STIMS Strategy for life long learning for intrepreneurship

Professionals in every field must constantly equip themselves with the latest skills to achieve new solutions for process problems.

Being adept at ‘Transformational skills’ and ‘system thinking’ constitutes a lifelong learning strategy required to develop a stream of New Solutions, a must to survive and succeed in the 21st century economy

MMI Cover story image

Who exactly are ‘intrepreneurs’?
We hear a constant drum beat for professionals to be entrepreneurial, capable of handling a variety of jobs and problems. This is in total contrast to the standardized
and de-skilled task-oriented replication activities. There are many opportunities to integrate knowledge from various sources – from other workers, knowledge available across departments, with the suppliers as well as with the customers or end-users. The advent of smart phones, Facebook, Google and other search engines also augment this ability to aggregate information from across the globe and convert them into new knowledge. The result is a “new solution” of high added value. They are heralded as “entrepreneurial”. The new term used for such entrepreneur working inside a company – as opposed to a startup operation – is “Intrepreneur”.

Life Long Learning Strategy:

Modern Manufacturing India, a Publication of the Indian Machine Tool Manufactusers  Association (IMTMA) carries the cover page article authored by STIMS Institute. This article provides a strategy for life long learning for entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs.

STIMS Cover story MMI Jan. 2018 issue


The MMI magazine January issue can be accessed at:

Developing a frame work for Effective Collaboration between Academic Research and Industrial Outcome.

We were invited to present a Key Note lecture on August 5, 2017 at the Chinese Conference on Abrasives Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China. Inserted below are main points, some images and a link to the full presentation.

Key Note lecture final




  • Thanks to Prof. Zhang at HIT, to the organizers of CCAT and Harbin Institute of Technology
  • Thanks to Dr. Jinsheng Wang, GM, Intelligent Grinding   Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., my friend and host for this visit
  • Thanks to many friends and colleagues across the globe in the industry as well as in the academia.
  • This talk is a summary of many years of experience  and successful collaboration between Academic researchers and Professionals in the industry across the globe.


  • 21st Century economy requires New Solutions with deliberate focus on Academic Research; That Integrates knowledge from all sources
  • New Solutions require three types of Knowledge:
    • Academic learning
    • Hands on Experience
    • Transformational Skills.
  • New Solutions in Grinding Processes are the result of collaboration between Academic Research and Industrial Applications enabled by Transformational Skills.
  • Transformational Skills are necessary for industry /   university collaboration
  • Examples and Case Studies.



  • 21st Century Research has to be targeted to deliver New Solutions
  • This requires integrating knowledge from all sources.
  • Knowledge Integration is enabled by System Thinking:
  • Every solution is integration of Science, Engg. And Mgt.
  • Focus on the big picture, not merely the dots.
  • Three sources of Knowledge are simultaneously required today:
    • Academic Education
    • Hands on Training
    • Transformational Skills.
  • During this talk we have described the “System Thinking” and “TS”.
  • We have also shown examples of how these are useful for promoting effective industry/university collaboration.


Developing a framework for Industry – Academia collaboration : A case study


Education & Training NGPG EM Mar 2017

To address the limited capability among Indian machine tool manufacturers to produce high precision machines, a model on Next Generation Precision Grinder (NGPG) has been developed. This project also illustrates the development of a collaboration frame work to integrate the expertise available with the Indian machine tool manufacturers, academic resources, etc with the knowledge available from across the globe.

Key lessons learned:

  1. Cooperative R&D is entirely possible between industry and academic/R&D institutions in India as long as everyone is focused on the same common goal (i.e.) advancement of academic knowledge that supports commercially viable end results.
  2. Such an approach is most appropriate for medium to long term R&D projects (3-5 years), not those requiring immediate development.
  3. At higher reaches of technology, the scientific inputs can only be brought by academia, since industry – especially the SMEs – mostly does not have the needed resources.
  4. There are tools and resources available from Govt. funded agencies that could be deployed by students and industry professionals. Developing such eco-system enhances efficiency and reduces the total cost and investments needed in such projects.
  5. A structured project with system thinking leading to clearly laid down quantified objectives stands a good chance of success.
  6. There must be a driver each from industry and academia, who make it their personal mission to complete the project successfully.
  7. 7. It is essential for the industry and academic institution to continuously interact and jointly work on the project at every stage. Such collaboration also benefits from engagement of organizations, such as IMTMA and international experts in knowledge integration.
  8. A free exchange of information and data is essential, without being worried about Intellectual Property (IP) confidentiality at every stage. This can be secured through a mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) at the start.
  9. If properly reviewed and managed periodically (as by the PRMC), it is possible to complete such projects within the time and budget allotted.

Restoring Manufacturing as a job creation engine.


