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AMT Tech Trends: PO’d at POs

Episode 112: The Tech Frends reintroduce themselves, the purpose of this podcast, and walk through each of their backgrounds laying out how they got where they are today.
Feb 12, 2024

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Ramia Lloyd:

Welcome to the TechTrends Podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing, technology, research, and news.

Today's episode is sponsored by Modern Machine Shop's Made in the USA Podcast. I am Ramia Lloyd, and I'm here with?

Elissa Davis:

I'm Elissa Davis.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I'm Stephen LaMarca.

Benjamin Moses:

And I'm Benjamin Moses. Hello, everyone.

Ramia Lloyd:

Hey, friends.

Elissa Davis:

Hello.

Benjamin Moses:

Guys, we were talking about our viewers, and where we are on the podcast, and at episode 100, we did a quick refresh of how we got here. Well now we're talking about the content, and Ramia hit on, we do talk about the latest technology research.

Stephen LaMarca:

And news.

Ramia Lloyd:

And news.

Benjamin Moses:

And news, fair. They are different. That's fair. But one thing we've been doing within the Association, we're not looking ahead. There are a couple of topics we may look ahead in the future and things like being a futurist, that's not a thing we're down with. We're interested in promoting our Association membership under manufacturing, and one of the biggest values that we do is provide tangible and realistic expectation about technology.

We know everyone's interested in producing more, being more efficient. So one of the things that we talk about in the technology stream, specifically on the research or news, is things we can do now. It's also the problems we're running into. Manufacturing is not the best environment to be in. There's a lot of things that can be fixed as a industry. So I think that's one of the key elements I like talking about is technologies that are tangible and can be purchased right now. And along with that, I think we should highlight each other, reintroduce ourselves.

Elissa Davis:

It's been a while.

Benjamin Moses:

Who wants to go first?

Ramia Lloyd:

Let's do it.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm Stephen LaMarca, AMT's Senior Technology Analyst. For the longest time I was the only Technology Analyst here at AMT, and then we hired a second person and I was like, yay, "I'm not alone anymore." Then it was like, "Oh, you're alone again. You're a Senior Technology Analyst." So it was like the best way of being called old ever.

But I went to college for physics and my professors, everybody, all of the physics professors in the department, thought that all of the students... When you go to college for physics, a lot of people expect you to go on to your master's, or really skip the master's and go straight for your doctorate. I was ready to get a job and make money. I wasn't trying to hang around and keep getting book learned. But because they expected all of us to go on to graduate studies, none of them ever told me that, "Hey, you should probably get an internship, because a bachelor's degree alone is worth nothing without experience."

That's the most sage advice I can give any young listeners out there, but fortunately when I got sick of retail, and somebody introduced me to their job recruiter, and the recruiters tried their best to get me a real job... In the meantime, my recruiter landed me a temp position at some place called the Association for Manufacturing Technology, and the rest is history, and I couldn't be happier. I'm in the right place. So definitely get an internship and talk to a recruiter.

Ramia Lloyd:

Cool.

Benjamin Moses:

Elissa, how about you?

Elissa Davis:

I'm Elissa Davis. I should say "my name is Elissa Davis" because when I say I'm Elissa Davis, they think I'm saying "Melissa." I'm the Digital Community Specialist for AMT. So I run our social media, which is... And I post stuff on our channels, including our YouTube, which is how I stumbled into the TechTrends podcast.

In terms of how I got to AMT, that was a lot of chance and a numbers game. I was applying for lots of different jobs and I got this email saying, "Hey, we'd like to interview for this position." And I was like, "I don't remember interviewing. I don't remember applying for this position." Turns out my boss had asked HR to start looking at people on LinkedIn to recruit, and I was one of those people. So AMT definitely took a chance on me, considering my previous experiences in insurance. But I did go to school for Mass Communications with the focus in Digital Media Production. So this is where I feel the most comfortable is in environments like this.

