BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Posts Tagged ‘life’

A weak manufacturing sector is like having a weak immune system

Posted by Bert Maes on April 5, 2012


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Every lost manufacturing job means the loss of around 2.3 other jobs in the economy (e.g. in research and design). Manufacturing’s decline slows economic growth. While manufacturing represents 10% of the jobs in the economy, job loss in manufacturing hits nearly 30% of the economy.

There is a structural weakness in our manufacturing. Our manufacturing is not competitive. Invasion of import competition from China was responsible for between one‐quarter to more than one‐half of the lost manufacturing jobs in the 2000s.

A new report – published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation – states that “the loss of manufacturing is due to underinvestment in manufacturing technology support policies (…), among others.

Underinvestment in medium- and high-technology is causing a structural decline of our economy. To be able to use those technologies, we of course need high-tech skills.

So the future of manufacturing begins with education, and with the resulting high-skilled top talent.

The current situation of manufacturing is like having a weakened immune system.

Without the right system of cells you will never keep the integrity of the body intact.

The body has soldiers, members of the immune system army:  the B-cell and the T-cell. The dutiful soldiers get into action the moment any foreign substance or agent enters our body. B-cells circulate all around the body in the bloodstream, and eventually bind to the agent. T-cells circulate in the bloodstream and lymph and kill the agent. The blood and lymph systems are responsible for transporting the soldiers of the immune system.

  • The blood stream is our education system.
  • The B-cells are our high-level technologies.
  • The T-cells are our highly-skilled workers.

They are our protective shields to combat infections. If our cells are not strong enough, viruses are attacking our vital organs.

Germany, Korea and Japan have transformed to high-skilled manufacturing. They have a significantly higher share of their manufacturing output in high-tech and medium-high-tech industries than the United States; they have transformed their manufacturing industries toward more complex, higher-value-added production. They face less competition, so they increase their manufacturing employment.

More and stronger cells, a better blood stream, a stronger immune system that shows higher productivity is required for strong health.

More students, more advanced technology, better education is required for economic success.

With a strong manufacturing immune system, the economy would be much healthier.

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Manufacturing: the unseen underground economy

Posted by Bert Maes on October 7, 2011


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In 1850, a decade before the Civil War, the United States’ economy was small — it wasn’t much bigger than Italy’s. Forty years later, it was the largest economy in the world. What happened in between was (…) the rise of steel and manufacturing — and the economy was never the same,” says W. Brian Arthur, an economist and technology thinker.

Since ages manufacturing is quietly, for many people unnoticeably, transforming the economy.

Manufacturing is silent, invisible and unseen.

Much like the root system for aspen trees, Arthur observes. “For every acre of aspen trees above the ground, there’s about ten miles of roots underneath, all interconnected with one another, “communicating” with each other.”

The observable physical world of aspen trees hides an unseen underground root system.

Just like trees, CNC machine tools are creating for us — slowly, quietly, and steadily — a different world.

Think about this: the success of Steve Jobs was based on CNC manufacturing machines, based on the invisible roots undergound: Apple puts CNC Machining Front and Center.

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If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on September 5, 2011


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Investment in the green economy and renewable energy today will help ensure our economies stay competitive in the future. But perhaps more importantly, right now investment in the green economy is creating new jobs for millions of job-seekers.

And guess what? If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

A great portion of jobs in the clean economy is in manufacturing-related segments.

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Spanish and Portuguese Students: A Five-Axis Manufacturing Future

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2011


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School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free. “First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

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As most readers know, Haas Automation’s European HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) programme continues to go from strength-to-strength, as more and more schools on the Continent invest in the latest Haas machine tool technology to create state-of-the-art CNC teaching facilities.

However, not every school that invests in Haas machines chooses to be an HTEC. Some have more specific requirements. In the case of two, recently opened teaching-workshops in Spain and Portugal, that requirement was for low-cost, high capability 5-axis machine tools.

