Anna Wells with IEN

The key points from our conversation:

  • There is a lot of change happening in the industrial business sector, including labor challenges and the adoption of new technologies.
  • Manufacturers need to address the perception that working in manufacturing is dirty and low-paying. They should also focus on the benefits of working in manufacturing, such as good benefits and opportunities for learning.
  • Manufacturers are increasingly adopting new technologies, such as AI and analytics. However, they need to be careful not to implement new technologies during periods of high demand, as this can lead to disruptions.
  • Small and mid-sized manufacturers need to be careful about who they trust to help them with their technology needs. They need to find a partner who can help them implement new technologies without causing downtime or disruptions.

Here are some additional points that were made in the conversation:

  • The pandemic has highlighted the need for manufacturers to be more resilient and adaptable.
  • The supply chain crisis has also shown the importance of having strong relationships with suppliers.
  • Manufacturers need to focus on sustainability and reducing their environmental impact.

Overall, the conversation highlighted the need for manufacturers to be proactive and embrace change. By doing so, they can stay ahead of the competition and ensure their long-term success.

Here are some of the key terms that were used in the conversation:

  • Labor challenges: The difficulty in finding and retaining qualified workers.
  • New technologies: Technologies such as AI, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Resiliency: The ability to withstand and recover from shocks and disruptions.
  • Adaptability: The ability to change and adjust to new circumstances.
  • Sustainability: The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Environmental impact: The effect that an activity or process has on the environment.

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people, industrial, manufacturing, manufacturers, business, technology, anna, conversation, points, change, supply chain, podcast, companies, perspective, happening, industry, plant, great, reality, trends


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go all right, welcome you industrial professionals all around the world, thank you very much for joining industrial talk have a number one industrial related podcast in the universe that is dedicated to you, industry professionals all around the world because you're bold, brave and daring greatly. You're changing lives. And you're changing the world. Why not celebrate you? Big time. All right. In the hot seat, we have a person by the name of Anna Wells. The company is i e n to have a podcast by the way, their podcast is today in manufacturing. So, she's a pro. She's a pro. And you know what we're talking about, the changes and the challenges that are taking place today that are impacting manufacturing. today. We're just touching upon technology. We're touching upon labor and resources. What do we do? How do we you know, achieve what we need to achieve? She brings it all to the table. Let's get okay rocking.


Great conversation, just FYI, an absolutely wonderful conversation.


Yeah, she brings the lumber state. And of course, you know, with our organization, the IE N, they get all of the latest information. So go out to IE It's a great website laid out well, no, no issues there. That's for doggone Sure. All right. You know, we're building the platform, this industrial talk platform is dedicated. And it highlights and it's an ecosystem. I guess I can continue to sort of use other words. But the reality is, is that for us to really succeed going forward, we have to educate. And you'll get this with


Anna, it's imperative that we stay engaged, educated. It's also imperative that we collaborate, collaborate with industry leaders, and solutions that people that we can trust, because it's happening.


And then of course, how do we deploy innovation? How do we deploy technology in the right way to be able to


achieve what you need to achieve from a business perspective, from a manufacturing perspective, from an industrial perspective, that's what this platform is all about. Now, with that said, we've got some webinars that are are scheduled because the reality is, is that one,


we've got to dive deep. And these webcasts allow us to dive deeper into the subject matter be able to sort of share the information downloaded. And again, it's all just focused on you and and being able to, for you to achieve what you need to achieve and get the information that you need a couple of planned webcasts. One, we already have one out there that is aligning supply chain strategy with your PF curve, because it's all about asset uptime and manual your maintenance and how do you get that that material there as quickly and as efficiently as we possibly can and and aligning that PF curve with the your supply chain strategy? Very, very beneficial. The other ones that we have planned and that we're scheduling right now is from my perspective, being a utility guy being a former journeyman lineman, I'm intrigued with what has taken place within the utility market. How do you ensure the you know, the the delivery of power is safe, reliable and cost effective? Right. But there's a lot of digitalization that has taken place within that industry as well. And we're going to have a couple of great speakers on that topic shortly. So we're going to be recording that one. And it's going to just sort of take us down that road. The other one that we're also looking into, from a webcast perspective is, is the tsunami of data that many of the utilities have to manage, and what do you do and how do you do that effectively? Because the reality is, I use power and I want the power to be reliable and clean and whatever, whatever the drivers are. So there's a lot of change that's taking place with that marketing. And finally, we've got a program out there. And it's, it's because you've asked for it is about what do I do? How do I how do I continue to push out content? What are the strategies and tools? And I have, from my perspective, I think if you're if you're selling, if you're marketing, if you're


