EECO Asks Why Podcast

242. Idea - Quality as a Mindset

January 23, 2023 Electrical Equipment Company
242. Idea - Quality as a Mindset
EECO Asks Why Podcast
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EECO Asks Why Podcast
242. Idea - Quality as a Mindset
Jan 23, 2023
Electrical Equipment Company

When quality becomes part of your culture the game changes completely!

Anthony Murphy shares how he and the team at PLEX stay focused on building solutions that helps organizations align to achieve amazing results.  When everyone is driving in the same direction greatness awaits and the leaders of manufacturing recognize there is tremendous power in this mindset.

He reviews how to take a holistic approach to quality and why every stakeholder plays a role in the path to excellence.  The days of quality being a stand alone department are transitioning where all team members are now able to see how they make a direct impact.  Anthony walks out a suggested path forward to those wanting to lean in without making drastic wholesale changes.  He points to the importance of solidifying quick wins that drive impactful business outcomes.  Once measurable success is realized then the snowball begins to take over.

Towards the end of this conversation Anthony gives an inside look at his journey and provides great lessons to find success in industry.  He is an avid runner and he is the first interview to share that he enjoys listening to earning calls for publicly traded manufacturing companies while he's logging in the miles!

This conversation is chocked full of wisdom and insight that will connect the dots on the ever changing world of quality and how that mindset is leading industry towards great things in the future. 

Guest: Anthony Murphy VP Product Management at PLEX

PLEX Website

Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets

Show Notes Transcript

When quality becomes part of your culture the game changes completely!

Anthony Murphy shares how he and the team at PLEX stay focused on building solutions that helps organizations align to achieve amazing results.  When everyone is driving in the same direction greatness awaits and the leaders of manufacturing recognize there is tremendous power in this mindset.

He reviews how to take a holistic approach to quality and why every stakeholder plays a role in the path to excellence.  The days of quality being a stand alone department are transitioning where all team members are now able to see how they make a direct impact.  Anthony walks out a suggested path forward to those wanting to lean in without making drastic wholesale changes.  He points to the importance of solidifying quick wins that drive impactful business outcomes.  Once measurable success is realized then the snowball begins to take over.

Towards the end of this conversation Anthony gives an inside look at his journey and provides great lessons to find success in industry.  He is an avid runner and he is the first interview to share that he enjoys listening to earning calls for publicly traded manufacturing companies while he's logging in the miles!

This conversation is chocked full of wisdom and insight that will connect the dots on the ever changing world of quality and how that mindset is leading industry towards great things in the future. 

Guest: Anthony Murphy VP Product Management at PLEX

PLEX Website

Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets

00:00 Chris Grainger

Welcome to Eco s y. Today we have conversation around quality and we're gonna be talking about quality as a mindset. And I have with me Anthony Murphy, who is the vice president of product management at Plex. So welcome Anthony. How are you doing today? Well, I 

00:17 Anthony Murphy

appreciate you having me here. I am, uh, I am doing fantastic.


00:22 Chris Grainger

Oh, I'm doing great. I'm doing great. It's a, it's a lovely day. Looking forward, been looking forward to this conversation with you for a while now, and so excited we're able to get together and, you know, when you start talking about the, the word quality, a lot of things come to mind, particularly in the industrial manufacturing world.

But for you, what comes to 

00:38 Anthony Murphy

mind? Yeah, it's a, it's a really good point and a good question, Chris. You know, I, I come from manufacturing. It's, it's been in my background, it's what I've done and, you know, historically in manufacturing we tend to think. Quality in terms of, you know, things like total quality management, t q M.

And so we think about things like inputs around, you know, product and, uh, people and process and, and then that should lead to good outputs around, again, good product and good processes and good audit results. And we measure that through things like cost of poor quality or parts per million. But, you know, that's sort of this, uh, like legacy sort of linear way of thinking about quality, right?

It's the industrial era way, like A plus B equals C. It's, it's algebraic and, and. I think when we think about quality, uh, we think about quality in more of a holistic manner, right? And thinking about things like not just product quality and total quality management, that is important. We make products, those products have to be good, but we like to think about things.

And when I think about quality, think about it, uh, holistically in terms of every interaction and every stakeholder. So things from like, how do we engage with our customers, right? So whether it's, you know, time to resolution on issues, or how fast are we turning around, quote. Or even things like customer satisfaction or repeat orders, uh, to how we engage with our suppliers, right?

And, and what does our overall supplier quality look like. And certainly managing the upstream supply chain, but also our supplier relationships. And even to things like employees and communities, we know that literally everybody is dealing with a skilled labor shortage. And so thinking about employee retention, employee satisfaction, and employee engagement, um, as well as community and how you're engaging with community.

So when I think about quality and when we think about. Uh, that's really how we think about it. It's certainly total quality management and product quality, but it has to have a more sort of holistic and, and all-encompassing, um, sort of approach. Yeah, 

02:27 Chris Grainger

I mean it's definitely sounds like that's a pretty big shift from the, the old mindset of quality from the legacy days.


02:34 Anthony Murphy

Yeah. It, it can be. And it, and it is, and um, it, uh, it takes some time and it takes some doing, but it is where if you think about sort of leading manufacturers and those who are gonna be able to, you know, whether, any sort of changes, right? All these things that we talk about today with like skilled labor shortage and supply chain shortages, material shortages, these are things we've been dealing with as manufacturers for decades.

Like, this is nothing new. Now it's, it's exacerbated and acceler. But when you think about, you know, how do we as a manufacturing organization like weather today's changes and be prepared to handle whatever comes next, however fast it comes at us, we really do need to think about things more holistically.


03:12 Chris Grainger

definitely. I wanna get your take on something Anthony too, because, um, Term that I keep hearing all the time is digital transformation in the, in the man industrial manufacturing world. And when you think about that, where does quality fit into that? Because is there a digital transformation that you see from a quality standpoint that, that.

That comes to mind. Cause I, I like to get your, your insight 

03:34 Anthony Murphy

here. Yeah. You know? Absolutely. And in digital transformation in industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, these are all like really big terms and they can be daunting. And in some cases you kind of look at it, you're like, that's kinda a little fluffy.

