The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

How Technology is Changing the Manufacturing Game w/ Dr. John Mitchell


There’s this perception that manufacturing jobs are dirty and dangerous.

But in the modern era of manufacturing, that perception is changing as jobs are becoming more and more rooted in technology.

In this episode of The Manufacturing Executive, I talk with Dr. John Mitchell, President & CEO at IPC, about the move from “dirty and dangerous” manufacturing to high-tech manufacturing.

We also talked about:

  • How IPC is using education to transform the negative manufacturing perception.
  • How manufacturers can realize the benefits of AI.
  • What manufacturers need to be thinking about when it comes to scaling.
  • What's going on with semiconductors right now.

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

Subscribe to The Manufacturing Executive on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Manufacturing today is not you know what my parents are or even what I, you know, saw growing up. It's very cool. There's a lot of really great stuff going involved in welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six manufacturing is changing so quickly, from advancements and technology to the workforce to the way we communicate with customers, and it's tough for many companies to keep up with all the change. Along with all of this, the perception of manufacturing to the outside world hasn't necessarily kept pace with all of its advancements. My guest today is the president of an industry organization that's working to advance manufacturing from all of these angles. So let me take a moment to introduce him. Dr John W Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC, the Global Electronics Industry Association. Dr Mitchell joined IPC in two thousand and twelve and has been instrumental and launching solutions to help IPCS members achieve financial success and competitive excellence. Prior to IPC, he worked to advance company interests at Gerow Space Alpine electronics, as a founding member of its research company, bows and Golden Key International Honor Society. Dr Mitchell has championed IPC programs such as a new learning management platform, IPC edge, a validation or validation services and online certification portal, factory of...

...the future efforts and a reengineered member success department. Between creating a new solutions that support standards development, improving a member relations and advocating for Regulatory Change, Dr Mitchell has more than doubled the influence in impact of the organization across the world. Dr Mitchell's academic credentials include a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education and Mba from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineering from Brigham Young University. John, welcome to the show. Thank you. Great to be here, Joe. Well, John, you've got a very impressive career resume there. I was wondering if you could start out by just on us a little bit about how you eventually landed here. Is CEO and president of IPC. Sure you know when I chat with people just getting started in their career and they're all stressed about, hey, you know, what do I want to be when I grow up, et Cetera. You know, keep about like a two year horizon because life will throw a lot of curves at you. I never I don't even think I had any idea that there was such a thing as an association, you know, when I was in university. So you know, it's kind of the juxtaposition of everything I've done. You know, I started off as electrical engineer work with GE aerospace and Alpine, bringing navigation systems to the OEM market here in the US. So that was exciting doing new things at Alpine there. And can you imagine not being able to route or be not having a GPS in your car to get where you wanted to go, I mean, but that was the days when our first implementation, the whole map was la. That was it. That's all you could drive in, which was kind of cool. Then I got my Mbat Pepperdine, went to bows. Did you know, infotainment systems for vehicles, which was a lot of fun. Moved in the nonprofit world and then doctor and higher education and IPC is really the juxtaposition of everything I've done. I'm doing double E. I've business has tied to it, nonprofit, international education, all of that is what we're doing today. So it's kind of, you know, the perfect...

...mix for me and it's just been nice that I've been able to use a lot of what I've done over the years. Yeah, seems like a natural progression and landing place for you, given all your experiences. Yeah, I wish I could plan that. Well, you know, I mean it is kind of happened, but you know, looking back as like wow, look at this career path he set up now now, I had no idea. Rarely plays out like that, but that's pretty cool. Well, John, I recently had the opportunity to lead a really great panel discussion with some brilliant minds in the robotics space, the VP of sales at fanic America, the president and the VP of sales at plus one robotics and a few others, and one of the topics that we got into is this perception of manufacturing jobs is being dirty and dangerous, stuff you'd see on Micros show. But a lot of that sort of change in the modern era of manufacturing, or a lot of what I see changing, is, you know, jobs are becoming more rooted in technology and manufacturing and it's kind of it's the opposite of dirty and dangerous in some ways and it's very high tech and advanced, and I don't know that that message is getting out there, especially to people interested in entering manufacturing. So I was just kind of curious if you could touch on that from your angle. Sure, you know, I couldn't agree more with you. The factory, you know, manufacturing has this perception that it is a dirty thing or it's somehow not cool to be involved with manufacturing or you know, it's just, I like to call it the Lavernon Shirley Age, if you remember that TV show from way back when. You know they were, you know, basically very manual bottles, you know, all that sort of stuff, but it's not manufacturing today is not, you know, what my parents are or even what I, you know, saw growing up. It's very cool. There's a lot of really great stuff going involved in it from, and this is, you know, all kinds of manufacturing. I remember touring Ferrari's manufacturing plant and literally you could eat off the floor. That is the cleanest plant I've ever seen. They're making cars, you know, but in you know, in electronics manufacturing, we're doing a lot of great stuff. I mean you're using all of the latest stuff that people are talking about. There's artificial intelligence, is helping make our manufacturing systems smarter and more...

