Brian Gilmore

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CEOs Play Central Role in Lean Transformation

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jul 8, 2014 10:38:01 AM

Chief executives are pivotal to the success of lean manufacturing, two transformation experts told the AIM CEO Connection recently.

ManufacturingWorkerSmallSusan Janus and Joe Griffin, Regional Managers at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), said CEOs must initiate, motivate and participate in efforts to improve value and reduce waste through lean principles. That role includes clearly defining roles and responsibilities, and holding people accountable for results.

“Implementing lean is a real test of CEO vision and leadership,” Janus said.

“Can the CEO persuade everyone to buy in and follow through? Can the CEO create a culture that allows the customer to pull value from the organization?”

Janus and Griffin led a discussion on The Role of the CEO in Lean with a dozen chief executives taking part in the CEO Connection in Attleboro. The peer group allows CEOs to meet on a monthly basis to share knowledge and develop the leadership skills needed to direct companies through times of change.

Lean manufacturing requires a company to identify the value in its production process while eliminating anything for which the customer should not pay. The objective is to reduce the waste that resides in product defects, overproduction, time delays, transportation of materials and equipment, excess inventory, motion and underutilized employees.

The CEO must set the tone, according to Janus:

  • Understand that lean process starts with the customer;
  • Convey to employees that lean is an organizational mindset and way of life;
  • Prepare for the fact that lean requires deep understanding;
  • Model the way; lead by example; participate;
  • Select priorities and stay focused;
  • Provide a roadmap - translate throughout the organization

“Above all else, the CEO must develop talent and enable others to carry out lean,” Janus said. “That means believing in everyone’s ability to contribute, training for knowledge and skill, and developing champions who can drive the process.”

Veda Clark, the former chief executive who moderates CEO Connection, said participants choose the topics for each meeting and that there was keen interest in the management role in lean process. Each session of the CEO Connection includes a presentation from an outside expert, open discussion and a company tour.

“These CEOs learn a tremendous amount from one another. It’s a uniquely valuable exercise for people who are sometimes very much on their own in making important decisions,” Clark said.

The south shore group is looking to recruit three additional CEOs, while recruiting is underway for a north-of-Boston AIM CEO Connection. Manufacturing CEO’s interested to learn more about the AIM CEO Connection should contact either Brian Gilmore ( or Gary MacDonald ( 


Topics: CEO, Management, Manufacturing

Siemens Donation Underscores Growing Software Role in Manufacturing

Posted by Brian Gilmore on May 27, 2014 3:07:00 PM

Can manufacturing in Massachusetts grow in the face of rapid technological change, globalization, and an industrial landscape with emerging gaps in workforce development?

ManufacturingA hopeful sign came last month when Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division, announced nearly $600 million of industry software grants for manufacturing programs at vocational schools, community colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts.

Software plays an important role in the new era of manufacturing. Students and faculty will use the software in assignments and research related to computer-aided-design, engineering simulation, industrial design, digital manufacturing and manufacturing management – advanced skills sought by global manufacturers.

Thirteen academic partners throughout the state are receiving in-kind software grants to support the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway developed by Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Initiative (MACWIC). The program received AIM’s Gould Education & Workforce Development Award at the last years’ annual meeting.

Academic partners include Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Fitchburg State University, Berkshire and Quinsigamond community colleges, and vocational-technical schools in Worcester and New Bedford. Using the software in their coursework, students can develop the advanced skills sought by more than 77,000 customers who utilize Siemens’ software and technology solutions. This includes nearly 150 companies in the commonwealth such as Raytheon and Bose. 

MACWIC is an employer-led initiative to strengthen workforce development in the manufacturing sector. Siemens, the multinational technology company, is founding member of MACWIC through its Metals Technologies (MT) business, with its advanced manufacturing facility in Worcester. Siemens’ announcement, beyond the fact of a generous and far-sighted donation, underlines two points about our industrial future: that manufacturers themselves are taking the initiative in addressing together the needs of their sector; and that international companies, along with locally-based ones, can be full participants in the effort.

Topics: Technology, Manufacturing, Workforce Training

New Test Accelerates Progress on Education

Posted by Brian Gilmore on May 2, 2014 11:59:00 AM

School committees in Massachusetts have an opportunity this month to accelerate progress towards key education reforms sought by employers.