What does that actually mean? Um, right. And if you, if you think about that sort of holistic approach to quality and it's sort of every piece of the organization and every person and every process, it absolutely fits. Um, but it doesn't have to be this like big, daunting, like, oh my goodness, I suddenly have to be able to run lights out manufacturing tomorrow.

Right? Uh, it's absolutely a journey and you take it sort of bit by bit, but the way it, the way it fits in is if you think about how do you drive this sort of culture as a quality where every employee is involved in, every person involved in every stakeholder is, is consider. Uh, and we're not only doing the things that are driving that culture of quality, but we're also, you know, as employees or our employees are seeing us doing it and they're seeing others doing it.

You know, the way to do that is, is you start digitizing processes and you take the sort of the manual effort, like filling out paperwork or shuffling paperwork around. Um, and you start to, you start to automate that and, and you can, again, you can take it process by process, but then that makes it easy to do the right.

And to do the things that you want people to do and focus on that culture of quality. So it absolutely has a place, and, and it absolutely has, um, has an impact on every aspect of the business. But it doesn't have to be this, this huge, daunting, I have to do it all in all in one shot. Right. 

05:03 Chris Grainger

I mean, so are you looking for areas of low hanging fruit, dec simple items first?

Is that kind of what, what. 

05:09 Anthony Murphy

Recommend to people? Yeah. Typically we'll see customers like, you know, for example, we, uh, a big part of what we do is we help manufacturers digitize their operations. And so we'll find, like, it could be starting as simple as, Hey, look, our, we need to just digitize and see what our scrap rates are, and our o e e is, uh, we have tools that you could just quickly visualize that so you can identify and visualize the issue and then go address it.

Uh, we have quality management solution, for example, where, um, you can digitize the sort of document control and, and document auditing process as one component and then start digitizing the overall quality and all the way up into running your entire shop floor. And so the guidance we give, uh, to, to customers and, and largely the manufacturing industry, is you, I don't, don't feel daunted by like, you know, oh my goodness, I have to go drive this whole, you know, transformation initiative over my entire company and it's gonna take forever.

Find the places where you have the most pain and you have the most to gain and, and start there. And it can be small. Get some quick wins, get some buy-in. You'll start to see that organizational change in some of that cultural change. And then it'll be easier to say, oh, look at this thing we did over here that's having all of this benefit.

Right? Root it in, anchor it in real business outcomes and, and things that you can measure. And then you can take it to the next, uh, sort of the next areas and, and it just becomes this sort of snowball. Absolutely. 

06:28 Chris Grainger

One of the best pieces of advice we've ever had on Ecos Why, uh, Tess Meyers actually told us to things big and act small.

Yep. And, you know, have that, that big vision. So, you know, pro, you know, processes, programs like this definitely have a long, long go, uh, goal at the end, but taking those incremental steps to get there, man, 

06:47 Anthony Murphy

that's, that's key. Absolutely. Yeah. That's a great way, it's a great way to think about it. And, and Tessa is, uh, an incredibly sharp.

An experienced manufacturing leader. Um, and then it is, you have a, you have a view of the future, you know what the future needs to look like, you know where you want to go, and you wanna inspire your team to get there. Mm-hmm. , and then you just take, every day you take a little bit of a, a step forward.

07:09 Chris Grainger

Absolutely. Now, you mentioned earlier in your, in your Answer Q, quality management solution, you know, Q M S, you know, when you think of that, about that for manufac. What are some of the tentacles that, that, that are included there? 

07:23 Anthony Murphy

Yeah. You know, we think about Q M S and quality management, again, trying to at, at its broadest scope, touching everything that is around, uh, quality management.

And so for us, we think about it from the top to the bottom. So you think about the highest piece or the highest level is, is compliant. And so, How do we articulate how we are going to comply, whether it's in, you know, a regulatory standard or a a, a specific customer standard, or even things that we're doing inside of our own organization.

If you think about, you know, how we comply with, with ISO and then outlining that, uh, all the different steps, who's responsible, what are the things we need to do, along with the ability to not only assign actions, but to drive accountability to those actions with, you know, sort of workflow tools so it becomes, again, easy to do the right.

And then we drive that into the execution layer, which is, you know, you think about things like, um, failure mode effects analysis and control plans again, and these things are all completely digitally linked so that you, you set it up in one spot and it starts cascading throughout. And so now we're starting to say, what are the risks and the issues that could happen?

How do we mitigate those? What are we gonna do if those risks do occur? And then how are we gonna contain the issue? And so you start to get this proactive, forward-looking approach that says, oh, I've got an issue that I might have over here. Let's prevent that from happen. And then into the execution side, which is, you know, governing the operations and making it almost impossible to do the wrong thing.

And so we have what we call check sheets, which has, you know, gauge integration. So down to the, you know, the caliper or if you got an ID check or an OD check. And then driving the operators to fill both those quantitative and qualitative checks in. So taking measurements into things like statistical process control.

So we're measuring and doing, you know, uh, upper and lower control. But then the other piece is, you know, it's all about continuous improvement. Things are going to go wrong. It's gonna happen. Uh, and so we have a continuous, uh, set of continuous improvement tools that you can link directly to. Like if I have a piece of inventory that's suspect, or I had a, a product that has a bad quality, or there's an operator who did something incorrectly and we see that manifest in bad product, we can drive and we can link directly to that and then drive these continuous improvement tools to help make sure we identify the root.

But as importantly, each one of these tools, again, fully linked and it sort of drives this holistic approach of quality. The more important thing is, is it brings the organization into the process. So it's not just the quality manager who's got the responsibility here, or a supervisor who's got responsibility there.

Even when we think about these continuous improvement tools, you can bring a team together and drive that engagement again, so you're driving that culture of quality. So it, it sort of sustains even. Beyond the individual issue and you can start to propagate that mindset throughout the organization. 

10:06 Chris Grainger


Well I'm glad you mentioned that cause I was getting ready to ask you about is that, you know, you have the, the controls engineers and they have their smart manufacturing industry 4.0 initiatives. They're connecting all the new devices that are out there, these smart devices. They're bringing all this data.

