Roughly one month after the outbreak of coronavirus began, authorities now estimate that more than 75,000 people have been infected and more than 2,000 are dead. Thousands of manufacturers across China have struggled to reopen after travel restrictions prevented employees from returning from Lunar New Year holiday. With work delays still uncertain, large sectors of the U.S. economy seem to be holding their collective breath waiting for additional shoes to drop. In manufacturing, the impacts to the complex global supply of parts are not fully understood, but the slowdown seems likely to impact the demand for U.S. products in China.
We’re looking for a few good Lean stories.
The CIRAS Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) is pleased to issue a call for presentations for our 2020 Annual Conference to be held October 27-29 in Des Moines. This conference is the ILC’s largest annual gathering, and we’re pleased to hold it once again as part of our continuing effort to promote the exchange of information and resources among continuous improvement professionals.
Methodical detective work by a CIRAS metallurgist helped a Hiawatha computer company keep a new product on track—and preserved the potential for an estimated $25 million in new sales.
Crystal Group, a manufacturer of rugged computers for use in extreme military and industrial environments, was working on machines for a new autonomous vehicle last spring when the company noticed a problem. CIRAS project manager Adam Boesenberg ultimately diagnosed some corrosion in the computers’ cooling systems as stemming from the use of a coolant that has known problems interacting with aluminum parts.
There are many reasons Iowa manufacturers come to Ramco Innovations looking for automation.
“Certainly, a lot of it is that it’s hard to fill a lot of positions these days,” said Joe Stoltz, vice president of technology for the West Des Moines company. “And once you find people, it’s hard to keep them doing a repetitive job.”
So how do you get more work done without adding staff? The correct technological solution for any particular company depends on exactly what you need machines to do. But Iowa manufacturers can’t answer those questions until they understand their options.
A few months ago, a contractor with a history of selling to the government shared with me an interaction they had with a county employee. The conversation went something like this:
Contractor: “We’d like to have an opportunity to be considered for the next contract and be contacted the next time you go out for bids.”
County: “We’re not required to compete our orders, and we have a local provider we’re happy with.”
The response surprised the contractor. When the contractor met with me later, they asked me: Aren’t counties required to compete their orders like they do at the state and federal levels?
John Magnussen, continuous improvement manager for Pella Corporation, likes to compare Lean management techniques to riding a bicycle: getting trained is great; but at some point, you just have to grab the handlebars and go.
“You didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book,” Magnussen said. “You went out, and you rode a bike! You can read and train all you want, but until you go and actually practice it, you’re not going to know.”
A year-old commercial and residential construction company is taking its first major steps into government contracting after CIRAS helped the company understand the intricacies of selling to the government.
Kimberley Construction was formed in September 2018 as an offshoot of Kimberley Development, a 41-year-old Ankeny home building company. Troy Sydow, project manager for the newer company, said the home developer realized last year that it had been turning away smaller upscale renovation jobs and decided to form a new division to capture that work.
Government contracting is about relationships. You have to know which government entities are in the market for the particular product or service that you provide, and they have to know you – where you are and exactly how you’re capable of helping them.
But how do you get in the game if you don’t understand the players?
Sometimes, you just want to see for yourself.
If you’ve ever had a moment of curiosity about how Lean is practiced at the company that helped create it, then CIRAS has a trip that should fan the flames of your interest.
For many people, opening a new calendar also means creating a new set of goals. This is the time of year when many of us resolve that we’re going to accomplish a few things that we know we need to do, such as lose weight, get healthier, and/or clean the basement.
At work, this clean-basement desire may translate into an effort to get more organized or learn about an area you don’t fully understand. We’d like to suggest that you make 2020 the year you get better informed about the world of government contracting. Are you ready to resolve that this is the year you’ll grow your company’s business with the government? If so, then the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is here to help.