How? By choosing to adopt the new assessment developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in place of the increasingly outdated MCAS instrument at the high school level. The new evaluation system was field-tested across the state earlier this year.

EducationAIM supports the efforts of state education officials to extend standards-based reform with an assessment system that will facilitate better evaluation of schools and educators, target support to students' individual needs, and benchmark to interstate and international standards.

PARCC differs from MCAS by enabling schools to assess student achievement on a yearly basis, and to carry it beyond the tenth- grade level where MCAS ends. It will also facilitate interstate comparison of educational effectiveness.

Through its participation and leadership in the PARCC consortium, Massachusetts has joined with other states to create uniform standards developed at the initiative of governors and state education leaders. Working together, the cooperating states are putting in place a system superior to any could have achieved on their own, at much less cost. 

As a result, we can begin to achieve the goals for our schools identified in a recent survey of Massachusetts employers co-sponsored by AIM: national and global standards, a culture of continuous improvement, sound preparation for both further education and the modern workplace, and a comprehensive assessment system as promised in the Education Reform Act of 1993.

The future of our economy depends on our ability and willingness to build on two decades of successful K-12 public school reform to maintain the national leadership and global competitiveness of our education system. We urge members of the employer community who serve, or have influence, on district school committees to support a timely transition to the PARCC assessment.

Topics: Education Reform, Education

The ISO 9001 Standard - Can a Million Companies Be Wrong?

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Mar 25, 2014 1:40:00 PM

ISO 9001 has become the most recognized quality management credential in the world for manufacturing companies. More than one million companies in 170 countries have been certified to the standard, which is increasingly viewed as a requirement among employers looking sell products or technologies to global advanced manufacturing enterprises.

ManufacturingThe broadening acceptance of ISO among customers is finally persuading manufacturers that may have been reluctant to pursue certification because of cost or misperceptions about the registration process to finally take the plunge.

ISO 9001 provides guidance and tools for companies and organizations that wish to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements. It’s an operational plan.

The standard is based on quality management principles such as strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement. The idea is to ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services, which in turn brings many business benefits.

An organization must perform internal audits to check how its quality management system is working. A company may decide to invite an independent certification body to verify that it is in conformity to the standard, but there is no requirement for this. Alternatively, it might invite its clients to audit the quality system for themselves.

ISO 90001 requires that a company has documented quality program that it follows. The benefits?

  • Provides a measurable advantage over competition
  • Increases sales revenue
  • Improves the bottom line
  • Improves business and process performance while managing business risk
  • Attracts investment, enhances brand reputation and removes barriers to trade
  • Streamlines operations and reduces waste
  • Encourages internal communication and raises morale
  • Increases customer satisfaction

A number of studies have identified financial benefits for organizations certified to ISO 9001. A 2011 survey from the British Assessment Bureau showed that 44 percent of their certified clients had won new business. A separate study indicated that certified organizations achieved superior return on assets compared to otherwise similar organizations without certification.

“Sales Department is making appointments with companies who would not even look at us before we had our certification. We are also looking to expand our business outside New England now. This was a great and worthwhile adventure,” said AIM member Joseph Peters, President of Universal Plastics in Holyoke, who participated in the AIM/Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership ISO 9001 collaborative.

The collaborative provides a relatively inexpensive, workshop-based program that provides systems, documentation, training and on-site consultation for companies wanting or needing to comply with ISO 9001. The program consists with seven off-site, one day workshops over a period of seven months with a minimum of four and a maximum of eight companies working together with a consultant to establish and/or upgrade their quality management system.

A “gap” assessment of each participating company is provided to identify the areas each company needs to improve.  A minimum of five on-site consulting days in addition to the training workshops are provided to each participant.

Pricing for the AIM/MassMEP ISO Collabrative is based on company size – tuition ranges from $13,500 for a company employing fewer than 50 people to $22,000 for one that employs between 250-400 people. In most cases, the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund covers up to 50 percent of the cost to participate.

Contact your regional AIM Member Relations staff member or Brian Gilmore at 617-262-1180 for more information.

Topics: Revenue, Manufacturing, Efficiency

Massachusetts is Number One in Education. Is That Enough?