President elect Donald Trump’s efforts to shine light on Carrier Co. and their limitation of jobs might have one silver lining, although it may not be what he seems to suggest (i.e.) he as the POTUS can retore US manufacturing jobs. It is reported that  Carrier Co. to ultimately cut some of jobs Trump saved

The company’s deal with President-elect Donald Trump to keep a furnace plant from moving to Mexico also calls for a $16 million investment in the facility. But that has a big down side for some of the workers in Indianapolis. Most of that money will be invested in automation said to Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, Carrier’s corporate parent. And that automation will replace some of the jobs that were just saved. “We’re going to…automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” he said on an interview on CNBC earlier this week. “Is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”

We have described in detail this migration and transformation of the “Manufacturing work” in one of our earlier blog posts under the title “How to bring the manufacturing jobs that are never coming back”. It cannot be achieved merely by blaming Trade Agreements or past government policies. Certainly it cannot be achieved merely by blaming the CEOs of Carrier or Being Co. or the union leaders that Mr. Trump thinks of as his whipping boys for the day.

“You can’t just blame cheap labor [outside the U.S.],” said Dan Miklovic, principal analyst with LNS research. “Certainly many of the jobs that we’ve lost, especially in more sophisticated industries, it’s not so much that they’ve been offshored, but it has been automation that replaced them. We use a lot more robots to build cars.” Altogether, U.S. factories are actually producing more products today than they did in the post-World War II era, according to the Federal Reserve’s reading on manufacturing output. Output at U.S. factories is up 150% in last 40 years. But U.S. manufacturing jobs have plunged by more than 30% in that same period. And automation is a big reason why.

The above suggests that the US labor has been producing 50% more output with 30% less labor. A simple math would suggest that US labor has been doing such a good job that the manufacturing labor productivity has gone up by 114% (= 150% output put with only 70% of labor needed). But to gain even more employment at this higher level of productivity US will need to produce and sell 214% more than we did 40 years ago! Unless these products can be consumed inside of USA at the current prevailing prices the US will be required to sell them to other countries. How can this be achieved with the Trump administration’s position opposing Trade agreements? Senator Sanders has been equal contributor to this fallacy.

Let us be clear about something else. Not all of these productivity gains have come thanks only to better worker skills. If that were the case the workers can walk out of their jobs and the manufacturing plants will come to a screeching halt. That was the power of the labor 40 years ago and hence the strength of the unions. That is not the case today. We discuss this point in more detail in our essay: Do Americans really miss the unions? It is true that few workers are better skilled and contribute far better than their peers 40 years ago. These are also the among the college educated workers – with minimum of associate degree from Community colleges – working mostly in the two coasts and the few newly industrialized manufacturing centers in the South and the Midwest. These are not the voters in the industrial mid-west without higher education (or even H.S. Degree). These “higher skilled” workers are not large in number or concentrated in a few places to have the strength necessary to force higher wages through unions and their demands. The challenge is to train and educate more of these skilled workers so that they can acquire and maintain higher paying manufacturing jobs on their own. This is not more of the same education leading to the suggestion from a professor of Chemistry “It may be a mistake to get a degree in Chemistry, unless you have also figured out how to use your knowledge!”

There is no end in sight in this trend in automation and depletion of manufacturing jobs. Anyone who pushes the idea that they can reverse this trend and grow lots of manufacturing jobs in the US merely through trade barriers or building isolationist policies  is selling you another Trump University!

 And it’s not a trend that’s going to end with Carrier or even with manufacturers. A recent study by McKinsey & Co. said that 45% of the tasks that U.S. workers are currently paid to perform can be automated by existing technology. That represents about $2 trillion in annual wages.

If you take the above data and through simple math one can conclude that the US manufacturing has to reach 400% of our production output to maintain employment parity that existed 40 years ago. This does not take into account additional increase required to account for our modest population growth.  This also does not take into account additional developments through Digital Technology for further automation. Information technology, which will continue to deplete the need for manufacturing labor.

Where will this new production come from? It cannot come by simply producing more of the same. 400% of manufacturing production in US over 40 years ago would suggest that all manufactured goods are made in US and everyone else in the world will merely but what we make! This Utopian view of the world is foolish at best. Hence it implies US has to conceive and produce goods and services for the unmet needs that other countries can not produce today.

These unmet needs to be full filled can be for consumption in the US and better yet for all the unmet needs across the globe. This has to start with our redefining the commonly used term “Technology”. Everyone in the media, leadership, think tanks make the same mistake by addressing developments in IT (Broadly in the category of Digital Information Technology) as the Technology.  Look at the parent Co. of Carrier (i.e.) United Technologies. The word technology here refers to jet engines and air conditioners. It does not imply IT in isolation. For more details see: Managing the role of Digital Technology: Life before and after electricity.

