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Data analytics still need the human touch for metalworking equipment marketing

By Mike Bacidore, chief editor, Control Design, Nov 17, 2015 Data is everywhere, and many manufacturers have been collecting it for decades. But what are they doing with it? Can you collect enough data to create an analysis algorithm that…

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6 Mistakes Exhibitors Make at Trade Shows

Are you getting the most out of your trade show presence?

Jim Beckwith on Marketing, looking serious.By Jim Beckwith,
Metalcasting Design & Purchasing

Many metalcasters utilize trade show exhibits as part of their marketing plan. Trade shows are a proven source of tangible ROI in the form of leads, and they continue to grow in popularity. But exhibitors often fail to realize the full potential of trade shows.

Below are some of the key mistakes made by exhibitors at trade shows. See if you recognize any.

Substandard Visual Presence. There’s nothing like the feeling that every other exhibitor simply looks better than you. This isn’t usually an issue at Cast in North America, where there are always one or two booths staffed by one person with only a briefcase full of castings and pamphlets. Don’t be that guy.

No Show-Specific Sales Strategy. Many of us have been to shows where a return visit to the same booth gets us completely different information. This confuses and irritates prospects. Coordinate with booth staff before and during the show to ensure everyone is staying on message.

Too much “Hard Sell”. If your company is indexed thoroughly in all show programs and related materials, potential customers will seek you out. You’re unlikely to pick up business from the kind of customers you want by getting out in the aisle and invading their personal space. Encourage booth staff to be approachable without being overly aggressive.

Wrong ROI Metrics. Leads are the most visible and important measure of ROI for your exhibit at the show, but don’t forget about the intangibles. You’re improving your visibility and branding, as well as providing your sales staff with valuable “face time” so they can fine tune their approach.

Exhibiting in a Vacuum. Shows are an important component of a marketing plan, but they can’t be the only thing you do. Your comprehensive year-round marketing plan feeds into your successful trade show exhibit, and vice versa.

(Non-Exhibitors) Ignoring the Show. If you’ve made the decision not to exhibit this year, don’t simply ignore this year’s show floor. The best way to learn do’s and don’ts for show exhibits is to see what your competitors are doing.

For more tips on how to get the most out of your trade show exhibit, take a look at this excellent article from Entrepreneur Magazine. As a veteran of many relevant industry trade shows, I’m always happy to provide feedback on anything from best practices to comprehensive marketing strategy. If I can be of assistance, feel free to reach out!

Jim Beckwith
[email protected]
847-803-2908

metalcasting design logo

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The Breakdown of Trust in Manufacturing

(Thanks to Reva Russell English of MakeTime “Buy & Sell Machine Tool Time Service Site” for some good thoughts on the state of manufacturing today. Go to their site. As part of the scavenger economy, buying and selling spare machine tool time is a great idea. At least there are no barriers to entry as AirBnB has. Every time I stay at someone’s home, they tell me to say “I’m a friend” if anyone asks. My sister-in-law stopped making $1500 a month because their insurance company wouldn’t insure their home if they continued.)

Manufacturng Marketing GraphicIf all you knew about U.S. manufacturing were gleaned from today’s pundits and presidential candidates, you’d think the entire sector was being fitted for its coffin. While it’s true challenges exist, things are not as grim as they’re made out to be.

No, American manufacturing does not directly employ 20 percent of the country’s labor force like it did during the late 1970s, but it’s output has never been higher. The planet is full of “Made in the USA” products, and if U.S. manufacturers and suppliers play their cards right, it will get fuller still. In order for that to happen in a sustainable way, however, the breakdown of trust between American manufacturers and suppliers must be addressed.

TRUST IS A PRACTICE …

Trust first began to falter between U.S. suppliers and manufacturers during the 1980s when offshoring went mainstream. While American companies had long engaged in foreign direct investment to be closer to foreign markets and materials sources, the ‘80s ushered in offshoring as a cost cutting measure. By outsourcing manufacturing to countries with cheap, unregulated and non-unionized labor, fatter bottom lines were almost immediately achieved.

Back stateside, U.S. machinists and factory line workers lost their jobs. Factories and shops closed. In some instances, whole towns were basically gutted and left for dead. The suppliers still standing funnelled their little remaining power into making the RFQ process even murkier in order to ensure they made as much money as possible when jobs did come their way. The breakdown in trust was well underway, and it would only get worse in the coming decades.