The Centro de Formação Profissional of Águeda, Portugal, opened on July 7th, 2011, and the IES Politécnico de Vigo, Spain, opened on July 8th. Each school has invested in a Haas VF-2 CNC machining centre equipped with a Haas TRT160 – a tilting 160 mm, 2-axis CNC rotary table, giving 5, simultaneous cutting axes. Both machines are supplied and supported by the local Haas Factory Outlet, a division of Portugal-based After Sales, SA.

Águeda’s economy has a strong, metal processing sector. “Two things are keeping this region healthy,” says mayor, Mr. Gil Nadais: “agriculture and metal manufacturing. We need to increase our turnover in these key export sectors and investing in innovative technology is essential for the future of this region.” School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free.

“First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

The economy in Vigo, Spain, Galicia’s economic powerhouse, relies heavily on local automotive manufacturing.  Mr. Antonio Estévez is headmaster at IES Politéchnico de Vigo. “Our priority is ensuring the car industry can find people skilled in mechanical engineering and maintenance,” he says. “Each year we invest in the latest equipment to ensure our students have the most up to date and practical preparation possible. The five axis Haas VF-2 is the right investment to develop skills that Galician companies need.

Several Haas industry partner companies – including Mastercam, Sandvik, Chick and Cimcool, also supported the grand openings of the two new teaching workshops. Managing Director of After Sales SA, Mr. Carlos Vilas-Boas feels that the role of his HFO is, in many instances, one of facilitator. “We take service and support very seriously,” he says, “and we believe it includes connecting students, teachers, employers, technology companies and politicians. These two events are good examples of how, when we all work together, the benefits are better training and, ultimately, greater productivity and stronger economies.”

Haas Europe HTEC coordinator Mr. Bert Maes also attended the grand openings. “These two schools have forward-looking managers and top-quality, industry-experienced teachers,” he says. “Combined with the easy-to-use Haas 5th axis technology, the result is highly skilled and motivated students with the technical ability to build complex projects like the ones I’ve seen today: from small wind-powered generators to fully-functioning customised, computer mice. I am convinced that many companies in Portugal and Galicia will benefit from the time and energy After Sales is investing in these important schools.”

www.HTECnetwork.eu

''

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The Truth about…Youth

Posted by Bert Maes on June 14, 2011


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What motivates young people around the world today? Money? Fame? Justice?

McCann Worldgroup asked that question to 7000 young people around the world: US, UK, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and Philippines.

 The same three motivations are ranked highly in every country.

 

And it is technology – most often their phone and laptop – which fuels the three motivations above. It is the deep relationship with technology that allows them to connect and to influence justice for a new era.

  • The need for connection and community is the most fundamental motivation for young people. They want to connect, share and broadcast through digital cameras, cheap editing software, design programs and blogging platforms.
  • For this reason: to be remembered, not for their beauty, their power or their influence, but simply by the quality of their human relationships and being loved by many people.
  • Connecting to a broader network of friends has replaced the need to belong to a tight-knit group of friends.
  • They long for new tools to broadcast, share, entertain, make new connections, beat their friends, and narrate their lives.
  • They avoid all impositions, rigid rules and structures where they can’t negotiate.
  • But these tools should come from people that really care. Youth is disgusted by corporate people doing good just to make themselves look good. From a young person’s point of view, the worst thing a brand can do us make a promise it doesn’t keep.
  • Young people want to change the world. Social media allows them to share information, to join groups on a wide range of topics (everything from corruption in politics to freedom of speech or human rights abuses) and to build networks of support and encouragement.
  • They believe technology brands like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook will solve most of the problems the word faces today, from environmental issues to food shortages, from freedom of speech to privacy and terrorism.

I am wondering how these technology brands will save the world.
Have you got insights for me?

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Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics, Value of CNC | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

[VIDEO] Why Manufacturing is so Important to Each of Our Lives

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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How to Support Teachers

Posted by Bert Maes on May 4, 2011


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Below is an infographic illustrating what teachers feel is most important toward improving instruction.