...efficient. You've got additive manufacturing or d printing that are going that's going into it. Robotics, just like your previous guests, we're talking about you know, robotics are everywhere in electronics, and so getting involved in manufacturing is really instead of just talking about these new technologies, you're using them, which just makes it cool. So we you're right, we do need to get that message out. Is there anything that IPC is doing specifically to help transform that perception? Yeah, so we have a what we call the IPC Education Foundation and it focuses on students. So there's chapters and universities, community colleges, we work with high school students, etc. And the point of that is to connect them with industry and to also provide the medication so they can watch these videos, they can go into the plants, not so much this last year with Covid, but, you know, the ideas, they get in and they can actually experience and see what a difference that's making. And so unless we can get a new hit show out there on TV, you know, like with the next sheldon thing, but until we're able to have that kind of mass impact, we're trying to do it, you know, at the student level, help them experience it and see what's different, and that's great to hear. You mentioned very briefly ai minute or two ago here, and sometimes it feels today like we're living in this world of buzz words and the manufacturing sector, AI industry, for point out, machine learning, blockchain, digital twin and I'm just, you know, for for manufacturers who are cut you know, been around for for many years. I talked to a lot of businesses that are second third generation businesses and a lot of them are doing things the same way in a lot of ways that they have been for a long time. How can these manufacturers start to wrap their heads around all of this, this change in technology, and kind of bring it down to the shop floor levels they can actually realize the benefits of the technological advancements that are flooding the industry? So IPC has an effort called factory the future, and it's really the goal of this is to help industry move from, you know, the buzz words you talk about into actual benefits. You know so...

...and I think you can, you know, appreciate the difference between talking about something versus actually being able to use it. And this allows this effort. Is the whole point of it, is to allow companies that don't have multimillion dollar budgets to go change, you know, the systems. I mean the big guys of the world. They literally been investing millions and millions of dollars into these kinds of systems, and so what factory the future is trying to do is to get them as much of that as they can for a very, very low, cost, low impact type of adjustment. So they can get some of that right now and then add to it the next year and just keep building that as you go forward. But even in all those other areas, you know, machine learning, blockchain, we've got standards efforts that. So IPC does a lot in the standard setting arena, especially for electronics manufacturing, and there's there's a blockchain standard that people are working on today. So people can also participate in that and get smarter about it. You know, it's as opposed to just saying as that word. I don't know what that has to do with it or how does that apply to me? You can attend these standards mean he's and learn from those who have the million dollar budgets, are multimillion dollar budgets, about what they're doing and then figure out, you know, along with you know, the factory of the future efforts, how you can implement that on a smaller scale or on at least you know, hey, let's let's take a piece of this and start to gain those advantages. That's great and I'll swing back around to this at the end of the interview. But where can people find some of the stuff you're talking about? It on the IPC website. Yeah, yeah, so it's a IPC dot org and if you just look under standards or factory the future, you'll find all all kinds of way see it volved. And because we're a volunteer organization, I mean it's not like IPC comes out and sets these standards. We don't create the standards, we don't create the initiatives. We shippered the process with industry. So it really is efforts made by industry themselves and we try to make sure that those groups and committees that are working on these things are well balanced, so you've got, you know, the big guys, the little guys, the meeting size guys, people that are in the supply chain up and down at etcetera, so that really all aspects can be considered as we're moving these programs forward. That's great. It sounds like a...