Ramia Lloyd:

Nice.

Benjamin Moses:

That's awesome.

Elissa Davis:

Behind and in front of the camera. So I'm happy to be here.

Benjamin Moses:

Ramia, do you want to go?

Ramia Lloyd:

Okay. I am Ramia Lloyd, Producer, Associate Content Manager. I also started the same way as Stephen in the temp-to-recruiter role, but in 2020, and we all know what happened then. We won't talk about it.

But then I came back in '21 and it's been up from there. So, that's all I got.

Benjamin Moses:

That's exciting.

Steve and I have been working together for a really long time. We actually started at AMT roughly the same time.

Stephen LaMarca:

I wasn't full-time, but I started my temp position around the same time Ben did.

Ramia Lloyd:

Oh, snap.

Stephen LaMarca:

Within the same week, I think actually.

Benjamin Moses:

I think it was really close.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think I was hired on a Wednesday and you were hired on a Thursday.

Ramia Lloyd:

They're like, "Let's put them together."

Benjamin Moses:

And actually I do the same. So when I graduated, or when I was at University of Maryland studying Aerospace Engineering, I interned for the aerospace company back then, which was, I think it was EG&G Pressure Sciences. That site has been bought over many, many times. So I include that intern years as my total career, too, so definitely don't forget about that.

But did a bunch of design engineering and manufacturing, and I've broken a lot of machines and tools over my time. It's transitioning from designing something to actually making chips with your hand, it's a new experience. And towards the end of my career at Eaton, I'd done just about everything I could there, all the different product lines, all different roles. There's one or two things I didn't want to do there, and I started looking for a different role at that time. And then AMT had this opportunity to working underneath Tim. So been here nine years now, I think.

Stephen LaMarca:

And did you say that you were at Eaton before this?

Benjamin Moses:

Eaton was the last company that bought us out. They're growing their aerospace group quite a bit, so they bought that site out along with five other sites. That was a fun time where they bought out a site in England, and they were doing parts for the Airbus A380, the big jumbo super jet. And they had cracking issues on one of their duct systems so we had to do knowledge transfer for... The ownership of the whole ducting system transferred to our site. So I took ownership of the whole engine bleeder system at that point and doing redesign work. So that was a very interesting experience of, "Hey, this thing that you didn't design, now you have ownership of it."

Elissa Davis:

I definitely want to say, and I want to say for any new viewers that Ramia and I are still relatively new additions to the TechTrends podcast, this started out as just Ben and Stephen, they should take all the credit for where it is today because... And Ramia is the producer. I've been here the least amount of time, but Ben and Stephen were the only ones on camera and on mic for a really long time. So you guys should be really proud of how far this has come for sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Well, it's been a constant upward trend of growth and development, because Ben and I have talked about in previous episodes how there was two or three AMT podcasts before this that went through a lot of teething issues, more like kicking and screaming, but we are here today because of those great podcasts of AMT that died before us.

Benjamin Moses:

We've consumed them. Thanks, guys.

Ramia, you want to tell us about today's sponsor?

Ramia Lloyd:

Today's sponsor is Modern Machine Shop's Made in the USA Podcast. Tune in for Modern Machine Shop's Made in the USA Podcast to explore manufacturing issues faced by companies making an intentional choice to manufacture in the US.

Featuring commentary from OEM leaders, Made in the USA blends its nearly century-long expertise with a unique audio storytelling experience to shine a spotlight on the past, present, and future of American manufacturing. Find Made in the USA on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Follow Modern Machine Shop on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome. Before we get to the next topic, I also want to recognize Michael Mark is quietly on Instagram in the background, because he's distracted now, but he's been helping out with equipment, too. So definitely shout out.

Stephen LaMarca:

But these lights wouldn't be on without him.

Ramia Lloyd:

We definitely wouldn't look as good without Michael Mark. We'd already look good, but Michael Mark makes us that much better.

Benjamin Moses:

Stephen, P.O.s.

