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Happy New Year to the Manufacturing Industry from Cisco, 2013

January 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm PST

The numbers coming out month after month show that we seem to be tracking a slow but steady recovery. As I’ve said before, I’m cautiously optimistic about the manufacturing sector – especially in the USA.

On Thursday (3rd January, 2013), ADP1 said construction added 39,000 positions in December, second only to trade and transportation utilities, which grew 53,000. Medium- and larger-sized businesses led the way with 102,000 and 87,000 new jobs respectively

Overall, Employers added 1.84 million jobs in 20112, the most in five years. In the first 11 months of 2012, employers added 1.67 million. Job gains would have to top 170,000 in December to push 2012 ahead of the previous year. Some economists do expect gains at that level or higher.

Robot_factory_smallEven in Asia things are looking up. In the New Year we learned about China’s services growth3, as China’s official purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector rose to 56.1 in December from 55.6 in November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Other PMIs on the manufacturing sector suggest China’s growth is starting to pick up based on late 2012 data. Not the heady double-digit growth of earlier years, but increases none-the-less. Construction was also up, though all of this growth is partly owing to government investment. The Friday (4th January 2013) HSBC PMI report shows slower growth as it mainly focuses on the private sector. The HSBC report4 showed a softening from 52.1 to 51.7. As you know above 50 is still good. India’s looking good too re PMI for last month! Read More »

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STEM and the U.S. Manufacturing Conundrum

The Conundrum

In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession.  The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.

The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself--a manufacturing and controls engineer no less--I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.

A 2009 survey by the American Society for Quality, as reported on manufacturing.net, helps to shine a light on our problem.

According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.

Survey findings on the adult side:

  • Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
  • The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.

Read More »

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The Customer is King

August 22, 2011 at 11:39 am PST

Thank you all for the warm welcome. I am very excited to join the community and look forward to interacting with everyone!

As Chet mentioned, I will be involved in expanding the social media platform for the Cisco industry team.

I am fascinated by the new relationships that exist between businesses and customers as a result of social media. In the old paradigm, traffic was mostly one way: customers were inundated with sales and marketing information but rarely given the opportunity to provide insightful feedback. Not anymore. Via social media, the customer really is king. Customers rightly now expect a relationship that is collaborative, on-demand, automated, and in real-time. A customer can become a renowned expert and evangelist for a company – or embarrass a company by publicly criticizing its customer service.

Smart companies will embrace and promote this new relationship. It’s the best customer focus group on the planet, and it’s free! However, social media isn’t the goal but rather the journey. A smart company will also have a proper social media strategy, not just a social media presence. This is where I hope to make my biggest contribution. The Manufacturing Industry team has embarked on this social media journey to engage with you, our audience.  We need to be leading the conversation, listening properly and reaching the right people.  I hope that you will join me in this exciting process as active members and contributors as I help guide that journey. Thanks again for the warm welcome, and stay tuned!

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Welcome, Andrew Lach, newest member of the Manufacturing Industry blog team!

Please join me in welcoming Andrew Lach to the Cisco blog and our Cisco industry team! Andrew joins us as a recent MBA graduate from Duke University and will be leading the development of our social media strategy and platform. Prior to Cisco, Andrew led a unique career in Biotechnology, first as a scientist and later as a technology developer. He has also recently worked with virtualization software product marketing in the exciting new field of cloud computing.

I believe that Andrew’s background will bring a unique, interesting perspective and skill-set to our team and blogging community. He has led previous marketing and social media initiatives including guerrilla marketing campaigns and YouTube content creation. We greatly look forward to joining Andrew in action as our Blog Administration Manager. Welcome, Andrew!

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Cisco Partner Invite Reminder: Warehouse Management with Intermec

June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm PST

As part of the Manufacturing Impact Series, here’s a reminder not to miss the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Webinar set for Thursday 23rd June, 2011. It’s essential viewing and listening if you’re a Cisco resale or systems integration partner, or a partner looking to build a Manufacturing Practice and provide solutions to Manufacturing Industry Customer Care-abouts.

To be competitive, warehouse managers must deliver a high level of performance while reducing costs. Learn how the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Solution delivers the benefits of mobility to industrial environments, helping warehouse managers to stay connected with their mobile workforce, increasing asset visibility across warehouse operations, providing access to information at the point of work, and delivering intelligence to mobile workers. This is a solution webcast in the “Manufacturing Impact” partner enablement series.
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There will be speakers from Intermec: Dan Albaum, Senior Director Marketing and Bruce Stubbs, Director Industry Marketing. Jeff Rodawald, Partner Relationship Executive will be the speaker from Cisco with me, Peter Granger, as a panelist. Should be a great event with lots of folks already registered. If you’d like to register click the link: 

Click here to register for the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Webinar

Date: Thursday 23rd June, 2011; Time: 11.00 am — 12.00 pm Eastern Time; (8:00 am Pacific) Place: Online.  Read More »

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