Year: 2020

Vermeer Using Virtual Reality to Train Technicians, Captivate Customers

An Iowa equipment manufacturer who turned a CIRAS educational event into major experiments with virtual and augmented reality soon expects to see huge dividends in lower training costs and more attentive customers. Vermeer Manufacturing Company, a Pella-based manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment, formed its own three-person augmented reality team in 2017, shortly after the company attended a CIRAS educational event on the topic. Three years later, Vermeer has created a successful virtual reality marketing tool and soon will launch a new VR program to train dealer technicians how to service and repair Vermeer equipment.

Experts: Be Prepared for Anything during Economic Recovery

Iowa companies may be well positioned to navigate the coronavirus, but experts say they should be prepared for surprises during what is likely to be a long and unpredictable economic recovery. Business leaders shouldn’t expect to suddenly reemerge in rosy times, they warn. Instead, plan for all contingencies, and don’t count on being able to relax anytime soon. “I think basically what’s going to happen is that the economy is going to plug along until there’s some small interruption, and then we’ll have a setback,” said Mike O’Donnell, program director for the CIRAS Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “The looming threat is that if you’re not prepared to go through a sawtooth-type recovery, then that can be dangerous. Lack of cash flow is really dangerous as a manufacturer.”

Industry 4.0 Assessment Helps CJ Bio Start Smart with Tech Upgrades

A Fort Dodge feed ingredients company expects to save millions of dollars by implementing technology upgrades identified through a CIRAS Industry 4.0 assessment. CJ Bio, which produces amino acids for livestock and poultry feed, expects to have the top two or three items of improvements on its list completed by the end of 2020. The list, which details places where technology enhancements could have the largest impact on the company’s bottom line, was created through a CIRAS-guided process of reassessing CJ Bio’s current use of technology in its business.

Reminder: It’s Time to Renew your ILC Membership!

The Iowa Lean Consortium announced changes to its membership model in mid-September. The new model is intended to give your organization more choice when it comes to your ILC membership. All the details were explained in an email that was sent around September 18 to the contacts we have listed for ILC organizational members. If you missed that email, you can read the contents here. Current members need to review the new model and complete a new application for 2021.  You can choose to pay via invoice or credit card during the application process. Renewals are due by January 15, but we request that you renew now so that we can effectively onboard everyone before the new year begins.

Gemba Goes Virtual as Stellar Response to COVID-19

A Garner-based maker of hydraulic truck equipment has found an unexpected benefit to pandemic-imposed limitations on its factories – by taking a valuable Lean management tool online. Brad Tiedemann, manufacturing engineer manager at Stellar Industries, said the company discovered more efficiency and smoother problem solving after COVID-19 restrictions forced Stellar to create an alternative to … Continue reading Gemba Goes Virtual as Stellar Response to COVID-19

Schramm Electric Plants Seeds, Reaps Derecho Contract

A Sioux City electrical firm landed more than $190,000 in state contracts after their owners followed CIRAS advice to register as a vendor with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security. Stephanie Schramm, office manager at Schramm Electric, said her company has a long history of dealing closely with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center. So that was the first place the Schramm family looked for answers in early 2020 when they had questions about how to register for business with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Internet Marketing Boot Camp Moves Online

A major CIRAS tool for helping Iowa companies get the most out of their internet marketing efforts is moving permanently online. The Internet Marketing Strategy Boot Camp, a popular CIRAS event that has existed for roughly eight years as a two-day deep dive into topics such as search engine optimization and web analytics, was repackaged … Continue reading Internet Marketing Boot Camp Moves Online

Register Now for ILC Virtual Annual Conference on Oct. 28

Time is running out to register for the Iowa Lean Consortium’s Virtual Annual Conference, a new cyberspace version of the ILC’s popular yearly event for continuous improvement practitioners throughout the state. The goal for 2020 is to provide another quality, daylong learning and networking opportunity – but this time, in a format that can be accessed without leaving your desk.