological advancements. As data has gotten more and more valuable, so has the complexity of protecting it while keeping it appropriately accessible. 
In This Episode
In this episode, Lynne discusses how IDC helps clients stay on top of the data trends and understand the data they have so that they can better leverage it, whether it’s to bring more value to their business or join the data marketplace. 
How companies are pursuing data monetization strategies that will boost their business' value.
The advantages of using location-based data, such as weather, in business operations.
What a company should consider when looking to participate in the data marketplace.
The challenges and opportunities that business leaders face in using data effectively in the data marketplace.
Recommendations for keeping sensitive data private and secure.
Advice for getting a handle on and leveraging data for more business value.

Thursday Mar 21, 2024

Meet Adam Bartlett, Data Systems Manager at Arnold Lumber Company
"My direct boss, the COO of Arnold Lumber, Matt Semonik, says I'm often the man behind the curtain. I make things happen," says Adam Bartlett, Data Systems Manager at Arnold Lumber Company. "I tell my team that our job is to make other employees' jobs easier, as easy as we possibly can, and to develop the tools, give them the tools, buy the tools, whatever we need to do to make their jobs easier. So I do a lot of things like report writing, business intelligence. I solve business problems. They have a problem. They come to me. Do we have the tools? Yes. No. Let's get the tools. Let's find a solution. A lot of brainstorming, a lot of teamwork, a lot of data wrangling and managing. But it's fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy coming to work."
Arnold Lumber Company has grown from a small wood lot in North Kingstown, RI to a full service supplier with locations across the state. They serve the broader New England area with a wide range of building materials, hardware, cabinetry design services, contractor referral services, and much more. Arnold Lumber Company has everything their customers might need to bring their visions to life.
However, running the tight, employee-friendly and customer-first business they are today hasn't always been so smooth. Although it was an adjustment period, when Arnold Lumber embraced technology, specifically BisTrack, in 2015, it has ultimately helped them grow and improve. 
In This Episode
How can technology be a game-changer for everything from less paperwork to better scheduling for both customers and employees? Listen to our conversation with Adam Bartlett to hear all about Arnold Lumber Company's journey with not only embracing technology, but using it to succeed.
Arnold Lumber Company's decision-making process of investing in technology.
Why BisTrack is "the best solution out there."
What technologies have had the biggest impact on Arnold Lumber Company's business.
What innovations Arnold Lumber Company is excited to incorporate next.
Practicing the saying "Change the people around you, or change the people around you."
The two jobs every company should have: safety and making sure everyone is successful.

Thursday Mar 07, 2024

As with any business, expansion is overall a good thing--but it does come with its challenges. PureCycle has worked to strike a balance between keeping costs low via making their processes more efficient and using materials that are cheaper and expanding to new locations and working with new partners. 
Dustin also describes how having a "culture of bias to action" allows PureCycle to make decisions quickly and by extension lean into new technologies. Aside from its main values of innovation, sustainability, and recycling, PureCycle focuses on being as digital as possible.
In This Episode
Listen to Dustin Olson talk about PureCycle's culture of bias to action, staying connected to technology, focusing on sustainability, and more.
Episode summary 
Dustin Olson believes that PureCycle's mission is to innovate how polypropylene plastic is the future of sustainability. "At the end of the day, it's not marketing, it's not shows, it's not promise. It's just boots on the ground manufacturing excellence that gets it done." By focusing on technology, listening to people within the company, and celebrating even the small wins, PureCycle is proving him right. 
In our latest podcast episode, Dustin talks about the challenges that recycling faces as a whole and how PureCycle addresses those challenges in a unique, sustainable way. According to Dustin, people and companies generally want to recycle and commit to being more sustainable, but it's often difficult due to cost, inconvenience, or both. 
PureCycle's process takes plastic that might otherwise end up in a landfill, washes it to a pure and more versatile product, and gives it to the customer for use however they need. This process also means that those same products can be turned right back around and recycled again, indefinitely. 
At the core of all this innovation and vision? Working hard, grinding through the problems, being kind, staying humble, and leaning into technology.
Why Dustin believes that sustainability is not just a marketing tactic, it's a business practice.  
How leaning into technology and letting it guide innovation is the future of manufacturing.
Why expansion of your business can be tricky: it involves balancing cost with growth. 
How PureCycle's recycling process is unique and innovative, taking plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills and turning them into pure, versatile products.
How PureCycle has learned to be nimble and make decisions quickly without sacrificing what's right for the business.
Why a policy of listening within your company is a key practice for successful leadership. 

