Tag Archives: daimler

A Manufacturing Risk: the Talent Gap

Twenty five years ago labor experts warned employers about an impending shortage in the skilled manufacturing workforce caused by the soon-to-be-departing baby boomers. Almost no one listened.

Those few employers who did realized preparation meant investing in training. Investment = money so many employers put it off, especially during the Great Recession of 2008 – 2010.

So here we are America … needing to fill 3.5 million manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, according to the Deloitte publication, The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 & Beyond.”

Deloitte opines that we’ll be lucky to fill 1.5 million of those openings, leaving a gap of 2 million jobs. This potential shortfall didn’t go unnoticed by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), a manufacturer of class 5-8 commercial vehicles, school buses, and heavy-duty to mid-range diesel engines. The company saw this bullet coming years ago.

See also: Insurance And Manufacturing: Lessons In Software, Systems, And Supply Chains  

To those in the know, the skilled workforce shortage conundrum isn’t new. As far back as 1990, the National Center on Education and the Economy identified this job shortfall in its report, “The American Workforce – America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages,” stating large investments in training were needed to prepare for the slow workforce growth.

If you look at the burgeoning skills gap, coupled with vanishing high school vocational programs, how, as an employer, do you recruit potential candidates?

To not address the millennials’ employer predilections is to miss an opportunity to tap into a vast resource of potential talent.

DTNA addresses the issue by reaching out to high schools throughout the U.S. via the Daimler Educational Outreach Program, which focuses on giving to qualified organizations that support public high school educational programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), CTE (career technical education), and skilled trades’ career development.

Daimler also works in concert with school districts to conduct week-long technology schools in one of the manufacturing facilities, all in an effort to encourage students to consider manufacturing (either skilled or technical) as a vocation.

Like all forward-looking companies, Daimler must address the needs of the millennials who – among a number of their desires – want to make the world a better place. Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group notes that 86 million millennials will be in the workplace by 2020 — representing 40 percent of the total working population.

To not address the millennials’ employer predilections is to miss an opportunity to tap into a vast resource of potential talent. To that end, Daimler has always emphasized research in renewable resources and community involvement as well as a number of philanthropic endeavors. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also appeals to the much-needed next generation who will fill the boots of the exiting boomers.

See also: 4 Steps to Integrate Risk Management  

Just because a company manufactures heavy-duty commercial vehicles doesn’t mean it can’t give back to the environment and the community at large. And, in the end, that will help make the world a better place.

The Cyber Threat in Manufacturing

A friend of mine asked me if the cyber-risk threat was a bit of flimflam designed to sell more insurance policies. He compared cyber-risk to the Red Scare of the 1950s, when families scrambled to build bomb shelters to protect them from a war that never came. The only ones who got rich back then were the contractors, he concluded.

I found his question incredible. But I realized that he didn’t work in the commerce stream, per se, which quelled my impulse to slap him around.

See also: 3 Things on Cyber All Firms Must Know  

I shared with him some statistics that sobered him up quickly. I explained that cyber-crime costs the global economy more than $400 billion per year, according to estimates by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Each year, more than 3,000 companies in the U.S. have their systems compromised by criminals. IBM reports more than 91 million security events per year. Worse yet, the Global Risks 2015 report, published in January by the World Economic Forum (WEF), included this rather stark warning: “90% of companies worldwide recognize they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against cyber-attacks.”

Cyber protection is not just about deploying advanced cyber threat technology to manage risk; you also have to educate your employees to not fall victim to unassuming scams like “phishing,” which is stealing private information via e-mail or text messages. It remains the most popular con as far as stealing company data because it’s so painfully simple. Just pretend to be someone else and hope a few people fall for it.

While most people understand the threat to data privacy for retailers, hospitals and banks and other financial institutions, few realize that manufacturers are also vulnerable in terms of property damage and downtime. In 2014, a steel manufacturing facility in Germany lost control of its blast furnace, causing massive damage to the plant. The cause of the loss was not employee error, but rather a cyber-attack. While property damage resulting from a cyber-attack is rare, the event was a wake-up call for manufacturers worldwide.