Why is this important? There has been relentless effort to improve and enhance the efficiency and productivity of human centered activities in the past 40 years using IT / DT. Progress in automation and AI are merely focused for furtherance of the same. The resultant depletion of human center activities (jobs) are being lost at a far larger arte than any new jobs being created. For more details see: Understanding the voter resentment. The only way to reverse this trend is to emphasize as a nation – and across the globe – the need to focus on

  • Relentlessly foster all sciences and their technologies that can create NEW SOLUTIONS that meet the unmet needs across the globe.

This implies that products and services for alternative energy, high speed transport across the US, solutions to fight global warming, exploring the space. eliminating poverty, hunger and poor health, products and services for the growing old age population, etc. are not mere matters of policy and political debate. Instead these are real opportunities for new products and services not available from other countries. These are also new business opportunities for the investors. In combination these are the manufacturing activities that can create net new jobs in the US.

The need for such expansive role of new science based initiatives (the true meaning of the word “Technology”) is not fully recognized. For more details see: Dwindling gains in Science, medicine and technology in the WSJ article.

But the WSJ report suggests that we the US population is some how risk averse. This is far from the truth. When the new technology is an acceptable alternative US as nation is the first to accept the risk and embrace the change. But these businesses and services based on new science based technologies will not take off without substantial initial investments to foster them through Government initiatives.    We should be honest to admit that US auto industry would not have succeeded without the Highways and freeways built across the nation by the US Govt. The same auto industry would not be viable today without the Govt. intervention of the 2008 financial crisis. The same can be said of aerospace industry and the role of government funded defense contracts supporting many basic research projects.

  • Focus away from the use of IT and AI technologies  solely on eliminating human centered efforts and more towards creating new opportunities for human endeavor (work or jobs).

Our reliance on IT to reduce jobs and increase labor productivity has been the untold “Opioid crisis” in all our economic activities. It was prescribed as a solution to over the labor cost issues in the late 1970s. Now it has become the crutch and the only medicine consumed by CEOs across all companies and in all sectors to reduce labor cost year after year to keep their balance sheet look attractive to their investors.

The above two prescriptions for increasing the manufacturing employment have to become the corner stone of any policy advocates as well as the fundamentals for any administration that truly believes in restoring US manufacturing and increased jobs as a result.

Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations complexly missed the boat in terms of the above two prescriptions. Republican ideologues who want to keep Government out of everything they see as  interfering with “free market economy”have thwarted most of President Obama’s efforts in this direction, every step of the way. Democrats who see the need are not clear in their vision or vocal to articulate the need for real growth in new jobs. Instead they offer platitudes in terms of free college education and more manufacturing jobs (without a clue on where they will come from).

The CEOs have also a role to play. After all they can not continue to cut  jobs and look good in their bottom line in the long run.  Recall the comment by the CEO of Carrier Co. quoted earlier? “We’re going to…automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive”. He did not suggest investing in more new products and services that can increase employment and also improve his company’s performance bottom line in the long term!

If the policy planners and administration will come to such consensus is anybody’s guess. In the meantime individuals should take the matter of their jobs and careers in their own hands and develop strategies for the same on their own. Transformational Skills for success in the 21st Century Economy.

An obligation for every Technical Professional

Irrespective of your political affiliation you should read the attached link for an excellent panel discussion on Education, Advanced Manufacturing and Funding for Research

If your candidate understands and supports these issues vote for her / him. If your candidate has no clue on these issues then demand their attention and policy positions. Standing on the side line or casting a protest vote is not a good option.

Your jobs, career and future depend on your activist role in this election (and in every election).

NGPG – 8 Year journey for end to end Innovation



A group of executives of machine tool manufacturing companies and precision components manufacturers met in July 2008 at Ghaziabad, a small town in the outskirts of Delhi. This meeting was organized by Mr. N.K. Dhand, CEO, Micromatic Grinding Technology, a leading machine tool manufacturer in India. Their discussion centered on Precision Manufacturing in India. This was an early initiative very much in line with the now famous Make in India movement spear headed by the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. This journey started in 2008 has resulted in a commercially viable indigenous machine tool, capable of manufacturing higher precision engineered components in India. This machine (NGPG) was inaugurated on June 24th 2016 at IIT – Madras, India.


This report is a brief summary of the 8 – Year journey of collaborative development, leading to end to end innovation (i.e.) from concept to commercially viable end product.

Following are a few pictures from the kick off meeting held at Ghaziabad on July 1, 2008. The meeting was attended by CEOs of several precision machine tool manufacturers, Senior Managers from Precision components manufacturers, Senior advisers from Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers Association (IMTMA).