Absolutely essential or very important:

(1) 96% Supportive Leadership

(2) 90% Access to High-Quality Curriculum and Teaching Resources

(3) 89% Time for Teachers to Collaborate

(4) 89% Clean and Safe Building Conditions

(5) 86% a Collegial Work Environment

(6) 85% Professional Development that is relevant to Personal and School Goals

(7) 81% Higher Salaries

(8) 43% Opportunities for Alternate Careers

(9) 25% Pay Tied to Performance

We are supporting CNC Manufacturing Teachers with elements (2), (4) and (6) for effective and engaging technical education.

Source:  Jason Flom (@Eco_of_Ed) from the multi-author blog: Ecology of Education.

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Manufacturing Should Be Called: The Art of Import Replacement (and The Art of Saving Our Economy)

Posted by Bert Maes on May 3, 2011


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Jane Jacobs

So many times people are asking me: “We are living in a service-based economy. Manufacturing is not viable anymore. So what the **** are you doing there?

Well, my answer typically is:

Yes, we are living in a service-based economy: in high-income countries 75%-87% of the economic growth is generated by services. 13%-25% comes from goods-producing industries.

But the problem is: this is not creating wealth — it actually fuels our national debts.

We cannot live from services alone. Poor regions and nations typically import more than they can afford OR they fail to produce a wide, diverse, creative range of physical products and export them. Economic success is simply the result of a process of constant, new & differentiated exports.

What we should be doing is follow a very old concept invented by Jane Jacobs: the import-replacement theory. That would make us earn money… Today, we stay behind with importing stuff, losing money, governments that have to loan, and in the end can’t pay for the interest anymore, bringing us close to bankruptcy.

Also the banks still haven’t learned anything: they still have the luxury to play around with other people’s money. When they screw up, and lose millions, they don’t care. The government doesn’t mind. A manufacturing business instead gets the raw material in, and makes a finished product. “When you screw up, you pay from your own pocket,” says Franc CoenenThe economy is at risk when you count on companies that just sell ‘air’ and don’t add value.

An economy based more on making things and less on debt-fueling services would help to avoid domestic financial bubbles and add balance to the global economy,” Tom Saler adds. Only by restoring manufacturing can historic trade imbalances and high unemployment levels be expeditiously reduced and economic growth expanded to generate sufficient tax revenues to help ultimately balance the budget deficit.”

Is there a reason why we cannot be the best in the art of ‘import-replacing’ again?

The Chinese are not the problem. Jobs and industry always move to the cheapest and easiest manufacturing market.

In the 60s and 70s it was Japan, then South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong took the manufacturing lead in producing ‘junk’ products in large quantities. Those countries got better in higher quality products, the people grew richer, workers demanded higher wages and benefits and the local standards of living were raised, resulting in higher costs of production.

Now India and China are the biggest and best at this game. “But recently rising labor costs have pushed some Chinese manufacturing to places like Vietnam,” Tom Saler reports.

In her 2004 book Dark Age Ahead Jane Jacobs argued that our civilization shows signs of spiral of decline comparable to the collapse of the Roman empire. We depend on 5 pillars to stand firm, she says: family and community, education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability.

So to be the industrial and innovative leader, we have to pay the costs of new technologies and the corresponding training. Being more innovative means having better people. The source of better skills and better productivity is better education and better training in science.

Our greatest resources for innovation are many young, independent, highly-skilled hands-on thinkers and creators. We can’t grow our economy if we can’t attract younger generations to our industry and if we keep forcing many of our schools to close their metal shops.

Key is the investment and involvement of companies into local technical schools. We must help our young people get interested in ‘making things’, in becoming leaders in manufacturing, in saving our economy.

