The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 7 months 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 whatmy 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 welcometo the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders whohave compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn fromB tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies insideyour business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the ManufacturingExecutive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder ofthe Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six manufacturing is changing so quickly, from advancementsand technology to the workforce to the way we communicate with customers, and it'stough for many companies to keep up with all the change. Along with allof this, the perception of manufacturing to the outside world hasn't necessarily kept pacewith all of its advancements. My guest today is the president of an industryorganization that's working to advance manufacturing from all of these angles. So let metake a moment to introduce him. Dr John W Mitchell is president and CEOof IPC, the Global Electronics Industry Association. Dr Mitchell joined IPC in two thousandand twelve and has been instrumental and launching solutions to help IPCS members achievefinancial success and competitive excellence. Prior to IPC, he worked to advance companyinterests 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 suchas a new learning management platform, IPC edge, a validation or validationservices and online certification portal, factory of...

...the future efforts and a reengineered membersuccess department. Between creating a new solutions that support standards development, improving amember relations and advocating for Regulatory Change, Dr Mitchell has more than doubled theinfluence in impact of the organization across the world. Dr Mitchell's academic credentials includea doctorate in higher education management from the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Educationand Mba from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineeringfrom Brigham Young University. John, welcome to the show. Thank you.Great to be here, Joe. Well, John, you've got a very impressivecareer resume there. I was wondering if you could start out by juston us a little bit about how you eventually landed here. Is CEO andpresident of IPC. Sure you know when I chat with people just getting startedin their career and they're all stressed about, hey, you know, what doI want to be when I grow up, et Cetera. You know, keep about like a two year horizon because life will throw a lot ofcurves at you. I never I don't even think I had any idea thatthere was such a thing as an association, you know, when I was inuniversity. So you know, it's kind of the juxtaposition of everything I'vedone. You know, I started off as electrical engineer work with GE aerospaceand 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 imaginenot being able to route or be not having a GPS in your car toget where you wanted to go, I mean, but that was the dayswhen our first implementation, the whole map was la. That was it.That's all you could drive in, which was kind of cool. Then Igot my Mbat Pepperdine, went to bows. Did you know, infotainment systems forvehicles, which was a lot of fun. Moved in the nonprofit worldand then doctor and higher education and IPC is really the juxtaposition of everything I'vedone. 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'skind of, you know, the perfect...

...mix for me and it's just beennice that I've been able to use a lot of what I've done over theyears. 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 upnow now, I had no idea. Rarely plays out like that, butthat's pretty cool. Well, John, I recently had the opportunity to leada really great panel discussion with some brilliant minds in the robotics space, theVP of sales at fanic America, the president and the VP of sales atplus one robotics and a few others, and one of the topics that wegot into is this perception of manufacturing jobs is being dirty and dangerous, stuffyou'd see on Micros show. But a lot of that sort of change inthe modern era of manufacturing, or a lot of what I see changing,is, you know, jobs are becoming more rooted in technology and manufacturing andit's kind of it's the opposite of dirty and dangerous in some ways and it'svery high tech and advanced, and I don't know that that message is gettingout there, especially to people interested in entering manufacturing. So I was justkind 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 notcool to be involved with manufacturing or you know, it's just, I liketo call it the Lavernon Shirley Age, if you remember that TV show fromway back when. You know they were, you know, basically very manual bottles, you know, all that sort of stuff, but it's not manufacturingtoday is not, you know, what my parents are or even what I, you know, saw growing up. It's very cool. There's a lotof really great stuff going involved in it from, and this is, youknow, all kinds of manufacturing. I remember touring Ferrari's manufacturing plant and literallyyou 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 electronicsmanufacturing, we're doing a lot of great stuff. I mean you're using allof the latest stuff that people are talking about. There's artificial intelligence, ishelping make our manufacturing systems smarter and more...

...efficient. You've got additive manufacturing ord printing that are going that's going into it. Robotics, just like yourprevious guests, we're talking about you know, robotics are everywhere in electronics, andso getting involved in manufacturing is really instead of just talking about these newtechnologies, you're using them, which just makes it cool. So we you'reright, we do need to get that message out. Is there anything thatIPC is doing specifically to help transform that perception? Yeah, so we havea what we call the IPC Education Foundation and it focuses on students. Sothere'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 toalso provide the medication so they can watch these videos, they can go intothe plants, not so much this last year with Covid, but, youknow, the ideas, they get in and they can actually experience and seewhat a difference that's making. And so unless we can get a new hitshow 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 tryingto do it, you know, at the student level, help them experienceit and see what's different, and that's great to hear. You mentioned verybriefly ai minute or two ago here, and sometimes it feels today like we'reliving in this world of buzz words and the manufacturing sector, AI industry,for point out, machine learning, blockchain, digital twin and I'm just, youknow, for for manufacturers who are cut you know, been around forfor many years. I talked to a lot of businesses that are second thirdgeneration businesses and a lot of them are doing things the same way in alot of ways that they have been for a long time. How can thesemanufacturers 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 actuallyrealize the benefits of the technological advancements that are flooding the industry? So IPChas an effort called factory the future, and it's really the goal of thisis to help industry move from, you know, the buzz words you talkabout into actual benefits. You know so...