Kick off meeting held at MGT at Gazhiabad, Delhi July 1, 20008

 Dr. K. (Subbu) Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute (then working at Saint-Gobain Co.)  was invited to this meeting to offer his views on manufacturing and innovation. He offered an outline for a road map for machine tool developments in India. He suggested the following outline:

  • Step 1: Target Industries, applications and their market opportunity (Driven by National and Global Policies): Inside of India; in Selected Geographies?
  • Step 2: There are similar applications (e.g): Cylindrical Grinding, everywhere. What is the “Served Market” for the IMTMA members?
  • Step 3: What industries and markets that IMTMA members want to drive? Proactive Vs. Reactive ?
  • Step 4: There is a natural evolution path for Core Capabilities  depending on the           component/supplier capabilities.
  • Step 5: Leverage capabilities of Individual members or industry suppliers?  (e.g): Grinding Technology
  • Step 6: Leverage capabilities of a collection of members and their capabilities for  “Integrated Solutions”? Technology Value Chain?

Dr. Subramanian also explained the need for an eco-system for collaborative development in India, as an unique alternative to the industry – university models noted in developed nations such as USA and Germany.


At the end of this meeting the following conclusion was reached:

Indian Machine Tool manufacturers and their customers for the machines made in India cannot achieve tolerances for less than 1 micron (roundness, taper, size holding, …) with out in-process gaging. But in-process gaging cannot be used for many precision components including non-round grinding applications such as cam lobe grinding or match grinding of precision parts. Such machines can be imported but technologies to manufacture such machines are not available for sale that can be purchased from the overseas manufacturers. Lack of such higher precision machine tools also impacts further progress inside of India in the use of advanced grinding solutions – such as high speed CBN grinding – in the manufacturing sector.

After such clearly outlined industry need, Dr. Subramanian and Mr. N.K. Dhand contacted Prof. Babu at IIT – Madras. Further discussions together with Mr. Mohanram, Scientific Adviser, IMTMA resulted in a research proposal, which was timely for submission to a RFP for research in the year 2010, supported through the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor, GOI. The proposal was accepted by GOI. The review process that followed was valuable as noted in the following exchange:

Reviewer Comment: The proposal should make the technical details of what is meant by the next generation precision grinding machine. This information given in the proposal is too general and is not sufficient to judge the quality of the proposal. It is also not proper to identify an existing machine tool of the sponsor without establishing its superiority over the existing machine tools of the other brands.

I recommend that the first phase of the project should compare and identify the  best grinding machine presently available and then spell out the requirements of the next generation precision Grinding machine so as to take up the second phase project involving the development.

Response:   There will be a parallel effort to calibrate cylindrical grinding machines available in India and the state of the art of such machines available worldwide. With this data set of the cylindrical grinding machine capabilities inside of India and those available abroad should be the reference for developing the next generation precision grinder. The framework developed in the project will provide the necessary guidance for building the next generation precision grinders.

After further reflection, the following factors were also identified by the R&D team:

  • In most industries the commercial developments are incremental. But the history of such development is not a well-documented continuum. Hence while many companies can manufacture higher precision machine tools, they cannot “teach” a comprehensive methodology for someone else to follow!
  • Often the legacy knowledge is also lost with the retirement or departure of experienced and senior level workers as each generation of machine tool is developed or due to changes in company business conditions and strategy.
  • The research pursued by individual academic researchers often delve into depth of one or the other aspect of precision machine tools such as stiffness, dynamic stability, etc. Rare few if any study all aspects of machine tool developments needed for the development of a higher precision machine tool. This requires an integrated or System View of the research and development.
  • Hence the System Approach developed and advocated by STIMS Institute and the related Transformational Skills were adapted as the frame work for the development of the Next Generation Precision Grinder (NGPG).

The NGPG project was approved by the end of 2012. It has progressed well to achieve all the goals set forth in the visionary meeting held at Ghaziabad in 2008. The machine was inaugurated on June 24th 2016 at IIT – Madras by Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor, GOI. The project, its progress and the end result – a commercially viable next generation machine tool developed as an outcome of GOI funded research carried out through active team of collaborators from Industry, Academia, Govt. Research labs. and world experts – is a true testament to the application of System Thinking and Transformational Skills and their impact. We are pleased to document below the progress and the results through the following slides:







NGPG: Outcome of effective Project Management and guidance by the Project Review and Management Committee (PRMC)Slide7

Transformational Skills displayed through the NGPG Project

Slide12 As it is often said “Success Breeds Success”. The success of the NGPG project and the collaborative environment created across the industry / university research and manufacturing community has resulted in the development and formation of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Development Center (AMTDC). This is a collaborative effort across six machine tool / components manufacturers, IIT – M supported by GOI R&D funding.  STIMS Institute will continue its role of mentoring and guidance for the success of this consortium and its impact on the manufacturing sector.