are doing the stuff that generates revenue, which is what, what we do, you need to have, at minimum, it could be less, but at a minimum, a process that allows you to have


greater than 15 value added touch points. And it's all out there. And you'll, you'll see how that how I create those, and I call it the casino funnel. But anyway, because once you're in it, you know, you're going to continue. And I think that companies are looking for solutions that solve problems, which is, you know, what everybody wants is your, you know, I've got a problem, I got a pain point. How do I solve it? Anyway, let's get on with the conversation. Anna Wells. Again, they have a incredible


the podcast out there called Today Manufacturing, highly recommend that you


check it out, because they they start talking about trends and things that are taking place. And that's what we're going to be doing on this conversation. But a wonderful, it was an absolutely wonderful conversation. So, here's Anna Wells. Anna, welcome to Industrial Talk. How are you doing today? I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me. Excellent. I'm so excited about having this conversation. Outside of the fact that you've got mad skills out there, listener, we're going to have all the contact information for Anna, her organization out on industrial talk, I highly right off the bat, before we even get into the conversation, highly recommend that you put her on your bucket list to connect with big time. All right, before we get into all the wonderful conversations that we are going to be talking about, give us a little background on who Anna is. Keep it brief because I know that you have a hell of a CV.


Absolutely. So, I am an executive editor with industrial media, which is a media company with brands that reach various audiences along the industrial supply chain. So that includes plant executives, managers, supply chain and purchasing professionals, distributors, we produce content daily.


along many formats, we have a podcast, we have print magazines, digital content, video market research, all of that you may recognize some of our brands like Industrial distribution, Ibn, which is industrial equipment news, an old tablet magazine, that's been around for 90 years.


And so I've been working on this team for about 17 years. And I specialize in areas like plant operations and distribution more as an observer of trends.


So I'm used to interviewing others. I'm not used to being interviewed, so I hope I'm suitable for them.


I understand I sympathize with you. And because I'm never on that side of the mic either. And then I feel like I'm rambling. And I don't feel comfortable with that. So


I'm going to make you feel like no, I'm not going to make you feel uncomfortable. Before we proceed. You said podcast, what's the name of the podcast? It is the today in manufacturing podcast. And so it's a panel to other editors in our team, Jeff and David and I, we take the five most popular stories on our websites for the week. And we kind of hon in a little bit on those topics and talk about them in more detail and their impact on the industry going forward. A lot of stuff that draws our reader's attention is like safety incidents, new technology developments


in scandals and manufacturing and just kind of like what those mean for the industry and what people can do to maybe operate better. So that's what we do.


scandals. scandals, you will not believe the scandals.


Like an example of a scandal. I'm sorry, you got we've got a list here of stuff to do. But I because I am the host. And I get intrigued, and I go off on tangents i When you say scandal, it's like, oh, oh, I know. You get to Lady news that tell me. Yeah, so like, people's stealing IP and selling it to China or plant managers who have these embezzlement schemes going on.


People are very interested in those types of stories.


But yes, yes, but but at the same time, you know, I think there's always nuggets of value that you can extract from even the most sensational story like Do you have the right checks and balances in place to make sure this doesn't happen to you?


Yeah, I I live in a different world. I


just barely go about my business carry my six pack of beer. Hey, happy to Lucky happy, grand time. Gosh, that is that's interesting. Okay, so let's get into the conversation because


As you guys know, because clearly you have a lot of information that Well, again, I'm just Scott Mackenzie carrying a six pack of beer, and I'm having a grand old time and I get to have conversations with people like you. So one of the topics that I'd like to talk about the trends driving change in industrial business, there's change superduper change happening out there. Anna, what does that mean?