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Nov 7, 2013 9:24:00 AM

Ask any Massachusetts employer about the challenges facing his or her business and you are bound to hear some variation of: “I can’t find people with the skills and education needed to work in my company.”

Education ReformThe gap between the knowledge required by globally competitive Bay State employers and the knowledge offered by job seekers remains a major impediment to economic growth across Massachusetts. It is a gap that has persisted throughout the Great Recession, ranging from software companies that could hire dozens of programmers tomorrow but cannot find them, to precision manufacturers starved for young workers with the mathematical and mechanical skills to do high-tolerance machining.

The need to match educational achievement to a voraciously competitive global knowledge economy was the primary reason that Associated Industries of Massachusetts and other business groups supported the landmark 1993 Massachusetts Educational Reform Act.

The overhaul raised the overall performance of Massachusetts public schools with a unique combination of measurable student testing, transparency, results-based management, and increased funding. Massachusetts students score the highest in the nation on both the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) tests.

But our state's first-in-the-nation status for student achievement hides some troubling truths about the condition of public education in the commonwealth, a recent publication by our education partner the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) points out.

  • Despite the overall gains in student achievement in K-12 public education since passage of the 1993 reform, we have not closed achievement gaps affecting minority and low-income students.
  • We have reached a point of slower improvement, especially in our Gateway Cities – while other states and nations continue to move forward.
  • While Massachusetts eighth graders scored highest in the U.S. on an international test in math and science, only 19 percent did well enough to be considered advanced in math, compared to nearly 50 percent of eighth-graders in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore.
  • Just 14 percent of students in Massachusetts took the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in Math, and only 9 percent scored high enough to earn college credit; the same percentage of students took an AP exam in a science, and 8 percent scored a three or above.      
  • Sixty-five percent of students who enter our community colleges require at least one remedial course – a burden of some $57 million a year in instructional costs and lost earnings that could be saved if all students graduated from high school ready for college.

These troubling issues and the accelerating educational demands of employers are again prompting AIM, Massachusetts lawmakers and the business community to take a look at the commonwealth’s public education system. Two decades after the Education Reform 1.0, we are seeking employer perspectives on how well the schools are preparing the work force of tomorrow.

  • What has education reform has meant for the employer community?
  •  Have gains in student achievement produced better, prepared, more productive employees?
  •  Is our state’s workforce still a major competitive advantage?
  •  Do continuing “achievement gaps” cast a shadow on our economic future?
  •  What should be included on an education reform agenda for the next generation?  

AIM is working with MBAE and other groups to collect employer opinions on education issues. The survey results will be used to develop a set of education priorities for the business community to focus on in the months ahead. Please click the link below and share your views with us today.

Take the Education Survey

Topics: Issues, Massachusetts economy, Education

Life Sciences Intern Challenge Leads to Significant Discoveries

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jun 11, 2013 12:08:00 PM

Massachusetts graduate student Brian Dutra recently won first place at an international engineering competition for his research on acoustics in the bloodstream. Applications of his research include the detection of cancer cells in the bloodstream, filtering contaminants out of polluted water, and separating algae-based biofuels from biomass.

Molecular Structures.SmallDutra performed his groundbreaking research as an intern at a local company, FloDesign Sonics, in Wilbraham, Mass. He completed his internship through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s (MLSC)Internship Challenge program.

The Challenge provides students and recent college graduates with hands-on work experience through paid internships at life sciences companies across the state.

AIM members like Albright Technologies of Leominster, Mass., have participated. Since 2010, Albright Technologies has hired seven interns subsidized by the MLSC.

“Since first participating in the Internship Challenge, we have permanently hired two of our interns as Project Managers," said Bob Waitt, President of Albright Technologies.

“All three of our engineers started at Albright as interns, two of them as part of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge. Their hard work and dedication has contributed to 31 percent growth since 2011,” Waitt said.

The MLSC’s Internship Challenge enables life sciences companies of 100 or fewer employees in Massachusetts, or 250 or fewer worldwide, to identify and hire interns interested in developing their careers in the life sciences industry. The MLSC maintains an online portal to help companies find qualified interns, and reimburses companies for their interns’ salaries, up to $7,200 per intern. Larger life sciences companies may source interns through the MLSC’s online portal, but are not eligible for reimbursement.

