Episode 2 of Amplify is live! Listen in below or read the transcript to hear Brad and Kiannah chat with Joshua “JR” Rodriguez about current trends in the manufacturing industry.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:00] Today, we will be interviewing Joshua Rodriguez or J.R. from Built Systems. How are you doing today, J.R.?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:00:06] Doing great. How are you?
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:07] I’m wonderful.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:09] So like we started last week, we’re going to start off today’s podcast with a question. So, J.R., if you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:00:18] Hmm, that’s a really good question. I would say the ability to learn something by looking at it or what was that. It’s like a special pill. I don’t know if it’s a superpower, but, I would definitely like to be able to look at something and comprehend it right away without having to the time.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:39] Yeah, kind of like a crazy eidetic memory type thing. Yeah. I mean, like the photographic memory and you just got it. Boom, it’s there. So I’m a big proponent of like regeneration or self-healing and like if you get injured you can instantly be fixed. And I talk I think about like Wolverine, you know, he gets shot or whatever, and then minutes later he’s completely healed. How about you Kiannah?
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:01:02] I think I’d want to teleport just because I love traveling so much and to cut out all the time it takes to go places, just pop in and pop out. I think I would love that.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:01:13] That’s a good one. Actually, I agree with that. Yeah, teleportation is kind of like that. Hopefully, we develop it soon. Oh yeah. That would be great.
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:24] So for today’s episode, we wanted to take a look at some of the current trends that have been happening across the manufacturing industry, as well as workspaces in general. In your position, and with the experience that you have, we hope you could help shed some light on some of these things that you’re seeing in all the different companies of the different places you go.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:01:42] But before we do that, let’s get to know you, JR, on a more personal level. Let’s get a little history about you and then we will look at these current trends in the manufacturing industry.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:01:48] So, J.R., how long have you been at BUILT Systems?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:01:51] Been BUILT Systems since its conception roughly eight years ago or seven or so years ago. But I’ve been here since the beginning.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:00] And what’s your current title and role at BUILT?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:02:02] Currently, I am the director at BUILT and I am responsible for BUILT Systems and have the blessed opportunity to lead our team.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:10] Yeah. So besides working here, what do you like to do in your free time?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:02:14] I’m a beach bum. Uh, I like to go to the beach with my kids, like to play basketball but spend time with my children and go to the beach. That’s, uh, probably the main thing outside of work time.
Brad Schaefer: [00:02:25] What about the winter? The winter. Because that’s like nine months out of the year here in Michigan. Yeah, that’s a good point.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:02:32] Well, you know, I love the snow and Michigan is hit or miss with a lot of snow or a little bit of snow. So when there’s a lot of snow, I’m usually outside sledding with the kids, spending time with my family when it’s kind of rainy, like last year that we had I. I’m just in the house, I don’t know, reading and watching movies.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:53] Thanks for the information, JR.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:02:56] No problem.
Brad Schaefer: [00:02:58] So being one of the longest here at built systems, you definitely have seen some things, you’ve seen changes in work environments and industries across all industries and all different facets of manufacturing. If you could give just a couple of examples or explain some changes that you’ve seen over the years. Anything that stands out that you’re just, wow, that’s crazy that it’s different from, you know, six or seven years ago to now.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:03:25] Yeah, one of the main things I’d say is the lean and 5S approach and methodology. You see that growing a lot more within any industry. Really people take to, you know, just thinking about lean, not just in manufacturing, but in the office too.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:03:42] You have that and how people run their businesses and seeing the efficiencies that are gained there. You have some of the smaller mom pop shops where, you know, they value a clean work environment, they value lighting, they value all those things that I think in the past it was, you know, it was getting to work. Do you work? And we don’t care how your workspace looks. And now we’re seeing that transition where it means something.