Stephen LaMarca:

Purchase orders.

Benjamin Moses:

Tell me more.

Ramia Lloyd:

P.O.'s got you P.O'd.

Stephen LaMarca:

P.O.'s got me P.O.'d.

Ramia Lloyd:

I think that's our title.

Stephen LaMarca:

Ben teed that up for me, but I'm glad you took the swing.

Ramia Lloyd:

I'm sorry.

Stephen LaMarca:

No, no. Don't apologize.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh man, that was a deep breath.

Ramia Lloyd:

It was!

Benjamin Moses:

I'm nervous.

Stephen LaMarca:

This has me very upset, because I like to think of myself as...

Because I'm a Millennial, I have this great opportunity of connecting the younger generation, that is our future, to the older generation that is still controlling our future, and trying to find a happy relationship between the two. And younger people, like myself and younger, have grown into this society where if we want to buy something, if we need to acquire an asset. We go online, we go onto an internet browser, and you search for what you want, because you already know what exactly what it is you want, and you see the price, and you open your wallet or your bank account on another browser tab, be like, "Okay, I have enough for this. Let's buy this." And you put it in your virtual shopping cart and you click "purchase," and then you enter your bank information, or your credit card information, and within a week or so, you have the thing that you wanted. It's as easy as that. That's the future, that's the way it's going, and frankly, as I sit here today, I'm glad it's going that way.

Because in the past, the older generations love salespersons. And I get it, there's a lot of people out there that need jobs, and one of the easy ways to fill somebody who is unemployed with a job is to, "Hey, study the dark art of convincing another person to allow you to displace them of their money, and take it away, and provide them with some good or service." And it's like, "We don't need a person to do that." And I realize it's very controversial, but this is the state of angst that I am in right now, because...

We've recently acquired some things...

Benjamin Moses:

Some testbed equipment.

Stephen LaMarca:

You didn't have to say anything!

We've recently acquired some assets, and during the purchasing process, I thought I was doing it. I was making a purchase, an Amazon-style purchase, filling my virtual cart, and I'd get to enter a credit card number, and then wait a few days, and we'd have this stuff.

But I was sold by a facade that that's what I was doing, and instead when I clicked purchase or check out now, buy now, they're like, "All right, here's your quote, somebody will reach out to you shortly." And I'm like, "Whoa!"

Benjamin Moses:

Wait, what happened here?

Michael Mark:

We did have a power issue with the battery. It's still recording. I just need to switch it because it's going to die. It's not connected to the power.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay. Do you have a time marker so you can edit roughly?

Ramia Lloyd:

14:20.

Benjamin Moses:

14:20.

Well, Michael Mark interjected himself.

Stephen LaMarca:

No, I think I know where I am.

Elissa Davis:

I just glanced over at Michael Mark's like...

Ramia Lloyd:

I was trying to figure out what you were gesturing about. I was like, "Something's up."

Benjamin Moses:

Let me quick intro, because then what I'm going to mention is off the shelf and then what you're looking for is a consistent experience, and then you can take it from there. Is that cool?

Stephen LaMarca:

What?

Benjamin Moses:

I'll blab and I'll hand it back to you.

I think, Steve, you're on the interesting point because the sales process, what we're looking for, there's a lot of stuff that's just off the shelf, versus a custom solution.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay, I see what you're saying. Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

So buying a thing that's sitting in a storeroom where I know exactly what I want, that process should be fairly straightforward, versus if I'm looking for a very unique solution where someone's got to do work, add components, and things like that, that needs a little tweaking a little bit.