… SO PRACTICE IT WE MUST

Of course, believing U.S. corporations and suppliers should have — or could have — acted otherwise given the circumstances is to misunderstand the nature of business. The pursuit of revenue and the complementary cutting of costs are always a company’s first order of business, regardless of its mission statement or on which side of the manufacturing coin it finds itself.

Instead of expecting CEOs to choose lower profit margins by keeping costly shops and factories open across America’s heartland on principle, manufacturers and suppliers could have joined together to lobby for policies that incentivized the making of U.S. goods in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Instead of expecting shops and factories to willingly price themselves into the basement in order to get jobs they’d only lose money on, manufacturers and suppliers could have worked together to increase overall domestic competitiveness and productivity.

If that sounds like a pipedream, consider how high the costs of offshoring actually are.

Beyond the domestic job loss, as an executive from a large corporation put it in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “I don’t think people realize when they make the offshore decision that it is really a commitment to freeze the product. There is no way to make rapid design changes and product updates at a remote location.”

That’s a quote from 1988.

THE DISTRIBUTED DIFFERENCE

In today’s fractured, fast and just-in-time marketplace, offshoring as a cost cutting measure makes even less sense than it used to. Why cut costs making products in China today if the market you’re serving in the U.S. changes its mind about what it wants to buy tomorrow? From fluctuations in shipping expenses to a regional coup d’etat that disrupts your supply chain, offshoring can actually cost thousands — if not millions — of extra hours, dollars and customer complaints.

With a well-executed distributed manufacturing model that moves beyond the RFQ with visibly aligned prices and costs, both U.S. manufacturers and U.S. suppliers stand to win and win big. Thanks to America’s skilled and highly productive suppliers, manufacturers can bring products to market just-in-time, no matter how fickle the consumer gets. Thanks to that ongoing investment in real dollars and cents, the skills and productivity needed to keep bringing products to market just-in-time will keep being available, too.

At long last, it’s become clear that U.S. manufacturers’ and suppliers’ goals are in alignment. Today’s consumer wants it now, in slate gray or coral —no jade — with 20-inch rims and an already-charged battery. Without a network of suppliers able to handle that kind of quick and granular manufacturing on-demand, manufacturers will lose, and if that happens, they’ll take even more jobs with them.

It’s time to bring more manufacturing jobs home — not because of sentiment, but because it makes good business sense for everyone involved. What’s good for the goose is localized and distributed manufacturing. It also happens to be good for the gander. Finally, everyone is starting to realize it.

MakeTime is a distributed manufacturing platform for U.S. manufacturers and suppliers. To find out how MakeTime can benefit your manufacturing company, contact us today.


Here’s an excerpt from another blog post about one of our clients that have also successfully navigated the tough times in manufacturing.Manufacturing Marketing Article

Heinz Loosli, CEO of Feintool International Holding discusses the strategic advantage of Feintool in this interview for its customer magazine. In response to a question about the company’s recovery from the automotive industry decline in 2009, he answers, “We brought new, innovative products to market, we have played more to our strengths and in doing so achieved some great successes in the market. We have also improved our ability to complete by implementing measures to increase efficiency. It is important to appreciate that it is not a case of one-off actions but ongoing commitment that will ensure our company has a successful future. The motto is: achieve more with less. We are constantly working on this…” This statement reflects both the company’s equipment’s strategic advantages but also good business practices. Feintool’s metal part-making equipment takes plate steel and produces parts that are assembly ready without post machining. Their machines achieve more with less material and processing — Loosli is using the same analogy for the company’s management practises. You can download the entire Feintool magazine here. For the North American edition, Lohre & Associates wrote two articles, edited and printed the publication here in Cincinnati. We are honored to work with Feintool’s Cincinnati offices and we feel the company’s marketing communications are equal to Deloitte’s.” Read the entire post.

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A Friendly Hand with Your New Year’s Industrial Marketing Communications

Thumb – Integrate
Make your website Content Management System (CMS) work with your customer and prospect relationship management system (CRM). Trying to maintain your site, blog, social media and smart phone apps in four different places is impossible. There are many applications that can integrate them. Some recommended applications that help pull all of these pieces of your marketing mix together: Wordpress, Hubspot and Marketo.
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Forming for the Future, Metalworking Equipment Marketing

Hi Metalworking Equipment Marketer, Allow me to share a recent example of editorial work for our client Feintool.

I wanted to forward it because every marketer I know has been at a loss — at least once in a career — trying to get critical marketing materials written and produced.