Brad Schaefer: [00:04:10] No more of the dark and dirty places and the more bright light. I understand it makes sense to me.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:04:20] Yeah. So how do you think that the covid-19 pandemic has kind of affected that normal work environment now?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:04:27] Yeah, covid I think has affected it in a lot of different areas. But one that comes to mind is automation and kind of technology in general and how all of our businesses are adapting to it and how we are.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:04:42] You know, ensuring that we are creating modular lean thinking businesses that are able to adapt to whatever the time brings us, whether it be the two thousand eight crash, or the pandemic of this year. And looking at that from a workspace aspect, ensuring that the manufacturing environments and office environments are flexible enough to change in a moment’s notice for whatever gets thrown at them. So that’s a big, big component. I think it’s pushing that technology for sure into the future and really speeding that up for us.
Brad Schaefer: [00:05:17] So over the years, things have been redefined and things have migrated and morphed into some new environments, I know BUILT has had a key role in a lot of those in developing interesting products and new products.
Brad Schaefer: [00:05:29] If you could pick a couple of products that we have put together and designed and manufactured for customers that have just totally redefined the way they do things. Does anything stand out in your mind?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:05:41] Yeah, definitely. Our machine base product line for the most part. The large machines that people build are, you know, you don’t typically think you can lift, let’s say, a thirty-five hundred pound machine in the air and allow your operator to have an ergonomic working position.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:05:59] But our machine base product line and for us, it’s BUILT. No, I mean, we do a lot of different variations of our standard machine bases. But for me, that’s changing it completely where you’d have you know, you’d have a fixed height workstation that’s a quarter-inch thick wall tube. And it’s not going anywhere. We’re both in it. So the ground and we’re putting the casters on and we’re putting leveling mounts on them. And we’re giving those operators and our process people the opportunity to reinvent how they’re processing stuff through their work areas. So.
Brad Schaefer: [00:06:35] Machine bases, I think, are a key part of it as anything else. I mean, let’s face it, we make all kinds of stuff, so.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:06:42] Yeah, um, you know, I think overall how we go about the aesthetics of our workstations. We take a lot of pride in creating something that not only is extremely functional but also represents. Well, we like to place our customers’ logos. We like to be able to give them the opportunity to paint at a specific color that matches their logo, whatever it is. I think, you know, just looking at that aspect and bringing it’s not just a workstation. It’s, you know, it’s where someone comes in every day and works eight to 10 hours. We want to create something that that that person can be proud to come into. And that person can enjoy their job and have nice lit areas. And also, from an economic standpoint, you know, they’re not reaching there. We’re doing all those things, so I think we do a really good job in that regard and helping to create those tailored workstations that really make a difference.
Brad Schaefer: [00:07:42] Awesome.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:07:43] Yeah, I think aesthetics is kind of a huge trend that’s happening in today’s world. JR, what other current trends or changes do you think are popping up across Michigan or across the United States in general in regards to a push for a safer, more efficient work environment?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:07:58] Yeah, I think. You know, management and any company is seeing and middle-low management, upper management, they’re seeing the real value that the ergonomics stuff, the safety, they care about their employees, they care about their team members. And I think especially with covid, you’re seeing the safety portion get pushed a lot harder. You know, there’s it’s not just the ROI, but an important aspect, but it’s also employee retention, which right now we all know, especially in Michigan, we’re doing a really good job. There’s manufacturing everywhere. There are basically jobs everywhere. Keeping good employees is hard. Keeping good team members is really hard in this aggressive environment. So I think, you know, of course, I think we fit really well into that area and we really help a lot of these people to create those environments that are safe. And obviously, ergonomics is a big portion of that.
Brad Schaefer: [00:09:01] Looking at just workspaces and work environments and in general, we have a tendency to make kind of whatever the customer wants. We have that ability here at BUILT with the engineering team and the sales team. So looking at that aspect, what would that perfect work environment for, let’s say, your office team or your manufacturing team look like?
