May 27, 2021

Manufacturing in Massachusetts

Manufacturing in Massachusetts

In episode 26 of the podcast, the topic is Manufacturing in Massachusetts. Our guest is Michael Tamasi, CEO & owner, AccuRounds and Co-Chairman of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (Mass AMC). 

In this conversation, we talked about the ecosystem for manufacturing in Massachusetts, its challenges, opportunities, and future.

After listening to this episode, check out AccuRounds, (@accurounds): as well as Michael Tamasi's profile on social media:

You may also wish to check out each of the various organizations making up the Massachusetts manufacturing ecosystem, 

Finally, you may want to also be aware of the 'Israel meets New England' smart manufacturing event on June 9 and its organizers, the Israeli Trade Mission and Amhub New England:

Trond's takeaway: Massachusetts is undergoing a rapid evolution into a forward looking region which more fully embraces the manufacturing industry as part of its innovation thrust. One could wonder why it took decades.

Thanks for listening. If you liked the show, subscribe at or in your preferred podcast player, and rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode 25, Industrial Tracking: Drones, Warehouses and Theme Parks, episode 14, Smart Manufacturing for All , or episode 16, A female fighter in a manufacturing SME. Augmented--upskilling the workforce for industry 4.0 frontline operations.


#26_Manufacturing in Massachusetts_Michael Tamasi

[00:00:00] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:00:00] Augmented reveals the stories behind a new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. In episode 26 of the podcast, topic is Manufacturing in Massachusetts. Our guest is Michael Tommasi, CEO and owner of accurate rounds and co-chairman of the MA advanced manufacturing collaborative.

[00:00:27] In this conversation, we talk about the ecosystem for manufacturing in Massachusetts, the various organizations that assist manufacturers, including the mass tech collaborative the center for advanced manufacturing, our cam the manufacturing extension partnerships support MEP is,  all around the U S.

[00:00:48] And we discussed the challenges and opportunities of the manufacturing industry in the state being known as an innovation economy yet with a significant manufacturing sector two and the two now [00:01:00] being coupled together in new ways, Michael shares his experience with technology and change specifically industry 4.0.

[00:01:08] As a second generation owner of a manufacturing business, I asked Michael why young people don't see that manufacturing is the next big thing and when will they. Augmented is a podcast for leaders hosted by futurists Trond Arne Undheim presented by the frontline operations platform and associated with the manufacturing upskilling community, launched at the World, Economic Forum. Each episode, dives deep into a contemporary topic of concern across the industry and airs at 9:00 AM us Eastern time every Wednesday. Augmented the industry 4.0 podcast. Michael, how are you today?

[00:01:53] Michael Tamasi: [00:01:53] I'm doing great truck. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:56] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:01:56] It's exciting. I thought we would have a discussion about manufacturing [00:02:00] in Massachusetts. That seems to be what you're up to.

[00:02:03] Michael Tamasi: [00:02:03] That's a hot topic. That's a very exciting time to be in manufacturing, especially in our state.

[00:02:09]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:02:09] That's one thing, but you are not just in it because it's cool. You are a second generation owner of a business, and you've been in this for a while.

[00:02:17] I wanted to point out that you have a family business that you've worked in since 1985 and before that, your father. Tell me how you got into this business. It's a bit of a traditional story, Manufacturing goes through generations. Tell me how this happened for you.

[00:02:32]I've been asked that question many times. I say I was born into it in a sense. I was very fortunate to have a father who was an actually an immigrant came here when he was 17 and learned a craft to trade centerless grinding and then went off on his own and built a tremendous business around that.

[00:02:45]So yeah, I started in 85 full-time but yeah. Before that I was sweeper floors when I was 12 and packing parts, when I was a teenager and starting to get on the machines and my college years and doing warehousing and inventory and really learning the business. And I [00:03:00] didn't know what I wanted to do, but I really enjoyed the fact that we could have something tangible in our business.

[00:03:05] We were making stuff. So I was excited. I was never pushed into the business, but my dad helped to guide me and was certainly a mentor and he said, why did you go to engineering school? So I did, and I went to mechanical engineering, but UNH, and then follow it on with an MBA at Babson. And here I am.

[00:03:19]That's a great story too, because it's easy to get the impression when you say, I grew into manufacturing. I think a lot of people assume that you actually don't have these academic credentials because you did both. You essentially went both paths.

[00:03:33] Michael Tamasi: [00:03:33] I did. I went, I flew in for the technical side and then the business side and really my education came in the business, starting when I was a teenager and working with all the people that had been here for years and the machinists, the managers people that had the experience I could really learn from. And they took me under their wing. And, a lot of times kids of owners get the bad rap and they just get put in the top seat and that didn't happen. And that was never going to [00:04:00] happen with me and my father would never have let that happen. I really had to earn the right to take ownership of the business. And I had to earn the respect of the people that worked here and by working side by side with them for many years and learning from them it was a much easier transition when the time was right for me to take the reins and lead the company.

[00:04:19]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:04:19] We'll get into a company in a second Acura rounds. I think it's really exciting and also to have that example as we go through this, but I wanted to first, acknowledge that you've taken on a lot of more official duties. You're very involved in the manufacturing ecosystem in Massachusetts and also nationally maybe before we get to what all these organizations are and do, because I think it's crucial to communicate that and to let people understand what the infrastructure looks like. What was the reason that you also are involved in that? Was that a gradual involvement or were you just asked to continuously get engaged in these various four?