According to The Manufacturer newsletter, “the rise of digital manufacturing means many control systems use open or standardized technologies to reduce costs and improve performance, employing direct communications between control and business systems.” This exposes vulnerabilities previously thought to affect only office computers. In essence, according to The Manufacturer, cyber attacks can now come from both inside and outside of the industrial control system network.

See also: Now Is the Time for Cyber to Take Off  

Manufacturers also need to be concerned about cyber attacks that would: a) interrupt their physical supply chain or, b) allow access to their system via the third-party vendor. Manufacturers must then take steps to mitigate those risks. When Target and Home Depot were hacked several years ago, it wasn’t a direct attack on them but an attack on one of their third-party vendors. By breaching the vendors’ weak cyber security, the criminals were able to access the larger prize.

To circle back to my friend’s weird fallout-shelter theory, it’s certainly a good idea to have a backup plan in case one is hit by a proverbial “cyber-bomb.” But rather than hunker down and wait for the attack to occur, it’s critical to educate employees, vet vendors’ cyber-security and adopt — and continuously optimize — a formal cybersecurity program.

The 'Sharing Economy': What It Means for Insurers (Part 1 of 3)

Insurers have always been at the forefront of responding to user needs. Direct marketing and online portals make it easier for consumers to understand and purchase insurance. Usage-based insurance (UBI) allows safe drivers, particularly those who drive less, to reduce their premiums. Even insurance company-sponsored coffee houses offer a unique way to gain financial service knowledge and one-on-one access to experts.

Today, a different type of opportunity exists that may help insurers not only meet changing consumer needs but gain first-mover advantage in the process. Called the “sharing economy,” this market involves renting privately or company-owned assets—generally cars or homes—primarily through an online, peer-to-peer network. While the car-sharing market in North America is exploding, few insurers have even begun to explore this market.

As people continue to seek new opportunities in this economy, and as Millennials begin to take control, it’s likely that this idea of “sharing” will not only thrive but expand. The question is: Can insurance companies make a reasonable profit from this market? If so, how will they adapt their models to meet the new consumer demands?

To begin answering these questions, we will take a look at three areas. In this article, the first part, we’ll define the sharing economy and examine some of the innovative models already in play. Then we’ll discuss the insurance challenges that sharing-economy companies are facing, and the insurance industry’s response. Finally, we’ll look at four steps insurers can take to begin evaluating the sharing economy as a viable business opportunity.

Access trumps ownership

The sharing economy offers a fast and efficient way for owners of assets and renters to connect through online services. Two main stars have emerged in the sharing economy: auto and home. Companies like RelayRides and Getaround can help a consumer rent a car for a few hours of errands or even enjoy an SUV for a weekend in the mountains. The other main sector, home rental, allows owners to rent out their homes or simply a room on a short-term basis through companies like Airbnb. As the sharing economy branches out, owners are renting out other assets such as parking spaces, tools and camping gear.

It’s all about monetizing unused capacity of an asset for owners. For renters, it’s about gaining quick and easy access to those assets without being bogged down by ownership. Access, in a sense, becomes a service that is paid for per time increment or by distance.

Much of this market is being driven by the Millennials who grew up with the ideas of sharing, renting and paying small transactional fees for access to things such as music and movies. This generation has been slow to move out of their parents’ houses, and many delay getting their driver’s license for a few years. They simply don’t value ownership the way previous generations have. That means sales are down for this generation, especially on large items such as cars.

As the sharing economy becomes more popular, large companies are jumping into the mix. For example, Avis paid $500 million for Zipcar to gain access to the peer-to-peer market. Daimler’s Car2Go charges 38 cents per minute including fuel, insurance and parking. And GM invested in RelayRides to allow peer-to-peer rentals of OnStar-enabled cars.

There’s a reason consumers and corporations are embracing this model. Forbes predicts that the global sharing economy will grow by 25 percent this year, reaching more than $3.5 billion. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the North American car-sharing economy alone will reach $3.3 billion by 2016, with 9 million members participating. And once self-driving cars come into play, decreasing the risk inherent in different driving behaviors, the car-sharing model could explode.

Next week, we'll explore the interactions between sharing-economy advocates and insurance companies.