May 16, 2020

Future manufacturing: Smart factories, smart applications and social integration

smart factories
Smart Application
Social Media
Social Man
4 min
The factory of the future
In todays fast-paced world, technology plays a significant role. Despite this, the manufacturing industry still lags behind reverting to techniques that...

In today’s fast-paced world, technology plays a significant role. Despite this, the manufacturing industry still lags behind reverting to techniques that take time, require multiple tools and increase the margin for error. How can management encourage their employees to streamline and integrate technology into their work place? Unfortunately, it is not as simple as authorizing on job use of smart phones.

Technology is not effective unless the employees know what the equipment is capable of. Some employees may have never used a touch screen, let alone, downloaded smart applications. When encouraging employees to become digitally engaged, management needs to first consider their employees comfort level with technology. 

How technologically integrated are your employees today?

Before handing over that smart phone, management should take the time to review their employee’s current use of technology. Do they have employees that are digitally active, technologically intimidated or a combination of both?

Consider these key questions:

  1. Which social media platforms, if any, do your employees currently use to share information? 
  2. Is there a way to engage these familiar platforms to increase communication?
  3. What is their texting knowledge? Do they know common text acronyms, how to use auto correct and how to access the voice to text application?
  4. What are the top applications you would like to integrate in your work place? 
  5. What training is required to ensure that employees are not only familiar but also comfortable with these applications?

Get buy-in with real life examples

Show; don’t tell employees how to incorporate smart technology in their daily routine. By treating technology like a new tool and providing adequate training, employees will begin to see the value in these tolls. Sharing examples like the scenario below can help illustrate how technology can simplify their day:

A carpenter was building a house when the building inspector informed him that the municipality required an electric fan to be installed in the attic to promote ventilation. Using the smart phone’s web browser, he connected to the web page about the ventilation regulation and made note of its specific requirements. With this same device, he called his supplier to confirm that he had the required product. It was in. He drove to the warehouse to pick it up using the navigation application on his phone.

After completing the installation to code, the carpenter took a picture that he emailed to the building inspector advising that the fan was installed and ready for his inspection.

This simple scenario shares several examples on how smart technology can increase productivity. However, the story is only effective if employees are comfortable with the tools that were described.

Develop resourcefulness and foster networking

Have employees ever been stumped by government regulation?  It is impossible to stay current on every change or regulation. By the time manuals and government documents are printed, they are almost out of date. To stay current with both technological advances and regulations, employees need to involve smart technology. Management can help increase productivity by providing their employees with a list of bookmarks of common web sites and enable them to get a response on the spot.

Smart phones can easily become a tool that every employee has on hand.  Employees will no longer have to fumble for manuals, flip through maps or wait on hold to speak with a customer service rep. With a click of a button, employees have instant access to all the material that they need to ensure that the job gets done accurately and efficiently.

For the apprentice, smart phones are even more valuable.  The online videos and guides can offer quick reminders not only on regulations but installation tips. In addition, a more experienced user may already be actively engaged and willing to share his knowledge with his co-workers. By simply incorporating smart phones in the work place, a manager can empower employees, and increase confidence and productivity.

Improve communication

Lack of communication between management and workers is a common plight but with today’s smart technology there really is no excuse. Today, managers can communicate with their employees through voice, text or even video. Employees can not only quickly address their concerns, but also share a video or image if a problem is particularly challenging to describe. While common applications like Face Time and Skype can directly connect management to their employee anywhere in the world.

The dynamic world of construction is full of challenges from learning about the trade itself to keeping up with technological advances. Incorporating smart technology helps employees learn how to focus, manage time, and generally become more resourceful. It encourages your employees to find solutions and create results. By not only permitting but encouraging smart technology, managers will empower their employees to skill up.

Networking, communication and research are three of the success skills discussed in my book available now, ‘Seven Success Skills for Apprentices and Skilled Trades Persons’. For more information contact James Harvey at 705.607.0406 or visit

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

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