[00:04:59] Michael Tamasi: [00:04:59] Yeah, [00:05:00] so it probably started in my twenties really.

[00:05:02]My father was a member of a trade association, the national tooling and machining association. And I guess my first involvement and my Mid twenties. When I got out of graduate school, we did a fly into DC and met with legislators to talk about, promoting and workforce development around advanced manufacturing.

[00:05:19] And that kind of gave me a little bit of a taste of being involved, not only in the business, but outside of the business for the greater good of the industry. And over time it led me to be an advisory board member to voc-tech school, which really kinda kicked me off into this kind of mode I'm in now, I guess I've become the defacto go-to person for small visits for advanced manufacturing in the state and even at a national level.

[00:05:45] But I personally think it's important because in order for us to survive, beyond me, we need a future workforce. So if we're not out there promoting what we do, attracting talent and providing [00:06:00] programs and resources to train our future workforce, we're not going to survive. So it's a matter of survival and I've really enjoyed.

[00:06:09] Doing this work outside of the business, I've grown personally, I've grown professionally and it's also helped our company. From a branding standpoint, people recognize the name Acura rounds now where maybe 10 or 15 years ago it wasn't well-known and I think our team takes pride in that.

[00:06:24]It goes along with our core values and they come to work every day and obviously take pride in the parts that they make but to be recognized as an industry leader and a go-to company, they're the reason that I'm in this position my team and the work that they do allows me to, and other team members at our company to go outside of the business and contribute.

[00:06:46] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:06:46] That's very interesting. We'll get into each of these in a second and I'll let you explain the system because I will admit I still find it complicated to understand all the organizations involved in. In both the official [00:07:00] and the trade bodies and all of the ecosystem that is constituted by all these organizations, even just in one state, Massachusetts let alone new England, which I have some responsibility for or even, the wider America and the world.

[00:07:14] These are a lot of organizations being built over time, but I wanted first maybe : What is special about Massachusetts manufacturing sector. What are the strong points? What are some of the things that you are engaged in here?

[00:07:29]Michael Tamasi: [00:07:29] We have a very rich ecosystem in our state now. Massachusetts is known as the innovation economy, the number one innovation economy in the country.

[00:07:38] We're not as well known for being producers, but the reality is. We do a lot of manufacturing and then product right here in the state. And I don't think a better story could be told than what we just lived through this pandemic when we'll talk about the advanced manufacturing collaborative in a minute, but we spun out the emergency response team around [00:08:00] manufacturing from that group.

[00:08:01] It really pulled together our talents and resources from an educational standpoint, a research standpoint, and a manufacturing and innovation standpoint to pivot companies to make PPE. It really shined a light on what a rich ecosystem we have and, our state isn't that big, you can drive across it in a couple hours and it felt like California, Texas.

[00:08:23] So the ability to have co-location a supply chain all integrated within one state and the ability to produce innovate, produce, and ship product. We produce millions of pieces of PPE through this really fast track, turnaround time to get companies to pivot. And it's really a story that should be told, state and across the country, because we can take what we've learned here and develop that not only for PPE in the future, but also for other products that get innovated and developed and startup companies right through to production.

[00:08:59] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:08:59] Yeah. [00:09:00] Do you think there was something different about the way you organized this PPE effort here than in other states? Have you tracked how this happened in other states as well? Or do you just know that it was very different from what things how things worked before the pandemic?

[00:09:14] Michael Tamasi: [00:09:14] We actually had several states call us to find out. How in the world we did what we did. We, and we actually got a grant I believe it was from nest to document what we did. So other states can learn from that. And maybe, if another opportunity. Presents itself, not necessarily pandemic, but to mobilize your manufacturing community, they can learn and take some of the steps we did.

[00:09:36] I think what unique to Massachusetts though is having the research institutions like MIT and UMass Lowell and WPI, these universities were really key in, in reaching out to the FDA fast tracking. The research on, what a medical grade gown material is, where you could get it, sourcing it.

[00:09:58]In some cases, [00:10:00] products that take months, eight, nine months, for example, to prop up a product line and manufacturer, we were able to do it in weeks and three or four weeks, which is a credible. We have a company in fall river marrow manufacturing that now is the number one medical gun manufacturer in the country through this effort.

[00:10:22] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:10:22] Wow. One quick question about the biggest challenges as a region, because I guess that leads into why there is so much ecosystem effort at working across. So w what would you say right now is the biggest challenge? Yes, it's an innovation economy, not as well known for manufacturing yet as it is for innovation, but what are some of the main challenges you see right now for the Massachusetts in, in, in the manufacturing sector?

[00:10:48] Michael Tamasi: [00:10:48] Yeah. The largest challenge for our industry and probably many others is talent, is having the manpower and we hear about robotics and then people talk about, robots, replacing people, but. [00:11:00] That's not happening in manufacturing. What's happening is the technology is allowing our team to upskill and advance and do ironing skills and have more opportunity for the future.

