A word of caution about the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s plant tours: Attending one could make you rethink your manufacturing operations.
Inspiration abounds: The MLC, the digital transformation arm of the NAM, recently hosted a plant tour of Lincoln Electric’s headquarters in Cleveland. Inspired by the innovation on display, one attendee vowed “to go back to my own company and start asking what’s stopping us from implementing similar technologies and practices.”
- The two-day Lincoln Electric event included visits to the company’s welding and training center, its machine division, its 3D printing facility and its automation-solutions center.
- Tour participants also learned how the business is overcoming workforce shortages through culture and technology solutions.
What is Lincoln Electric? Lincoln Electric was founded in 1895 as an electric-motors manufacturer. Today it is a global industry leader in welding equipment and consumables, additive manufacturing and automation solutions. The company has locations in 19 countries and serves customers in more than 160.
Welding school: The first stop on the tour was Lincoln Electric’s world-class welding school, first opened in 1917 and relaunched in 2018 as the 130,000-square-foot Welding Technology & Training Center.
- Students at this state-of-the-art facility begin their training at virtual welding stations before moving to one of 150 training booths to use the real “arc.”
- Lincoln Electric also offers virtual classes, a turnkey curriculum for customers and “train the trainer” courses for welding instructors.
3D printing: Tour participants also got a look at the company’s Additive Solutions Center, the largest platform of its kind, which boasts 18 3D printing cells. It serves customers in the automotive, aerospace, marine and energy industries.
- The equipment prints replacement parts, molds, tooling and prototypes measuring up to eight feet long and weighing more than 8,000 pounds.
- It can print in a variety of metals, including mild steel, stainless steel, nickel alloys, bronze and Inconel.
Automation solutions: The Automation Solutions Center tour stop demonstrated Lincoln Electric’s twin answers to the manufacturing skills gap: innovation and tech solutions that increase productivity.
- The technology on offer includes automated arc welding products, collaborative robots, metal fabrication and assembly line solutions.
- Demand for Lincoln Electric’s collaborative robots is up as manufacturers cope with workforce shortages, tour participants learned.
High-performance culture: Tour attendees also learned about Lincoln Electric’s high-performance culture, which rewards success and provides employees with opportunities for growth and development.
- The company’s Incentive Management System for the production workforce includes output-based pay to maximize personal earnings potential, an annual profit-sharing bonus, a no-layoffs policy and an open-door policy.
- “I found the networking time to be highly valuable and came away with several ideas on employee retention,” said a tour participant.
Future focus: Looking ahead, Lincoln Electric leadership said the company’s core focus must and will be on its people—to continue to build a pipeline of talent and attract and develop the next generation of leaders.