Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Giving women a start in manufacturing

Yesterday I attended an event that was positive on many levels. It was an event recognising the participants in a program called "Women Who Weld". A Brisbane manufacturer, Atlas Heavy Engineering has taken on the first participants in a program which encourages young women, of varying ages, to learn to weld. Once they've completed the program it counts towards a Certificate I in Engineering (Welding).

The first Women Who Weld participants as well as:
Local Member Lisa France MP (far left), Rex Vegt (second from left) and
Assistant Minister for Technical and Further Education Saxon Rice (far right).

Atlas General Manager Rex Vegt said the program has many aims but the primary one is to give these young women a 'start'. A start in a profession that will give them many skills, that they may not have otherwise had, to further their career in welding or another associated trade.

What a great sentiment! Isn't that what we all want(ed)? - a chance, a start to a career that offers opportunities, rewards and challenges. While the Women Who Weld program is obviously targeting women, it has a broader purpose of recruiting from:
  • a wider age group - the first intake ranged from 16 to mid-30s
  • varying backgrounds - four indigenous participants took part in the first intake
  • those that are out of work 
All have the opportunity to get a start - and get a start in an industry that can take them to a range of sectors and career pathways into other industries.

Assistant Minister Saxon Rice is taught to weld
by Women Who Weld student Zoe Girgenti.

The program is to be extended with the second intake underway and with further plans to expand it across other areas of Brisbane.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ICN helps IDEC win $4.2 million contract

An online database that links suppliers with projects helped steel fabricator IDEC Solutions win a $4.2 million contract on the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Industry Capability Network (ICN) in Queensland recommend businesses registered on ICN Gateway for projects such as Gold Coast University Hospital based on the suppliers' capacity and capability.

Idec Solutions Senior Projects Manager Ian Glover registered the company on ICN Gateway in early 2010 after investigating information on its services.

“I was doing my own research when I heard about ICN and the assistance it provides. Through registering with ICN, we have had a lot of exposure and been able to tender for more projects.”

ICN also helped Idec win a tender to supply 120 tonnes of steel to the $408 million redevelopment of the Mackay Base Hospital, which is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Click here to read the full story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Camel Tanks thirsty for more project wins

With so many major project on the go in Queensland - how do you maximise the amount of local involvement in these projects? By doing so, more jobs remain local, expertise is also developed local and project owners can benefit from a local supply chain.

Camel Tanks - primarily manufactures water tanks, producing 12 models ranging from 1,591 litre to 24,424 litre capacities - and by helping the company align itself with the capabilities required by major project Camel Tanks was able to tender for $5 million in contracts and in one case winning a contract worth $800,000.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Powering up the manufacturing engine room

In my spectacularly unsuccessful rugby days, I had the dubious privilege of playing 'Hooker'. This must conjure up some colourful images for my US friends, but I assure you the hooker position is an important and respectable one. In Rugby, as opposed to Rugby League, the hooker is charged with the task of winning scrums (by hooking the ball), throwing the ball for line-outs and should be fit enough (not me) to be present when contesting the ball in all rucks or mauls. The Hooker is one of three players in the front row of a scrum, which my coach used to call the 'engine room' of the game.

This is apt because those of us in the engine room were not particular known for our good looks or flamboyance, but were the essential cogs in the team's machinery that provided the force and power to enable the other team members to score the points. Post-game there are always half-serious jibes between the forwards (the workhorses) and the backs (the glamour boys).

I recently heard the engine room analogy used to describe manufacturing and it is an apt one. Manufacturing provides the process - the grunt work - for industry such as mining, resources, construction and infrastructure - enabling them to deliver value and boost the ceonomy as a result. Value, in this case, is more than product. It is delivering value in its broadest sense in terms of product and service (maintenance), but also in terms of R&D, innovation, process improvement and job multiplier effects.

Like any engine room, manufacturing needs to have the muscle and intelligence behind it to move forward. Our muscle and intelligence can be built if we address the following (as mentioned in a previous post):
  • the business case for manufacturing
  • the elements impeding the career path
  • sector prioritisation
If we get these things right, the engine room will continue to move us forward. If the engine room slows down, so does everything else.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The pursuit or the prize?

Today I stumbled across an old friend, a blog which had got me interested in blogging and getting the message out there about manufacturing - and I'd recommend it to everyone. It's a marketing blog by Seth Godin called "Seth's blog". Although by categorising it as a marketing blog is probably too restrictive - he certainly resonates with many marketers, but his thing is encouraging all of us to "be remarkable" in our businesses. (NB: It's the basis of his book Purple Cow - read it!).

His blog comprises of bite-sized insights that, I think, challenge conventional wisdom and urge consideration of varied and creative approaches to everyday problems. His latest entry about unfairly raising expectations when offering grants was interesting, but his summary was gold:
"Pepsi did the same thing with charities last year, and my concern is the same: when you activate your supporters, you need a clear path to victory, not a wild goose chase.
One significant way around this: have the outbound messages of the tribe be about more than the grant. Figure out how putting in the effort to help your local organization actually strengthens ties, instead of weakening them. The pursuit could be even better than the prize if you establish the right groundwork."
We see this all the time with our clients who get the concept of the "journey to excellence". That is, the 'journey' of continuous improvement is never over, never complete because you can always improve. This may sound fruitless but it is just the opposite for those who get it. They get it because they realise, as Godin says, that the activities that take place on the journey by engaging staff in the process and it is their participation, their buy-in that strengthens the collective commitment towards a particular goal.

The quantifiable results may be substantial and impressive, but it is the force that has been harnessed in achieving the goal that is more valuable to the organisation.

Thanks Seth.