[00:11:10] So talent is first a business environment. Massachusetts is friendly, but it's expensive. We continue to work with our government to come up with programs and funding mechanisms and grants and opportunities for training grants to help get us through that challenge.

[00:11:26]And I think, branding it'll be the third.  challenge we have, how can we get the general population to understand, what our industry is all about? How exciting it is. It is not dark, dirty and dangerous, which some people still have that image of it is really safe, smart, and sustainable in stable.

[00:11:46] Which, what was we found through the pandemic? There are many careers or are quite stable, so we really need to do a better job in our state of promoting that and attracting the talent so we can continue to prosper in the future.

[00:11:58]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:11:58] Now I think the time is [00:12:00] right for you to line up these ecosystem players and rather than me listing them, I'd like you to start wherever it makes sense. Like either start with that historically a highly devolved or start with the, what would you consider the most important organizations that were involved in this pandemic and that are involved in policymaking or innovation infrastructure or any other role that the ecosystem plays here in the state. Start with whatever organization you feel.

[00:12:27]Michael Tamasi: [00:12:27] Sure. So on a state level, Massachusetts, about 12, 10, 12 years ago launched the advanced manufacturing collaborative.

[00:12:36] I go Jed, co-chair that collaborative with a secretary michael Keneally who was the secretary of housing and economic development here in Baker's cabinet. And we have some notable OEM, senior executives and CEOs on that collaborative team, as well as some SMEs, as well as some government representatives and educational institutions.

[00:13:00] [00:13:00] So when we have three working groups, talent and branding, Innovation and business environment. And they we meet quarterly and the working groups meet between those quarterly meetings and report out every quarter. Now I would say that's the only overarching advanced manufacturing focus from the state, but the real core of manufacturing and mass and where it's being driven is out of a recently launched center for advanced manufacturing, which is part of the Massachusetts technology collaborative.

[00:13:34] So Kim, as it's known, we know how to directors, Christine Nolan, who started at the end of last year and she's been a quick learner and doing a lot of great work already that is driving really the driving force and coordinates the activity of the AMC and is driving a lot of the working group activity, as well as a lot of other activity around of these manufacturing and from a website [00:14:00] standpoint and they Manufacturing. com. So mass is really the central point to gather a lot of this information. Now there's a ton of different programs taking that to take place in the state from workforce training fund grants, to the advanced manufacturing training from grants, or go through mass hire and I could go on and on, but our hope is through cam we can make the on-ramps and off-ramps for advanced manufacturing, more visible. So we can realize what a tremendous, network and ecosystem we have in manufacturing for mass. So it really is how's it, the mass tech collaborative, which helps organize the advanced manufacturing, collaborative activity.

[00:14:49] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:14:49] That sounds really clear. There, there are a few other organizations. Let me just first ask about this. Manufacturing innovation Institute program with a short [00:15:00] acronym M two ITU. Is that right?

[00:15:03] Michael Tamasi: [00:15:03] That's correct. That's correct. Our state, I believe is committed close to a hundred million dollars over five years.

[00:15:10] Covering for institutes for manufacturing, USA institutes, the integrated Photonix follow advanced functional fabrics Netflix, which is flexible hybrid electronics and arm, which is advanced robotics for manufacturing. So those are federally funded, the state has some matching funds as well and the focus is looking to the future.

[00:15:34] And these are future technologies and developing the programs and the training, and ultimately the team members to join companies to help move these institutes and companies that will support this work going forward. So again, yeah, M two I two. And that's what that program is all about.

[00:15:54] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:15:54] So here's going to be a question for you. I'm going to pick three roles if I'm a manufacturer [00:16:00] or I'm a startup or I'm a citizen. Why should I care about any of these organization? Let's first take, if I'm a small manufacturer, something I exist here in Massachusetts, and I've never heard of these programs where they don't mean much to me.

[00:16:11] What is your pitch to a small manufacturer? Why would you engage? Where should you engage? How do you engage?

[00:16:19]Michael Tamasi: [00:16:19] You go right to the center for advanced manufacturing. That's your contact point. They have staff there that can direct you to whichever program is going to best fit your needs. I think it's important to understand the future technologies that are gonna impact our industry and our businesses. So from an SME, in an OEM standpoint, it's important to understand these institutes and, obviously all the institutes aren't for everyone, but you need to determine which one may be able to benefit your company and how you may be able to receive some grant funding.

[00:16:50] To maybe develop some innovation at your company to help support these these manufacturing USA institutes. So that's first and foremost.

[00:16:58] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:16:58] So it's in a bit [00:17:00] developing innovation, develop training initiatives, perhaps also, and then generally network, with peers through these organizations as well.

[00:17:07] Michael Tamasi: [00:17:07] Absolutely. That's how you learn and grow. Networking is so important. So understanding the landscape and the changing dynamics in our industry, I'll tell ya. It has gone through tremendous change in the last 10 years, automation, robotics, 3d printing, big data machine monitoring were all new to us, five, 10 years ago.

[00:17:24] Now they're pretty much integrated and most of the progressive companies in the state and across the country. Now we're looking at artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, understanding that and learning how that's going to impact their business.

[00:17:37] These manufacturing USA institutes are coming up with new technologies. We need to know that we need to understand what our future jobs are going to be, what our future technologies that we can deploy and integrate in our companies don't implement to help make us successful in the future.