For this piece, we attended Feintool’s symposium in Nashville and reported the results. Lohre handled the total editorial assignment from information gathering to writing, photography, printing and mailing of the publication.

Bottom line? Working with the Feintool team, Lohre was proud to bring great value to our client’s customers and employees by providing an educational and relevant story worthy of a read.

We’d be honored by the opportunity to collaborate with you and your team. Here’s the article and some of the photos:

Forming for the Future: Feintool 2014 North American Symposium 

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Feintool hosted a two-day symposium to showcases its latest systems parts technology on September 30 and October 1, 2014. Speakers included Feintool’s North American management as well as invited guests representing thought leaders from the global automotive industry. Feintool hosted dozens of engineers and purchasing agents representing America’s largest automakers – 33 in all. The symposium covered critical issues facing the industry including a forecast of future trends, challenges and opportunities. Educational sessions, networking and a plant tour completed this unique gathering at Feintool’s Nashville, Tennessee, facility.

The focus of the educational sessions – faster speeds, more capabilities, lower costs and less risk — highlighted not only Feintool’s current abilities but served to plant the seed of future possibilities fineblanking and forming technology might have for those who attended. As one attendee suggested: One day they may have the perfect part for Feintool’s new capabilities.

A recap of the symposium.

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Christoph Trachsler, CEO of Feintool North America, reviewed Feintool’s milestones by noting the company has completed a gradual sale of companies outside of the forming industry. Feintool refocused its core competence by reinvesting in forming and Feinblanking in the Nashville and Cincinnati locations. Feintool’s goal is to introduce a new innovation every two years making the company ready for the future. The audience learned of Tennessee’s mid-state region’s importance to fueling the automotive industry, but Christoph also took time to introduce the creative side of Nashville, Tennessee, best known for its pivotal role in the development of rock’n roll, blues and the Grand Ole Opry, which gave rise to Nashville’s musical dominance.

Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Feintool North America, Lars Reich’s theme was “Forming for the Future.” His presentation was subtitled, “Advanced drivetrain solutions for the toughest requirements – high part quality, low unit cost.” Reich noted the Feintool Tennessee plant and Center of Excellence was expanded recently to accommodate the $14-million USD customized 1,600-ton direct servo press that started operating there in March. With the new Fineblanking & Forming System™ (FFS) 18-ft-long working bed press, Feintool succeeded in marrying conventional forming with fineblanking, giving them new capabilities in the market, plus the best of both worlds. A typical formed and fineblanked part is a 4.5 mm high strength steel component featuring feinblanked teeth produced in the ninth of twelve stations. The flexibility of the FFS process allows Feintool U.S. to form and finish disc carriers, pistons, gear spiders, and driveplates, among other parts, in a single transfer-press run. That’s what makes this machine so powerful and a North American first.

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David Petrovski, principal analyst at IHS Automotive, a leading provider of global market and economic information, presented a forecast of the North American auto industry. The auto production industry, he noted, is about to reach a new milestone not seen since the record year of 2006. He predicts by 2015, 17.4 million vehicles — a doubling of 2009 – will be sold. By 2021, that number will rise to 19 million cars. To meet that need automakers will be onshoring production to North America. Petrovski said the greatest potential for business will come from the global platform consolidation. In 2021, he noted, three quarters will be global platforms with the rest being US-centric, large pick-up trucks and SUVs. The mid-size and large segment growth will be flat or declining with all the growth in the other vehicle segments. By 2020 more than 2 million units will be exported from North America, Petrovski predicted. These forecasts are critical when aligning capital investments with the right business partners. With part life cycles getting shorter, drivetrains that used to be manufactured for 15 years now are looking at only a five- to eight-year lifecycle, Petrovski added.

Petrovski posed a series of thought-provoking questions for the engineers and purchasing agents in the room. Will consumers accept the new technologies required for efficiency that have a different driving experience? Also, many manufacturers have plans to deploy new technology but over time these keep getting pushed back because the existing technology is so much cheaper. Petrovski asked, “When you’re quoting new business with various engine and transmission manufacturers, think: ‘Is this a short five-year bandage or an eight-to 10-year, long-term direction this OEM is going in?’” There will be a huge jump in automatics with torque converter transmissions with 8 speeds or greater, from 2013 to 2021, he noted. CVTs are also showing some growth. “Asians have been very true to their CVT technology and now we’re seeing some of the Detroit 3 reconsidering the CVT especially for front wheel drive.” Petrovski concluded,

“Dual Clutch Transmissions remain relatively flat due to the poor consumer driving experience. Improved mpg legislation is the most significant driver of change so keep an eye on the efficiency reports; in the end that is what will really drive production, automakers will take drivetrains off the table if technologies don’t prove to be efficient enough.”

