A three-day journey through Virginia shows advanced manufacturing’s concern with pursuing lean principles when facing challenges rooted in the past and arriving on the horizon.
Photo: An employee at TMI Autotech looks over a part drawing in the facility’s machine shop. The company is increasingly being asked to machine small batches of parts for clients such as those that supply TMI with car components.
Amid reassurances from our hosts that Virginia’s weather isn’t usually overcast, rainy and chilly in the middle of May, I and three other media guests traveled town to town for three days visiting, all in all, 10 manufacturers, industry education institutes and R&D campuses. Our ebullient hosts from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) drove our party across the leafy (and yes, wet) hills and valleys of central and southern Virginia to meet manufacturers which, despite their various industries and end markets, nevertheless shared some common concerns: finding and training skilled labor, and pursuing lean principles in the face of challenges both rooted in the past and looming on the horizon.