Well, the change is happening in many different ways. I think one of the biggest that we're seeing right now, and obviously, this applies to, you know, companies across every sector is just what's happening with Labour challenges, including how, yeah, so, you know, industrial businesses are making some changes here, as it applies to new methods for recruiting and retaining workers. So that's been interesting to see, I think we've seen more of that accelerate in the last couple of years. Where, so So with that said, it it's it's a comp, if, if I had a nickel, everybody, time, somebody says, Hey, Scott, you know, are having trouble retaining or attracting or, and of course, an industry, there's a, there's an education that has to happen, because everybody thinks it's dirty, or whatever it might be. What, what do you find the successful companies doing to impact or move the needle on? The you know, that resource challenge? Definitely, yeah, I think that you bring up such a great point right away about the image problem. And obviously, you know, yeah, manufacturers have suffered from this image problem for for years and years. And I think it was getting better. But then, you know, to me, I think it crept up again, during the last few years when you saw wage rates go up in all sectors, like retail, for example, that were once not competing for labor with manufacturing, but now they are right. So I think manufacturers have to address some of those real perceptions that people might have. Like, why would you want to work in a hot dirty plant where you need a lot of training when you could spend your day in an air conditioned Target store and still make $17 an hour? So if your plants not hot and dirty, many are not right, you have to make that clear if you can train on the job and not ask for a million skills in your job posting do that. Right. So I think manufacturers are finding themselves having to address some of those perceptions. And in some cases, those perceptions are reality, of course, but in order to make themselves competitive with not just other plants, but Walgreens, McDonald's, like there are lots of things that are advantageous about working in manufacturing over retail, what are they be clear about that? Right?


Yeah, it's always


it's funny, because when we start talking about, I think he brought up some really cool points. And I never thought of it that way, where you're talking about wages, everything elevated at the same time giving, giving more rise to other options for employment. That's one thing.


Never thought of that. That's really intriguing. And the other point that I thought was valuable, is that the ability to be able to learn on the job, I don't think we do that enough. I think that job postings tend to be this litany of, you got to do this, you got to be able to do this, you got to have five years, you got to have this and this and this. But when I was alignment, when I became alignment, it was an apprenticeship program. You don't have people out there just Hi, I'm climbing a tower, and now I want to be alignment. So I think those are two really good points that that you bring up. I still struggle with the marketing side of saying why,


you know, paint that picture, and I think there's some really good opportunities to be able to paint a a rosier picture, do you agree? I do. And I think there are some benefits to working in manufacturing, that people don't really consider maybe they don't think about but if you look, you know, if you're gonna evaluate on straight wages, you know, maybe they are consistent with retail but


but manufacturing plants tend to have better benefits programs, they better they tend to have better, you know, health care programs, time off all of that stuff than you would get if you went to work for somebody else in say, retail.


So I think that's important to kind of focus on what, what it is that you can offer outside of some of those other career fields, you know,


touch upon, you know, in many of my conversations I've had with plenty around the world.


There's this juggernaut, shall we say in technology? Can you touch upon that because I think that that elevates the the business itself as well, because I think you cannot have a business that is


sustainable and resilient going forward if you're not actively engaged in the technologies that


or impacting your business? Tell us a little bit about that. I totally agree.


You know,


there was a long time where manufacturers and you know, when I say manufacturers like, I think we both know that this is a very diverse group in America, you know, these, there's no one size fits all for manufacturing, there's a ton of really small companies that are in this space. And then of course, there's the big guys as well. And they operate, in many ways very differently. So it can be hard to apply, you know, like, these are the best tech tools to, to move forward, right?


Because you just you don't know who you're dealing with, but,


but we are seeing manufacturers trend towards more high tech tools, I think opening themselves up to some new options.


We see that the light, I think went on for some of them during the pandemic.


Yeah, that was a slap upside the face. Oh, my gosh, yeah, go ahead. Sorry. It was like getting dumped with a bucket of cold water.


Well, and you know, what's interesting to me is seeing themes like aI come up now, where this was one of those trends that people talked about for years, and it was very buzzy, and people approached it with a little bit of fear, or, you know, at best indifference, like, what is that going to do for me? Now, I think companies are starting to see the business case of being able to apply smart technologies and analytics and some of the predictive capabilities that are that are there for them. So when they the next supply chain meltdown occurs, you know, how do they handle their forecasting? How do they get a handle on those supply chains. So I do think they are open to more. And some of the surveys that we've put out, have also reflected that that people are open to some of these new ideas. However,


I think that while they do see the business case, there's also a bit of paralysis that comes along with what I would call the current firefighting conditions.