...and I think you can, youknow, appreciate the difference between talking about something versus actually being able to useit. 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, youknow, the systems. I mean the big guys of the world. Theyliterally been investing millions and millions of dollars into these kinds of systems, andso what factory the future is trying to do is to get them as muchof that as they can for a very, very low, cost, low impacttype of adjustment. So they can get some of that right now andthen add to it the next year and just keep building that as you goforward. But even in all those other areas, you know, machine learning, blockchain, we've got standards efforts that. So IPC does a lot in thestandard setting arena, especially for electronics manufacturing, and there's there's a blockchainstandard that people are working on today. So people can also participate in thatand get smarter about it. You know, it's as opposed to just saying asthat word. I don't know what that has to do with it orhow does that apply to me? You can attend these standards mean he's andlearn 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 asmaller scale or on at least you know, hey, let's let's takea piece of this and start to gain those advantages. That's great and I'llswing back around to this at the end of the interview. But where canpeople 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 justlook under standards or factory the future, you'll find all all kinds of waysee it volved. And because we're a volunteer organization, I mean it's notlike IPC comes out and sets these standards. We don't create the standards, wedon't create the initiatives. We shippered the process with industry. So itreally is efforts made by industry themselves and we try to make sure that thosegroups and committees that are working on these things are well balanced, so you'vegot, you know, the big guys, the little guys, the meeting sizeguys, 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'rean engineer and scalability of systems is something you've told me as close toyour heart. So can you talk about why scalability so important and what manufacturersneed to be thinking about when it comes to scaling up their factories through machineoperation skills and also programming skills? Yeah, so, you know, there's justso many people and so many different ways to do things. So scaleis critical. I mean, if we could come up with a great instructorand have them go teach somebody, and that's fine, you know, theymight be able to teach a dozen people at a time, but just thatimpact on, you know, five million workers in the electronics industry alone,you know, just in this country, never mind across the globe. Youjust it's just not going to be enough, fast enough. And so we're lookingat, and have been developing for the last several years and education platform. We call it IPC edge, you know, kind of working on theeducation and cutting edge, you know, to kind of together. But whatit's an online acing from this learning platform where you can go and at yourpace, you know, on breaks, at home, whatever, you canstart gaining a lot of this knowledge directly yourself. And and that scales toliterally if we had somebody call up and say I need to have a millionpeople go through this training tomorrow, you go, it's all good. Sowe're trying to work with both industry as well as governments to help this getout there faster, because not, you know, one of the challenges is, of course, that nothing is cheap, and so we're trying to get governmentsalso to support a lot of these efforts so we can use the scalabilityand 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'tnearly even during covidd nearly a hundred thousand certifications across the globe on our educationplatforms, and that's just our typical stuff. We're looking to x that, justas we bring different skills over the next coming year. So we're reallytrying 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 youcould tell about the transformation you've seen a manufacturing business go through as they'veembraced some of these concepts we've been talking about today, from technology to creatingmore scalable operations? Yeah, that so it's one thing comes to mind prettyquickly in New England. So in the electronics world a lot of the manufacturinghas moved to Asia. You know, you may have seen a lot ofnews on this, you know. So a lot of electronics manufacturing has movedAsia, and initially that was for cost of labor issues because a lot ofit was done manually. Recently, in New England, an organization, acompany, decided that they would try to challenge that premise that it has tobe built in order to be built cheap. It has to be done it,you know, in these mass production factories, and so they created afactory that used a lot of the latest technologies and, you know, thelater skills and their competitive and they can scale this thing and it's a it'sthere's a ton of automation in it, but they can run all day allnight, and so they're literally taking these concepts that we've talked about and they'reavailable today. They were available two years ago. So we're seeing a lotof people really starting to do innovative things and it's an exciting time. Soyou get one or two they're doing this and then suddenly you've got your fifteento thirty and then after that everybody's got it. So it's at the beginningof real implementation of some of these technologies where you can build it just aboutanywhere cost effectively. I've been hearing a little bit more about this same conceptlately 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 hetouched on a lot of this too, and they've got some great tools foryou 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 betweenyou know, doing the stuff on or off shore, and a lot ofwhat you're saying seems to be true in a lot of places and there's almostjust this you know, accepted notion that, you know, the only way wecould do this cost effectively is to... it across