Empowering Innovation: Dominique Ramsey’s Journey through Six Sigma Black Belt Training

In a world where efficiency and innovation are paramount, E4D Technologies works tirelessly to push forward, especially through the continuous improvement methodologies like Lean Six Sigma. Dominique Ramsey, an aspiring continuous improvement lead at E4D Technologies, shared his journey and insights into Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training, a path that not only enhances personal growth but also drives organizational excellence.

Unlocking Potential with Lean Six Sigma

Dominique’s venture into Lean Six Sigma is fueled by a deep-rooted belief in constant improvement and a 1% daily growth mindset. Lean Six Sigma’s principles mirror the patterns of daily life, where even the simplest routines can be optimized for significant impact. This approach resonates with E4D’s commitment to excellence – where small, consistent improvements lead to groundbreaking innovations.

Challenges and Triumphs in Six Sigma Black Belt Training

The journey through Lean Six Sigma is not without its challenges. For Dominique, selecting the right project that adds value to E4D’s core mission was crucial. His focus on E4D’s primary medical device, the OEM scanner projects, despite his primary role in contract manufacturing lines, exemplifies his commitment to adding value and enhancing efficiency. This aligns perfectly with E4D’s vision of delivering exceptional quality, innovation in their products and aversion to the status quo.

Practical Application: Transforming Theory into Action

Dominique’s training in DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) principles and his emphasis on statistical data over opinion, highlights the shift towards a more empirical approach in problem-solving. Applying these principles in daily tasks, much like his experience in college football, shows how continuous improvement is integral to both personal and professional growth. This approach is crucial in E4D’s mission to constantly evolve and provide superior solutions.

In conclusion, Dominique Ramsey’s journey in Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to E4D Technologies’ commitment to fostering a culture of continuous improvement and excellence. Dominique’s new skills and mindset will undoubtedly contribute to the innovative and high-quality products and services that E4D offers to its clients. Want to learn more about Lean Six Sigma and its impact on technology and innovation? Contact our team today to take your next step forward.

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

AI Tools for Business: Risks, Rewards, and Prompted Details

AI Tools for Business: Risks, Rewards, and Prompted Details

Utilization of artificial intelligence brings risks as well as rewards. E4D Technologies has found organizations using this emerging technology should only move forward with the integration of AI tools using well-planned and well-executed measures. While AI tools are useful in tasks which are repetitive or data-intensive, freeing up resources, these are also the same instances where nefarious actors or inept usage can create potentially serious risks during and after AI Adoption. Here’s what you need to know about AI tools in business from E4D Technologies:

Concerns for Data Privacy in AI Tools for Business

One of the top concerns for AI tools for business regards surveillance, hacking and digital privacy. From both design and manufacturing viewpoints — especially in any industry subject to regulations regarding Personal Identifiable Information — data privacy and security are of particular importance. Hackers are increasingly using AI to assist them in bypassing security methods — brute-force hacking, dictionary attacks and acoustic side-channel attacks are all methods in which AI analysis can improve hackers’ chances of compromising your data. Setting up strong minimum password complexity requirements and never reusing passwords can help limit the dangers of AI password cracking.

Input Manipulation Vulnerabilities

Attacks which manipulate data an AI uses as an input or prompt, such as altering an image or document before analysis, can force an otherwise reliable AI tool to output compromised data, compromised analyses of that data or a bad decision in response to that data. A well-known example of this type of vulnerability was seen in 2016 with Microsoft’s AI chatbot “Tay” — which used social media interaction as an input. Organizations should be careful to protect, verify and validate not only the AI processes in a product or process, but also the data used to prompt the AI tool.

AI Strategy for Code-Generating AI

Assuming code-generating artificial intelligence tools can replace human developers is fraught with risk, both regarding potential copyright violations and introduced vulnerabilities. Some tools can be prompted to generate code using snippets from personal codebases, example code from copyrighted instructional books, and even code from registered IPs unrelated to the user. Tools may also tend to use default values and common solutions which already have associated exploits. For these reasons, code-generating AI may be more useful for low-risks tasks or fine-tuning existing code, instead of a stand-alone solution for workplace automation.

E4D is exploring AI tools in business to increase efficiency and enhance existing processes. The key to increasing rewards and limiting risks with AI integration in the workplace, especially the Product Development Life Cycle, rests in the details of the AI strategy an organization takes. AI tools can increase productivity and free up resources but must be tempered with knowledgeable human oversight where it is used. Interested in discovering how AI Integration into E4D’s manufacturing and design could help your organization? Reach out to E4D’s team to learn more about the vision for the future!

