Industry Featured Articles
Monday, November 30 2015
By Frank Spano, Managing Director and Susan Riffle, Communications Specialist of Austin Consulting
Food processors planning to expand or construct new processing facilities do so for a variety of reasons, including:
Once the decision is made to construct a facility, the company must determine the geography where operating costs are minimized for the new operation. Important considerations include labor and utility costs and availability, taxation policies, community characteristics, and potential assistance programs at the state and local level.
Considering an Existing Building
Monday, November 30 2015
By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting
Writing an article about call centers is always a tougher assignment than it may seem; not because there is nothing to talk about, but because it is hard to decide exactly how to interpret what this term “call center” really encompasses and how to focus a discussion accordingly. In fact, it’s become so complicated that it is hard to even know what term to use in this article to talk about operations that are called call centers but are really something else, and operations that are called something else but are really call centers. So, for the sake of brevity and clarity in this article, let’s settle for the moment on “call center” to cover all of the infinite variety of operations like these.
The term “call centers” first came into use at a time when the options for businesses to connect with one another or with customers were moving from face to face contact and snail mail to the new model of interacting over the phone. The call center was the new, cost effective option intended to replace at least a part of the more costly face-to-face connections. Very quickly, however, the functions of this type of operation came to include many types of interactions with internal or external customers that did not fall into the face-to-face category. In many cases these functions were being moved from decentralized to centralized models, which may explain why so many of them still include the word “center” as new names are coined. Whether their evolution has a positive or negative net impact on customers and employees remains controversial. For those who were performing their jobs in a decentralized environment such as power company counter reps who accepted payments in most towns in the country, this trend caused a great deal of disruption to relationships, job locations, and work environment and processes. From the company perspective, however processes were standardized and money was saved. In most cases this change was driven or at least enabled by a shift away from paper records to computer systems. On the plus side for employees, call centers created entire new categories of jobs that provided many people with better jobs, better career prospects and better benefits than they may have had in a retail setting, for example, or as an entry level position. Nevertheless, in many places they developed a reputation for being stressful, regimented places to work with a broader image as being the source of annoying phone calls at home.
Monday, November 30 2015
By Dawn Baetsen, president of D.E. Baetsen & Associates LLC
There is no argument-developments in advanced manufacturing positively impact manufacturing in many ways such as cost efficiencies, quality, consistency, and speed to market to name of few. Manufacturing still helps drive economies and advanced manufacturing in making developments happen at a rapid pace to fuel strategic growth and competition. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every dollar spent in manufacturing another $1.37 is added to the U.S. national economy, the largest of any industry. Manufacturing in the U.S. contributes over $2 trillion to the economy, provides good jobs and fuels the middle class. However, our economy is not out of the woods from the recession. Maintaining the momentum to keep manufacturing moving in the right direction and to exceed pre-recession levels will take considerable effort. Roadblocks remain in skilled labor, energy costs, location, innovation to commercialization, and the ability for the small to mid-size manufacturer to identify with the benefits of, and embrace, advanced manufacturing.
Since the recession, government initiatives in many countries identified the need to provide support to the manufacturing base in order to remain competitive, to support research and development and move it to the shop floor. The United States also moved in the same direction and answered with the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The goal of NNMI is to work with newly-organized and monetarily-supported institutes to create a research-to-manufacturing infrastructure, which can be shared to support U.S. manufacturers and shift the competitive advantage back to the United States with advanced manufacturing as a critical tool. This new initiative recognizes the need for communities, educators, workers, businesses and government to work together to achieve these goals.