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Manufacturing and What It Takes To Be a Fortune 500 CEO

Posted by Bert Maes on April 22, 2011


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Adam Bryant - Author of The Corner Office

Yesterday I posed a video in which the former CEO of Intel tells us that the most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today engineering education is. Today I am reading Adam Bryant’s post on what it takes to lead a Fortune 500 company, a start-up, and, yes, a school.

The five skills Bryant found -in interviewing more than 70 chief executives- can and should be learned in school. Manufacturing and engineering classes are the ideal tools for that purpose. After all, engineering courses can promote the qualities Bryant distilled: fascinated how things work, ask the right questions, critical analysis, questioning data, communicate ideas successfully, transfer knowledge to new contexts, creative problems solving.

The perseverance, the precision, the determination and the out-of-the-box thinking needed to manufacture something, turn out essential for a CEO and for day-to-day life.

Here are the five essentials for success — qualities that most of the Fortune 500 CEOs share and look for in people they hire.

  • Passionate Curiosity: What, ultimately, is the CEOs job? “To be a student of human nature.” The CEOs are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they are the best students. They always want to learn everything, they are engaged with the world, fascinated with everything around them, and want to understand anybody with asking the questions: Why do you do that? How come it’s done this way? Is there a better way? It is this relentless questioning that is their greatest contributions to their organizations.
  • Battle-Hardened Confidence: For leaders status quo is not an option. They own the challenges with perseverance, purpose and determination. They make mistakes, don’t look for excuses, dust themselves off and keep fighting the next day. They say “Got it. I’m on it.” – Words that are music to a manager’s ears.
  • Team Smarts: They understand how teams work, sense how people react to one another, recognize the players the team needs, know how to bring them together around a common goal and how to get the most out of the group. The greatest players might not be the stars, but those will get you the ball and then be where you’d expect to put it back to them. The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people.
  • A Simple Mind-Set: Most executives expect people to be concise, get to the point, make it simple… Yet few people can deliver the simplicity and focused thinking of a 10-word summary of his or her idea, get to the conclusion first, starting with “Here’s what’s important …” or “The bottom line is … .”
  • Fearlessness: [CEOs are] looking for calculated and informed risk-taking, but mostly they want people to do things–and not just what they’re told to do…. They want people to shaking up status quo, not necessarily because things are broken, but because they can be much better and should be much better.

However, it should be noted that all of these are personal traits cannot make individual leaders do it all–turning around companies and schools by virtue of their energies. The organization settings and context interferes. Saviors with the right personal traits might make a difference if they adapt to and work with the new setting rather than repeat behaviors that seemingly worked elsewhere. Think: transfer knowledge to a new context.

Engineers and manufacturers are trained such that they can take a problem and design a solution that meets the requirements, by working in team, by taking information from various fields and apply that information to solve problems.

It looks to me that engineering and manufacturing classes can prepare you for the challenges of the real world. If you can survive the challenges of manufacturing school, you can probably survive the challenges of a CEO too…

Is that the reason why the most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today is engineering education?

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[VIDEO] Craig Barrett: “To be able to go forward, you need knowledge of Engineering”

Posted by Bert Maes on April 21, 2011


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If you have a few minutes of time, please listen to Craig R. Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corporation about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – or read his main thoughts below:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is the foundation of what the 21st century has to hold in terms of economic development. It is the foundation of the future.
  • Every industry you can think about that is really key for the 21st century is founded in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are required to go forward. The economy’s future is very dependent on the quality of the workforce. They are the ones that add more value. To be able to innovate, to be able to add value, to be able to do something new, you need the best educated workforce WITH knowledge Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • The most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today is in fact engineering education. It shows that problem solving and math is driving business going forward.
  • The only way to go forward is improving STEM education. That is not only the role of government or a school district. The private sector needs to get involved and rally together with financial support, advocacy support and program support.

Craig R. Barrett hits the nail on the head, isn’t it?

Have a look what Haas Automation is doing in the field of CNC Manufacturing with the Haas Technical Education Center program: http://haascnc.com/htec/ebook/ It brings Craig Barrett’s vision into practice.