[00:17:54] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:17:54] Perfect. And so now I'm a startup, or I actually do represent, which is a tech startup. [00:18:00] And we actually have gotten involved in one of those institutes for grant funding. But give me a sense of, if I am a tech startup coming out of one of these universities, that's Massachusetts has a lot of, and we are involved or want to deliver products or services to the manufacturing industry.

[00:18:15] How can a startup plug into this ecosystem?

[00:18:20]Michael Tamasi: [00:18:20] There's a couple of different ways. I think again, learning and understanding the supply chain, the local supply chain, because co-location is so important today. So understanding that whether it's through a center for advanced manufacturing, number one, or through the mass hires, which are part of the four regional consortium's that are tangentially connected to the advanced manufacturing collaborative the, for advanced manufacturing training from grants coming directly from the state go to four lead mass hires across the state. They direct those training funds. So there could be opportunities for startups to [00:19:00] utilize those funds to help them innovate, train, develop their products, learn the supply chain.

[00:19:06]Of course the  program we just talked about.  there's another opportunity. And then on the startup and SME side, there's actually, so your new program that's launching, I believe July 1st called the Massachusetts manufacturers accelerate program. That's specifically targeted for S M E innovation.

[00:19:25]And that's being run again out of the center for advanced manufacturing. So you can see the theme here i t used to be a thousand points of light, right? And you didn't know where to go. We're trying to dial this in, have one focal point area people can go to camp.

[00:19:38] Talk to staff and they can find out everything they need to know about advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts in, in, in new England. Cause we're obviously not solely looking at Massachusetts, although that's our priority. We're looking at a regional economy as well.

[00:19:53] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:19:53] Perfect. And then what if I'm a citizen or maybe better formulated I'm talent. Let's say I'm a young person [00:20:00] coming out of university and I, for some reason actually have identified manufacturing as this is the place to be, which we'll talk about in a second, or maybe I am a frontline worker, right?

[00:20:08] Maybe I work on the shop floor and I want to.  follow these trends or build skills in kind of smart manufacturing. How do I then connect to these organizations? Or are they mostly for business owners themselves?

[00:20:22] Michael Tamasi: [00:20:22] No, you can, they absolutely talent can connect the best way for talent to connect us, to go to your local mass hire.

[00:20:30] And they will tap you into either pipeline training, which could be somebody that's new or looking to transition into our industry because those training fund have programs run out of community colleges that take individuals and give them the basic skill setsto enter our industry and they also provide funding for incumbent printing.

[00:20:50] So they're going to be aware of all the incumbent training programs that are currently taking place and I'll talk a little bit about that on both aspects. [00:21:00] We, through the consortium's a local consortium's in the state and I'm part of the Southeastern mass advanced manufacturing consortium that's CMC, another acronym. We do. What's called sector partnerships, job driven training. So we have, meetings with our mass hires, with community colleges and with industry and we'll identify, okay, we need a welders. There's a need for welders so how can we design a program to take an individual and give them the introductory welding training skills. They need to start on the path to become a welder or up-skill a novice welder. And it could be, we need accumbent training for, it could be supervisory skill training. It could be other CNC, machining training. It could be quality technician training, whatever the demand is by our industry peers meeting.

[00:21:51]In identifying that need because we collaborate, we're peers, we compete, but we're also, in this together and we're combining [00:22:00] our knowledge and needs to develop these programs. Certainly for the talent out there, there's a lot of opportunity. There's also technical institutes, Southeastern voc-tech here has an Athens after hours, advanced manufacturing technical Institute program.

[00:22:15] I'm not sure how many weeks it is. It's several weeks of training. We actually interviewed a couple of candidates recently that may come work here this summer, and then they'll go back to school, the fall they'll graduate, and they'll have a little more advanced skills training to enter the workforce.

[00:22:33] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:22:33] Now, this sounds so easy when you explain it, but there are a bunch of other organizations around this ecosystem that I wanted you to briefly comment on. So there's a bunch of other sort of initiatives that have popped up that are doing things in specific domains and then there's also trade associations.

[00:22:50]Maybe we'll start with some of those other initiatives. There's one that I w just wanted to point out. There's something called forge, which seems to be a nonprofit. [00:23:00]  Where does that fit into this picture? And what does that organization do?

[00:23:05] So they

[00:23:06] Michael Tamasi: [00:23:06] work with startups and developing products will provide a space and collaboration and shared resources.

[00:23:14] So it's economical for startup to take an idea and work with consultants and mentors to help them develop their product. That's at the beginning of the ecosystem, right? So you have an idea there's innovation that takes place and then forged.  great name, they just changed their name.

[00:23:32]They're forging relationships. So they're connecting the startup ecosystem to the producing ecosystem, Manufacturing ecosystem, and hopefully keeping things local so they can tap into that local supply chain. And they do a great job of that.

[00:23:50]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:23:50] And then how about the trade associations? I know the mass technology leadership council, I guess popularly known as mass TLC is the [00:24:00] largest tech association in Massachusetts. What is their involvement in manufacturing specifically?

[00:24:05]That's made up mostly of larger OEM CEOs and high level executives.

