ebm-papst Fans, Blowers and Technology

Putting the ‘advanced’ in manufacturing part 2 of 2

Posted on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

describe the imageHow is Connecticut developing tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce?

By Bob Sobolewski, President and CEO, ebm-papst Inc.

In my last post, I encouraged us to discard old ideas about how we used to make things in the U.S., and to be open to careers with today’s advanced manufacturing companies.

President Obama’s National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing aims to increase investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, expand the number of workers with advanced manufacturing skills, make our training and education systems more responsive and support partnerships to create new manufacturing technologies.

As part of our country's manufacturing strategy, a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and advanced manufacturing institutes at the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy are looking at how we can improve our use of materials and our production methods.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s focusing on helping train and connect workers to fill open positions. What have we done so far?

Manufacturers have expressed their needs.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s High Growth Job Training Initiative grant, in The Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Education Foundation created certificate programs (college credit and noncredit) in lean manufacturing and supply chain management.

Educators are responding.

The CBIA Foundation’s lean manufacturing and supply chain management certificate programs were so successful that the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (part of the Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology) and CBIA members continue to build on this training curriculum for both students and teachers.

We’re creating pathways to high tech manufacturing careers.

Connecticut’s Technical High School System and the Connecticut Community Colleges (COC) work together to offer our state’s technical high school students a College to Career Pathways program. The program allows students to earn up to 14 college credits at the same time they’re in high school, while benefiting from college-level counseling, career fairs, job shadowing and internships. It’s a great way to help our technical high school students jump start a 2 or 4-year degree and begin plotting their career options.

We’re supporting our teachers.

As part of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and in affiliation with the New England Association of Technology Teachers, the CT Technology and Engineering Education Association (CTEEA) offers training and education for all teachers who want to present the latest advances in manufacturing to their students.  If you’re a tech teacher, don’t miss CTEEA’s annual conference November 8 at Central Connecticut State University.

We’re beginning to connect job seekers with employers.

Earlier this year, U.S. Representative John Larson introduced the Connecticut Manufacturing Job Match Initiative, an effort to link employers with qualified employees. Read the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ here.

We’re calling upon UConn.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Next Generation Connecticut initiative aims to leverage the University of Connecticut’s resources to build Connecticut’s future workforce, create jobs, and bring new life to our state’s economy.

Some of Connecticut’s initiatives have just begun, while others have already trained and placed skilled employees. Our challenge is to keep up the momentum, translating job requirements to relevant education and training programs.

Most importantly, we must continue to demonstrate how advanced manufacturing will help fuel our economic recovery, and why careers in this sector are both challenging and fulfilling.  

Tags: Education, Bob Sobolewski, Manufacturing

Putting the ‘Advanced’ in Manufacturing, Part 1 of 2

Posted on Mon, Oct 07, 2013

describe the imageWhat parents and students must know about today’s manufacturing jobs

By Bob Sobolewski, President and CEO, ebm-papst Inc.

During the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s (CBIA) Connecticut Creates! Manufacturing Forum this past January, representatives of our state’s manufacturing community discussed their challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled people.

During the forum, Dave Tuttle, manufacturing department head at Platt Technical High School (part of Connecticut’s Technical High School System) shared a story that made the audience groan with frustration.

A young man that Dave taught had just obtained his advanced manufacturing certificate. He was on the verge of accepting a highly skilled, good-paying position. Before he could accept, however, his parents nixed the deal and forced him to continue his schooling at a four-year college.

What happened? Rather than envision their son’s productive (and profitable) career in a clean, modern facility that makes innovative products, they imagined him in a dead-end position hammering widgets on a dirty, hazardous and dimly lit shop floor.

Our young people want to make a difference. To be on the cutting edge. Their families want them to have secure jobs with growth potential in modern and stimulating work environments.

Here’s why today’s advanced manufacturing jobs offer both.

1. Manufacturing’s renaissance is gaining steam. According to this recent U.S. Treasury infographic, private investment in U.S. manufacturing is high, and the products we produce are increasing our exports.

2. Jobs anxiously await. According to a recent report from Deloitte, about 600,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled in the United States simply because employers cannot find people with the skills they need. Last year, Connecticut manufacturers had 22,000 openings for manufacturing jobs. Many went unfilled.

3. It’s no longer the factory your dad, mom (or grandparent) worked in. As Cisco’s recent blog points out, the business of making stuff no longer requires hard manual labor by many. With technology improvements, today’s manufacturing jobs do require intelligence, training and a willingness to continually push the efficiency envelope. In stark contrast to factories of the past, today’s production floors are bright, open, organized, clean and safe.

4. The pay’s better than the job you (might) find after a four-year degree. With manufacturing jobs going unfulfilled and office jobs scarce, surveys are revealing that increasingly, it’s the two-year technical degree that’s creating income and security.

CollegeMeasures.org recently found that students who receive an occupational and technical associate’s degree could earn $10,000 per year more than those with a non-occupational associate’s degree.

Reinforcing this new reality, more than half of Connecticut’s manufacturers are hiring graduates of Connecticut’s technical high schools, more students than from any other educational institutions, according to the 2011 Survey of Connecticut’s Manufacturing Workforce conducted by CBIA’s Education Foundation.

5. There are few obstacles to advancement. Factories of the past focused on repetitive, mindless assembly tasks. Today’s manufacturers understand that flexible, adaptive workers who demonstrate initiative on the floor and strive to learn new technology are critical to the company’s success, and reward them accordingly.

In next week’s post, I’ll explore how government, industry and education are working together to begin to address our manufacturing skills gap, nationally and in Connecticut.

Tags: Education, Bob Sobolewski, Manufacturing

Back to School: How Can We Better Ventilate Our Classrooms?

Posted on Thu, Sep 19, 2013
Joe Landrette
By Joe Landrette, Market Manager - Ventilation

I love learning about emerging technologies. Weekends, you’ll find me, coffee in hand, reading about electronics, science or physics on my tablet device or smart phone. My son will soon enter kindergarten, and I want technology to play a positive role in how he learns. 

Among the stories about teachers posting homework online, the latest tablet devices and laptop loans to students, a recent article in Engineered Systems appealed to me as a both a father and as a marketer of fans for a wide array of ventilation applications.

The article’s revelation? When we increase the quantity of fresh air per person to 10 cubic feet per minute in classroom settings, our children become more alert and engaged in learning. In fact, the quantity of fresh air needed to help students learn better is approximately twice that of ASHRAE’s ventilation standard for commercial offices, hotels, banks and even pharmacies.

Education Small

What’s the challenge? During the cold winter days ahead, bringing fresh air into a school comes at the expense of lost energy. Therefore, precisely controlling outside and inside air is critical to balancing a school’s operating costs with high quality, high volume air for its students.

Precision air management focuses on the controls portion of this task. The article advocates a multi-point approach, using C02 sensors, occupancy sensors and occupancy schedules to best manage a school’s heating and ventilation needs within tight budgets. The goal is to bring all an HVAC system’s ingredients — the air handling unit, variable air volume, double check valve, fan coil units, sensors and air movers — into equilibrium.

How can we help customers take advantage of the latest in ventilation controls and features while keeping their up front costs and return on investment goals in mind? Building on our GreenTech philosophy, our EC air movers integrate the energy efficient controls typically seen on large and complex systems into the heart of our ultra high efficiency motors.  These motors are then part of our total system approach with the latest in aerodynamic advancements of our fans and impellers for a plug and play solution.

When applied in schools, these advanced ventilation technologies can give our children the air they need to excel.

Tags: ASHRAE, Education, Ventilation