...really good resource. So yeah, we'll mention that again towards toward the end. So, John, I know you're an engineer and scalability of systems is something you've told me as close to your heart. So can you talk about why scalability so important and what manufacturers need to be thinking about when it comes to scaling up their factories through machine operation skills and also programming skills? Yeah, so, you know, there's just so many people and so many different ways to do things. So scale is critical. I mean, if we could come up with a great instructor and have them go teach somebody, and that's fine, you know, they might be able to teach a dozen people at a time, but just that impact on, you know, five million workers in the electronics industry alone, you know, just in this country, never mind across the globe. You just it's just not going to be enough, fast enough. And so we're looking at, and have been developing for the last several years and education platform. We call it IPC edge, you know, kind of working on the education and cutting edge, you know, to kind of together. But what it's an online acing from this learning platform where you can go and at your pace, you know, on breaks, at home, whatever, you can start gaining a lot of this knowledge directly yourself. And and that scales to literally if we had somebody call up and say I need to have a million people go through this training tomorrow, you go, it's all good. So we're trying to work with both industry as well as governments to help this get out there faster, because not, you know, one of the challenges is, of course, that nothing is cheap, and so we're trying to get governments also to support a lot of these efforts so we can use the scalability and actually get it out there in much broader so while we have the capabilities, and you know literally have, but is I think last year we didn't nearly even during covidd nearly a hundred thousand certifications across the globe on our education platforms, and that's just our typical stuff. We're looking to x that, just as we bring different skills over the next coming year. So we're really trying to get out there where we're hitting over a million people a year. Let's that's some serious reach. Very cool,...

John. Is there a story you could tell about the transformation you've seen a manufacturing business go through as they've embraced some of these concepts we've been talking about today, from technology to creating more scalable operations? Yeah, that so it's one thing comes to mind pretty quickly in New England. So in the electronics world a lot of the manufacturing has moved to Asia. You know, you may have seen a lot of news on this, you know. So a lot of electronics manufacturing has moved Asia, and initially that was for cost of labor issues because a lot of it was done manually. Recently, in New England, an organization, a company, decided that they would try to challenge that premise that it has to be built in order to be built cheap. It has to be done it, you know, in these mass production factories, and so they created a factory that used a lot of the latest technologies and, you know, the later skills and their competitive and they can scale this thing and it's a it's there's a ton of automation in it, but they can run all day all night, and so they're literally taking these concepts that we've talked about and they're available today. They were available two years ago. So we're seeing a lot of people really starting to do innovative things and it's an exciting time. So you get one or two they're doing this and then suddenly you've got your fifteen to thirty and then after that everybody's got it. So it's at the beginning of real implementation of some of these technologies where you can build it just about anywhere cost effectively. I've been hearing a little bit more about this same concept lately my guest a few weeks ago was a Harry Moser from the restoring initiative. It seems like I see his name everywhere these these days. But he touched on a lot of this too, and they've got some great tools for you know, rol I calculators and things like this and a total TCEO, total cost of ownership calculators, a sort of help help make a comparison between you know, doing the stuff on or off shore, and a lot of what you're saying seems to be true in a lot of places and there's almost just this you know, accepted notion that, you know, the only way we could do this cost effectively is to... it across the's. So I just think you're going to find, you know, the whispered word in the hallways, and I don't even know if I should say this. Oh my gosh, the secret is, you know, with d printing and all of the advances that are coming, that the you know, in fact, if industry four point, I was today, maybe industry five point or six Oh is in your closet, you know you're really manufacturing what you need right there. We'll see if we get there. Yeah, no, Kid, yeah, I've heard the the concept referred to as like the fourth modality or mode of transportation. I think it was the guys over a fast radius and the additive manufacturing space. I remember reading an article about this. You know, we had shipping by by sea and then by rail and by air, and now it's digital files moving, you know, across the Internet, which is it's pretty crazy. You think you think Amazon's fast and you're same day delivery. Well, just printed. Yeah, it's pretty wild, pretty cool to see what's on the horizon there. Well, let's see here, John. I usually donn't get too political on this show, but I'd given that were recording this in May of two thousand and twenty one, we've recently transitioned to a new administration. I know you have some perspectives on sort of the bidend administration's approach to manufacturing in the US and wanted to kind of open that up to you to I want to hear what you're seeing. Yeah, so, in general, whatever administration comes in the power in whatever country, they each have their hot buttons, you know, things that they're trying to get done and not everything's going to align with what you're trying to do. For the in my case the electronics manufacturing industry. So what we do is we try to play where they're playing. You know, where they're willing to do things. So like in in one administration they may be focus on defense. Okay, great, let's work with the defense industry to try to strengthen that are another area might another time, somebody else might focus on, I don't know, healthcare, and so all right, those are the opportunities that are going to be available. Right now. The Biden administration has been fairly heavily focused, I would say, on two areas that have been an interest, of interest to us. The semiconductor area, which is Great. I'm glad they're doing a lot of emphasis on trying to...

