Year: 2021

Reflections of One Year of COVID-19 at CIRAS

On February 13, 2020, I sent an email to the CIRAS leadership team about this thing called Coronavirus hitting China. Here is how it ended: The short answer … is that there is very little impact today. But, depending on a lot of factors, moderate to significant impact will happen soon once inventories dry up. Depending on the length of shutdowns, the repercussions could extend for a seriously long period.  I think we should start up the disaster response team to get our hands around this. At that time, we had no idea what we were in for and did not grasp the direness of the situation that public health experts were warning of.

CIRAS to be Key in Manufacturing 4.0 Initiative

Work by CIRAS to increase the adoption of cutting-edge edge technology in Iowa manufacturing will play a key role supporting the state’s new plan for keeping Iowa industry competitive. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the new Manufacturing 4.0 Initiative on Thursday, saying it was intended to outline “new strategies to support (manufacturers’) efforts and ensure Iowa’s future prosperity is widespread, reaching all people in all parts of Iowa.” The initiative, which is led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, creates strategies and actions focused on ensuring Iowa is a global leader in the next generation of manufacturing.

DID YOU KNOW?… Optional Contract Types May Reduce Uncertainty

Although many of us are optimistic 2021 will be better than the year we just went through, the world will continue to struggle with both the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID pandemic. In addition to trying to keep ourselves and others physically and mentally healthy during these trying times, there also are concerns about the health of our economy – including volatility in the pricing and availability of labor and materials. Economic swings may impact not only the way government agencies contract for products and services, but also the amount of risk contractors are willing to accept on these contracts. Here are a few options for you to consider:

Persistence Helps Bowe Machine Break into GovCon

A Bettendorf machine shop landed government contracts worth more than $100,000 after CIRAS helped a new supervisor delve deep into the intricacies of government bidding. Bowe Machine in Bettendorf. Michael Bigsby had been working at Bowe Machine Company for roughly six months when he proposed that the company pursue government contracts. Bigsby had been involved in quoting government jobs for a previous employer, but he had never played a major role in the bidding process. So, he sought help understanding the procedures.

Online Orders Are an Elixir Following COVID-19 Collapse

A Holstein, Iowa, meat producer now finds itself on the cusp of full-blown e-commerce thanks to a computerized online order system that the company was driven to adopt in response to COVID-19. Tiefenthaler Quality Meats, a family-owned company known for its skinless brats and other meat products, originally approached CIRAS in March seeking help managing the online portion of a yearly anniversary sale. However, those conversations soon shifted when pandemic safety concerns led Tiefenthaler’s to close its retail store to customers. Tiefenthaler’s also cancelled the anniversary sale because of the pandemic and its impact on business.

CIRAS Supplier Scouting Helps Bring Business to Iowa

A Hiawatha-based assembly and supply chain integration company expects to see at least $5 million a year in new business after CIRAS facilitated a partnership with an air purification company. World Class Industries started work in October under a contract that quickly will see the company producing 24,000 room-sized air purifiers annually for Timilon Acquisitions.

Mix of Ancient, Advanced Technologies Salvage Older Elevator

A downtown Des Moines apartment building avoided a costly elevator replacement last year after CIRAS helped its owners recreate an essential piece of safety equipment. Investors bought the aging, 11-story building at 600 East Fifth Street in Des Moines in 2013. They then renamed it The Lyon and spent two years remodeling it into 103 new apartments. A problem soon became apparent, however, in that something important seemed to have been lost during the sale.

UEA Finds Success through Proposal Process

A Waverly manufacturer of slip rings landed a $1.7 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration after CIRAS helped the company understand government bidding requirements and learn how to write a formal proposal. Hemen Dattani, sales director for United Equipment Accessories (UEA), was tasked last March to explore federal contracting opportunities so UEA could leverage a newly forged research and development partnership to expand design capabilities and make the company competitive in new markets. He turned to the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for help.

TG Industries Flips a Switch to Cut Costs, Stabilize Supply

An Armstrong maker of hydraulic lift vehicles expects to save money and eliminate production delays after CIRAS helped the company find an alternative for a problem part. TG Industries, which also does business as Arm Lift, started using a particular type of rocker switch in its vehicles in 2000, said engineer Loren Kinnander. By 2019, the once-standard switches were no longer common. Prices rose as they became harder and harder to obtain from the company’s single overseas supplier.

CIRAS Guides Grinding Improvement at Weiler

A Knoxville-based heavy equipment manufacturer estimates that the company retained more than $10 million in sales after CIRAS helped it solve a problem with cracking shafts on a rock drill used in highway construction. Mark Prachar, a project engineer with Weiler, said the company took control of a new process for making components for its rock drills in 2018—only to find cracks in the shafts produced. Company engineers, many of them Iowa State University graduates, turned to CIRAS for help diagnosing the problem.