Developing Talent Pool: Every part of the fish has to be alive for the fish to be alive.

STIMS Institute and MICROMATIC Grinding Technology Ltd (MGT) have been collaborating for more than eight years on an initiative to develop Unique New Solutions (UNS). These are solutions for new machine tools and their auxiliaries for novel grinding processes for customers. The goal is to focus on unique outcomes
not available in India and, in some cases, first of its kind in the world. The focus is always on the end to end innovation (i.e.) from concept to commercially realized or implemented solutions.

This initiative also involves an innovative program designed to train and foster a few highly competent graduates into future leaders in manufacturing technology through System Thinking and Transformational Skills.

This team works in close collaboration with design, manufacturing and application departments at MGT, with end customers as well as research teams at the innovative University / Industry collaborative R&D center: Advanced Manufacturing Technology Development Center (AMTDC) at IIT Madras, India. Dr. Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute serves as the adviser to AMTDC.

Through the years, these teams at MGT and AMTDC have had several successes many of which are first of its kind for ‘Make in India’. Some of them are unique or novel in the world. The lessons learned from these collaborations are summarized below:

TALENT DEVELOPMENT FOR THE Unique New Solutions (UNS) TEAM:
Recruitment and development of the members for this initiative is rather unique. Individuals, mostly recent graduates, are recruited and assigned to assume a range of responsibilities in a short period of time. The assignments include:
• Market assessment in close collaboration with Sales and Application Engineering to establish the ‘need’ or the customer’s interest and the reason behind;
• Concept development for new solutions as a system, pricing and commercial contract execution;
• Research, Design and analysis of critical sub-assemblies and components;
• Design validation through theoretical calculations using modern tools and methods of FEA/FEM/ Mechatronics as well as advanced software solutions;
• Development of the solution through Concept Validation (establish the ‘science’), Prototype Demonstration (refine the ‘Engineering’), develop the Complete Solution (driven by “Strategy”) and implement at the customer facility;
Complete ownership in the development of unique products (machines, software, process solutions) from Concept to Commercially Viable Solutions.
Thus, in a short period of a few years, the fresh graduate can grow into a thorough technology professional (with integrated skills across Science, Engineering and Management) in the manufacturing sector. All this shift requires constant training and mentoring on System Thinking and Transformational Skills. This experiment in human resource innovation has been very interesting to say the least! It requires
continuous engagement by the senior management as well as rigorous review and on-line mentoring. Location or time zones are not the barriers for such human resource innovation!

TALENT IS MORE THAN ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE:
Developing a new solution requires an integration of knowledge across various disciplines. No one person can come with the knowledge from diverse fields such as Manufacturing Processes, Mechanical Engineering, Design, Materials, Electrical Engineering, Instrumentation, Testing, FEA, Mechatronics, Advanced Software
and CNC programming skills. Hence, recruiting the right talent with the required knowledge is a challenge and a starting point.

While graduates from well-known institutions have an edge in the beginning, this advantage is sustained more by those with a passion for continuous learning. After a few years of our experiment we find that true talent resides in those who excel at
three core capabilities: Knowledge, Experience and People skills.

Core Capabilities for Talent Development

Experience is not to be judged by the years of work in a given job or assignment. Instead it’s gained very quickly by those who are risk takers, willing to experiment with new ideas. Real life validation of their knowledge through working models, prototypes or sales contract builds self-confidence and a true sense of self-worth in young professionals, which is priceless. But this also requires a set of personal skills such as involvement, risk taking, collaboration and a result-driven attitude.

Core Capabilities of Professionals 
Description
   
Tools or Enablers
    KnowledgeDeep and extensive learning; Well informed; Comprehension of various aspects of the subjectFormal Education, Reading, Learning from peers, Data driven, searching on-line data base, Observations
    Experience  Skill derived from actual participation or direct involvement; Accumulated wisdom from real life.Hands-on Activities, Involvement, Experiments, Risk-taking
    People Skills  Ability to seek out others and receive their support, help, and cooperation; Willingness to reciprocate, to achieve mutual benefitsHonesty, Integrity, Communication Skills, Collaboration, Team Spirit, Results driven, Emotional Intelligence.
Core Capabilities of professionals

People skills are those beyond the well-known attributes for inter-personal interactions to get along well with others. In some regards, the people skills we find valuable are grounded in factors such as honesty, integrity and emotional intelligence. These are the skills that not only impel one to personal success, but also helps others and the team to the same outcome.

END TO END INNOVATION:

End to End Innovation: Fish is not alive unless every part of the fish is alive!

In most companies, R&D and commercial efforts are run as two parallel silos. One is an internal driven approach where ideas are developed and pushed outside. In other cases it is the sales driven identification of customer needs being pushed into the company for further internal development. Most of the time the internal identified solutions are partial representation of the “system” largely driven by “science” based ideas and their “engineering” refinement. The externally identified marketing driven needs are also partial in that “sales potential” is translated into “engineering” parameters which may or may not be compatible with the internal core capabilities. Hence these partial descriptions of the solution are often incompatible. Also the science and engineering minded professionals show little interest in engaging with the end customers and their needs. Sales and marketing professionals also show little or interest in the graphs, charts and simulations proficient to the technical “experts” inside the company. Our experiment has been to find a seamless blend between the two. Typically, such seamless connection happens in small startup companies. But our goal through UNS and EMTDC is to bring about entrepreneurial teams, talent and outcome while leveraging the resources and facilities of a well-established enterprise and institutions. The talent development for this effort requires education and commitment from everyone, especially the young talented professionals who learn and believe that ‘Every part of the fish has to be alive for the fish to be alive!’.

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

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The MMI magazine January issue can be accessed at: http://www.mmindia.co.in/flipbook/jan2018/

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

IMG_4028

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Acknowledgements

  • 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.

Outline

  • 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.

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SUMMARY

  • 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

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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.

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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 https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-science-of-clinton-education-advanced-manufacturing-and-more-money-for-research/?ex_cid=2016-forecast

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).