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

5 Reasons to Implement a Pull System for Manufacturing Technology

5 Reasons to Implement a Pull System for Manufacturing Technology

When you use some form of pull systems, you are not making a product (or sub-assemblies) until you have demand. This means that you can rotate your labor to work on products where you have customer orders and can expect to bill quickly.

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New Year, New Focus: How Ignoring Unhelpful Habits Can Help Achieve Resolutions

Do you get excited to launch each new year with new resolutions? Or maybe you pick a word or theme as a focal point for the year. Some of us, especially after the challenges of the last few years, don’t even bother. Here’s our take on resolutions from E4D Technologies:

The Tradition of Resolutions

Where did this tradition of resolutions come from, and why has it persisted? I was surprised that the concept of annual resolutions goes back to the Babylonians around 2000 BC. This idea of starting the new year with new goals and objectives has persisted for thousands of years.

Perhaps it has such longevity because we all hope our futures will be better and brighter. We would likely give up if we didn’t believe that tomorrow could and would be better. Resolutions allow us to think about how to improve our lives and the lives of our broader community.

Why Do Resolutions Fail?

While most people do not fully keep their resolutions, only 9%, according to research, just thinking about our intentions to create a better us and a better world has a positive impact. It gives us hope and optimism. It gives us reasons to move forward.

Many resolutions fail because our intentions and resolutions are entirely unrealistic. Is it realistic to go from the holidays, where you are eating and drinking at every event, to a new year’s resolution to lose 20 pounds by March? Suddenly you switch from eating all those delicious baked goods to ONLY eating vegetables and chicken while measuring every bite and calorie. No wonder it doesn’t stick. But for those who are tired of the guilt and shame of having these resolutions and not living up to them, let’s try something different this year. What if we decided to STOP DOING?

Focusing On What’s Important

Recently I heard a podcast with James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, and he said something that made me reconsider how to look at new year’s resolution. He said, “Focus is the art of knowing what to ignore.”

What if we practiced ignoring those things that don’t serve us this year? No big goals. Just some baby steps to stop doing things that keep us from our best selves?

Maybe it’s starting by ignoring the calorie counter and strict, rigid diet. Instead, we may focus on leaving just a few bites on our plate every meal. That simple step would ultimately yield better eating habits.

Creating Better Habits for Yourself

Maybe it’s time to ignore that person who drains your energy EVERY SINGLE TIME. Instead, we focus on saying “no” to every other request for our time. One day it will get easier to say “no” all the time, or they will change their behavior.

You may ignore the guilt of about 30 minutes of daily exercise. Instead, you focus on prioritizing sleep, which is critical to all human functions. You could only do 5 minutes a day of activity. Once you have a good habit, even if it’s only 5 minutes, increasing the time is easier as you already have the routine.

So, as the wise proverb says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” instead of setting ourselves up to be part of the 91% of people who fail to achieve our goals, let’s start the focus on ignoring those things that don’t serve us well and just take baby bites. At the end of 2023, we will be surprised at how much we’ve accomplished. Want to learn more about finding success for yourself, both professionally and personally? Check out our blog today!

Photo Sourced from Getty Images: #1384332902

How Much Does It Really Cost to Import Products?

For decades we’ve heard that it’s not affordable to manufacture in the US. The fear of not being competitive and losing market share is considerable! One size does not fit all in this current world of supply chains. Not everything can or should be re-shored. But what if it was more affordable than expected? And what is the value of de-risking your deliveries?

It’s time to reexamine the total landed costs of your materials. If you have previously done the full landed costs analysis; it might be time to do it again. As we discussed in our last blog, many of the costs related to importing from a global Asian supplier have dramatically increased, so is China still the great deal it once was?

What are Landed Costs?

To make sure we are all using the same vocabulary, landed costs are the total costs to get from Factory A to Factory B. This might be another factory, a distribution hub, or your end customer.

Categories of costs that are included in Landed Costs:

o   Product costs

  • Material, labor, factory overhead + profit
  • Interesting note: China’s labor rates have increased ~ 200% in the last decade; US has only increased by ~ 8 %

o   Freight costs

  • Usually multiple carriers between factories: trucks, rail, planes or boat

o   Taxes, Tariffs & Surcharges

  • See the last blog

o   Risk Management Expenses

  • Insurance, quality inspections, etc.

o   Cost of money/opportunity

  • Cash invested in inventory at factory A or in transit
  • Foreign currency exchange impacts

Some organizations get caught comparing product costs only between Factory A and Factory B. This is not a true comparison of costs. By examining the total landed costs, you can accurately assess how much you are benefiting from your overseas supplier.