Thursday Feb 22, 2024

"Because we've always been one of the smaller companies with competitors, we needed technology so that we could compete and not have as many people," says Tammi Carter, CEO at E4D Technologies, in our newest podcast episode. "Also being a medical device company, there's a lot of regulations about traceability and serialization, and so, from day one, there was some level of technology. Obviously, we've grown, we've expanded, we've enhanced, but technology was always part of the DNA of E4D."
E4D Technologies is a leading contract manufacturer and design company that serves customers with innovative technologies and methods like 3D scanning, as well as unique approaches to product development and manufacturing. The E4D methodology centers around four principles: "Dream, design, deliver, and delight." When a customer comes to them with a dream for a product — which could even be a sketch on a napkin — they bring it to life and support it until the end of its lifecycle.
However, running a great organization doesn't happen by chance, and takes deliberate thought and effort to make sure you're optimizing technology, processes, and people to address your challenges. E4D uses technology to stay competitive as a smaller player, as well as uses automation and robotics to address labor shortage gaps. They also focus on understanding the customer so they provide technology that actually meets their needs and have created a culture that's comfortable with change.
In This Episode
How can manufacturing leaders leverage their technology and culture to stay competitive and bring those dream products to life for their customers? Listen to our conversation with Tammi Carter to learn more about how to build great products and a great team behind those products.
How E4D brings products to life through their methodology of "dream, design, deliver, and delight."
How a background in music performance helped Tammi prepare for a career in manufacturing leadership.
The importance of mentoring and why sharing experiences and expertise is a sign of good leadership.
Why E4D relies on technology to stay competitive, and how they're using it to free up humans "to do the work that only people can do."
Why having a culture that's comfortable with change is key to success.
How E4D is evolving its digital transformation through ERP utilization, digitizing documents, and moving to the cloud.
Why you need to understand your customer and their needs — not what you think they need.

Thursday Feb 08, 2024

"How do you practically apply artificial intelligence? I think that's the core question that most manufacturers are asking themselves," says Michael Lynch, CEO at Praxie, in our new podcast episode. "AI is the second step. The first step is getting digital, because you can't use AI unless your stuff is digital. So if you think about a pragmatic roadmap, it's get digital, get all that stuff out of Excel sheets and paper, and build those workflow processes."
Praxie is an AI-powered software platform that advances digital transformation for discrete and process manufacturing companies. Once a company digitizes its documents and processes, the AI built into their workflows can give feedback and insights about issues seen on the factory floor, or generate an action plan by tapping into a large language model. Or, AI can extract insights from a company’s data, identifying root causes of problems.
However, for manufacturing organizations to reap the full benefits of AI, they have to ensure they're underway with their digital transformation first. Two of the challenges to digital transformation are cost and time: how expensive your infrastructure providers will be and how long it'll take to implement the solution. But another challenge is the human element, because if you try to implement new digital processes that are different from what you currently have, they won't be adopted.
In This Episode
How can manufacturers overcome the hurdles to a successful digital transformation, and use AI to improve their processes to make them better execution leaders? Listen to our conversation with Michael Lynch to learn more about how AI is transforming manufacturing today and how it will continue to do so in the future.
How Michael made his way from Broadway to video games to leading an AI software company in manufacturing.
Why manufacturing companies need to digitize first before they can then practically apply AI to help solve operational problems.
The two big challenges that manufacturing companies face in their digital transformation.
Best practices for managing your data, and why data cleanliness will affect your outcomes.
Examples of how manufacturers can use AI to improve their production, increase efficiencies, and lower scrap through more effective management.
Some of the indicators that tell a business they're ready for a digital transformation.
What a "manufacturing plant of the future" may look like with its augmented environments and computer vision.

Thursday Jan 25, 2024

"We're trying to go back and figure out how can we produce what we do, maybe less expensive. How can we do it quicker, more efficient?” says Robert Bunting Jr., President & CEO at Bunting, in our new podcast episode. “A lot of it is through our processes. Does a process bring value? If it doesn't, figure out a way to cut it out. That's how you compete in the world today, is being as efficient as you can."
Bunting is a family business that, since 1959, has manufactured precision magnetic products for the worldwide printing, automotive, plastics, food, electronics, pharmaceutical, and recycling industries. Today, they've grown to 250 employees with offices in Kansas, Pennsylvania, England, and other parts of the world. Robert started working in the office as a teenager, and after some time away, returned to work in a variety of roles in the company, from sales to product management, before rising to President and CEO.
But Bunting is at a point in their company's lifecycle when they're looking at how to improve their processes to stay competitive — especially when the "Amazon effect" is changing customer expectations for better service and faster delivery. So, they're turning to technologies like digitization, cloud platforms, automation, and more to create more efficiencies and bring more value to their processes and, ultimately, their customers.
In This Episode
What can mid-sized manufacturing companies do to ensure they're well-positioned for the future of the industry and increase their competitive advantage? Listen to our conversation with Robert Bunting to learn more about how to implement new technologies and processes to prepare for the future of manufacturing.
How digital transformation is helping Bunting be more efficient, better manage processes, and allow for more remote work.
Where Bunting is using automation to eliminate steps that don't bring value.
How Bunting is testing "lights out" automation and how it's creating a competitive advantage.
Why changing customer behaviors are forcing manufacturers to become more efficient with customer data and response time.
The areas in which Bunting is practicing sustainability, especially in their recycling.
The potential of AI to enhance efficiencies, quickly gather data, and assist in customer service.
Advice to other manufacturers that includes learning as much as you can from the world around you.