I was just wonder. Did they see that quality as, you know, a, a friend or a foe, right. ? Yeah. You know, should try work. Are we working together on the same team or, or, or, we constantly, you know, butting heads together. So it sounds like it's more of a friend from your standpoint. 

10:37 Anthony Murphy

Absolutely, it is absolutely a friendly relationship.

And again, part of the, you know, if you think about the engineering staff, it's all about how do I connect everything together, looking to automate and drive, you know, certainly more efficiency, but, but drive out, you know, um, you know, drive out this sort of, uh, variability in the process. And so where quality is concerned, you know, quality managers, uh, and even, you know, manufacturing and production supervisors really want the same.

And so all of our tools are designed to, you know, be able to take that information directly from an operator or connect directly to the equipment, whether it's a PLC or an asset, or even an individual gauge. And so that's where, to your point, everybody gets to be really friendly is, you know, quality is like, this is the objective, right?

We want to make good product, we wanna have a good customer experience, we have a good employee experience, and we want to do that efficient. Because quality, the quality department is never the most overstaffed department. Right. It's always a, you know, a mighty team of two or three. Um, and then the controls engineers, like, we want to connect things together and it's, you can do those things and do those things easily.

So it becomes this nice sort of symbiotic relationship where, you know, we're helping each other, uh, accomplish each other's goals. Yeah, I 

11:47 Chris Grainger

mean, it sounds like that has a pretty tremendous impact on overall company 

11:50 Anthony Murphy

culture as. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it helps cuz people are bringing it together.

And again, if you think about what the long-term vision is, what's our company vision and mission, and what are we trying to accomplish, what are our overarching objectives? And then everything cascading behind that. You know, these digital tools and these, you know, again, these transformation initiatives all align behind those things.

And so it drives, it helps drive visibility and transparency into what's working and what's not working well and, and how we can, um, you know, make those things better and improve those metrics. It helps bring people together and aligning behind core metrics and, and core in. It helps, you know, frankly, like, look as a quality manager or a quality engineer, you don't wanna be running behind people and trying to, uh, you know, Hey, did you fill out this piece of paper?

Or go find the piece of paper that somebody filled out? Or, you know, like, no, that's not the right rev. You wanna be using your brain and your talents to help drive continuous improvement initiatives. And so, These types of things allow people to use the brains in, in the way we're made to be used in, in these really creative problem solving sort of ways, but also aligned as an organization.

And so it absolutely drives, uh, a, a holistic culture of a, uh, of quality. 

13:01 Chris Grainger

Yeah. Now the, I'm, I'm assuming I can, I'm only gonna, I'm, I don't wanna assume this, is there a ripple effect that impacts the greater community that, that the organization would. 

13:13 Anthony Murphy

If you do it, if you do it well and you do it right, absolutely.

Because everybody starts to, you know, naturally you see people working together. Um, we're, we're naturally removing the friction. We're making it easier to do the right thing and to make good product. And, and look, people want to do the right things. And so you start to see this like, yeah, this investment in this drive to do the right thing.

You start to drive up that visibility and transparency to the metrics. And again, if leadership, you know, culture will happen, whether you're, whether you want it to or not, it happens when you're not looking. So if leadership is really driving that vision, uh, and has, this, is driving this culture of engagement and transparency and sharing out, you know, what's working, what's not working, and what we're doing about it.

Absolutely. And then you, you know, you had mentioned, we were talking a little bit ago about sort of continuous improvement. You know, if you bring people together, and that's part of the way we architect our tools is, you know, bringing everybody into the process, it can help as well. And so, hey, look, it's, you know, department B had nothing to do with the, the issue that we're, we're facing, but we want to bring someone in.

It's an outside fresh perspective, right? New set of eyes that can come in and collaborate. But then when that person, you know, that came from department B goes. They're gonna tell that story of being involved and it sort of propagates throughout. And so it can absolutely help spread. And then when you've got every employee engaged and every employee bought in, it just, again, it continues that momentum and it helps you overcome, you know, whatever tomorrow's challenges are cuz you're ready for it and you've got everybody bought in and sort of rowing in the same direction.


14:40 Chris Grainger

I love that. I mean, it just sounds like it's, it's, it's such benefit that when it's done correctly. But I also want to, I understand, been in many plants as I've been in. I know not everything comes together as we, as we always hope . So, but what are any, any headwinds that, that you commonly see working with QMS programs and implementation that you'd like to share?

Just to let our listeners know something really what they could. 

15:03 Anthony Murphy

Yeah. You know, the, the common, the common headwinds or the things where you see, where, you know, it's like, oh, you got a course correction, is, you know, just the point you were making earlier, Chris, about getting everybody together is, you know, if, if you don't have, uh, a common vision of the future and the goal line and it's not consistently communicated,

And then when you start on that journey and you take that step by step, if you don't get the right people involved and you're not consistently communicating, people are gonna naturally resist cuz they're not part of it. They don't feel ownership, they don't feel buy-in, they feel caught off guard. And so the major thing around when you're, you know, uh, engaging in these sort of digital transformation initiatives and implementing things like qms.

You know, you want to be communicating. You want to people to be involved. You want to give them ownership and you want to give them buy-in. It's absolutely, you have to have a roadmap map for the future. You absolutely have to have leadership communicating the why and the when and the where. Um, but you need to bring people along.

Um, and then in helping people understand, you know, why it's important to them and how it will help them, right? It's not designed. You know, eliminate jobs or things like that. It's designed to help us be better and do better and make better products. And so I think that's sort of, you know, thing one, and it's, it's a core tenant of, of change management.

Uh, the other thing that we've seen be super helpful, where we see, uh, manufacturers be really successful is again, connecting what they're doing with, you know, a quality management initiative to a broader sort of company mission. You know, if you're in industrial manufacturing, let's say you're making automotive products, right?

Um, one of our favorite examples is we have a customer who makes glove boxes and, and, and other interior components, and you're like, wow, you know, glove box, I don't know, I don't put my gloves in there. I think all that it stores is like an owner's manual, but what they've said is, and, and I don't look at my owner's manual.

