It’s time to begin thinking about spring floods and the emergency management responses that go with them. How can your company participate in these relief efforts? While many procurements are done by the local agencies affected by the disaster through their existing contracts, there is often a need for additional support. Here are various ways you can position your company for opportunities during a disaster.
Craig Klocke believes machines one day will be much more efficient because an electronic eye will constantly be checking what they make. Installing scanners at the end of a production line would allow manufacturers to continuously watch for the changes that come when cutting tools are wearing out, said Klocke, head of additive design and manufacturing for Danfoss Power Solutions in Ames. “As tools wear, as machines wear, the scanning would allow the machines to adjust,” Klocke said. “You’d end up with a better product, and you’d know exactly when it was time to replace a part or tool. You’d have continuous adjustment of the process.
A Holstein, Iowa, maker of doors and countertops saved time and money last summer after CIRAS experts helped the company quickly identify problems with two potential products. Aron Fleischmann, an engineer with VT Industries, said his company will avoid tens of thousands of dollars in potential warranty work because CIRAS helped pinpoint the cause of cracking discovered during inspections of shipments from a supplier.
It’s an Internet world out there, but it’s not easy. Those page views, clicks, and online sales don’t just happen automatically when you turn on your company’s computer. Are you sure your website is actually working?
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.”