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Engineer Willi Grimm, the owner of numerous patents and with Feintool since 1974, brought everyone up to speed with the technology in his session. One of his most important patents is the intool coining deburring technology deploying worldwide. It’s an evolution in process integration, boosting the output rate.

The entire world makes brake parts with feinblanking, one new example is a brake pad with a thickening process applied to a stress point. The material thickness is increased from 5.5 mm to practically 10.5 mm in the stressed area. The requirement comes from higher torque requirements, which broke the brake pad in this area. Instead of increasing the whole part material thickness, Feintool blanks the material larger than the final geometry and then pushes that material into the final geometry, increasing its thickness. Deburring coining was is also included in the tooling. It once was thought that heat treating could compromise the intool deburring, but Feintool has never found this to be the case, Grimm noted.

With its new out-of-strip processes, Feintool offers up to four additional processes that are balanced around the tool for a 100-percent balanced process. This system can eliminate one of the big disadvantages of a progressive tool, “the design is never able to balance the forces of a progressive process,” Grimm continued. The lifetime of balanced out-of-strip tooling is much better because there is no problem of table tilting.

Final examples were of dramatic increases in die cavities. Silent chain links from 1.7 to 2.7 thicknesses evolved from two cavities to twelve cavities. The cycle time to regrind the dies is no different with this many cavities, between 1 to 4mm material thickness. For door lock parts, Feintool’s new HFAspeed has achieved 100 strokes per minute at a four wide arrangement. CVT chain links have achieved ten times more output by increasing die cavities.

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The high level of quality and accountability required in the vehicle manufacturing industry today was brought into focus by Daniel N. Sharkey, an attorney specializing in automotive recalls and warranties. About 80 percent of the big magnitude problems are warrantee issues. OEMs have set aside 2 percent of revenues for warrantee liability. OEMs have become more aggressive moving down the supply chain to implicate responsibility and obtain dollars from suppliers. Many OEMs rolled out new warranty agreements in the last three years. They acknowledge that both parties can be at fault, but in the gray areas the OEMs want a 50/50 split of the liability. “It’s not really a great deal when you step back and think about it,” Daniel said. He thinks the companies that will survive are smart, have the technology and are doing all the things Feintool is doing but they also have a little bit of backbone to stand up to the OEMs. At a very basic level, he said, what an OEM must decide is, “Is this a safety related issue? Recently, there have been seating cases where one would think it wasn’t safety-related but the OEM decided to recall anyway.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has some requirements suppliers might not be aware of. If there is a fatality in a foreign country, from the same or substantially identical part you supplied and you know about it and your other customers don’t know about it, you have an independent regulatory duty to inform NHTSA.

And finally, because of the complexity of these examples it’s important that engineering knows something about the contract documents and the contract documents have to be informed of the technical issues. The stakes get really high really fast if you don’t define the population of parts and fight back against debted payables.

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Larry White, one of Feintool’s process consultants, discussed the new plant design, which has been optimized for maximum versatility, speed, future growth and innovation. The Nashville plant just doubled its capacity, which required new raw material, production, staging and shipping areas. Ever focused on the future, the plant is also designed with the capability to again increase capacity. One look at the huge empty machine base for another Fineblanking & Forming System™ press communicates that.

Feintool constantly evaluates how it can protect its customers by understanding the world-class manufacturing process of OEMs. Intelligent diagnostics technology, in tools, presses and parts manufacturing will be a way of life. For that reason, Feintool maintains its own apprentice program. By training its people and developing core skills, Feintool remains future focused. That future led White to discuss Feintool’s Center of Excellence, which is always looking for the next advanced process capability invention.

The Nashville plant has 12 core processes set up to limit material moves in the plant. In fact, Feintool’s vision includes what its manufacturing plant should look like five years from now. They’ll accomplish that through maintenance elements, material elements and quality elements. Advanced Product Quality Planning, Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis and Control Plans if done correctly, maintained and with the correct feedback gives Feintool a firm standing. The European OEMs are getting really critical on having regional capability to evaluate parts and Feintool’s regional in-house labs meet that need.

