60 Years of Continuous Improvement- The Vanamatic Journey

January 22, 2015

It has been my pleasure to work with the folks at the Vanamatic Company since the late 1980’s as a  steel supplier technical representative, as a PMPA staffer, and as a friend.

A passion for improvement is what drives the folks Vanamatic.

A passion for improvement is what drives the folks Vanamatic.

I can say that over a big chunk of those 60 years, there were a few things that remained constant- fair dealings, honest communications, and an unrelenting focus on continuous improvement.

I was not at all surprised  when I got a call from Jeff saying that they were going to have something to announce and could I help them with it.

Of course there is something new at Vanamatic.

They are always working on ideas for improvement.

I was surprised when they told me it was a brand new website for the company’s 60th anniversary.

60 years was quite a surprise.

It has not been an easy time for manufacturing these last 60 years.

Frankly the last 8 years were pretty tough.

The Rise of China at the beginning of the new century wiped out a lot of the companies that were not very serious about their business.

Congratulations to Vanamatic for 60 years of leadership through continuous improvement. Improvement of people, process, and culture.

Oh, and improvement to the their online presence through their new website.


Shadow Boards: Pride and Professionalism

November 26, 2013

“Setups are going a little smoother (mostly);  there is much less wasted time searching for
needed tools; and everyone is showing a little more pride and professionalism
in their tidy new professional  work area.”

Avoiding unneeded tools is just as important as having the ones you need.

Avoiding unneeded tools is just as important as having the ones you need.

PMPA Vice President Tom Bernstein  of Torin Products, a CNC Swiss shop in Columbus Nebraska just shared his experience with Shadow Boards in  the December issue of Production Machining Magazine.

Its an easy read, and it tells as good a story about how to manage as it does about how to create Shadow Boards.

“The benefits are not just financial and measured in saved time. My team is now confident that in this area they exemplify Best Practice.”

File this one under continuous improvement! Read the full story here

In what areas does your team and shop exemplify Best Practice?

7 Principles for Manufacturing Excellence- Lockheed Martin

April 24, 2013

Lockheed Martin was just recognized with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

To encourage performance excellence within the manufacturing industry, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is sharing its 7 Principles for Excellence in ManufacturingLockheed Martin principles_infographic_lrg

Congratulations to the Team at Lockheed Martin for their recognition and leadership.

Lockheed Martin Malcolm Baldrige

Happy PMTS!

April 17, 2013

Reviewing the photos in his photostream, my Executive Director found this serenedipitously cropped action shot of an exhibitor and a customer coming to agreement.

PMTS is where people get things done.

PMTS is where people get things done.

I just love the cropping on the sign in the foreground.

But more importantly I am pleased with the satisfaction shown as suppliers and customers find mutual solutions to the manufacturing challenges that we all face.

PMTS Happy- It’s what happens when great suppliers and great precision machining companies come together to continuously improve their processes.

Welcome to PMTS.

May you be PMTS Happy, too.

Congratulations- 122 Women in Manufacturing Honored at STEP Awards by Manufacturing Institute.

February 7, 2013

When I started in manufacturing, “The Gals” were in the office- not the shop.

122  women who make a difference in Manufacturing today

122 women who make a difference in Manufacturing today

The inaugural group of 122 STEP honorees recognized by the Manufacturing Institute on February 5th in Washington D.C.  showed me that the times have changed and that there are many, many ways  that women can and do meaningfully contribute to manufacturing at their companies as

  • Plant and Production Managers,
  • Operations,
  • Engineers,
  • Technologists,
  • Process Control,
  • Regulatory Affairs,
  • Certified Welders,
  • CNC Machine Operators,
  • Weld Process Specialists,
  • Quality Control,
  • Health,
  • Environment,
  • Process Safety,
  • Chief Financial Officer,
  • Designers and Design Engineers,
  • Compliance Officers,
  • Chief Scientists,
  • Safety,
  • Quality,
  • Black Belts,
  • Training and Apprenticeship Instructors,
  • Manufacturing Lead,
  • Product Development,
  • Sales and Marketing,
  • Information Technology,
  • Lead Analyst,
  • Business Development,
  • Continuous Improvement,
  • Planning and Shipping,
  • Designer,s and Design Engineers
  • Information Security,
  • Assembly,
  • Legal and Corporate Affairs,
  • Systems Development,
  • President,
  • CEO
  • Owners

I am certain that I missed a few…

PMPA is proud to recognize our member and Vice President Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries in Burnsville MN as one of this inaugural group of honorees.

Darlene Miller Nak“Darlene’s leadership  reaches far beyond PERMAC. As a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness she recognized the need for trained high skill workers and led the creation of Right Skills Now training program and helped support the 10,000 Engineers nationwide engineering student retention program. She was named small business person of the year in 2008 by the U.S. Chamber, and serves as an officer and board member at PMPA as well as a number of other nonprofits.”

Congratulations to Darlene and all the women recognized for their vital role in manufacturing today. And thanks to the Manufacturing Institute for helping raise the awareness of the vital need for the talents that these and all women bring to our shops.

Yes, I would like to see my daughter get into manufacturing. Wouldn’t you?

Closing the Loop- Post Job Continuous Improvement

November 6, 2012

Without a process for reviewing a job after completion, our shops are doomed to make the same mistakes the next time…

Does your shop have a regular interdepartmental post job review meeting to eliminate issues and drive continuous improvement?

One of the best aspects of social media- blogging and LinkedIn- is the follow up and connections  in response to what is posted.

I continue to be impressed by the quality of the comments and conversations on LinkedIn as a result of my posts.

My recent post regarding quoting- Two Most Important Aspects of Quoting elicited this  comment from Michael Unmann  in the Wire-Net LinkedIn group:

“And how about closing the loop? You need to have a post job review with the estimating dept to make sure the quote was accurate and if it wasn’t why wasn’t it and what will you do next quote so it doesn’t happen again.”

Thank you Michael, we couldn’t agree more.

Does YOUR SHOP have an interdepartmental  post job review process to address issues with the process and improve it going forward?

Is it real or just proforma?

What are the best lessons you have learned from your post job review debriefing?

Thanks again to Michael Unmann for taking the conversation to the next level.

Thanks to Potomac Testing for the photo of an interdepartmental meeting.

It’s All About Execution

April 8, 2010

Either you can execute, or you can't...

Don’t You Agree?

It’s not about ability to promise.

Heck, that’s pretty easy.

It’s not about ability to plan.

I’ve seen (and made) some pretty nice plans in my day.

But plans that aren’t executed are- well,  not much more than recorded dreams.

I think that it’s all about execution. That is, meeting and exceeding our customer’s expectations every day.

Every day! Every Customer! Every transaction! Every touch!

What is the secret of execution?

There are a couple. But the most important is your company’s commitment to continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is what helps you keep your service and processes leading and sustainable.

The minute you stop improving, you reduce your chance of successful execution.


We execute. But the reason we produce this conference is so that our member companies can drive continuous improvement of their key people.  The people who make a difference- in their shop, in their culture, and to their customers.

I am looking forward to meeting the industry’s executioners in Pittsburgh at PMPA’s NTC.

Because it’s all about execution. Isn’t it?



Execution is the key. PMPA’s National Technical Conference drives execution by giving attendees tools they can use for continuous improvement.



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