[00:24:13]They're looking to direct policy around advanced manufacturing. So I don't really interact much with that group. I've talked to a few people there but they're looking at, at a higher level, which is important and collaborating much a lot with the state of mass policy legislation, and trying to make it, a friendlier business environment for not only themselves, but for their SMEs and the entire supply chain.

[00:24:36]One organization, you mentioned trade associations. I can talk specifically about the two that I'm a member of and obviously there's training that our associations do as well for incumbent and pipeline training and the national tooling and machining association, which has two chapters in the state of Boston chapter in a Western mass chapter and the precision machine products association which has a [00:25:00] Northeast chapter.

[00:25:01] So  dot org. Those are websites. You can go to learn more about those trade associates.

[00:25:12] Wow. So this is a, it's a big ecosystem and now we've only covered Massachusetts. Tell me a little bit about your national role. Cause you've recently moved a little bit also into the national stage. What are first off you, you did mention already that the mass USA, that some of these are federal grants, actually it's a national infrastructure, obviously for manufacturing support.

[00:25:32]How do you plug into that? And, what's what's been exciting lately when it comes to the tie in between Massachusetts and the federal level.

[00:25:40] Michael Tamasi: [00:25:40] Oh, about about 10 years ago, 11 years ago now I attended spoke at bunker hill. I believe, think it was governor Patrick at the time, but I met somebody after that worked for the national skills coalition.

[00:25:55] She asked me to attend, to fly in. Sounded interesting. I had done flying through trade [00:26:00] associations for years, but this was a little unique. I did some research on the national skills coalition and I attended, and I found it different from a national level, talking about workforce development and the national school coalition is a tremendous organization.

[00:26:14] So from that we launched and I was part of the executive team and now chair, the group  called business leaders United for workforce partnerships. And it's not only manufacturing it's construction, it's it. It's healthcare. It's really anybody that needs technical skills training and our whole focus is putting policy papers together in meeting.

[00:26:36] With federal legislators, Congress people, senators, representatives. I've actually been to the white house several times that with policymakers actually had a round table discussion with president Obama and vice president Biden. At the time, all around driving federal funding for workforce development.

[00:26:55]For example, I just testified in front of Congress a couple of weeks ago around the [00:27:00] America's jobs, paying jobs, Flynn, representing blue business leaders, United talking about the successful training programs. We've helped develop. Through glue and the national skills coalition that we want to make sure a part of the Americans jobs plan like sector partnerships and drop driven training and the voc-tech initiatives and looking at the institution, not only for the high school students, but for the dark hours and lighting those up for adults.

[00:27:28] So I think it's very important to tie the federal work. With the state work, making sure that kind of they're in sync and the awareness is there, across the spectrum. Again, for me, it's been some personal and professional development has been tremendous networking. I've met great leadership across the country and actually have done some side benchmarking with different companies through the trade association, networking and the national work that I've done down in DC.

[00:27:56] And we've gone virtual in the past 15 months [00:28:00] with these meetings, but we continued to do the flyers and has been very important.

[00:28:07] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:28:07] I wanted to take it back a natural to your own company. Could you give us a sense of what's been happening to Acura rounds lately? Where are you on this journey that you know, through your associations? You're asking everyone else to make this journey towards smarter manufacturing industry, 4.0 is the international term for it.

[00:28:28]How has your journey been and what, maybe just line up, what exactly is it that you do with accurate rounds? You're a manufacturer or a contract manufacturer. I understand also. And where are you on this journey of, technology?

[00:28:43] Michael Tamasi: [00:28:43] Sure. It's been an exciting journey, full-time since 85, so it's at 36 years.

[00:28:49]I'm having more fun today than I've ever had. And for us, it starts with our core values, expressing gratitude striving for excellence, putting the [00:29:00] team first, taking initiative and really having an exemplifying trust. And if you have those core values and the behaviors that follow along with those, then you know, our team can go to the moon and back and do anything.

[00:29:13] And we put an addition on our facility about seven years ago now, and that really catapulted us into this industry 4.0 focus. I mentioned robotics, automation, 3d printing, machine monitoring. Again, that's integrated that's being put to use that's part of our success the last several years.

[00:29:34]We're looking at what's next, but we're integrating new technology. Constantly. We just had a machine dropped on our floor Monday two days ago. That was a follow-up to a machine. It was for an, our floor last month as the machine, the premise, we've got three new machines in two and a half months that were delivered here.

[00:29:52] We have two more on order and two, the supply chain issues. We were not going to be getting those until probably September, October [00:30:00] timeframe, but five new pieces of technology. And the reason we're looking to enhance our capacity with new technology is because the new technology is more capable. And in some cases had, has embedded robotics in it, which allows our team members to run multiple pieces of equipment.

[00:30:19] So we're leveraging labor it makes our company more competitive. It gets product to our customers faster. It gets a better quality product to our customers. We're continuing to look at technology integrating that and of course our team members need to learn this, so they need to be trained, whether it's, on the job training and a lot of cases,


[00:30:37] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:30:37] Yeah. No, if you make it sound easy, Michael. Yeah,

[00:30:40] Michael Tamasi: [00:30:40] I tell you're right. Trond it's challenging. It's exciting. Yeah. We look at challenges and opportunities for improvement we call it.  Our team members up for the challenge they get really jazzed when they see the rigor and into our are a dock bay and they're driving a machine with the, dropping the machine and we're moving some machines around and it's really cool.