I think manufacturers tend to get slowed down on transformational business change during periods of high demand. So coming out of the pandemic,


that impetus for change was maybe stymied a little bit, because they had workforce issues, right? You saw a lot of firefighting. So a lot of pinch hitting, I think you still do. So every time somebody is taken out of their normal role, then that can get kicked down the road a little bit more.


And change management is hard, you know. So I think


it's especially hard when you're super swamped. And the risk is that I think when when implementations of new technologies can pay off the most


is is really the hardest time to implement that.


You're absolutely right. You don't want to implement new technologies in a firefight. That's for doggone Sure. But the reality too is, is that how do you as a manufacturer, let's let's just use a small to mid I had a big, the big boys, girls, they'll they'll handle all the technology, they'll figure it out. And they'll they'll be able to make the mistakes and the small to mid there's a greater risk. And the risk is there's so much buzz out there. They're saying yeah, yeah, I'm an IoT specialist. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I can do that. I can grab that. David, I can do it in the cloud. I can do this at all. Edge. Yeah. They'll say yes. But


for me, I would have a real difficult time with trust. I want to,


I want to, yes, I see it, I need to do the technology. And I need to be able to embrace it because it makes me better. But who do I trust help with that journey because I still have my, my, my challenge is over here with my business. But I need to do this, and I don't have the bandwidth. I need trust.


I do. And it's really hard to take that plunge. And people don't want to stick their neck out because they're very fearful of downtime.


And what that might mean, you know, or they have this, this muscle memory of some horrible implementation in their past that caused all this drama and never fully realized the benefits of it right, and nobody used it. And so now they're afraid to do that, however, so much changes taking place that some of the stuff is so off the shelf that, you know, you want to see somebody try to take that chance, but they're afraid to do so. You know, yeah, but it's undeniable. I think that if you're dealing with resources and the challenges of the resource market, I think that


one of the options outside of, you know, offering benefits offering the Standard HR protocol. I think another area is in the elevation of your business by employing and entering


ROI in technology and adults also, like I'm a big fan of robotics, not just him, because outside of the fact it's cool. I think that there's some real use cases that help businesses succeed. And bottom-line value. Do you agree with that? Yes, I do. And I think that the business case for


you used to think that automation was for large, repetitive production lines. Now, I think there's fewer barriers to entry for other types of manufacturers, smaller ones more bill to order. Everything cost less now, not everything, but you know,


a lot of it, you know, you can you can get in at a lower level cobots, I think, are coming for smaller businesses, baby. Yeah.


3d printing, I think like that hype.


I think we're finally seeing a place in business as more materials are being developed, they needed there's been a lot of inroads made with quality consistency improvements, just in the last couple years, I do think that we're going to see more of that, in the next couple of years really take off. See what's interesting, and you've been around the market for a long time, you see a lot of things that hit the market, or you have the conversations about, you know, 3d printing, can it ever get to the point where it is actually industrial level or whatever? And, and it's so funny, because I've seen the same thing. And now it's just like, Wow, that's great. That's a big machine. But really, will it work? And then all of a sudden, today, it's like additive manufacturing share, we can create, we can create this and it's more efficient. And it's, it's an exciting time. I agree. Yeah. And I think you're,


no, no, no, no, I walked on you. I was just going to say, to your point around,


you know, workforce and technology and elevating your business.


You know, the data out there suggests that younger workers are willing to leave their job if they don't have the right tech tools, right, if they don't feel like they're working in a modern environment. So I think that, you know, outside of just what your goals are for your operation, from a production standpoint, or from a design standpoint, you need to also think about what tech tools can you provide to enable your workers and make them stay? Because, you know, there was talk about, once you open the door, you have to close the back door. I don't love that analogy. But but, you know, the point is like, how do you get those people to


adapt your workplace, understand it feel valued, and want to come to work every day. And turnover is hard. It's more, it's expensive, right? It's, it's the last thing that you want is to hire someone and then watch them walk out the door. So you're looking at tech tools, as another way of retaining those workers, I think, is really important. It's the and I think the messaging around the technology is one, it's, it's not static. And if you for me, I love change. I love the excitement of change. And I know some people don't and and that's probably, to some extent, contrary to manufacturers and but change is happening.