A plant tour rounded out the two-day event. A highlight was seeing many of the presses in full production. The original Kasier was making clutch plates; the new 880 Plus was at full bore also on clutch plates and the new 1600-ton Fineblanking & Forming System™ was busy making clutch pack containers. Other typical parts produced at each of the machines were on display and illustrated the range of in tool and post-production capabilities such as assembly welding and turning. Quality was top of mind and attendees were able to see several stations where 100-percent inspection was being performed for the entire run and at other stations for the first 90 days. In the tool room visitors could see the press schedule on the wall, nearly all marked “Ready,” indicating the tooling was staged for the next production. Materials up to 12 mm thick, stroke rates of up to 200 strokes/minute and a die clearance of as little as 0.01 mm put a lot of demand on the tooling. Feintool’s new shop is up to the challenge.

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SMPS – CPSM Exam – Industrial Marketing Promotional Activity

This is the Domain I have been waiting for. It’s most of what I have been doing the past 40 years. Industrial Marketing Promotional Activity

I started at the drawing board 40 years ago at my Father’s advertising agency. $3.10 per hour. I lived in the basement of a nearby home for $45 per month. I remember the first night I stayed there, the gays above me were having a huge shouting match! I enjoyed sucking Rapidio pens and drawing mining equipment. And slowly made a name for myself because I enjoyed preparing perfect materials for the printer. I still don’t know how the vice president knew I had been up all night working on the boards. Must have been something in my eyes.

I learned everything from client relationships, the friendships, the events and creativity from my Father. They all were important in a people business like advertising. I came in during a depression and we grew a little after that but never regained the glory days of the agency in the 60s. Dad left for the Florida Keys in the 80s and started other businesses. I took over the day to day and to this day I think about him at 5 pm when he used to call after the rates went down.

Dad passed away in 1999. That was the high point of the agency. We almost broke one million in sales. Then 9-11-01 and we were struggling like every other consultant. The economy recovered and seemed to be on fire, it was. I got involved with SMPS on the advise of Pete Strange the president of Messer Construction. I found the chapter very welcoming and volunteered for the board of president Alison Tepe-Guy. I served two terms but then the housing crisis hit. I gave up on growing the agency with building material clients. Until the last couple of years in which I have attended Greenbuild, the premier show for high quality building materials. I’m looking forward to putting to use all the information I have absorbed from trying to pass the exam over the last ten years.

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SMPS – CPSM Exam – Industrial Marketing Management

The last SMPS Markendium Domain puts it all together. Managing a Marketing Dept. or Agency Couldn’t be Defined Better

Four years ago I learned about Hubspot and went all in. I really enjoyed the specific internet marketing knowledge that it demonstrated and clearly showed principals of a agency how to follow. We had them convert our site and did everything they suggested. We got one client to implement it and that has been a great success. Not so much for the agency. Face it, the internet is mostly marketers, you can’t sell generic marketing in the internet, just like you would be a fool to hire a brain surgeon online. Myke Amend, our web guru, recently created www.industrialwebdevelopment.com, specifically about web design and management. It worked great and we have signed two new clients. Myke followed the Google instructions to create a great website. They are light years past Hubspot. In fact, you can’t do what Google suggests with Hubspot. We’re still a Hubspot Partner and I’ll continue participating because in spite of their lack of advancements, they are still a very good general best practices and agency management tools.

Hubspot told you to build it and they will come. The Society for Marketing Professional Services tells you to deliver the most fantastic service you can, find similar clients and sell them the same type of work. To grow sell new services to existing clients. If that is successful, try selling it to other clients. it that simple.

The management part of it is simple too. Clearly define marketing activities and their objectives that you can measure. I’m looking forward to defining what we’re good at, adjusting for each of our personalities, and implementing SMART goals next year – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely.

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SMPS – CPSM Exam – Industrial Marketing Proposals

Great Proposals Match Your People’s Talents To The Client’s Needs

Recently I listened to the award story for a theatre. It told several stories about the different types of groups that went to the playhouse. The young girl going to the Nutcracker for the first time with her grandmother. The story of a young couple going to Romeo and Juliet. The older couple enjoying an evening together with friends. And the young professionals so anxious to see and be seen. They had the director crying. The patrons wide eyed about the world that could be created as a part of their legacy. They are now seeking more funds to realize their dream.

This is a true story. The work went to a firm that wasn’t known for their theatre work. Another secret ingredient was bringing in the best sound designer in the world. True Industrial Marketing Proposals follow this path.

Be sure to follow the instructions so you don’t get uninvited to the party. And be careful you don’t show your hand to your competitors. Many times subs will be included on several proposals, they aren’t your friends.

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