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Great Thoughts

Posted by Bert Maes on April 19, 2011


What would you like to add?

Source: http://bit.ly/fgUtrW

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Psychology Today: Whose Children Will Get the Best Jobs in the 21st Century?

Posted by Bert Maes on April 14, 2011


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Automation and computerization are doing a lot better than humans in repetitive tasks and calculations. Computers will always have the edge on that.

But there are plenty of things computers cannot do. Focusing on the right skills in upbringing, education and training will give students the top jobs with the most satisfaction.

Without the below higher-order cognitive skills, your children will only be prepared for assembly line work in manufacturing or service. They won’t be able to compete on the global employment market.

The best, most creative, and personally rewarding jobs will go to applicants who have the skills in:

  • Question and evaluate the data
  • Willingness to consider alternative perspectives
  • Articulately communicate ideas successfully
  • Ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts
  • Mental focus, visualize goals, planning ahead, resisting immediate gratification
  • Collaborate with other experts on a global playing field
  • Creative problem solving & concept development

These skills are mainly a result of the development of the prefrontal cortex. That control center changes most rapidly in the age range of 8-16. That is the most optimal learning period for children to start developing the right skills.

Stimulating the brain circuits during these years with hands-on project where students have fun while applying the fundamentals of science strongly influence the highest thinking skillsets that both build wise men and women and determine the best opportunities in the global job market.

Source: Psychology Today

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Don’t sell a product or a course. Sell a community. 12 Tips.

Posted by Bert Maes on April 7, 2011


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Since a long time I am thinking about the most important rules for success as a sales professional, success as a teacher, success as a principal and even success as a student.

My last month’s experiences during trips to schools in Portugal, Germany, Finland and Norway, and 2 articles (here and here) might have given me the answer:

  • Every single person is situated in the middle of potential resources.
  • And every single person is driven by two fundamental social needs: the need to belong and the need to be significant.
  • To meet those two needs we only have to strengthen the relationships with others, with those potential resources.

For sales professionals I believe this means:

  • Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.
  • Top sales pros know that success in life isn’t the money you make, but the relationships you build.
  • Accentuate your product’s potential for relationship building.
  • Value the relationship more than making your quota. Think end-of-time friendships not end-of-month totals.
  • You’re first order of business: connecting your customers with each other. Think about how much our lives are driven by peer recommendation these days.
  • Become a trusted advisor that people seek out; not someone  pushing product to anyone that will listen.
  • Be passionate about share of customer not share of market.
  • Sell people a good product and they will like you. Connect them with their peers and they will love you.

For education professionals:

  • Engage students. Create flow experiences through projects and events that not only bring fun and excitement, but also help them to build social connectivity.
  • Get students involved as early as possible in deciding what to teach. It is a big thing for teenagers to have their opinion count.  In school, that can make a big impression with small but meaningful acts. Young people are looking for platforms on which they can tell their own story.
  • Create tools and projects that connect and make your students the stars.
  • If you can offer students a better way to belong, a better way to be significant, and a better way to connect to and impress their peers than what’s already out there, then your students will invest their time into the community, the project and the events you create for them.

Maybe the biggest challenge facing schools that want to attract more students to their manufacturing departments is the right focus on connectivity.

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The give-me-economy versus the make-it-economy

Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2011


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I have been lucky to visit Honduras in Central America. Honduras is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere.

The Belgian backpacker Geert Van Vaeck who started his own ViaVia Travellers Café nine years ago in Honduras told me that he doesn’t expect decent economic or social change in the future. “Politicians and civilians here are used to just receiving money in the form of tips, without using it to build the community. We live here in a give-me-economy,” Geert said.

But not only Honduras is a nation of takers. Your country is nation of takers too. “We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers,” Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal claims. “Don’t expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government”, with a career offering lifetime security, no risks. “It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we’ve gotten. Government jobs are being considered a life time job with rich benefits; all of which get paid by the taxpayers!