Stephen LaMarca:

Let's say you're a successful business person, you got some cash and you want people to know that you have cash. You hop on a flight to the UK, and you get a taxi ride to Savile Row, and you talk to a tailor, a multi-generational tailor. This old man has been crafting custom suits, bespoke suits for people, for 50 years. And his daddy did it, and his granddaddy did it, and his great granddaddy did it. I understand wanting to talk to a human on that level, but when it comes to something that already exists, it's not bespoke. Something that's like, as Ben mentioned, COTS, it's customer off the shelf, like a can of La Croix. I shouldn't need to talk to a human being to buy something that's mass-produced. And I'm very upset, because I thought I was buying something without talking to a human, and then they were like, "We're going to contact you with a sales representative" right when I'm catfished into thinking I was going to enter credit card information.

So I told you all that to tell you this, what could have been a simple swipe of the card for five items that we ordered for the testbed, instead, they were like, "Don't worry about it, don't worry about it. We'll just send your organization a purchase order and some invoices." And probably almost three months, almost a quarter of a year has gone by, and there's been, I think, 12 email chains. People have changed positions who have worked on this, have moved departments and organizations, not just ours, but the people we bought from. And it's like this was incredibly wasteful.

I don't mean to rag on salespeople, you need salespeople for some things, but when it goes on, when it wastes this much resources, this many people's time, it ends up costing a lot more than the bottom line on the invoice. A purchase order for something less than $10K, a collection of goods less than $10K, probably cost us more than $10K in the human interaction and time that went into this. And it's just like purchase orders, conventional sales, this stuff has to go, and I'm fully committed to supporting Gen Z with replacing everybody with a website.

Benjamin Moses:

So to be fair, I think you're looking for a more consistent experience across the industry. There are websites you can buy off-the-shelf stuff, but everything that we seem to be looking for requires an extra layer of effort put into the purchasing process.

And, to be fair, not only the manufacturing industry, like software. Ramia, you've been dealing with a lot, we'll get to project management later. We purchased new GIS software. Sure, sure. The cost is $10,000, $20,000, which I can put on an Amex or an Ink card. Why can't I do that? Why do I get an invoice? Sure, we knew my... Tell me how many licenses I need, let's have that conversation, but I just want to buy that.

Stephen LaMarca:

This could have been an expense report. I could have done this in 30 seconds.

Ramia Lloyd:

For sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

But we had to do a purchase, a formal purchase order, because we were sold on the facade that, "Oh, if you ever want to do work with us again, it'll be easy next time."

It's not worth it! We know if we want to do business with you again.

Benjamin Moses:

Save my credit card info, that'll be easier.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes!

Elissa Davis:

I think part of the problem is that it was clearly misleading, and that they were like, "This is going to be..." Like you said, Amazon, it's going to be add stuff to the cart and then check out. And then it was like, "Psych! You actually have to talk to a person."

And as someone who worked in insurance, I know that that happens sometimes where you go through to buy and they're like, "You need to call us." And it's usually...

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh man, it's brutal.

Elissa Davis:

It's not fun.

Benjamin Moses:

I'm excited for this year just to have Steve go through different websites, go through this process over and over again throughout the year.

Stephen LaMarca:

So I do have hope for this company, because they're a great... They have excellent products, they really have their stuff together, and I like this website that they created, and I do believe that in the future it will be as easy as just paying with a credit card, and I hope it is, and I hope they know who I'm talking about, and they get this message, and I hope to God it's well-received. Probably won't be, I apologize.

A name-drop that I will make, on the contrary. Penta Machine, we've done a lot of business with them. We should be doing purchase orders through them, because I regularly go back to them and purchase from them. What's funny is the opposite happened with them. Went on their website, I bought two workbooks, because they recently published these workbooks to get to know and get the pocket NC up and running faster. Just go through this workbook and then by the end of the workbook, you're a pocket NC machinist.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's really fun.

About a month, or not a month, a few weeks, it's probably two or three weeks now, after we bought these workbooks, I get a call from one of the Penta employees that we're close with, Bob Johnson. He's like, "Oh, I totally missed that. You bought some workbooks, I apologize. They're a little bit dry. It's not the most entertaining and exciting read."