Um, I tried once I got. But what they said, what they said is like, did you know that the glove box is actually a safety system? And so when you get in an accident, that glove box will actually help save your life? Same with the center console. And so they said, the, so for us, you know, it's not just shipping a glove box, right?

Where you can store your manual and maybe some leftover napkins, right? It's all about like we're, this product that we're building will actually save somebody's life. Life if they get into a car. And so making that product in the highest quality manner with zero defects is not just gonna help our company.

And it's not only gonna help our market position and help our bottom line, we're just gonna save somebody's life one day. Right? And so connecting that digital transformation initiative to a broader mission is, is really super, super important. And so that's the other thing we see where companies are really successful in driving.

Is, is connecting to that mission. And I use an example from an automotive manufacturer. You could pick any, sort, any industry, the thing that you are making as a purpose out in the world, uh, that is driving the world forward and helping things be better. It's one of the great things about manufacturing, right?

Literally everything gets made. Um, yeah. And so just that, that can really help drive that initiative and get people bought in. No kidding, man. I, 

18:12 Chris Grainger

I immediately brought a, a story came to mind when you were telling that. So we used to do motor repair at. And I oversaw that, and Motors would come in and go out.

We had a whole quality program, right. And the technicians, they only saw what they worked on, like that, that motor would come in, they'd fix it, it'd go out, they'd come in, you know, they'd just assembly line type type deal. All custom jobs though. And so I, I shut the shop down one day and we took a field trip and we went to one of our best customers, and I, and I had the customer just give us a.

And man, they, they would pull out their phones and take pictures of the motors that they worked on. And, and I asked, well, we, we can know that. Well, I'm showing my wife, I'm showing my kids. I mean, we, we had a bigger tie to, you know, cause my point was, you know, you guys see this little piece of the world, right?

But you're impacting the bigger world. And then the, the products that you can, manufacturers make literally go all over the world. So it was a really cool way to build up that, that culture and that. And then I'll tell you what quality. Went to the roof after that as well, just because they 

19:17 Anthony Murphy

were bought in.

They, they see it, right? It's like this, my work does this and, and there's pride in what we do and there's even more pride when you talk to, you know, the, the end customer. You see what the work, uh, what what it does. Absolutely. That's a really cool story. Yeah, man. I love it. 

19:32 Chris Grainger

I love it. So maybe I'll laugh.

The last note, one of the last questions here on, on the quality standpoint is from a time, from a timeline, when you start trying to make these changes, What, what's, what's a reasonable expectation to actually get this going in the right direction? 

19:48 Anthony Murphy

Yeah, so for us, you know, one of the, the core tenets for us, because we, we serve manufacturers, we only serve manufacturers.

We co, we all come from manufacturing. I mean, before I joined Plex, I ran a, I ran a shop. And, um, and so for us it's all about, it's gotta be pragmatic and it's gotta be quick and it's gotta be easy and it's gotta drive value, right? Mm-hmm. . Um, so for us, we look at it in terms. How can we get manufacturers up and running quickly?

Um, and so for our quality management, we'll actually get, uh, customers up and running in just a couple of weeks. Right. And so, you know, to the point earlier we were talking about, you know, step by step. You know, get up the, the core compliance components and, and making sure we got good document control and, and able to govern the first parts of the processes in as little as two and three weeks.

And then the other piece is, you know, the balance of it where you're driving quality throughout the rest of the organization with things like gauges and check sheets. Um, you know, that's typically a month or two. So it's, uh, it's not this really crazy complex, you know, shut the plant down multiple year end.

We literally measure these things in, in terms of, of weeks and weeks and months, and we have other solutions we can get up and running in today, right? Just to, we put things up to the machine and start popping data off the machine and, and drive some visualization and dashboarding. You can start to see things like o e e and scrap and, and you can start to make some quick decisions.

And so, um, it again, to your, to your earlier question earlier point, it isn't, and doesn't have to be this really crazy. Daunting, insurmountable task. Just little steps at a time and can be done really, really quickly. I love it. I was 

21:19 Chris Grainger

not expecting that answer. I , I was really thinking it was gonna be like a six to 12 month endeavor.

But that's a, that's an extremely encouraging to hear that it can move, it can be moved 

21:27 Anthony Murphy

that quickly. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And it's, it's part of our design and thought process and principle is, you know, we need to get manufacturers quick time to value so that they can do what they do best. Making these great products that go out into the world and, and make a differe.

I love it. 

21:44 Chris Grainger

Well, I'll tell you what, let's transition a little bit and let's talk about you and, and your career. You're, you're definitely doing some wonderful things there at Plex. So give us a little bit of your story, but how, how, how'd you get to where you're at right now? 

21:57 Anthony Murphy

Well, I've had a, a bit of a, a winding and, and circuitous path.

Um, you know, I, so I, I was born and raised, uh, in Michigan and, and in manufacturing, uh, my parents met inside of a, a manufacturing. Um, and then, uh, my, my dad wanted to make sure that I, I understood what it meant to do a hard day's work, and he put me to, uh, he put me to work, uh, inside a manufacturing plant, shovel and steel.

And, um, and I loved it. And, uh, and so the idea was, Hey, look, you know, Do this through high school and go to college, get a degree and I don't know, go be a lawyer or something. And, uh, I just fell in love with manufacturing and so, you know, joke was, joke was on him, I think cuz I, I worked through in manufacturing through high school and college and, and then never left.

Um, and I held a variety of roles from, you know, purchasing and logistics to, uh, I did a lot with it, as you might imagine. Um, and did operations as well. And then, uh, joined Plex probably about 13 years. Because I loved at, at every, everything I did inside of manufacturing was just trying to be like more efficient and do more with the same and, and compete with those who are bigger than us.

But, you know, we didn't have the same amount of resources and so we always used technology to do that. And, and I really found, um, uh, the sort of kindred spirit plex and that that's what Plex did. And. I made the, I made the leap, and, and I've always stayed close to the, uh, the customers. And so I spent, uh, when I joined Plex, I was in our support and services organization, helping implement customers and get them, uh, helped them through their digital transformation.