the's. So Ijust think you're going to find, you know, the whispered word in thehallways, and I don't even know if I should say this. Oh mygosh, the secret is, you know, with d printing and all of theadvances that are coming, that the you know, in fact, ifindustry four point, I was today, maybe industry five point or six Ohis 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 modeof transportation. I think it was the guys over a fast radius and theadditive manufacturing space. I remember reading an article about this. You know,we had shipping by by sea and then by rail and by air, andnow it's digital files moving, you know, across the Internet, which is it'spretty crazy. You think you think Amazon's fast and you're same day delivery. Well, just printed. Yeah, it's pretty wild, pretty cool tosee what's on the horizon there. Well, let's see here, John. Iusually donn't get too political on this show, but I'd given that wererecording this in May of two thousand and twenty one, we've recently transitioned toa new administration. I know you have some perspectives on sort of the bidendadministration's approach to manufacturing in the US and wanted to kind of open that upto you to I want to hear what you're seeing. Yeah, so,in general, whatever administration comes in the power in whatever country, they eachhave their hot buttons, you know, things that they're trying to get doneand not everything's going to align with what you're trying to do. For thein my case the electronics manufacturing industry. So what we do is we tryto 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 areanother area might another time, somebody else might focus on, I don't know, healthcare, and so all right, those are the opportunities that are goingto be available. Right now. The Biden administration has been fairly heavily focused, I would say, on two areas that have been an interest, ofinterest to us. The semiconductor area, which is Great. I'm glad they'redoing 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 thechip if there's an entire ecosystem that has to work with there. If youcome up with the newest, you know, best chip in the world and theend of having a ship at all over the world that actually manufacture aroundit, what good do that really do? So there's an ecosystem that needs support, not just the chip development. And then the other areas. Oninfrastructure, which is a very broad impact, could do some great things and that'schallenging 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, andtheir voters are very concerned about today's needs. You know whether if or do youplay for the long play and say, okay, let's really develop new infrastructurethat's more green, more, you know, and actually shift away fromthis. And so those are tough decisions to make because you make the wrongdecision 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 wayto play for the long play and still support, you know, people's jobstoday. But those are the two areas, semiconductor and infrastructure, that I thinkthat we're looking to try to assist the electronics manufacturing industry along with asthose 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. Nowyou can't get my psfive Joe. There you go. Well, I've beenin the market for a car recently and I finally got one, but Ihad a weight for it. So, and I know that's up. That'sa 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 shippedthem. Yeah, so what's going on here? For about? What's yourtake 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? Ina you know my chief economists, which explain it a lot better.Shawn Dubervaki's great, but basically, with covid you know, we had thishuge drop. I mean in the automotive industry specifically, you had, youknow, they were making nine Hundredzero cars a month and in April of lastyear they made six thousand. And so the industry did exactly the right thing. They said, oh my gosh, recession in this area shift development startbuilding 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 goingto be taken on that and there's ripple effects. It's not just thesemiconductor industry you're really these impacts are going to are trickling through lots of differentsegments of the supply chain. So you know, I'm hopeful by this timenext year it'll feel a little bit more balanced, but it could take aslong as the end of two thousand and twenty two. And in the meantimeyou're just going to have to keep playing on that Psfour, Huh, Idon'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 toget this, this is awesome. That's great. Okay, well, appreciatethe perspective there. Well, John, is there anything that we didn't touchon Tay that you'd like to talk they'd like to talk about while I gotyou? There is so much going on. I'm sure there's there's things, youknow, supply chain thing. It is really critical just getting the rightcomponents going forward. But now I think we touched on a lot of thehighlights. So I'm just appreciated for the up to talk a little bit aboutthe electronics manufacturing industry. That's great. Well, John, you kind oftouched 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 toget in touch with you and to pick up some of these resources and learnmore about what IPC can do to help? Sure. So the general website isIPC dot Org Org, and if... search there for standards or educationor factory the future, it'll lead you to all the various groups and committeesthat 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 IPCDOT org. Beautiful. Well, John, great conversation. This was very insightfuland 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'vebeen listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss anepisode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd liketo learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expandingcollection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at GorillaSeventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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