It's like, "Dude, that's not what I intended on it being at all. I'm trying to learn how to use something." That's the customer service. If you want to talk to a human, this is how you do it! Or if you want your customers to talk to your humans, that's how you do it. Ultimate customer service from Penta. I really... I hope we get to see them go places.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, are you off your soapbox yet?

Stephen LaMarca:

I am. I'm done.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

I have test bed updates. They can wait until next...

Benjamin Moses:

They can wait. Elissa?

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Tell me about my brain.

Elissa Davis:

Well I hope you don't need what I'm going to talk about. So my article that I'm going to talk about today is from Popular Science. So scientists have 3D print... Bioprint... Three... Oh my god. Let me start over.

Scientists have 3D bioprinted functioning human brain tissue. So, this is at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. They developed a way to 3D print brain tissue. Normally... Obviously there's been, we were talking about earlier, there's pickups in terms of bioprinting, but they said instead of vertically printing the tissue, like a cake, they printed it horizontally like dominoes. And that seemed to solve a lot of their issues.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's fascinating, because I agree the history of bioprinting, if you take out metallic printing in bio-applications, that's been going fine. Obviously there's compatibility issues, and everyone's concerned about, or not concerned about, or happy about 3D printing in dental scenarios. That's been going fine. But in terms of actual tissue printing, that's been struggling for a long time.

They've been doing scaffolding, things like that. And I really like the example of changing the technique, and Steve and I have been talking about 3D printing techniques to minimize support structure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Or go from one material to another.

Benjamin Moses:

Material changes.

Oak Ridge has been doing a lot of testing on using gravity for the benefit of 3D printing as opposed to, again, adding support structure. So there's a lot of parallels in the 3D printing and also there's some problems they're trying to solve. It's not just printing 3D brain tissue.

Elissa Davis:

So this is in their quest to find treatment for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow. That's cool.

Elissa Davis:

And they said that printing it horizontally. So it allows the new tissue cells formed connections not only within each layer but across them like human neurons.

Benjamin Moses:

That's cool.

Elissa Davis:

Because they're trying to create a structure that communicates within itself because that's what the brain does. So if it can't do that, what's the point of printing? What's the point of trying to make it into human brain tissue?

Stephen LaMarca:

Are they fighting gravity when they... Because you said horizontally, so I'm thinking the extrusion is horizontal. So does that mean the build plate is vertical?

Elissa Davis:

I believe so.

Stephen LaMarca:

So the part is growing horizontally like that?

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow!

Benjamin Moses:

Need more videos, Steve.

Stephen LaMarca:

And this is the University of Wisconsin?

Elissa Davis:

Madison.

Stephen LaMarca:

I have a hypothesis.

They happily stumbled upon printing brain tissue, trying to print cheese.

Ramia Lloyd:

We'll get your tin foil hat added in there.

Elissa Davis:

So that's how they were able to solve the big issue of trying to get the tissue to communicate within itself is interconnecting it that way.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve brings a good point. So we've been tracking, MIT is a big one, but then 3D printing in general. A lot of the discoveries are like, "Oh, we made a mistake, but now it's benefiting everyone."

Stephen LaMarca:

Look at Viagra.

Benjamin Moses:

Let's talk about...

Stephen LaMarca:

That was for heart conditions in children.

Elissa Davis:

Yes, it was.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, let's talk about accessibility of manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca:

Accessibility and manufacturing.

So I recently stumbled upon this great YouTube channel. I was going through my manufacturing news feed. Thank you, Google. And a great, great half hour long YouTube video came up of this guy. The video title is like, "I tried to rate..." Or, "I raced a $600,000 CNC machine." This guy's a manual machinist. His channel, this guy Brandon, his channel is called Inheritance Machine or Inheritance Machining.

What's really cool, his introduction video to the channel, if you go to the YouTube channel, it shows the intro video to introduce himself. He's like, "My grandfather had a machine shop and he passed down this equipment to me." And he's restoring it, all that. But what's really cool, his background is he learned in high school, high school shop classes, how to be a machinist, how to make parts on his own without having to rely on a supply chain, how to make his own parts. And he found that to be really therapeutic and relaxing and loved doing it.