Risk Mitigation Costs

While landed costs give you a true cost comparison, it is harder to quantify the cost of risk.

  •   What happens to your business when deliveries take 12 – 14 weeks to arrive?
  •   What if your demand changes dramatically during those 14 weeks?
  •   What if China again shuts down due to their zero covid policy?
  •   What does it cost you to have waited for 14 weeks to get parts, only to find a quality defect?

o   Do you fix it yourself or pay to return them to Asia and wait another 14 – 18 weeks?

What opportunities are you missing due to your cash being tied up in inventory for all of this time?

If you have seasonal inventories, this is an even bigger risk. As we are seeing in the news, retailers are really impacted now as they saw a major demand shift and they had already tied up money into inventory that they are now deeply discounting. All of these is risks that are magnified with a global supply chain.

Once you have considered the updated landed costs and your appetite for risks, you can decide by commodity what products you should re-shore. If you have a low to medium-volume, complex electronic assembly; E4D is here to support your reshoring initiatives. Contact us today to get started!

Photo Sourced from Getty Images: #1353883760

3 Days Vs 100 Days or Can you Risk 155 Days of transit Time and 4X the costs?

Transportation Benefits to US Manufacturing

In our last blog, we discussed current global conditions and proposed that it is time to reassess our supply chain. Does global outsourcing still make sense?

The news is full of supply chain challenges. Each of us has seen the empty shelves in our local markets just waiting for the next delivery. Ocean containers are either backed up on ships or sitting in ports waiting for trucks. There doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. Transportation is a big impact on our supply chains. Currently, it is taking longer, costing more and tying up more of our cash.

Can your company absorb this increase in costs and time?

Supply Chain Problems from Ocean Freight

As part of the global outsourcing model, most companies chose ocean freight as their most affordable method of transportation.

In the last 18+ months, the China/Eastern Asia route to the US West Coast has seen container prices increase almost 400%. All global routes have seen unusually high increases. Companies are struggling to pass on these cost increases to their customer and are experiencing margin erosion.

Here is a simple example of how the freight increase impacts product costs:

  •   Prior to Freight Increase:

o   1000 Units per container = $3.80 freight per unit

  •   With Current Freight Rates:

o   1000 Units per container =15.50 freight per unit

If the price increases weren’t bad enough, at the same time overall service levels declined. It’s hard to explain to a frustrated customer why their goods are taking longer to deliver and cost more! In the second half of 2021, the news was full of stories and pictures of the huge backlog of container ships in the LA port waiting to be unloaded.

E2open’s Ocean Shipping Index finds that in late 2021:

  •   The average global shipment took 12 more days, or 23% longer, than the same period last year
  •   Overall lead times from North America to Asia took 17 days longer 25% longer

When lead times are weeks instead of days, it’s very difficult to react to changing demand scenarios and now many major retailers are stuck with inventory they no longer need. This isn’t just a risk for retailers, all companies have these potential risks when demand changes quickly and transit times are extended.  

How will your company manage those risks if it happens to you?

Global Fees, Taxes and Tariffs, etc.

Even before we started seeing the increases in freight, tariffs have been increasing over the last few years. So now we have longer transit times, and increased freight costs combined with increased tariffs. During the Trump administration tariffs from China increased for some product classifications significantly. The Biden administration has made some adjustments, but for many electronics, the tariffs are now as high as 25%.

  •     In 2019, The World Bank reported that the US tariff weighted average was 13.78%, a 12.19% increase from 2018.

If our above pricing example was an electronic component, you would also pay an additional 25% of the value of the goods on top of the higher freight costs. Tariffs vary by product, and you can confirm your current tariff expenses by checking your specific HTS code (Harmonized Tariff Schedule).

In addition to freight and tariff costs, your landed costs will also include some or all of the following:

  •   Terminal Handling Charge
  •   Consolidation Fee
  •   Surcharges: Drayage Fee, CAF Charges, BAF Factor, Low Sulphur Fuel Charge, Peak Season, Carrier Security, etc.
  •   Custom Clearances Fee
  •   Merchandising Processing Fee
  •   Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF)
  •   Delivery Fee

In our pricing example assuming an electronic item:

  • Product costs $5.00 + freight of $15.50 + tariffs $1.25 + various fees $.50 = $22.25 Landed Costs

Depending on the base costs of your imported product, you could be paying multiples in transportation costs. As you assess your current supply chain, consider all the extra costs and fees that are being added to your product costs. Is it still the right solution? Also, what is it costing you to have critical capital tied up in inventory that isn’t even available to you?

