CIRAS’ mission is to improve Iowa industry through research-proven best practices. To do that, we have to stay up-to-date on what’s out there and what works.
Here’s a wrap-up of just some of the things we’ve learned over the past year:
“Trade shows are a good testing ground. I can learn the latest developments, discuss them firsthand with Iowa companies, and quickly understand whether or not a given technology will be an effective tool. Last May we attended the RAPID conference in Orlando, which featured various 3D printing technologies designed to help manufacturers create better products and services, in a shorter time, while using fewer resources. However, many Iowa companies won’t be able to take advantage of these advances because they lack foundational systems like computer-aided design (CAD). That’s an important barrier that needs to be crossed.”—Chris Hill
“I learned from our national association of government contracting specialists that an artificial intelligence is working to understand my job. CIRAS contracting experts, along with our counterparts around the country, have been submitting questions to help teach nuance to Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence system famous for competing on “Jeopardy!” The goal is to develop a resource that one day will help government staffers and small companies quickly decipher the ocean of contracting rules.”—Jodi Essex
“I attended a symposium in Detroit last spring that partly focused on the ‘Internet of Things,’ a coming wave of connectivity that will change the way manufacturers do business.
“Iowa companies face a tenuous future if they don’t develop 3D design, add sensors and smart devices to their products, and integrate all the various portions of their businesses. Companies that do this in the digital realm will be much better able to navigate the future and come out ahead.”—Paul Dunnwald
“I work in the CIRAS Technology Assistance Program (TAP), where we set up research collaborations with Iowa State University faculty. One new service that we utilized in 2016 is the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM). CSSM employees, working through CIRAS, can assist Iowa companies with designing consumer surveys, collecting data, and analyzing it. It’s good information for companies trying to make strategic decisions about products they’re selling to the public.”—Brian Muff
“Many CIRAS clients get hung up in the weeds trying to accurately capture and calculate costs in order to develop a price for a new product without fully understanding how it will affect their bottom line. There are ways to use throughput accounting to grow sales and profits without needing to know the full product cost. I learned this at our Pricing & Quoting workshop in 2015, did some more research, and then tested the process with projects at two Iowa companies. It works.”—Mike Willett