In addition to exposing local life sciences companies to top-rate talent, this program provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and bioinformatics industry sectors.

Since the program first launched in 2009, the MLSC has placed nearly 1,200 interns with 335 companies. Many of these interns have indicated that their MLSC internship helped them decide that they would like to pursue a career in the life sciences.

In 2012, the MLSC received federal grant funding to support the expansion of the Internship Challenge program. The MLSC will receive $800,000 over four years as part of a $5 million grant awarded to the City of Boston from the U.S. Department of Labor intended to grow and maintain the area’s life sciences workforce. The Internship Challenge is now serving as a model for the establishment of similar programs at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

To learn more about the MLSC’s Internship Challenge program, click here.

Topics: Life Sciences, Business Center, Training

Manufacturing Skills Training Initiative Wins Gould Award from AIM

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 29, 2013 9:04:00 AM

The Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC), a voluntary association of more than 90 manufacturers and institutions organized to identify and solve workforce-related business needs, has been selected to receive the 2013 John Gould Education & Workforce Development Award at AIM’s 98th Annual Meeting on May 10 in Waltham.

Gould AwardThe Manufacturing Advancement Center in Worcester is an affiliate of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).

The Collaborative is being honored for its groundbreaking work to develop a competency-based curriculum for precision machining that ensures students will have the ability to meet prescribed industry standards. The curriculum can ultimately lead to college credit.

Approval of a standardized curriculum has also led the Collaborative to create the Manufacturing Skills Academy - an industry-supported initiative to upgrade the skills of the current workforce.  Currently, academy training modules in subjects such as Shop Math, Blue Print Reading, CNC Mill Concepts and Statistical Process Control are being conducted in Worcester at the MassMEP office and the Worcester Technical High School, at the Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational High School in Billerica, and locations of participating employers.

“AIM applauds the Collaborative and its members for developing industry credentials, fostering communication within the manufacturing community and promoting vocational education,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“As the Collaborative achieves success in upgrading the skills of the incumbent workforce, entry-level positions will open up, creating opportunity for new hires.”

Lord said, “The development of a new employer-driven workforce training initiative is critical in order to deal with impending baby-boomer retirements that are expected to create almost 100,000 manufacturing job vacancies in Massachusetts during the next 10 years.  AIM is delighted to honor the MACWIC with the 16th annual Gould Award.”

The Gould Award was created by AIM in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to improving public education and the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.  Named for John Gould in 2000 upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, the award recognizes his many contributions to improve the quality of public education and workforce activities in Massachusetts.

As the 2013 winner of the Gould Award, the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative joins past recipients John Rennie, founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Middlesex Community College, NYPRO, Inc.; William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation; Northeastern University; The Davis Family Foundation; Intel Massachusetts; EMC Corporation; IBM Corporation; David Driscoll, former commissioner of the State Department of Education; Raytheon Corporation’s MathMovesU program; State Street Corporation and Year Up Boston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership M.O.S.T. Program; and Brockton High School.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Business Center, Manufacturing

Fiscal Cliff Bill Includes Potential Benefits for Manufacturers

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jan 30, 2013 11:47:00 AM

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which pulled the nation back from the “fiscal cliff” on January 1, contained two provisions of interest to manufacturers—extension of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit that expired in 2011, and enhanced Section 179 capital expenditure deduction limits for 2013.

ManufacturingThe National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) reports that the bill extended the R&D tax credit retroactively to January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013. While the measure has never been a permanent part of the U.S. Tax code, it has always gathered strong bi-partisan support to be extended on a temporary basis.

Since the IRS eliminated some of its restrictive language in 2004, the R&D credit has been increasingly valuable for manufacturers that employ engineers or engage in product and process testing. The R&D credit benefits manufacturers of all types, including those that design and develop their own products as well as those that make parts for their OEM customers.

The MEP reports that about 70 percent of the credit dollars are derived from the salaries of employees devoted to qualified research activities, making it a wage-based credit available to a variety of manufacturing enterprises.

A second provision of the tax act extended the U.S. tax code’s Section 179 tax deduction. The 179 deduction allows companies to deduct the entire purchase price of qualifying office equipment, software, and other business needs in one year, rather than over the typical five-to seven-year depreciation schedule.