[00:30:58]Nothing like unwrapping a new machine [00:31:00] and getting it live.

[00:31:04] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:31:04] Michael, I, if I may, you and I had a pre-call and we talked about some more challenging issues and I wanted to personalize it a little bit and feel free to, to dial this back. If you don't want to go there too much. But if you look at the next generation. It isn't always so easy to convince them you have this invincible passion. And it would seem that, if I didn't know better, if I have kids myself, so I know you can be passionate and they disagree with you vehemently anyway, or they just completely ignore my orders if I try to issue them. You don't have to talk about your kids if you don't want to talk about the next generation, because I think this will relate to business owners.

[00:31:41]You are passionate. You clearly see. The future, you see your future and you see a future for Acura rounds and moreover, you're engaged with everyone else's future here in the state and beyond why is it that most young people that I'm going to make the generalization because it is true [00:32:00] for now.

[00:32:00] Most young people don't see manufacturing as the next big thing. That is my statement. Comments.

[00:32:08] Michael Tamasi: [00:32:08] You are correct. Although I think the last year or two may help us change that story. I think that our industry has been done a disservice by media. I think for a couple of decades, everybody talked about manufacturing.

[00:32:22] We can't compete. It's all going overseas. It's never coming back. The reality is it's coming back and it's coming back big time for many reasons, risk being at the top of the list based on what we've just experienced. Now we need to get this story told I have three children they're in their mid to late twenties.

[00:32:39]I guess I wasn't as passionate 15 and 20 years ago as I am today, or maybe it would have helped convince them to look at technology is a career. They have successful careers and I don't anticipate them coming in, but you never know that could change. But I have spoken with a lot of high school, middle school, college age kids talking about career choices and we have high school [00:33:00] co-ops here. We have college interns here and I'll tell you what, when they come here and visit and see what we have in play. They get really far up. We had a mechanical engineer here that never considered manufacturing for a career. He's now in a manufacturing career. We've had several other college engineers do that as well.

[00:33:18] Now what's really neat about our industry is you don't have to have a college degree to come to work an accurate answer at advanced manufacturing. Would you have to have is creative thinking, problem, solving the understanding of that and willing to learn it, and the desire to learn, regardless whether you go to college or not.

[00:33:37] Learning is lifelong. We have the Acura owns lifelong learning university here and that whole focus is to make sure that everybody has one or more learning objectives on their plate at all times. We're working at the state level to, to craft that story a little better and brand it.

[00:33:54] And hopefully we can pick it up at a national and life. I would say that, we've heard more national stories the last year or two around [00:34:00] manufacturing, we probably have in the prior five or 10. And we need to keep telling that story because finance and some of these other things or careers are great.

[00:34:09]I got to tell you that there's nothing more exciting than making a part that goes to a vaccine machine to make vaccines, to cure COVID. And we're doing that right now and that's pretty cool.

[00:34:23]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:34:23] Your enthusiasm is contagious and  I think of the new technologies, even just moving into manufacturing, you think of machine learning applications, you think of augmented reality, which is now starting to get some industrial use cases with digital headsets, whatever it is, whether it is for training, on serious machinery or ed robotics obviously is the.

[00:34:47] Perhaps the most obvious and visible new technology that is slowly seeping into factory floors. It's almost mysterious. How the story has taken so long to gain [00:35:00] foothold. Do you think that this is now going to change fast? So I guess we're talking about the next decade. What  what do you think is going to happen to the impression the young people have all the sector what's going to happen to the sector itself. What do you see in your future?

[00:35:19] Michael Tamasi: [00:35:19] I do think it's going to change. I think the shift of manufacturing back to this country, the fact that technology is allowing us to be more competitive, which is facilitating that and taking the technologies.

[00:35:30] You just mentioned AI, AR VR. You look at all the kids that gai n  there's a tremendous gaming community. In a way that, that applies to advanced manufacturing now with these technologies. so when people realize the match and the excitement of technology and how important that plays in our space, and it's going to play going forward.

[00:35:48] And we maybe not only, we really can't envision what those roles might be, but, we never thought we needed data analyst at accurate rounds, we're developing data analytics skills for our team because we're [00:36:00] driving so much data every day through our systems to our team and the more information real-time we have, the better decisions we can make.

[00:36:07] So it is huge. I mentioned the three D's and the three S's.  and I added stable. I'll go even further as air industry is pretty sexy now because this technology could be very attractive and I really think as people understand that and learn it. That's going to drive talent to our industry and talent.

[00:36:25] That's going to be on the creative side. Creative minds really play well in our space. You're troubleshooting every day. You're problem solving every day. So you want to create different ways to do things and you're using your mind and your head and your hands and it's not really physical manual labor.

[00:36:40] The computerized equipment is doing the work, but you really got to use your brain and be creative to continuously improve. Which we strive to do and be efficient and serving our customers needs,

[00:36:56]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:36:56] It is fantastic to hear you speak about technology this way. I happen to [00:37:00] be one that shows a much more theoretical path in many of my first years of learning, but I never really enjoyed that. I've always been much more practical and I think that if I had exposure to the right.