And, you know, I led some teams and ultimately made my way into product management, um, where I get to, to lead the team who's responsible for, you know, deciding what we're gonna build and crafting that strategy and then executing against it. So, You know, our customers and, and, and our future customers can take advantage of all the things that we've been talking about and, and really make a, really, make a, a difference in their employee's lives.

23:53 Chris Grainger

Wow. What, what a great story. It sounds like you've done it all. So did you do operations just because you like stress? I'm just curious. Why'd you pick that little ? 

24:02 Anthony Murphy

Fun, fun fact. I, I do. Uh, it's funny. My wife is like, I really wish you didn't like hard problems as much as you do because you know, You might get more sleep, but, um, I do, I I like stresses.

The best part is I, I, I, I worked in manufacturing through college and I went and got an operations management degree in college. Cuz I, I just liked it so much and the, the complexity of it all right. Um, so yeah, it, it is, uh, I am a, I am a sucker for a really hard problem that, you know, everybody else is like, no, we'll leave that one until later.

I'm like, that's the thing. I want to go, we'll go, we'll go put her head into that. I'm very 

24:39 Chris Grainger

thankful for guys like you,

That's awesome. Well, I'll tell you what, since kind of sticking on that same thing, let's put on that thread a little bit. What, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges that industry has right now? Because I'm, you're at a pretty good viewpoint from where you sit there at Flex is, are there anything that keeps coming back consistently that you'd like to 

24:58 Anthony Murphy


Yeah. You know what's interesting to me is we see, you know, we, we see things like material shortage and supply chain shortages and, and, and labor shortages and skilled worker shortages. And, I mean, those are the easy things to talk about and say, cuz they're in the, the newspaper headlines. You know, those things have been around for forever.

They just, you know, have sort of been accelerated. Um, you know, I think when we really start to think about where manufacturing is and, and is going and the things to consider, um, it really becomes the, the biggest thing is being able to shift and pivot quickly, right? So today I am making Product X and I am in market y.

Um, and my manufacturing facilities do these things and they're put in these locations, but you know, it, it, as I, as a manufacturer, it, it's less about now the product that I make, uh, in the market that I'm in. I need to expand and think about different markets, different industries, different products, right?

And the challenges that exist today are not gonna be the ones that exist tomorrow. And there's gonna be all new ones we haven't even thought of. And so I think the thing that the, you know, most manufacturers are really, really struggling with and, and need to be prepared for and thinking about is this, you know, resiliency and agility, right?

So, you know, being able to quickly move and change my business, uh, to, you know, whether it's new products or new industries, being able to, you know, have a, a handle on my business and have the right people and the right technologies in place so that no matter what comes in my way, I can be resilient and weather those storms.

And again, quickly. I think underpinning all of these things that we talk about, you know, um, all of the things you can read about in the head, uh, news lines and the head, uh, newspapers and in the headlines, it's really about resiliency and agility, and I think that's what manufacturers are struggling with the most.

Again, I think that's why it's so important as you think about driving this culture of quality and having these digital solutions. It gives you the control as well as the data and the insight, and then likewise the culture to be able to move and shift and shake. As things change and, and likewise be able to, to predict, uh, some of those things as well.

27:02 Chris Grainger

Right. That's, I I love that resilience and agility, and I'm also thinking, but just from your, from your story, you fell in love with manufacturing. You definitely have a heart for it. Let's say there's somebody out there listening right now that they, they, they, they're starting to dip their toe in the water a little bit, Anthony, around manufacturing and, and, and you want to give 'em some advice to go ahead and tell them to get fully in the pool is it's time to get in the pool.

What would you give, what advice would you give them to start pursuing that career a 

27:30 Anthony Murphy

little bit further? Yeah. You know, it's a good, it's a good question. Um, you know, I think first and foremost is, is fall in love with the hard problems. Um, those things are just that your complex puzzles to go to go solve.

Um, and those are the things that are, I think ultimately the most, the most rewarding. Um, and so that's, that's, you know, the thing, I think that's ultimately guided my career. I think the second. Um, you know, there is, manufacturing is an amazing community and everybody wants to help. Um, you know, when, when, when I ran a plant, we had competitors, uh, and we would be oftentimes, like, we'd be bidding for the same customer in the same job at the same order, but we would still help each other.

It was like, ah, man, I can't get a shipment of material. And it called the, you know, the guy up down the road be like, Hey, can I borrow something from you? Like, ah, yeah, sure, no worries. You know, pay it back. Or I'm like, man, I'm really struggling to make this product. They'd send somebody down and we'd put our head into it.

Now we'd go back out into the market the next day and we'd be going head to head trying to win that business. Um, and so I'd say it's a, it's a really tight knit, um, and it's a really sweet community. Everybody wants to help each other. And so you can find and should find people, um, that you can buddy up with and, and be mentors and, and everybody wants to, to help.

Um, and so I'd say that's the, uh, that's the other thing. And then the third piece of someone's like, I'm not sure if this thing is or isn't for. Um, you know, maybe I want to do something else. I'd say, you know, manufacturing is the biggest industry in the world and, and the story I like to tell literally everything gets paid.

Um, And, uh, you look at the grass that's out in your front yard, right? Someone makes that grass seed, right? Like, so everything in the world gets made. It's this really interesting industry. Um, it's completely resilient because everything is, and will always need to get made and will always need smart people to have solved hard problem.

And people who wanna collaborate. And so, you know, those are the, the sort of, the three things I say. Like if you're, if you're considering manufacturing or you're starting manufacturing, you're not sure if it's for you. Um, you know, those are the, those are the three things that I'd, I'd say, uh, I, I'd say to go take a look at.

Cuz it's, I mean, it's been an amazing, amazing career for me. Um, when I started in manufacturing, I didn't think I'd get into technology and technology for manufacturing and here I am. And so you can, you know, choose your own adventure, right? The, the sky's really the. Okay. I 

29:54 Chris Grainger

love, I love that answer, Anthony.

And I'm also curious as well, there may be a listener that they're thinking, they have this perception of manufacturing and they're like, man, I don't wanna do that. It's dark, dirty, it's dangerous. It's no place for me. Go ahead and, and, and debunk that for that, for that listener right 

30:10 Anthony Murphy

now. Yeah. Yeah. It's funny.

That is one of the things people are like, oh man, I'm gonna be out there. And you know, Anthony, you were talking about shoveling steel earlier. Like I don't wanna shovel steel. Like that's, that is not what manufacturing is anymore. It is this amazing place of transformation and automation. I mean, we're talking about building and, and customers are using things.

AR and VR to do guided work instructions, and we're talking about some of the cleanest plants and cleanest facilities in the world. It is not that, you know, what you see in the movies and TV where, you know, people are coming out and they're just, they're ah, dirty and, you know, it's, it's not that anymore.

Um, it's a place of technological revolution. It's a place where the newest technologies like AI and machine learning and AR and VR are, are actually driving processes. Um, you know, even, even things like, look, I'm, I'm super interested in becoming a, an engineer or even a software engineer. There is so much that is going into the manufacturing environment in those industries where we're building product for that.

Um, so it is not, it's a, it's a place of the future. It's not a place of the past. And I think that what gets represented in the media is that old school sort of like, you know, smoke flying everywhere, things are on fire. Um, it is absolutely not. 

31:25 Chris Grainger

No, not at all. And we need to start celebrating more, particularly around when young people make that decision, to take those paths that needs to be celebrated, like a vocation path, for instance.

Just as much as someone who's going to a four year university cha, you know, going for a business degree. I mean it, you gotta start having different type of conversations and uh, really, cuz I tell you what, there's, there's a good opportunity to make a great. Inside manufacturing and uh, just, I'm just thankful for you for, for sharing that, that insight as well.

Cause it's, it's definitely something that we need to be talking 

31:55 Anthony Murphy

about more. No, I appreciate it. And, and totally agree. And, and one of the things that we've been doing at, at Plex and Rockwell is, is to your point, giving back to, and getting into, you know, the next generation. And so we've got a, a big bunch of work we do.

Uh, colleges and, and trade colleges and high schools to show this is what manufacturing is and, and what it looks like and, and how, you know, what it looks like to run a production line. But, you know, we're, we're leveraging, um, our software along with other Rockwell software and doing like things like digital twins and, and again, teaching the, yeah.

You know, the next generation of what smart manufacturing looks like. And so it's really cool to see as you get to talk to. You know, the next generation who, you know, I wanna be a software engineer, like, yes, you can. Let me show you. And they're like, oh my goodness, you guys are like, we're using machine learning and predictive algorithms to, to determine, you know, things like what's the best way to, to run a, a piece of equipment.

And so it's this really cool, it's this really cool opportunity to, to help build up the next generation of manufacturing and manufacturing. 

32:57 Chris Grainger

Hey, I love it. I love it. I love your energy by the way, as well. And just, I can tell you, you have a passion for what you do. So I am curious, just to pull on that a little bit too, when are you the happiest?

So, and when you have a day where you come home and you just have a joy, you feel like you got a lot of accomplishment, what were you doing that day to make you feel 

33:15 Anthony Murphy

that way? Yeah, that, that is a good, that is a good question. Um, there's a, there's a couple of things. One is I, when I have the most joy when I come home, And, uh, my wife's like, wow, you're really, you're a chatterbox today.

Like, and I'm, I'm going a million miles an hour telling her about what's going on. You know, there's, there's a couple of things. It always comes back to, um, it, it's always about the team and the people. And so anytime I'm able to, to work with the broader team and, uh, the team inside of Plex and Rockwell, just incredibly smart and, and humble people, uh, who really do really great hard work.

And so getting to, you know, interact with them and, and likewise to, to our conversation earlier, We had this like really hard problem that we've been trying to, you know, work through and we finally, you know, uh, figure it out. Um, those are the days that, that I get the most energized and, and, you know, the cherry on top or when I'm, when I'm going a hundred million miles an hour is, uh, when I get to go and, and visit our customers and see all the great things that they're doing.

And, you know, not only seeing how their processes are running, but how they're using Plex and seeing the impact it's having on their businesses and their employees lives. Those are the days. It's hard for me to get to sleep at night cause he just can see the impact and, and the benefit. And so, uh, those are the days that, that I, I look forward to man.

Well thank you 

34:33 Chris Grainger

so much for sharing that Anthony. It sounds like you have some, some fun days. Do you get to get out to the plants 

34:37 Anthony Murphy

a lot? I do, I do. And, and you know, with travel restrictions, uh, lightening up, um, I get to get out even, even more now. And so I've been to probably thousands of, of plants now across a variety of industries.

And even countries and, and so that's a lot of fun too, as you get to see how, you know, customers in Europe are, are doing things and versus customers in, in the US or, or, or even in Asia Pacific, but then also the similarities and commonalities and so it's just, uh, Uh, my, my boss used to joke with these, like, one of these days, Anthony, you're gonna go out into one of those plants and then we are just never gonna come back out cause you're just gonna stay there and work.

I was like, that actually may happen. I, I get so, I get so excited. 

35:22 Chris Grainger

Well if, if your travels ever bring you to Raleigh, North Carolina, please let me know cause I'd love to, to go to a plant with you and just see you light up the plant. That'd be 

35:29 Anthony Murphy

awesome. No, I, I, we will, we will plan that trip out. You can bank on.


35:34 Chris Grainger

Alright, well at towards the, the end of our Eco Ssy conversation, Anthony, we like to take a little detour off of the professional path. Just talk about you just in general for fun. So do you have any hobbies that you, that, that you, uh, enjoy? Yeah. You know 

35:48 Anthony Murphy

what's funny? Um, no, I actually, uh, I am not what most people call a fun person.

So, uh, my my favorite things to do is I love to, I love to read, um, I love spending time with, with my wife. And, and, uh, we just got, uh, just about a year ago, A little puppy. So she keeps us, she keeps us busy, and then I try to stay, uh, I try to stay active. Um, and so I like to get outside and, and run and, and those types of things.

Um, but other than that, okay, you know, uh, love a, love a good book. Okay. 

36:20 Chris Grainger

Okay. But you're a runner too, huh? Yeah, I am. All right. Now, so, so you like distance running. How, what, what type of running 

36:27 Anthony Murphy

are you doing? So, I, I, uh, I'll do distance, um, used to do, uh, half marathons and I've, I've sort of scaled that, scaled that back.