Thursday Dec 14, 2023

"One of the things that we wanted to do at Epicor was to start to broaden our understanding of manufacturing beyond just production orders or MES systems — really start to further learn more about the finance, the accounting side, because that's so, so important," said Mark Jensen, Director of Product Marketing at Epicor on a recent episode of the Manufacturing the Future podcast. "We surveyed finance and accounting leaders in over 200 companies worldwide ... the people that are in there day in, day out, working with the financial and the accounting aspects of software."
Mark recently visited the podcast to discuss the findings from Epicor's "The Evolving Role of Financial Leaders in Manufacturing" report. As he explains to Kerrie, the report shows how much the role of the CFO is changing and in many ways elevating to new responsibilities. The CFOs surveyed are also looking to new technologies like AI and business intelligence to support growth and profitability. They're also finding a lot of value in the cloud as well.
However, CFOs are facing a number of challenges today, including talent shortages and retention, and how to manage and maximize the value of data. Yet they're turning to technology to address these challenges, like automation that can help improve retention by minimizing manual tasks and robust data management platforms to help extract value from all that data.
In This Episode
What's on the minds of manufacturing CFOs today? Listen to our conversation with Mark Jensen to hear more about the findings from "The Evolving Role of Financial Leaders in Manufacturing" report.
How "The Evolving Role of Financial Leaders in Manufacturing" report was created and an overview of its findings.
How the role of the CFO is changing, evolving, and elevating.
Four challenges CFOs are facing today, including talent acquisition and data siloing.
How CFOs are addressing the talent shortage and turnover by relieving burnout through automation.
Three new technologies that CFOs are leveraging to improve profitability.
Top takeaways from the report around data management, the value of the cloud, and how not to be held back by market conditions.

Thursday Oct 12, 2023

"Voice of the Manufacturing Manager" Roundtable
What's on the minds of manufacturing leaders today? What's on their to-do lists? What do they see on the horizon? Epicor recently surveyed 400 manufacturing leaders for our "Voice of the Manufacturing Manager" report to find out more about how they're approaching technology, business strategies, worker engagement, and the future of their industry
In this special episode of the "Manufacturing the Future" podcast, we invited three manufacturing leaders to discuss the findings of the report and to hear their perspectives on the key takeaways. Kerrie hosts John Preiditsch, President & CEO, Six S Partners; Mark Jamieson, President & CEO, 2WTech; and Ivan Rebolledo, Chief Revenue Office, Technology Coast Partners for an insightful discussion on the technology shaping manufacturing today, how to increase engagement across your workforce, and how being perceived as "modern" can promote your business. 
A discussion around the key takeaways of Epicor's new report, "Voice of the Manufacturing Manager."
How being perceived as a "modern manufacturing company" impacts business.
The different types of technology manufacturing companies are using today, including cloud and AI.
Where manufacturing companies stand on upskilling, and how it can increase worker engagement while producing a higher return on new technology.
How to increase the morale of manufacturing workers through increased pay and time off, and by appealing to other non-monetary needs.
The priorities and challenges to manufacturing leaders and how to solve them.
Why communication is a key skill to look for when hiring for the future of manufacturing.

Thursday Sep 28, 2023

"A lot of times you can really get stuck when you're doing something. You lose sight of what's next because you're so fixated on what you're doing that you don't think about the future," says Ario Khoshbin, Founder & CEO at Prollenium Medical Technologies in our newest podcast. And Ario has done just that in building a medical aesthetics technology company from scratch, learning the ins and outs of the industry as it scaled, and instilling a mindset of constant innovation.
As Ario explains, Prollenium Medical Technologies started with a $300 loan and is now a company that employees 300 people. Instead of hiring expertise from already established companies, Ario built it from scratch, learning how to create formulas for their products and ensuring that they're being produced in sterile environments. As they grew, they implemented more technology like HR software and an ERP system to empower employees, especially to keep the pulse of employees as the environment scaled.
Ario founded the company after working with his immigrant parents in their own businesses, and being inspired by their hard work. That’s been another factor he’s focused on: scaling a company while staying true to his family roots and values.
In This Episode
What can young entrepreneurs learn from someone who put in the work to found and scale a company in a highly-regulated industry, and make sure that that growth is sustainable? Listen to our conversation with Ario Khoshbin and leave inspired to follow your passions and see your hard work come to fruition.
Ario's background being raised in an immigrant family, and how he grew up working with his parents in their businesses, which inspired him to start his own medical aesthetics technology company.
How the company grew from a $300 loan to now employing 300 people, and is the first Canadian company to open a manufacturing facility specializing in dermal fillers.
The technology that Prollenium has adopted to support and empower their employees, like HR software, an ERP, and more.
How instead of hiring from other companies, Prollenium built their company from scratch, and why Ario considered it a great learning experience.
The current trends in manufacturing, and why it's key to continue to innovate and not get stuck.
Advice for young entrepreneurs on following your passion and standing on the shoulders of others.


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