This month, Optimation surpassed two years without a lost time incident. In our line of work providing engineering, design and build solutions for industrial and manufacturing companies, this is a difficult feat. But it's not an unattainable one. It takes planning and training, employee dedication, and a culture of safety to make milestones like these possible. This means an investment of time and money for companies who are serious about working safely. But the cost of not working safely can be very high.
In less than a week, The J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge will be held in Rochester. We are getting a new venue and lots of other changes this year. It’s the 26th year that Chase has held the event in Rochester, but Rochester was not the original event. It began in NYC 40 years ago. The event is an amazing blend of exercise, fun, food, drink, camaraderie, fundraising for charity and networking. And the emphasis could be placed on the networking. The original founders had little idea what would happen after the event was established. Their inaugural event was set up long before running was popular and included less than 1000 runners.
When one is in the business of selling purpose-built manufacturing systems and equipment, one is frequently asked by one’s prospective customers to provide pricing for their goods and services. Depending on how well defined the needed solution is, which would be embodied in the equipment to be priced, calculated equipment costs can be widely variable. In these situations, where a selection of different technologies and even approaches may satisfy our prospect, we recommend that some preliminary engineering be performed to better define the needs of the client’s operation, and thereby provide criteria with which to limit options and better judge best fit/return on investment from the solution options.
Back in the 70s when I graduated with an engineering degree, a large percentage of the new graduates went to work for manufacturing companies. A certain percentage went on for advanced degrees and ended up in research positions and academia, but much of the research was carried out by private companies building their own IP portfolios. The exception to this was civil, structural and architectural graduates who might end up working for private engineering and design firms.
Last week we made a milestone at Optimation. We reached 400 days and over 500,000 hours without a lost time accident. It was a time to celebrate, a time to look back and be proud of what we have done and a time to look ahead on how we can up our game and work toward the million-hour mark (which we did reach once before in the last decade). Milestones like this are not reached by chance. It takes training, planning, attention to detail, coaching and teamwork.
November 14 – 20, 2016 was National Apprenticeship Week. This was an opportunity to highlight how Registered Apprenticeships meet the needs for a skilled workforce for employers, education, and industry associations. 47 states made proclamations and participated in the celebration. New York was not one of them. The reason why New York passed it by is not clear. But just because New York wasn’t part of NAW 2016 does not mean that those of us who live in New York don’t appreciate, applaud and celebrate apprentices. The trades and the opportunities they bring are critically important to New York as they are to the rest of the nation.
The New York Times recently ran a story about how Small Factories Emerge as a Weapon in the Fight Against Poverty. Their story centered on urban manufacturing. I live in upstate New York where there are lots of small manufacturing companies scattered across rural communities. Small manufacturers who exist in inner city neighborhoods or small rural towns are a critical part of the employment opportunities for those living near them.
“We’ll take away your pain!”
That is one of our favorite tag lines here at Optimation. We have many customers that come to us with different problems, but the bottom line is they are experiencing “pain” of some type – facility shutdowns, short-staffed internal teams, looming capital improvement budget deadlines, custom testing requirements for safety and quality, and many more. We are here to take away that pain!
At Optimation, we provide a variety of goods and services to our customers who manufacture a range of products for numerous markets. One of the verticals that we service is that segment of the manufacturing population that produces goods continuously in web form (or roll-to-roll). These products can be commodities like garbage bags and food wrap, or they can be more high tech, such as printable electronics. In either case, in order to take advantage of the attractive unit manufacturing costs that uninterrupted production garners, these companies need to have sufficient knowledge of the process and machinery that is the platform for their operation. It is this knowledge of the science behind the web machinery that drives troubleshooting, new product introductions, diagnostics, and improvements.
The oil and gas market took a huge hit and went under some significant changes in the past two years. There were many factors which caused this to happen, including decreased demand and increases in the supply. There are new sources of supply including fracked natural gas which is converted to liquid chemicals or fuels. Others are working on cost effective processes to convert coal to gas. Their goal is to deliver gas to drivers cheaper and much cleaner than traditional oil to gasoline conversion methods. As the oil industry rebounds the playing field will never be the same as it was in the past. The winners and losers in the changed landscape are yet to be determined but it is clear that the landscape is changing.