And so when we start talking about technology, it's it's a career. It's a career that has ongoing, you know, excitement, from my perspective, you know, new cobalt technology, new CNC, technology, new whatever, and it's, it's in it seems like the velocity is


not a blustery night. I get all buzzy buzz about the whole thing.


Yeah, it's exciting. I agree. And, you know, some of the technology that, you know, even 567 years ago, you were like, this is a long way off, I don't see the value.


Or people really didn't understand the business case. That is just some of that has become so clear now.


And I think that's, that's really exciting, too. And it's a good reminder of


why manufacturers need to address some of those generational divides. Because as we discussed earlier, yeah, recruiting is tough, right. And there was a long time that I think it was easy for companies in all sectors to kind of dismiss the requests and requirements of the youngest generation coming into the workforce. I think a lot of those concerns that were being expressed were ignored. People would kind of roll their eyes about what Gen Z want or they want everything.


But I do see companies starting to take those concerns of the younger generation a little bit more seriously. So adding in those tech tools.


You know, younger workers say they want more feedback.


Back to feel like they're making a difference. And so it's not just about oh, go ahead. Yeah, yeah, no, it's sustainability and all of that other stuff that you got to sort of wrestle with, and, and, you know, again, old school mindset of manufacturing, it's like, I'm manufacturing this thing, and I gotta get it done. I don't have, I don't have the bandwidth within between my ears to be able to think about that and create a career path and have the conversation and feedback. It but it's it is, and I can't keep up with whatever Gen Z Gen Y Gen, whatever. All I know is that young people will need to find a place to work and, and just recognize of whatever that is, you know, I'll be retiring. Probably never. But


you and me, I wouldn't be able to retire.


Because I think this stuff is exciting. I wish I was younger, but the reality is, is that it just is you just have to do it. And whether you like it or not.


It is alright listeners, we're gonna wrap it up. Now, there are a couple of points that I want to make sure that you put down one. From a from a labor perspective, I think that Anna brought up a couple of really good solid points about what's happening in the marketplace.


Being able to market the benefits of being in manufacturing, I think that those are really good points to consider. I think technology is going to be it just whether you like it or not it just begin to embrace it. Just do it. Get on board, get on board, don't stick your head and then find a a Sherpa of some sort that you trust. I'm sure Anna has people that


fall into that category. Because, you know, the last thing I want to do is recommend somebody that doesn't deliver and then have that conversation. Don't want that. So anyway, you were absolutely spectacular. How do people get a hold of you, Anna? Oh, okay, great. So you can reach me via email and If anyone would like to check out our podcast, you can find the archive on manufacturing dotnet I would love it if you guys just give us a look. We have so much fun every week and it's totally inappropriate. And it's super fun, though. Not as fun as this. This No, this was so fun. This was cool, huh?


Because I'm Scott Mackenzie with a six pack of beer. And, you know, this is sort of roles where it was not told there would be beer. Yeah. Yeah. Virtual beer. Virtual beer. Okay, here.


That's, that is i e We're going to have all the contact information with all of the links also to the videos that I mean, she's, there's a ton of stuff out here. So we're going to have it all out on industrial talk. definitely connect with the team IE and you will not be disappointed. Anna Thank you very much. Thank you, Scott. I really appreciate you inviting in super fun. Get outta here Shut the front door. All right let's do this. We're going to wrap it up on the other side. We're going to have all the contact information for Anna out there. So, stay tuned we will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network


Cool beans. That's Anna. I e n is the company. Check them out. Manufacturing. Today manufacturing podcast got to check that one out. But fear not, you know, you know what the same. It's all going to be out in industrial talk all


the blogs, we've got


past videos, what they're delivering on content, fantastic stuff, because you need to educate, you need to collaborate. And of course, you need to innovate. And to do that you're going to have to continue to educate and continue to consume because it's happening fast. Holy cow. Is it happening fast? All right webcasts. We've got a bunch of webcasts. One, we've got the alignment of supply chain with your PF curve. Two, we're going to be doing a series on utilities. Three, we're going to be doing something on marketing, which is the casino funnel and that is greater than 15 value, add a touch points. There it is. Stick to it. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with Dan. You'll change the world. We're gonna have another great conversation shortly. So, stay tuned.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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