...strengthen that area of the industry. The caution I would offer there is that you can't just focus on just the chip if there's an entire ecosystem that has to work with there. If you come up with the newest, you know, best chip in the world and the end of having a ship at all over the world that actually manufacture around it, what good do that really do? So there's an ecosystem that needs support, not just the chip development. And then the other areas. On infrastructure, which is a very broad impact, could do some great things and that's challenging to I mean, I don't envy these any one in politics. There their their roles. I don't sign me up for that one tomorrow. But you know, because they're trying to balance there's there's Today's needs, and their voters are very concerned about today's needs. You know whether if or do you play for the long play and say, okay, let's really develop new infrastructure that's more green, more, you know, and actually shift away from this. And so those are tough decisions to make because you make the wrong decision by your local constituents point of view, you don't get elected next year. And so that you know, hopefully you know you can find a way to play for the long play and still support, you know, people's jobs today. But those are the two areas, semiconductor and infrastructure, that I think that we're looking to try to assist the electronics manufacturing industry along with as those seemed to be an emphasis that's going on with this administration. Sure, can you talk anymore about the what's going on and with semiconductors right now? It's even whether you're in manufacturing or not, it's probably affecting you in some way. Whether you know it or not. It is. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I've seen you see it more in mainstream news. Now you can't get my psfive Joe. There you go. Well, I've been in the market for a car recently and I finally got one, but I had a weight for it. So, and I know that's up. That's a part of it. There are cars on lots that are waiting for controllers. They're actually on the they didn't hold them in the factories. They've shipped them. Yeah, so what's going on here? For about? What's your take on this? Where's IT headed? As it going to get better, it's going to take a while. So.

So what happened on this? In a you know my chief economists, which explain it a lot better. Shawn Dubervaki's great, but basically, with covid you know, we had this huge drop. I mean in the automotive industry specifically, you had, you know, they were making nine Hundredzero cars a month and in April of last year they made six thousand. And so the industry did exactly the right thing. They said, oh my gosh, recession in this area shift development start building in other areas where there's not, and that's exactly why. Shoot, what didn't happen, that's been normal in every other recession in the past, is you never you don't have this really steep spike right back up again. In fact, automotive went from horrible to amazing within a matter of weeks. And that shift from semi conductors does not happen overnight. You know building, you know with these wafers in these FABS. So so there is time that's going to be taken on that and there's ripple effects. It's not just the semiconductor industry you're really these impacts are going to are trickling through lots of different segments of the supply chain. So you know, I'm hopeful by this time next year it'll feel a little bit more balanced, but it could take as long as the end of two thousand and twenty two. And in the meantime you're just going to have to keep playing on that Psfour, Huh, I don't even have a ps but I have I have my xbox and I have, you know, the weed. So so we wanted to try the PSFIVE. My other sun outs where he's like Hey, dad, you got to get this, this is awesome. That's great. Okay, well, appreciate the perspective there. Well, John, is there anything that we didn't touch on Tay that you'd like to talk they'd like to talk about while I got you? There is so much going on. I'm sure there's there's things, you know, supply chain thing. It is really critical just getting the right components going forward. But now I think we touched on a lot of the highlights. So I'm just appreciated for the up to talk a little bit about the electronics manufacturing industry. That's great. Well, John, you kind of touched on where we could find some of the resources on the IPC site earlier, but if I just pose the question again, what's the best way to get in touch with you and to pick up some of these resources and learn more about what IPC can do to help? Sure. So the general website is IPC dot Org Org, and if... search there for standards or education or factory the future, it'll lead you to all the various groups and committees that are being working on that from, you know, engineers across the globe. So it's great enough if you're looking to get a hold of me. It's just John Mitchell at IPC DOT R G, John and Mitctll at IPC DOT org. Beautiful. Well, John, great conversation. This was very insightful and appreciate it having you on. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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