And when he went to college to become a mechanical engineer, he joined the Formula SAE team, not just because cars are cool, but because the requirement in Formula SAE is that all of the parts that go into your car, everything that makes the race car has to be made in-house. You're not allowed to buy anything COTS. Not allowed to buy anything customer off the shelf, you have to make it yourself. And so he's like, "I have a golden opportunity to make all of the parts of a car" with exception to the stuff in the rules that dictates that everybody has to use the same standard stuff, or else everybody would be making their own engine, and there'd be no regulation, and it'd be like Formula Unlimited. So he fell in love with that and loved making parts in college. And then the worst day of his life happened, he graduated.

And he went on to be a professional, but really missed... A part of him was gone, was missing, which was machining. And then, sadly, I think he lost his grandfather. But the good news was his grandfather had all these old school, manual machines. For example, it's not a Bridgeport, but he got passed down manual knee mill. Most people associate with Bridgeport but not a Bridgeport. And one of my favorite machines, a manual LeBlond lathe, LeBlond lathes...

A really cool side tangent, because in World War II, all naval vessels had 10 LeBlond lathes on them, because in the Navy they figured if a part breaks we're out in the middle of the ocean, and we can't go back to base because #combat, we got to be able to make our own parts. And so every naval vessel had its own machine shop, of which there were 10 of these LeBlond lathes. So fast-forward, so many years are still in surplus. There's more of them than anybody can imagine, and people who have them usually have multiple and can't give them away. They're like, "Do you want a la We can send you one. All you have to do is pay for shipping, but you can have it for free, but just please take it away."

Benjamin Moses:

My old facility, we had a LeBlond lathe and it was probably World War II era. Ran great up until I left in a couple of years ago. And to be fair, I've used a manual knee mill, I've used CNC equipment before, turning on a manual lathe is the scariest thing I've ever done in my life.

Stephen LaMarca:

Probably one of the easiest ways to learn machining, learn manufacturing, get into it. Also, not fun, the easiest way to die. We shouldn't be telling information like that, but it's the truth. Be careful, please.

But anyway, he inherited some of this stuff, and this video was just really cool of him racing a modern CNC machine, like a very modern DMG Mori CNC machine. And the video was awesome, because the race was neck to neck. Now, but that's only for one part. If you're doing mass production, then the CNC just takes over. But that initial design, that initial getting the first part perfect, neck and neck with manual machining.

Elissa Davis:

Well, and I liked in the... Because you sent me the introductory video and I think my favorite part of it was that when he is talking about each machine, he was like, :This is basically what each of them does."

Stephen LaMarca:

He's like, he described the three main machines.

Elissa Davis:

This turns, this cuts, this makes it smaller. Just very basic.

Stephen LaMarca:

This machine makes things perfectly flat.

Elissa Davis:

Exactly. And obviously I think part of what manufacturing needs today is making it accessible to everybody.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Yes.

Elissa Davis:

And that's a big step for that is just...

Stephen LaMarca:

Thank you for making that correlation to what Ben introduced me. Thank you.

Benjamin Moses:

It was a roundabout journey, but we got there.

Elissa Davis:

Got there in the end.

Stephen LaMarca:

The reason why we get to that is because I started watching that video. Leah and I were in the same meeting room, and we were watching it, and about halfway through the video, Sean, our IT person, came in the room with us and sat down and kept watching it with us. And then once the video was over, we were like, "We need more of this." And then we watched that intro video and Leah, that was when Leah said, "We need to make everybody who starts at AMT watch this video."

It was that good, that explanatory to the industry, because we still need that on our website, too. What is manufacturing technology? This was a great first step.