In a recent study of Apple and Goldman-Sachs financials by John Cassidy of The New Yorker, it is estimated that the average Apple employee makes $46,000 per year. That same study concluded that at Goldman-Sachs the average salary is $430,700 per year. One of those companies “makes” a product that is sold and the other… manages money.

An economy grows by making things, not by taking things. The economy is built and financed through manufacturing. Losing manufacturing is like stopping the motor of the world.

More people should be ‘nation builders’, more people should go in manufacturing again.

(…and nation building does not mean bombing other countries…)

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Manufacturing in the backyard garage changes things

Posted by Bert Maes on March 29, 2011


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Manufacturing is very much alive. But you don’t see it. Manufacturing is an invisible sector that is building, making and creating all the things you are using every day. But you don’t know it.

What is happening in your backyard? There is probably someone in his or her garage making money transforming metal or aluminium into new products using his or her advanced skills and cutting edge technology.

These people in their small manufacturing businesses, often micro-factories occupying just a few square meters of floor space – probably working almost next to your home – are the driving force of your wealth and your quality of life. Economic growth is generated locally, not by nations. The source of prosperity is always local! And that wealth always involves manufacturing.

So the small manufacturing companies are not solely there to make money for themselves; they are playing a bigger role.

And I see that students are becoming very aware of that. Andrew Reynolds Smith of GKN told the audience at the recent Rebuilding UK Manufacturing Summit that young people want to go into manufacturing, because it is their best chance of changing things.

How can that be encouraged further?

We urgently need to build a strong educational system… That is our weakness. Manufacturing education IS economic development.

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Building long-term collaboration between education and manufacturing: Madeira, Portugal

Posted by Bert Maes on March 24, 2011


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A few weeks ago I established a new partnership with a school on the Island of Madeira. That is a most rewarding collaboration. See the story below.

Haas Automation Europe (HAE) is delighted to announce the Grand Opening of the first Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) on Madeira, Portugal.

The new facility was opened in Funchal on March 7th and forms part of the city’s Professional Skills Qualification Centre (Direcção Regional de Qualificação Profissional – DRQP). The Madeira archipelago is off the coast of North Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean, which makes this the most westerly of Europe’s 46 Haas Technical Education Centers (HTECs); almost 5000km by air from the most easterly facility.

As well as being covered by state TV, the HTEC Grand Opening event was attended by senior government official Sr. Francisco Fernandes, Regional Secretary of Education and Culture, and directors of DRQP Sra. Sara Relvas and Sra. Elda Pedro. After speeches and the presentation of the HTEC plaque, Sr. Fernandes told press and visitors why he thought the new workshop is important.

The DRQP now belongs to a network of engineering excellence,” he said, “giving students on the island access to strong international resources.” Sr. Relvas reiterated his comments, and added: “Because Haas Automation CNC machine tools are present at so many of the best international manufacturing companies, this HTEC will help our youth prepare themselves for opportunities in the rest of the European and international labour markets”.

The Funchal HTEC is in collaboration with the Portugal Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – a division of After Sales, S. A. The director and owner of After Sales, Carlos Vilas-Boas, was instrumental in setting-up the new facility, and the other 4 on the Portugal mainland. “As with all HTECs,” he said, “this new laboratory and workshop houses the latest CNC metal cutting and precision engineering technology. We see that having access to these facilities inspires and engages the students and their teachers, which makes us very proud and committed to continue working with the DRQP.”

Madeira is the second richest Portuguese region after Lisbon and boasts a per capita GDP higher than the EU average. However, the island generates much of its income from tourism, and food and wine production, which means youngsters who want to pursue a career in manufacturing have, traditionally, had few options but to travel.

Many of Madeira’s young people will leave the island and work on mainland Portugal, in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “We’re sure that the high-tech Haas CNC machine tools, the clean learning environment and belonging to our network of international HTEC centers will greatly contribute to the motivation, satisfaction and international career possibilities of these students.