[00:37:12] Places earlier on, I would have, it is certainly the type of learning process that I enjoy most is when you see fairly immediate results. How far do you think that can go? Do you think you, you can start out in a manufacturing from and get to the top of your game in many of these technologies and be a pathbreaking sort of trailblazer in manufacturing, and then just basically take courses on their job or on the side or whatever it is.

[00:37:39] Or do you think still that this university path a is the only one? I'm trying to speak up for the middle skills strategy, which is a whole. Development that maybe you can comment on this idea that maybe not everybody needs to go to full university, but we need to find a new way perhaps to educate at a fairly [00:38:00] advanced level, but quickly.

[00:38:02] And then the question is, that we have to take people out of the factory floor to do this, or can it be done on the job? What is your view of that? And how far can that go for people who choose that path?

[00:38:16] Michael Tamasi: [00:38:16] Sure. I think there's many things, as I mentioned earlier, and colleges is the only one and in many ways, the majority of our team members do not have college degrees.

[00:38:25] They came out of a voc-tech high school and started down that career path. So I definitely think that there's going to be a lot of opportunities. I think the educational tracks are going to change. I think companies are going to be providing the opportunity. In some cases you may be able to get your college education paid for by the company you're working at and doing it while you're either on the job, or after hours or a combination of both.

[00:38:50]So I think, technology play in the demand, let's look at the robotics industry. Okay. Robotics industry is a burgeoning industry [00:39:00] in this state in particular, a lot of startups and well-established companies, Amazon robotics being one that's headquartered here and we actually do work for them.

[00:39:09]So you look at advanced manufacturing ecosystem, you can manufacture for robotics, to make the robots, you need parts, you need mechanical parts so we can manufacture that. But So you take taking that on and then looking at the maintenance that's gonna be needed for robotics the training that's going to be needed for robotics.

[00:39:26] So there's all sorts of careers that are going to be established and grown just from that one industry alone. The advanced robotics Institute out of Pittsburgh, is taking some of these and looking at how that can be integrated long-term I'm extremely excited and more optimistic now about the next 10 years in the future and the talent that's going to be coming our way than I ever have because of, the involvement and the commitment by the state of Massachusetts and some of the awareness taking place across the country with trade associations and others, one, one group that we did not mention that plays a big [00:40:00] role in our state and in every state is the manufacturing extension partnerships. So the mass MEP is a huge facilitator when it comes to promoting and training the future workforce of manufacturing. And those are federally funded programs that exist in every single state. And our state does a lot of work with these manufacturing, USA institutes and making the connections and marrying up SMEs and OEMs and others and talent to take advantage of the programs that exist.

[00:40:33] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:40:33] It's funny. You mentioned them. That was going to be my next question cause it was one of the organizations we missed earlier on when we were listing them building on that. Do you feel like the learning infrastructure is sufficient currently, whether it is in Massachusetts or generally, or do we need new models or better scale to match this reskilling challenge that has been identified at least at least globally and nationally, it's a big effort, re-skilling and [00:41:00] that's why we have we had manufacturing USA, and that's why I think there's a renewed effort now.

[00:41:04]Federally as well. And if new efforts are needed, what sorts of programs do you believe are the future?

[00:41:13]Michael Tamasi: [00:41:13] In Massachusetts, in particular, we have a capacity issue when it comes to vocational technical education. There's a group called the Alliance for voc-tech ed and their whole focus is to work with our legislators to drive more funding to our voc-tech schools.

[00:41:29] Now, governor baker and his administration have done a tremendous job in investing in these schools, but we need more capacity. And if it's manufacturing is very capital intensive, So our CNC machines are not inexpensive. And in order to develop the future workforce, we need training facilities, whether it's at a voc-tech school or an Institute or a training center to have the state-of-the-art technology, so they can train, incumbent in pipeline.

[00:41:55] Individuals to become a team members and get jobs. That's a huge challenge. [00:42:00] And I know that, there's certain things in play in particular Madison Park in Boston. We're looking to establish an Institute there and prop up advanced manufacturing as a program. So there are certain schools that have taken these grants and invested, but still there are some waiting lists at schools right now for high school kids in particular to get into these programs.

[00:42:20] We need to get past that.

[00:42:25] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:42:25] But what about online training? Is that not sufficient in most cases or are you not so bullish on the ability to learn CNC, machining or any other skill, robotic manufacturing or ma management, through just online means

[00:42:40] Michael Tamasi: [00:42:40] I actually, I absolutely think that online training is a big part of the future of training.

[00:42:45] We had an individual here last year became the first apprenticeship through our consortium to get an apprenticeship through right. Tooling U, which is an online training program and the funds that were provided through the manufacturer training [00:43:00] grants in the state. So we took advantage of that our associations utilize online training as resources.

[00:43:06] There's nothing that's going to replace the hands-on let's face it. If you're new to the industry, it's important to learn some of the conventional machining getting on a Bridgeport or a lave and cranking handles. So you can feel what it's like to cut metal, aluminum, stainless, and canal, but.

[00:43:21]Jumping right to CNC and pushing buttons. Doesn't give you the sense of what it's like to machine. So you need a combination, but I am I am very big on, on online, and especially as it continues to develop and One other thing I was trying to get back to on the robotics side that I wanted to mention.

