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Celebrating Women in Manufacturing on International Women’s Day

On this day, Epicor celebrates women forging change in manufacturing.
March 07, 2023
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The resounding difference that women make in manufacturing is cause for celebration every day, but on International Women’s Day, I’m glad to take a longer and more collective pause to recognize their achievements and, most importantly, help stride toward equality.

First held in 1911 and now supported by over one million people worldwide, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to specifically acknowledge the role that women play in culture, society, politics, and the economy. In manufacturing, the leadership, know-how, ingenuity, dedication, and world-changing contributions of women have helped keep our industry critical for producing essential goods and services.

One way to advocate for the continued advancement of women in manufacturing is to tell their stories. In this article, I highlight two examples of manufacturing companies where women play a prominent role in the success of their business projects. But first I want to discuss how I became interested in manufacturing and technology.

From Stereos and Bike Gears to Manufacturing Technology

Growing up, I was the kid deconstructing stereos, building forts in the woods, and getting my hands dirty figuring out how the gears on my bike worked. I am still endlessly fascinated by the night sky, science experiments, and the pursuit of technical and innovative solutions to humanity’s toughest problems.

Manufacturing appeals deeply to me. In our industry, we actively build real things that impact the world in a tangible way. Our work has an outsized impact on the global economy and people’s lives. Being on the technology side is incredibly exciting because I get to witness and even influence the future of manufacturing advancements.

I am forever grateful that I found a space in the manufacturing industry, and I will never forget the countless women teachers and supervisors who inspired, supported, and sponsored me. For all the women and girls out there who are interested in manufacturing, I want you to know that there is space here for you, too.

Facilitating a Technology Transformation in Aerospace

For nearly 30 years, Cannon Aircraft Interiors, a renowned shop in Everett, Washington, has delivered high-quality handcrafted custom interiors for the aircraft cabins of private and commercial planes. As IT Tech, Thea Larsen, plays a variety of roles on Cannon’s close-knit team. “My background is in web design, administration, and marketing,” she says in the success story. “When I joined Cannon, it was primarily on the manufacturing floor; the opportunity to work with my hands really appealed to me.”

Cannon had a reputation for highly skilled, hand-made craftsmanship, not technology and processes. “Our old workflow involved group knowledge, email, labels, and spreadsheets. We knew we needed to establish more consistent processes and apply best practices,” says Larsen.

Cannon’s executive team engaged industry specialist Cre8tive Design & Technology and Epicor partner to evaluate ERP solutions and chose Epicor Kinetic deployed in the cloud. With her experience in web design and administration, Larsen was the obvious choice to manage the software. “Cannon is committed to providing a flexible, healthy work/life balance and Epicor helps us to achieve that. The Epicor Kinetic browser-based access gives us the mobility to easily work remotely and securely,” says Larsen.

Check out the success story to learn more about how Larsen helped improve areas like material traceability and user experience on the shop floor and in software systems at Cannon.

Managing Inventory and Improving Productivity in Specialty Furniture

OW Lee is a specialty outdoor furniture manufacturer in Comfort, Texas. Their customers purchase one standard set of furniture but choose from 500+ fabric colors, furniture finishings, and other design options. To enable better control and visibility into key areas such as inventory, purchasing, order entry, production, engineering, and accounting, OW Lee implemented Epicor Kinetic, led by Leisa McCollister, VP of Marketing.

“Prior to Epicor Kinetic we were running our business on an AS400, which we used for everything except payroll, but it didn’t provide the visibility that we needed, McCollister says in the success story.

To select, implement, and train on the Epicor Kinetic solution, OW Lee worked with Cre8tive Technology and Design to leverage the Epicor tools and to extend the solution to meet their needs. “We developed what we call the ‘aggregator’ tool which takes individual Epicor jobs and aggregates them at different points in the production process by like materials,” explains McCollister. “Parts operations will have a completely different set of production paperwork than finishing operations based upon the like items. This has been a tremendous help as we used to create this paperwork manually outside of the system.”

Read more in the success story about how McCollister helped OW Lee create a custom configurator to simplify the process of creating and tracking made-to-order products.

Getting Involved in Manufacturing

At Epicor, we help businesses see the value of the right technology to deliver big ideas at the right time. On this International Women’s Day, I’m excited to share these stories of women who have made a difference in manufacturing. As a call to action to help accelerate women’s equality, today is the perfect opportunity to open a conversation with women you know who may be considering a future in this industry. When we work together to elevate, innovate, and encourage, we all rise.