Perhaps it’s time to consider a US-based manufacturer?

Suppose you partner with someone like E4D Technologies. In that case, we can reduce your factory-to-factory transit time from over 100 days to 3 – 5 days AND you will see a significant reduction in overall transportation costs. This provides you with better cash flow as materials will be in your factory; before you are required to pay in full. Want to learn more about how E4D Technologies can help your business? Contact us!

Photo Sourced from Getty Images: #1318116805

Top Reasons to Consider US Based Manufacturing Vs Offshoring

Since the start of the global pandemic, trips to the grocery store found empty shelves and purchasing limits on various goods. We couldn’t find face masks, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, meat or milk.

As months passed, news stories highlighted the huge backlog of container ships around Los Angeles waiting to be unloaded. Ford, GM, Toyota, Jeep, and dozens of other companies shut down production at various times because they were missing semiconductors (chips) inventory.

Supply chain shortages and their impacts are becoming daily news. Frustration is at an all-time high!

As consumers, we are frustrated by the increasing costs and ongoing shortages of everyday items. If you are a manufacturer, these same challenges are wreaking havoc with your production schedules and customer deliveries.

Who thought it could be worse than the early COVID lockdowns?

Part shortages, increasing component costs, growing transit times, and labor shortages are having major impacts on your business. Everyone is looking to find ways to mitigate supply chain risks, which has never been so challenging.

It’s clear that if you don’t change your supply chain strategies:

At best:

  • Costs will increase – reducing your margins
  • Delivery times will push out – frustrating your customer

At worst:

  • Ongoing part shortages – could cost you your business

 Is it possible to find a strategy that will work in this market?

With all the current risks impacting our supply chains, many companies are beginning to rethink their long-term supply chain initiatives. For decades companies have worked hard to establish complex global supply chains networks. Considering the current global situation, is it time to reexamine that strategy?

Recently a friend sent me a blog titled “End of Globalization.”

This article included quotes from several financial and economic experts who stated that the economic globalization we’ve experienced is ending and instead turning to protectionism and self-reliance.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said: “The tragic war in eastern Europe will further momentum toward reorienting production and supply networks away from pure cost minimization and toward resilience and risk tolerance. Supply chain disruptions [also] caused by the coronavirus pandemic prompted business leaders to start diversifying supplier locations and firms, increasing inventories, and bringing production closer to final markets to maximize reliability. Think of it as a shift to just-in-case inventories from just-in-time.”

It seems clear that we will reconsider our global supply chain strategies if we want to de-risk our supply chains.

Is it Time to Consider US Manufacturing?

Over the last decades, there has been some efforts to regionalize supply chains, but they never really stuck. However, after what we’ve experienced in the last 2+ years:

  • A global pandemic
  • Never before have catastrophic supply chain shortages
  • Global transportation costs at all-time highs
  • Global transit times increasing
  • War between Ukraine and Russia
  • Reoccurring COVID-19 lockdowns in China

This is the time to explore how your supply chain would benefit from US based manufacturing.

Reasons to Consider US Based Manufacturing:

  • Transportation costs
  • Taxes and Tariffs
  • Transit Times
  • Geopolitical and Natural Disasters
  • Contractual Elements
  • IP Protection
  • Brand Management
  • US Government Incentives
  • End Customer Proximity

Changing your strategic supply chain initiatives is a complex task and any supply chain move has risks. But what are the risks to your business of doing nothing and hoping things return to normal? Even as I write this blog, several Chinese cities are once again locked down to combat a new COVID variant.

If we want to stay competitive, we must start to review where we buy components and adjust our supply chain strategies.

Over the next few blogs, we will look at some of the top reasons to consider re-shoring or launching your new product in the US. We will also explore the risks of those transitions. Please join the conversation as we expand on the various reasons US based manufacturing makes sense now. Looking to see how US based manufacturing compares to your current provider? Contact us today!

Photo Sourced from Getty Images: #1365029556

E4D featured on Fox Business’ “Inside the Blueprint”

E4D Technologies was featured on “Inside the Blueprint”, a fast-paced TV series that takes a sweeping look at innovations in the commercial construction and design spaces, chronicling ideas and products that impact how we live, work and play. Watch the video below:

E4D featured on Fox Business’ “Inside the Blueprint”

E4D Technologies was featured on “Inside the Blueprint”, a fast-paced TV series that takes a sweeping look at innovations in the commercial construction and design spaces, chronicling ideas and products that impact how we live, work and play.

Watch the video below: