“You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a changin’” (Bob Dylan, 1964).
We are truly living today in a fast paced, dynamic environment and Dylan’s lyric nearly 50 years ago couldn’t be closer to the mark on many aspects of our lives from the instant communications of tweets and texts to the forms of doing things we once took for granted such as reading a newspaper or book electronically. Who would have thought we would see the decline of magazines, newspapers, bookstores, and music CD stores with the expansion of the digital age.
Things have been changing at NADCA also when it comes to the methodology of communicating with and educating the membership. A few years ago we would mail all members the Die Cast Engineer magazine and the bimonthly Links Newsletter (Corporate Members only). The US Postal service was used quite a bit with mailings of education courses, Chapter meetings, conferences, and the Die Casting Congress. Today all these notices and registrations are sent electronically, for both speed and the lower cost of delivery.
I like to think of NADCA as an organization that keeps changing with the times. The method of communication with the membership has shifted from print to the form of a weekly e-newsletter (8,067), a weekly Design e-newsletter (2,634), a recently redesigned NADCA Web site that has added a buy/sell area, a jobs posting area, market leads for corporate members, and a searchable directory of corporate members (suppliers and die casters).
However, the Die Casting Engineer magazine continues to be sent to members the old fashion way, print copy through the mail. In a value survey done with the membership last year, the magazine was rated one of the highest value services, and many members keep back issues of the magazine on the shelf for future reference.
NADCA also just recently opened the official “NADCA Digital e-Store”. The NADCA e-Store effectively makes information and tools related to the die casting industry quickly available through downloadable applications, ebooks, and webinars. At the e-store you can select from 38 e-books, purchase the new apps Flash Calculator or PQ 2 Lite, and register for upcoming webinars about arch flash training, dross handling requirements and the latest research developments to name just a few items available today. As the future unfolds, there will be many more products added to the e-store. The purpose of the e-Store is to offer information and education instantly and more cost effectively than ever before.
As a result of the downturn in business in 2009, the number of members utilizing the education services of NADCA has been reduced from pre-2009 levels. With the downturn, companies enacted staff reductions and budget cuts, which reduced their ability to send personnel for classes at the NADCA training center in Wheeling, Illinois. We are seeing a slight improvement in the courses although not to previous levels.
The new direction in education will be for NADCA to offer on line courses to save both time out of the plant and money in travel for the students. Two education goals that NADCA has in 2011 are: 1. develop an evaluation test online to determine the skill level/training needs of various jobs in a plant, and, 2. establish a certified on line training program for process engineers. As the economic recovery continues to take hold, training and education will be an important building block for future long term success.
For those of you who still want a classroom experience, NADCA will be holding more education courses in the local Chapters, offering “in plant” courses, and providing customized courses for a particular company. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of conducting a NADCA customized course. We had hired a new group of die cast operators in November and needed a quick way to get them up to speed. We turned to NADCA and within three weeks we had a custom course designed and two staff members, Dan Meyer and Alex Monroe, taught the course in our facility. Today, these operators are knowledgeable in die cast machine operation, basic process, tooling, and safety requirements.
Any organization today needs to keep changing and innovating in order to remain competitive, even an association like NADCA. Please take the time to visit the NADCA site and review what services you can utilize to help your plant become more competitive – www.diecasting.org. Thank you for supporting NADCA.