I don't run fast, but I, I run for the, uh, just the enjoyment of it. Right. You get out, clear your head a little bit, you think, and, and, uh, and get some sunshine, but. What I try to do, you know, somewhere between, you know, six and seven miles a day and just kind of get out and, and then get some fresh. 

36:54 Chris Grainger

That's great.

Now you are, are you running, personally, I'm asking this, do you run with, uh, earphones? Do you run just nothing? Are you listening to anything when you go or are you just, just you? I do 

37:04 Anthony Murphy

so I, um, I'll, I'll, uh, I'm, I'm smiling cuz you're about to find out how fun. I really am not, um, . So I love listening to podcasts, but the other thing I've, I've really started to get into is, I listen to, uh, earnings calls for publicly traded manufacturing companies.

So just listening to the things that they're, you know, if you think about the, like the American axles or the 3M s or Johnson and Johnson, you really learn a lot about the, the challenges that they're facing. Uh, and so that's what I, what I typically listen to when I'm, when I'm running, is I'll listen to that and I'm like, oh, wow.

Interesting margin compression because of, you know, this, this plant had that issue and. Um, so yeah, that's what I, uh, that's what I tend to listen to. 

37:47 Chris Grainger

Alright, so you definitely have some new territory there. Nobody's ever answered a question that way. So where do you find the earning calls at? I mean, are there a podcast that have 

37:57 Anthony Murphy

these calls that you listen to?

Yeah, so there's two, two apps you can get. Um, one is called uh, Bei, b u R S I, and I think the other one's called Quarter. It's Q Q U A T R. And they'll just, they'll aggregate like all of the earnings calls that for publicly traded companies, and they just post them out on a schedule and, and you can listen to 'em just like you had listened to a podcast.

38:20 Chris Grainger

That's incredible. Okay. All right. So that's, that's, that's new dirt for us. Well, we'll, we'll try to put those links in the show notes too for listeners if they wanna download that. So when you're not listening to the earning calls for three, what podcast are you listening to? 

38:33 Anthony Murphy

Oh, good question. Um, So I'll listen to, uh, a couple of tech related podcasts.

I'll listen to some, uh, some leadership related podcasts as well. Um, yeah, Harvard Business Review puts one on, I think it's, uh, coaching for Leaders, where they just go through and, and talk with actual leaders about, you know, challenges that they're facing or problems they're trying to, trying to overcome.

Um, and then I listened to a couple of, uh, podcasts around tech, around, you know, up and coming startups up and coming technology just to try and, you know, keep my fingers on the pulse of what's happening out there in the tech market. And then, you know, I can kind of weave those things together to say, oh, I, this is interesting with, you know, they're talking about generative AI and you know, how they're, how uh, people are using that to create pictures and things like that.

And like, what is that gonna mean for the manufacturing market in the next coming. X, Y and Z, uh, X, y, and Z years. So, um, there's one A 16 and Z, which is the Andreessen Horowitz podcast. Does a pretty good job of that. And, and they were just talking about, uh, some future manufacturing, uh, in there as well. So those are a couple that I listened to.

39:35 Chris Grainger

Okay, there you go. Well, thank you for sharing those stuff. We'd love to get that. Now, you mentioned you're a big reader, so what type of, what genre, what, what, what are we reading here? Um, tech, I'm assuming, or do you have all the types of stuff you, you 

39:46 Anthony Murphy

like reading? So it's, uh, I'm a, I'm a nonfiction reader, so I will typically read books about, again, uh, tech.

I've been reading a lot about, um, uh, leadership and, and, you know, thinking about things like operational rigor and discipline and how that, you know, cascades throughout an organization. And then, uh, I do a lot, I'm reading a lot about, um, statistics and finance, uh, again, okay, thinking about, you know, sort of next generation of, of manufacturing and how we leverage data and statistics, but also, you know, thinking about how we tie these things like digital transformation initiatives to, to real roi.

Um, and so, uh, a lot of nonfiction. Um, but, uh, but uh, but it's, it's fun to me. Anyway. There you 

40:32 Chris Grainger

go. There. Hey, that's what's most important. We're getting towards the end, we'd like to do a quick lightning round with our guest, uh, just to get a, uh, some fun facts for our listeners. So if you're willing to play that, we'll jump right into our lightning round here for sure.

All right, so we start, always start off easy, man. So what's your favorite 

40:49 Anthony Murphy

food? Oh, goodness gracious. So born and raised in Michigan, but I moved out to California about 10 years ago and, and people told me they're like, there's this thing called inn out hamburgers that you have to try. And I was like, nah, the hamburgers aren't my thing.

And I, but I, but now I could eat in and out Hamburgers every day of the week. I don't know why it's a thing. I'm pretty sure they're, it's just because it's, uh, a West coast thing. But that's my, uh, I, I gotta say, that's probably my favorite food. 

41:15 Chris Grainger

Okay. All right. Inn out. So do you, is there an adult beverage that you like to have with that?

In and Out Burger. 

41:21 Anthony Murphy

No, you know what, um, my, uh, my favorite, uh, my favorite beverage these days is sparkling water. And, uh, I keep getting into these weird, like just trying different, uh, trying different things. And so I've been trying, um, kombucha lately, which is like, you know, prevented uh, fermented D's supposed to be really helpful for you.

So those are my two new, uh, go-to go-to drink. Okay. I 

41:45 Chris Grainger

just, well, I just saw a, uh, a video the other day. Somebody gave a dog sparkling water and the reaction on the dog's face was hilarious. So , maybe you should try it out with your puppy

Now you mentioned, so you're a Michigan guy, so I gotta find out. So sports teams, Where, where are you lining 

42:02 Anthony Murphy

there, Anthony? Uh, college football at University of Michigan. Go blue. Um, I am still, uh, where, where pro uh, football guy and where pro football is concerned. You know, I, I'm still a Lions fan and, and I know, I, I know I'm going to get my heart broken, you know, most years.

Um, but I keep, I keep hanging on hoping that one day we're, we're gonna turn it. 

