TPI Gaining Momentum

Manufacturing Matters!

A concerted effort to boost manufacturing productivity in Wisconsin is gaining momentum.

The Transformational Productivity Initiative (TPI) consists of a diagnostic assessment and strategy implementation that has a goal of reaching a dramatic 40 percent productivity improvement within 18 months. The aggressive effort aims to make the state’s manufacturers stronger competitors in an increasingly global market.

Extensive pilot programs have been conducted at four Wisconsin manufacturers – Racine Metal-Fab in Racine; Hartford-based Signicast; the Wagner Companies in Milwaukee; and Schaffer Manufacturing in Milltown.

“We’ve come quite a distance,” said Randy Bertram, director of sustainability and operational excellence at the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “We’re really in the process of evaluating what we’ve learned.”

TPI is a joint effort of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the WMEP and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Benchmarking data will be presented at the WMEP’s Manufacturing Matters! conference on March 1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee. 

Manufacturers need to boost their productivity, in large part, because of ongoing labor pool issues, Bertram said.

“There are workforce issues that aren’t going to change any time soon and this will at least partially offset a decline in workforce participation,” he said. “If companies want to grow, they will have to do it through increased productivity and do more with the resources that they already have in place.”

TPI is designed to assist manufacturers in benchmarking their performance against others in their industry segment (using NAICS code); identify and quantify performance gaps; provide a roadmap, guidance and resources required to close those gap; and assist best-in-class firms in expanding through technology, operational and business innovation that will define future best practices.

TPI established diagnostic assessment tools in five key factor areas relating to manufacturing productivity: technology implementation; operational excellence; human capital management; business development; and organizational structure and culture.

“Companies are making fairly significant investments in automation technology,” Bertram said. “At the same time, they are becoming very creative in how they recruit and retain employees.”

Steven Boeder, director of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, describes TPI as “an integrative approach to improving productivity.”

“Companies often are focused on what’s in front of them, day in and day out,” Boeder said. “It doesn’t mean that they are bad organizations but they need to slice out time to create standard work and decide what levers they are going to pull, strategically. Organizations that are going to be successful need to focus strategically and operationally.”

With the current pace of change, it no longer makes business sense to focus on three- to five-year strategic plans, Boeder said.

“You have to interface weekly or monthly to make sure everyone is executing the plan and marching toward the same objectives,” he said.

TPI involves a user-friendly set of diagnostic and assessment tools designed to expose companies to the numerous factors affecting productivity. Companies implement recommended measures to improve productivity and the results of those efforts are measured.

The next phase of the program will focus on streamlining the assessment process, said Enno Siemsen, a professor and Executive Director of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology.

“Companies are finding it very valuable. It gives them good ideas for improvement,” he said.

TPI is now expected to be deployed on a larger scale throughout the state.

“I’m excited with the progress that has been made but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We are overwhelmed with the number of companies that want to participate.”

Among the challenges is scaling up the initiative to include hundreds of companies.

The initiative remains vitally important even though the economy has been gaining steam in recent months, said Kelly Armstrong, director of sector strategy development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The WEDC remains committed to the initiative, which gives manufacturers an opportunity to make a holistic assessment of their operations and create a strategic plan to increase the value of the business, Armstrong said.

“TPI is a long-term solution, and being more productive and efficient is part of the solution to the talent gap, the body gap and the skills gap,” she said.

A concerted effort to boost manufacturing productivity in Wisconsin is gaining momentum.

The Transformational Productivity Initiative (TPI) consists of a diagnostic assessment and strategy implementation that has a goal of reaching a dramatic 40 percent productivity improvement within 18 months. The aggressive effort aims to make the state’s manufacturers stronger competitors in an increasingly global market.

Extensive pilot programs have been conducted at four Wisconsin manufacturers – Racine Metal-Fab in Racine; Hartford-based Signicast; the Wagner Companies in Milwaukee; and Schaffer Manufacturing in Milltown.

“We’ve come quite a distance,” said Randy Bertram, director of sustainability and operational excellence at the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “We’re really in the process of evaluating what we’ve learned.”

TPI is a joint effort of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the WMEP and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Benchmarking data will be presented at the WMEP’s Manufacturing Matters! conference on March 1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee. 

Manufacturers need to boost their productivity, in large part, because of ongoing labor pool issues, Bertram said.

“There are workforce issues that aren’t going to change any time soon and this will at least partially offset a decline in workforce participation,” he said. “If companies want to grow, they will have to do it through increased productivity and do more with the resources that they already have in place.”

TPI is designed to assist manufacturers in benchmarking their performance against others in their industry segment (using NAICS code); identify and quantify performance gaps; provide a roadmap, guidance and resources required to close those gap; and assist best-in-class firms in expanding through technology, operational and business innovation that will define future best practices.

TPI established diagnostic assessment tools in five key factor areas relating to manufacturing productivity: technology implementation; operational excellence; human capital management; business development; and organizational structure and culture.

“Companies are making fairly significant investments in automation technology,” Bertram said. “At the same time, they are becoming very creative in how they recruit and retain employees.”

Steven Boeder, director of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, describes TPI as “an integrative approach to improving productivity.”

“Companies often are focused on what’s in front of them, day in and day out,” Boeder said. “It doesn’t mean that they are bad organizations but they need to slice out time to create standard work and decide what levers they are going to pull, strategically. Organizations that are going to be successful need to focus strategically and operationally.”

With the current pace of change, it no longer makes business sense to focus on three- to five-year strategic plans, Boeder said.

“You have to interface weekly or monthly to make sure everyone is executing the plan and marching toward the same objectives,” he said.

TPI involves a user-friendly set of diagnostic and assessment tools designed to expose companies to the numerous factors affecting productivity. Companies implement recommended measures to improve productivity and the results of those efforts are measured.

The next phase of the program will focus on streamlining the assessment process, said Enno Siemsen, a professor and Executive Director of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology.

“Companies are finding it very valuable. It gives them good ideas for improvement,” he said.

TPI is now expected to be deployed on a larger scale throughout the state.

“I’m excited with the progress that has been made but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We are overwhelmed with the number of companies that want to participate.”

Among the challenges is scaling up the initiative to include hundreds of companies.

The initiative remains vitally important even though the economy has been gaining steam in recent months, said Kelly Armstrong, director of sector strategy development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The WEDC remains committed to the initiative, which gives manufacturers an opportunity to make a holistic assessment of their operations and create a strategic plan to increase the value of the business, Armstrong said.

“TPI is a long-term solution, and being more productive and efficient is part of the solution to the talent gap, the body gap and the skills gap,” she said.

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