Brad Schaefer: [00:09:21] How would you design it? What would you put together? So if you walk into this building. And it would just be a show of what we can do at BUILT. What would that look like?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:09:32] Yeah, from an office standpoint, a collaborative spaces, which I’m not the only one that believes heavily in the collaborative space, but having a place where people can come and feel safe, to bring up ideas, to discuss things, to meet about issues for the day, the week, whatever it is, creating an environment that that kind of curates that, that is something that’s important and that also leaks into the manufacturing environment. I mean, a bright workstation, 5S, everything color-coded as big for me and big for us here at built systems. So having something like that with obviously all the tools and all of the fasteners or whatever, an employee needs to do their job readily available to them, um, within an arm’s reach, not an outstretched reach, but within an ergonomic reach, um, I think is really big. And then, uh, flow, I mean, flow. People have a problem with the flow in any, any manufacturing environment. So it’s in our, you know, staging all of that stuff is.
Brad Schaefer: [00:10:37] We touch on that and our first episode about how amazing it is to see how the flow of build systems happens with all of the raw materials come in one side of our facility and then out the complete opposite side as all of our shipping. So we have almost as close to a flow as you can possibly get. And I think that’s very key as we look at some of these cool environments in the way things have changed.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:11:04] Yeah, so going off of kind of your perfect work environment, what do you think the workspace of the future looks like in general, whether that’s in the office or on the manufacturing floor?
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:11:14] Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, right now, I would say we are more spaced, especially right now, where we create more so pods. So if you have a light assembly, you have small pods that still interact with each other. Maybe it’s via a conveyor, maybe it’s whatever it is, mobility for sure. And modularity, which at BUILT is one of our core beliefs. All of our products are designed with modularity in mind for being able to adapt to this size, that size, whatever you may need, being able to repurpose carts, tables and adjust them very easily. So in my opinion, we’re going to build manufacturing environments that that can adapt, that can adapt to business needs, that can adapt to a pandemic, that can adapt to anything, and I think that’s going to be a huge thing. You’ll see a lot more stuff on casters. People want to be able to manipulate their work environments for processing purposes, for whatever it is easily without having to, you know, get a rigging company in to move a machine here, move a machine their power here, drop power there. I think that’ll be a huge, huge portion. And again, I think that kind of all ties back into lean thinking and, you know, creating these environments that allow for our team to think outside the box and be creative with how they’re setting up their processes and procedures.
Brad Schaefer: [00:12:44] Just kind of thinking about what you talked about, I go back to the old school, you know, dark, as you talked about, bolted to the floor workbenches and things like that that are all that countertop height. And it’s hard to clean around, hard to standardize and 5S those areas compared to what you’re talking about this amazingly clean mobile work environment by without any drops or anything that you can literally just shift your whole assembly line left or right, or pull the table here and put one there. I think that’s kind of an amazing idea, a concept for a workstation or manufacturing assembly line.
Brad Schaefer: [00:13:23] Do you have any final thoughts, any things on workspace trends or trends that you see you’d like our listeners to just think about what anything that stands out that you want them to go huh, I never thought of it that way.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:13:38] This is my sales pitch time, huh?
Brad Schaefer: [00:13:40] Oh, yeah,
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:13:42] Yeah, I would say, uh, even outside of that is, uh, to partner up with suppliers and companies that have the same outlook as you. If you want to create a modular environment, if you want to create adaptive, um, there are two sides to that coin. So to make sure that you’re partnering with teams and people that that value some of the same things that you value. Uh, of course, for our customers, we like to be we’d like to be that option for them. We like to be able to provide them with exactly what they want and need and what really is going to make a difference in their environment. So, um, on the built system side, you know, we’re blessed to have a great engineering team or great operations team that gets it done. And, um, yeah, I’m proud of it for sure. And proud to be a part of the team.
Joshua “JR” Rodriguez: [00:14:33] Awesome. Yeah, that was great. Thanks for your time today.
Look for our next episode on October 29th where we will chat more in-depth about how COVID 19 has affected industries and what we at BUILT have done to support the essential workers and environments they are in.
Miss an episode? See all of our previous episodes on our podcast website.