42:26 Chris Grainger

There's always hope, right? There's there's always next year, you 

42:29 Anthony Murphy

know. Exactly. That's exactly it. It's like, you know what? We learned some lessons this year and we're gonna take those forward to, to next year, but, but, uh, Michigan's having a good, a good season this year, so I'm, I'm hoping, uh, Harbaugh's gonna take it.

I will 

42:42 Chris Grainger

tell you. Yeah. It's the time of our recording Michigan. They are looking strong. I mean, they look really good. So, uh, it'd be interesting to see how they, they, they run in the, the 

42:51 Anthony Murphy

playoffs. I'm excited to, I'm excited to see. 

42:55 Chris Grainger

Awesome. Awesome. Well, let's keep going in our lightning round. So, uh, what's something that's on your nightstand?

43:01 Anthony Murphy

Oh, I always keep, uh, some sort of, uh, some sort of glass of water. I typically have two or three books. Um, and then, uh, and then my phone. I'm never, I'm never too far away from my phone cuz there's always something I'm like, I'll wake up in the night. I'm like, oh, I need to make sure I remember to do that.

Um, so those are the things I, I keep on my night. All right. How about 

43:23 Chris Grainger

what's sticking with your phone? What's your favorite app 

43:25 Anthony Murphy

on your phone? Ooh, I love, um, you know, just the Standard Notes app, um, that, uh, okay. That Apple and iOS has. Uh, I use that a lot. I use the podcast app is probably my second, second favorite one.

Cause I listen to, uh, it telling you with running. And then I have a run, uh, a running app run meter that I use to track my runs. Those are probably the ones, if you were to look at my, uh, my usage, uh, those are the ones that I, that I probably hit the most. So for 

43:53 Chris Grainger

your running, it's, you said it's called Run Meter?

Yep. Okay. Alright. I can check that out. I, I used a Nike Run club app. Yep. But, uh, I'll check run meter out, see how that 

44:04 Anthony Murphy

looks. Yeah. You know, I, I just like to, um, I, you know, I'm never trying to, you know, break a, a land speed record, but I like to track my mileage. And it's got a pretty good capability with, uh, just tracking the, the distance and the time.

And, you know, every once in a while when I'm, when I'm feeling, uh, when I'm feeling, uh, particularly energetic, I'll, I'll try and sprint it and see how fast I can go. And so it does a pretty good job of that too. There you 

44:27 Chris Grainger

go. There you go. Alright, let's, let's keep rolling here. So what's your all-time favorite movie?

44:33 Anthony Murphy

Oh, goodness gracious. Um, the, uh, it'll be white Christmas, uh, with Ben Cro. 

44:40 Chris Grainger

Really, I, I saw the musical. All right. So I probably just lost a few cards with some of the guys. That's okay. I, 

44:46 Anthony Murphy

you know, what're probably the same thing and I don't even care. It's one of those things, we watched you all the time growing up and, and I could watch that, um, a hundred times over and to be just fine.

It was 

44:56 Chris Grainger

really good. It was, I must have made, I had a good time with my wife at that one. So How about music? What's your 

45:02 Anthony Murphy

favorite? Oh goodness. I, um, I will listen to just about everything, and I know that's an, uh, that is an easy answer. Um, but I like to just throw on the, um, uh, a shuffle on either like, uh, Spotify or Pandora and just see what, uh, see what rolls and, and just keep going with it.


45:21 Chris Grainger

All right. Uh, last question for the lightning run. Anthony 

45:25 Anthony Murphy

Dogs or cats? Ah, that's a hard one. I have a dog and I have a cat. Um, I gotta say the, uh, the dog is, uh, is a lot more fun. It, I think the dog likes me a lot more. Um, but it requires a lot more work. So I, maybe I'll go with dogs on this one. Okay.

Well there was only 

45:42 Chris Grainger

one right answer and you, you did get it by the skin of your team, so, uh, very, very good. So we can definitely, we can roll this episode now. So, , I'm just joking, but hey, had a lot of fun that lightning round. Anthony, this has been, uh, just delight to get to know you and we call it ecos, why We always wrap up with the Y and we'll kind of go back to where we, where we started.

So why should those manufacturers out there that they're, listen. Why should they embrace this idea of quality as a mindset moving into the future? 

46:12 Anthony Murphy

Yeah, I think it's, it's all around the fact that, you know, agility and resiliency and the idea that, you know, you want to be able to. Build a better product, build a better business, build a, build a better culture and employee base, and, and likewise be able to, you know, grow the business and, and circumvent any sort of challenges that come up.

And so if you build quality as a culture, it gets into every employee and things just become a little bit easier because everybody's driving in the same direction. And so, you know, business benefits aside, you know, we talk about operations being super stressful, like it, it does reduce the stress a little.

Um, because everybody's driving in the, in the same direction. Um, and it just makes your business more resilient. So it's the, uh, it's the way to, you know, take a little bit of the load off, but, uh, but also make sure that you're well prepared for whatever comes, uh, what comes our way. Absolutely. 

47:07 Chris Grainger

Now, where, where should the listeners go if they want to connect with you or Plex to learn more?

Where would you like to 

47:12 Anthony Murphy

direct them? Yeah, so, uh, if you wanna learn more about plex, we have about all of the things, uh, not only about our products, but also really great resources on, on how to think about digital transformation, how to think about building a culture. Uh, if you're looking for me, you can find me on LinkedIn.

Uh, it's just Anthony J. Murphy. I'm happy to connect and happy to, happy to chat more. All right. 

47:35 Chris Grainger

And we'll make sure all that's synced up in the show notes for you listeners out there. But Anthony, is there anything else you'd like to share today? 

47:41 Anthony Murphy

No, you know what, I've had Chris just a ton of fun. I really, really appreciate the time and, and again, manufacturing is, uh, to your point, it's just this amazing place of, of transformation.

It's this amazing place of community. And so, um, you know, definitely recommend those that are thinking about. Um, you know, get in and check it out. It's, it's an amazing, it's an amazing place to build a career. 

48:04 Chris Grainger

Absolutely. Well, man, it's been a, this has been a delight. Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom today on ecos.


48:10 Anthony Murphy

Well, I appreciate you 

48:11 Chris Grainger

having me.

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