The Manufacturing Institute recently honored Denise Stanislawczyk, Operations Manager of ABB’s Measurement Products, with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Award. In this interview, Denise discusses women's place in the field, current challenges in the industry, and how those challenges might be overcome.
Barnes: Can you tell us about the STEP awards? Why is it important to acknowledge women in the industry?
Stanislawczyk: The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, launched the STEP Ahead Initiative in 2012 to recognize women in the manufacturing industry. It’s important to acknowledge women in manufacturing since we are the minority. According to one of the articles on Manufacturing Institute’s website, there are 46.6% women in the workforce, but only 24.8% in the manufacturing industry.
Barnes: Tell us about the kind of work you do and its significance towards moving the industry forward.
Stanislawczyk: Being the Operations Manager at ABB in Warminster, PA, I’m responsible for quality products being produced by our greatest asset, our employees. We are always driving positive change to improve how we deliver to our customers. We need to be innovative, dedicated to excellence, and profitable to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
Barnes: What are the particular advancements you have been a part of?
Stanislawczyk: The manufacturing industry is constantly changing and we need to stay competitive. Since I’ve been responsible for the manufacturing operation, we have consistently improved on-time delivery from 70% to 97%. We have also reduced lead times to stay competitive. Our Operational Excellence team is always improving the processes on the shop floor and developing lean production lines for new products. This could not have happened without the great teamwork from all manufacturing personnel.
Barnes: What are some projects of note you are currently involved in?
Stanislawczyk: We began with increasing our on-time delivery. Then we worked on reducing lead times by improving processes. We continued to take time out of the processes by reviewing FPY (First Pass Yield) and now we are working on FRY (First Run Yield). If there is a quality issue within any of the manufacturing processes, we immediately evaluate the issue so it does not happen again.
Barnes: What are the current challenges the industry faces and how might they be overcome?
Stanislawczyk: The economic environment for the manufacturing industry is a current concern. Managing the appropriate staff for a fluctuating business volume can be challenging. Since we produce 10 different products with literally thousands of variations, we need to cross-train each person in at least three different processes. Our highly skilled and flexible workforce enables us to react quickly to our customers’ orders and constant changes in our industry.
Barnes: Do you feel that women in particular face challenges in the industry?
Stanislawczyk: Everyone is facing challenges in this economy. You need to be passionate about the manufacturing industry to be successful. There are more men in manufacturing and we want to provide more opportunities for women. With ABB’s commitment to diversity, they have launched a Women’s Mentoring program in 2013 to develop women leaders. It provides growth opportunities for women who want to grow and build their careers. Programs like these help address some of the specific industry concerns. Being in manufacturing is always about meeting challenges and finding innovative solutions.