[00:43:36] There are many robotics programs in schools right now that I think is a huge feeder program for our future workforce. There's the national robotics league run out of ant part of the unnatural Tillium machining association. The great thing about robotics programs when kids are involved is they not only learn you know how to put a robot together, but they're developing it. They're designing it. They're working with a company to help make it [00:44:00] they're troubleshooting it. They're fixing it. They learn the communication skills. They're learning all the soft skill pieces, which are extremely important. In advanced manufacturing in any career, right?

[00:44:11] So you combine all that. That to me is a huge fee to program where you're coming out of a voc-tech school that has it, or comprehensive high school, or even college programs that have robotics competitions in play.

[00:44:25] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:44:25] Michael, this is it's fascinating. I thank you so much for sharing. Was there a, a sort of a final challenge. If I ask you, Many of the listeners here and, they come from different walks of life. Some of them might be on the on the shop floor, other  more manager level.

[00:44:40] And yet again, I think a bunch of startups or people working for startups or even founders are listening to this podcast. What is your sort of takeaway on the challenges and opportunities of manufacturing specifically in Massachusetts, also considering your larger remit, nationally, and maybe even looking internationally [00:45:00] what is your sort of take on where this is going and what should people should be thinking when they're thinking Manufacturing?

[00:45:07] Michael Tamasi: [00:45:07] So today's advanced manufacturing environment is very progressive and it's very exciting. And again, we need to do a better job locally and nationally on promoting that. I would encourage people to visit MAA Get a sense of what's taking place across the state. Go to the center for advanced manufacturing website.

[00:45:31] Learn more. You can follow us on social media, LinkedIn, Instagram our YouTube channel has tremendous videos. We have 60 to 92nd videos on different careers and individuals here. We have recruitment videos on our website. You can learn about our company, but it takes some time to research because it certainly is going to be an industry that's going to grow over the next 10 years and not only grow in numbers, but we need to replace the [00:46:00] people that are going to be aging out of our workforce. We didn't touch on that, I work for us as aging out. So there's a lot of opportunity at all different levels from machining to engineering, to quality, to sales, to admin, to HR, to finance, you can go on and on.

[00:46:15] So I implore people. If you're looking you're thinking or where do you want to go in life, please consider manufacturing as a career choice.

[00:46:26] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:46:26] Michael, this has been profoundly educational for me. And I don't just say that this is truly eye-opening it's. It is a little bit daunting, I think, eh to understand this sector when you, your mindset has perhaps being, like me, like digital and all those things were cool throughout my education over the last two, 20  years.

[00:46:46] But I'm starting to see the light and I must say it's fascinating. I thank you so much for opening up that book for us.

[00:46:53] Michael Tamasi: [00:46:53] Oh, you're very welcome. Trond is a pleasure to be with you and again, digital physical, digital it's exciting stuff. So [00:47:00] look forward to the future of manufacturing. Thanks.

[00:47:04] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:47:04] You have just listened to episode 26 of the Augmented podcast with host Trond Arne Undheim , the topic was manufacturing in Massachusetts. Our guest was Michael Tamasi CEO and owner of accurate rounds. And co-chairman of the Massachusetts advanced manufacturing collaborative. In this conversation, we talked about the ecosystem for manufacturing in Massachusetts it's challenges, opportunities, and future.

[00:47:32] My takeaway is that Massachusetts is undergoing a rapid evolution into a forward-looking region, which much more fully embraces the manufacturing industry. As part of its innovation thrust, one could wonder why it took decades before the deep tech focus of the states. Many universities percolated into the sector when it happened it did through startups mostly, but also through federal government and state led initiatives and through the [00:48:00] grassroots innovation of the small and medium-sized businesses that traditionally are at the heart of manufacturing. My prediction is that given where industry 4.0 is which we call smart manufacturing in the U S in the near future Manufacturing will be cool again, when that happens, talent will again be pouring in young people will enter the sector.

[00:48:23] It is hard to predict exactly when and how, but the change will be profound. Thanks for listening. If you'd like to show, subscribe, Augmented or in your preferred podcast player and rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode 25 industrial tracking episode 14 and smart manufacturing for all, or episode 16, a female fighter in a manufacturing as Augmented.

[00:48:53] Upskilling the workforce for industry 4.0 frontline operations.


Michael Tamasi

CEo & owner, AccuRounds

Michael Tamasi is President and CEO of AccuRounds, a contract manufacturer dedicated to being the leading value solution for custom mechanical components and sub-assemblies used in numerous industries including medical, aerospace, semi-conductor, robotics and emerging technologies. Michael, a second-generation owner, has been working in the family business for over 35 years.

Michael is very active in industry and educational organizations including government appointments to the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, currently serving as Co-Chair, and previously sitting on the MA STEM Advisory Council. Michael has been active in the National Tooling and Machining Association for over thirty years, serving on their Boston Chapter’s board for fifteen years. He is also Chairman of the Board for GBMP, Chairs the Executive Committee for Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships, serves as a NIMS Audit Team Leader and is an Ambassador for MassEcon. Recently, Michael was named to the Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel, which will share recommendations with the Biden Administration to ensure an Inclusive Economic Recovery.

Michael currently sits on the advisory board for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of New Hampshire, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He also received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Babson College.