Benjamin Moses:

And I think you hit on two key elements. It is the knowledge and terminology. Getting over that big hump in terms of accessibility, being aware of, "Hey, when you say an knee mill, what does that mean?" It's getting past that veil of secrecy of these are just common words, but understanding that through a media is very useful.

But you talk about that guy's journey of getting into manufacturing, that's another way of accessibility is incorporating manufacturing into people's lives, and as they're developing their own skill set where... Manufacturing is part of everyone's life, at some point you are probably going to take a hot glue gun and adhere things together. This is part of the joining process.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I think it's also more so than just accessibility. We have a duty upon ourselves at AMT to rebuild this notion of what the manufacturing is.

If you go on Instagram, you see every other... Probably one in 10 posts is somebody being all artistic with their woodworking skills or whatever. And it's like why is woodworking so highly praised and metalworking, which is, I'm sorry, 10,000 times more awesome than woodwork... Anybody can cut wood, you have a knife, you can cut wood, dude.

Benjamin Moses:

And yourself.

Stephen LaMarca:

But making something out of metal... And it's because this...

I don't know which generation it was, but a past generation of parents was like, "Oh, don't work in a factory. It's all oily, and nasty, and you come home covered in soot."

Elissa Davis:

So three Ds, What is it? Dark, dirty and dangerous?

Stephen LaMarca:

And it's not that anymore.

Elissa Davis:

No.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, we've got to limit your soapbox time to one.

Stephen LaMarca:

Sorry.

Elissa Davis:

I will say that we will tag the YouTube channel when we post this on YouTube.

Stephen LaMarca:

Please, that would be awesome.

Elissa Davis:

Give him a shout-out.

Benjamin Moses:

The one thing I would do want to end with is connected systems.

So we've been struggling a lot with project management and the reason I want to jump on this is, it's back to the purchase order and where we are in the evolution of enterprise. All of our members and companies, they have some type of project management, and it gets it back to why is project management important? Of course you want to stay organized, but we're seeing a lot more integrations with other applications on project management and how important it is on the design side and as it transfers to operations where you're using ERP and MRP systems to allow for connected systems. You want to charge your time to projects and things like that.

Steve sent me an article as we get into, we do a hybrid system here, a mix of Waterfall and Agile, and Steve and I are looking at doing more Agile training and we're deploying some enterprise software, which is going to be fun, hopefully we can standardize. If you guys have multiple project managers or software, let us know. We definitely appreciate your journey, too. In the same boat. But Agile has gone through a lot of changes the past five years. Tech companies are destroying the concept of Agile management, and a couple of years ago some of the bigger tech companies just laid off entire workforces of Agile leaders. So it's a very interesting process where I feel like project management is very similar to education.

The reason I know about that is my daughter's nine, so I'm seeing all that stuff going on in terms of how she learns versus how I learned four years ago. It is a fad going on in project management going on right now where it's cool to hate on Agile. So I thought it was interesting where I dug up an article where the struggles that project management, or Agile, is going through now. It's very similar to everything we've seen in the past, but there's two key elements and I think it's back to the accessibility of manufacturing in general, where I'll find an article that talks about five major challenges, and of course scope creep and things like that come up, but there's two key elements.

One is inadequate training and expertise, and inconsistency of adoption and Agile practices. And I feel like there's a lot of parallels in the manufacturing space where just getting past the terminology of Agile, once you understand the terms, applying that's fairly straightforward. It's not learning French or anything like that. You learn a couple of basic terminology words and you get the gist of it right away. And I feel like manufacturing is very similar, where once you understand some basic terms and concepts, being able to apply... Of course physically applying them is different than understanding the process. So I thought it was interesting and I definitely wanted to get you guys thoughts on where we are in our project management and struggles that you guys have seen.

Ramia Lloyd:

I personally feel like as... I got my CSM last year, so all Agile, that's all I learned. And I feel like trying to put that onto a content team has been the biggest struggle of taking all of that.