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This is manufacturing’s moment – It is the moment to engage schools

Posted by Bert Maes on March 17, 2011


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At the March Leadership Summit from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute  and the new National Center for the American Workforce was pretty straightforward with a message we advocate since a decade:

She said that manufacturing simply can’t wait for the educational system to reform itself. It must take the lead and press for expansion of industry-education partnerships to infuse technology into school curricula, apply manufacturing principles in educational institutions and produce industry-based skills certifications.

Otherwise the lack of people coming through the school system with employable skills will continue to hamper the nation’s manufacturing’s competitiveness on the global stage.

She is confident about our ability to correct the problems and move forward to reclaim a leadership role in the world, but stated that it would take active participation by the manufacturing industry for this to happen.

On the other hand, DeRocco said in an earlier speech:

Manufacturers cannot do efforts in innovation and the workforce by themselves. Educational institutions at all levels must partner with the industry if we are going to produce both the technical and engineering talent that our sector demands and accelerate our innovation capacity. But we must be the ones to take the first step and now is the time. This is manufacturing’s moment. It is the moment to engage high schools, colleges, and universities as they are under pressure to reform. It is the moment to reach out to young people and offer them a job, a career, and future they can be proud of.

What is your opinion?

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Where is the well oiled education system?

Posted by Bert Maes on March 1, 2011


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Manufacturing strengthens the financing balance of a country. The countries that have a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of manufacturing contributes to debts and impoverishment. Manufacturing clearly is a must to keep the rest of the economy going. Over time, leadership in manufacturing determines the economic winners and losers.

But manufacturing, invention and innovation depend for a very large part on the highly skilled employees. The most important thing to grow the industry is the quality and availability of the labor force.

We fail to motivate young people to work in manufacturing.

We’ve got an entire generation of kids who are ready to make their mark in the world, and we’ve got them sitting at desks in schools and in cubicles in companies. Many young people do not desire to sit in a cubicle. They want to have their brain fully engaged in a safe, clean environment.

A good example of a manufacturing company that understood this is Sewtec Automation. The enterprise has 9 multi-skilled programmers working directly on the shop floor using the machines directly.  They all feel actively involved in producing the final product. Young people brought the computer skills that are essential to the modern factory. They made it possible with the performance of 5 new Haas CNC machine tools to increase the productive hours by 850%. “We’ve made Sewtec an attractive place to work.

This type of company and this type of work, Mike Boyer writes, “requires a work force with above average mental strength -“IQ”- and a well oiled education system”.

And then technical vocational and trade courses are being reduced to deal with the budget battles.

How do the youth get trained for the jobs that exist today and will grow tomorrow when our aging workforce retires?Bob Trojan says. “Someone, somehow, somewhere, has to train our future manufacturing workforce.” Someone has to invest in technical schools to enhance resources and infrastructure. How do we otherwise put young creative hands-on people in position to work in a leading edge company?

To ensure future prosperity it is best to invest in those future earners.

With the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) program CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation is offering professional support to create motivating and inspiring learning environments with better CNC machining equipment, a facility infrastructure improvement concept and support in international relations.

We cannot save the world. But we can support with the technology part. For sure that is good for industry and for schools. And we just see it motivates students. Just that aspect is a great support for teachers. Educators need every bit of support possible!

Isn’t that so?

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A Longer-term View on Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on February 17, 2011


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Plenty of people are applying for jobs. But the unemployed don’t seem to have the skills needed for the world’s current and future challenges. And then I am talking about manufacturing – what else? 🙂

Manufacturers are increasingly automating their plants and laying off the low-skilled workers. Despite the growing amount of machines and robots, more people will be needed that have the ability to ensure production runs continuously and to solve issues – without down time.

Manufacturers are willing to hire again since the beginning of the year, due to good economic results. They specifically look to hire people who understand sophisticated computerized machinery in more than one process and people who are capable of resolving complex production issues, providing preventive maintenance, making routine repairs, and recognizing process improvement opportunities.