Manufacturers should check out how these two provisions may impact their operations.   

Topics: Issues, Manufacturing, Taxes

Manufacturers Create Path for Skilled Workers

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Dec 6, 2012 3:44:00 PM

At a time when manufacturing employers are struggling to find skilled workers, a unique initiative from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership is about to graduate its second class of 12 CNC machine operators trained at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

ManufacturingThe Massachusetts More Skilled Workers Program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The training takes place within a 280-hour instruction program that includes:

  • 80 hours of foundational manufacturing skills;
  • 100 hours of advanced CNC skills training at WPI;
  • 40 hours of MasterCAM;
  • 30 hours of career readiness;
  • 20 hours of Math Boot Camp instruction; and
  • the OSHA 30-hour General Industry course.

Employers who hire the graduates are eligible for a $10-per-hour wage reimbursement for 18 weeks ($7,200) to offset the cost of on-the-job training. Most candidates also qualify for the state’s Hiring Incentive Training Grant ($2,000) for training veterans or residents unemployed for six months or more.

The training course is part of a larger credentialing system developed by Bay State employers to identify skills that are critical for success in high-value manufacturing. The 280 hours of instruction satisfy three steps of a five-step system, called the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway, that can lead to an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology. The Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators has incorporated the credentialing model into the vocational technical educational frameworks that underlie the Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology curriculum.

The employers behind the new credentialing system work under the name of the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative. MACWIC is an alliance of next-generation manufacturers seeking to identify workforce-related business needs and to drive solutions, especially skills training.

And MACWIC members are developing the skills of current, as well as future, manufacturing workers. The organization has created a Manufacturing Skills Academy Network made up of member companies, partners, and individuals committed to developing manufacturing talent. Staffed by member companies, the initiative allows workers to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and maintain Massachusetts' global competitiveness.

Employers who wish to review resumes for each of the participants in the current CNC class on line can go to StemPower

Topics: Business Center, Manufacturing, Training

Employers, Officials Seek to Boost Manufacturing Sector

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Nov 28, 2012 2:02:00 PM

Editor's Note - Brian Gilmore is Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at AIM and a member of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative.

ManufacturingEmployers, state officials and academics met yesterday to ensure the growth of manufacturing in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) held its first formal session in Boston after being formed by the Patrick Administration and endorsed by the Legislature to enhance the competitiveness of Bay State manufacturers.

The Collaborative has several objectives:

  • Elevate public understanding of the capabilities and potential of advanced manufacturing in the commonwealth;
  • Expand the ability of the state’s educational system to respond to the entry and mid-level skill needs of manufacturers in the state;
  • Improve access for small-to-mid size manufacturers to technical assistance that supports manufacturing growth, including access to business credit, workforce development, compliance certification, export assistance, and innovation
  • Ease the cost of doing business in the state. 

The Collaborative used its inaugural meeting to hear progress reports on each of those objectives. The group also spoke with Lt. Governor Timothy Murray the merits of conducting an Advanced Manufacturing Summit in the spring and discussed the results of a new study that indicated a need to fill nearly 100,000 manufacturing jobs during the decade as older workers retire.  

Manufacturing jobs totaled 250,656 in the first quarter of 2012; health care and social assistance jobs topped the list with 515,047 and the retail trade came in second with 343,312 jobs; Professional and technical services jobs totaled 260,791 and accommodation and food services had 252,280 jobs, according to figures from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Many people are stuck in an “old cognitive map, thinking of manufacturing as old smokestack businesses that lack appeal for younger workers,” said Barry Bluestone, a professor at Northeastern University.

“This is a problem we have,” Bluestone told Statehouse News Service. “We are so focused on going to college and getting a degree in finance and health sciences, we forget there are 10,000 jobs a year in manufacturing.”

In a survey of manufacturers, approximately two-thirds said they expect to expand their businesses in the near future, something that could prove difficult if they cannot find workers, Bluestone said.

AIM has a designated seat on the Collaborative, and will participate with representatives from several AIM member firms, including Raytheon, NYPRO, the Custom Group, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and Universal Plastics.  Manufacturing employers with ideas for the Collaborative should contact me at

Topics: Business Center, Manufacturing

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