But like you said, once you learn the terminology it's not difficult to really use it and make it as accessible as it needs to be. Definitely feel like I have did it, and it worked, and then we were ready to go.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Elissa Davis:

So forgive me, what's Agile? How is that project manage... Is it just like a type of management style or is it?

Benjamin Moses:

So if you look at several years ago you said if you had a deadline, work backwards through that, you come up with a waterfall of doing these 10 things to get that deadline. Agile takes that timeframe up into smaller chunks and says, "What can I accomplish in the next two weeks, next three weeks?"

And it incorporates a little more risk into this scenario, because it allows you to be more flexible researching stuff, because the certainty of that timeframe is what you can accomplish. So it's breaking up as opposed to delivering a new platform, is breaking up in chunks of, "Okay, I need to research this, then I need to figure out how to implement it." And it breaks it up into a smaller chunks of timeframe to be more realistic about what your deliverables are in the timeframe. Am I wrong?

Ramia Lloyd:

No, I would say the same thing. Taking all the steps that you can do in this two week period of time and creating a timeline of how to get that done instead of just being like, "Oh, we need this project done in two weeks." Being like, "Okay, realistically I can get this much done in two weeks." And then you take what you've done and then you apply it to your next two weeks.

Benjamin Moses:

That's why we take the hybrid approach of, we still have to deliver that thing in six months. So if we walk backwards from there, allowing... Basically break it up into two weeks time frames of what we can accomplish in those two week windows, and if there's risk in that, then we use story points to allocate more time for research.

Ramia Lloyd:

Fibonacci numbers. That's my favorite thing about Agile is Fibonacci numbers.

Elissa Davis:

Now I'm tracking. It sounds like it's just a bunch of 'fraidy cats who don't...

Benjamin Moses:

A lot of 'fraidy cats.

Elissa Davis:

It just sounds like they don't like to take risks, because they're risk averse, which part of me can understand, but the other part of me is like, worst case scenario, it doesn't happen and you have to recalibrate.

Benjamin Moses:

It does depend on the industry. So back at a previous company, when we're delivering an engine to an aircraft, and the bank pays you only when you deliver your aircraft, that's a little different scenario when your certainty is clear. So when you talk about risks...

Stephen LaMarca:

It's probably a purchase order involved.

Benjamin Moses:

Someone sent an invoice.

Ramia Lloyd:

Full circle

Benjamin Moses:

Back at Eaton. That's one of the things that we talked about is if there's a schedule risk, how do you de-risk that scenario? And a lot of times we'll actually pull money out of cash reserve to say we want to hire 10 consultants for this specific timeframe, so we'll pull $500,000 out of the budget, put that into a holding account to say, "If we need to pull that trigger on that risk mitigation plan, we just show that money back into there." So it allows you different mitigation plans also. So

Elissa Davis:

They're 'fraidy cats and bad planners. That's what I'm getting.

Ramia Lloyd:

That should really take this article and sum it down to one point point, which is bad planning. Why Agile doesn't work, bad planning.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome guys. Ramia, you want to tell us where people can find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd:

AMTonline.org/resources.

Like, share, subscribe.

Stephen LaMarca:

Bing bong!

Benjamin Moses:

Bye, Michael.

Ramia Lloyd:

Bye!

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Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
Episode 116: The gang shares their love for amusement parks. Stephen is happy to announce that there are a lot of testbed updates. Elissa presents further evidence that Elon Musk is dumb. Ben closes with an allegedly new method of 3D printing.
Episode 115: The gang talks about dogs and other furry friends. Elissa reports that Japan’s about to land on the moon. Ben discusses stainless steel corrosion. Stephen closes with an “ICYMI” on everything we may have missed with the Boeing situation.
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Episode 113: The team discusses what works and what doesn’t with the sales of Girl Scout Cookies. Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Elissa talks about how women could get burnt out in STEM.
Episode 111: Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Steve notes that Modern Machine Shop has been on a roll releasing banger after banger articles. Ben closes with an attempt to redefine robotics programming.
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