So the need for workers that can apply advanced problem solving and analytical thinking skills increases.

Those skills seem to be the main reason why companies offshore: the average cost savings achieved by offshoring declines, the potential for cost reduction alone is no longer enough to justify moving operations. But companies are still doing so -a Duke study says- “because of a domestic shortage of skilled workers, not a desire to save on labor costs”.

This indicates we are not making much progress in training high-skilled workers. In fact, investment in the training of the new workers has gone down over the last 25 years, Mike Collins says. Which means: manufacturers take less preventative maintenance actions and experience more emergency breakdowns.

What is needed is advanced training programs,” Mike Collins concludes. So why don’t we start with this: let us make it easier for teachers and schools to be successful: better tools make better schools. Every manufacturing company can contribute to that. Partnering with schools is one of the best investments in your long-term future.

“Long term” probably means at least seven to ten years. Did you know that Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years? In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm. And then we are worried about our future economic vitality.

Dominic Barton believes that having a long-term perspective is the competitive advantage of many Asian economies and businesses today. Consider the long journey of Toyota to become global leader or Hyundai which experienced quality problems in the late ‘90s but made quadruple sales in 3 years by reengineering its cars with a 10-year car warranty.

It is long-term value that needs to be maximalized. Manufacturers must have a perspective that serves the interests of the community. Communities more and more expects that local companies engage themselves. Customers plan to purchase more from socially responsible companies in the future. Just like investments in the environment, corporate investments in local schools build, maintain and improve corporate reputation and trustworthiness .

Better tools make better schools. Better schools make better tools for your future.


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Socrates and Jesus: True Manufacturing Craftsmen

Posted by Bert Maes on February 10, 2011


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Back in the days, craftsmen working in wood, stone and metal were professionals of high standing in the community. Joseph from Nazareth -for example- was a carpenter that was able to cut and trim trees, manage the forests so that people would have all the wood and lumber they needed in future generations,  he knew how to lay a foundation, design and erect walls and ceilings of private houses or public buildings. It is said that Joseph introduced his son Jesus to this active and demanding profession at an early age.

In his father’s workshop,” the French author Philippe Le Guillou writes, “Jesus had his preferred place: a beam supporting a platform that has never been built … While pulling off the bark of freshly cut wood, he inhaled the aroma that then floated in the workshop and into the house.  Jesus was still too young to accompany his father climbing into the mountains to choose and cut trees. Instead, he spent his time repeating the litany of names of the tools, an activity that never bored him. And he kept asking Joseph if he could use the block, the working bench, the wood shaping plane, the blades, the molds, the jointers, the wood chips,…[1]

Another example of wise people that were influenced by the manufacturing experience was Socrates, as reported by André Bonnard [2]. “Socrates was a laborer, born from working people. His father was one of the stonemasons who squared, sealed and polished the blocks that were used to build the Parthenon. Socrates enjoyed observing those craftsmen. He marveled at the accuracy the workers put in their gestures. He dreamed of doing the same: using a set of fixed rules to adapt a block of stone towards its end goal. A noble profession.”

This common experience of the workshop, the contact with the material may have “sculpted” the souls of Socrates and Jesus. Without a doubt the lessons they learned at their father’s right hand influenced the thinking of those young men. They must have experienced that the strength, the precision and the patience needed to work the stubbornness of the material are essential in day-to-day life too.

The family workshop in-formed them, probably less in their physical vigor, rather in their power of thought. The experience of resistance and roughness of things builds a great soul. The experience of true manufacturing craftsmanship builds wise men and women…


[1] Own translation from French : Philippe Le Guillou, Douze années dans l’enfance du monde, Gallimard, 1999, p. 39-40.
[2]
Own translation from French : André Bonnard, Socrate selon Platon, L’Aire, 1996, p. 16-17.

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