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Automation Newswire Stories

New technologies added to the Digital Manufacturing Lab

This fall will mark the second anniversary of the CIRAS Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy, and we’re still growing.

We opened the lab in September 2019 as to experiment with ways to de-risk technology adoption for Iowa manufacturers. Since then, we have served the Industry 4.0 needs of many businesses in Iowa via in-person events, counseling sessions and projects.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 kept most people out of the lab last year. But we haven’t been dormant. Instead, CIRAS used the opportunity to expand our technology partnerships, upgrade our technology, and evolve our services from in-person to virtual engagements.

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.

Cobots Proving to Be a Smart Choice at Metalcraft

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.

3D Printing as a Process Improver: Small Changes, No Waiting

It all started with the search for a better way to check electrical connections on air conditioners.

Wes Draughn, manager of manufacturing and engineering for the cooling business unit at Lennox Manufacturing in Marshalltown, had a design for a new process to help Lennox team members be more efficient in checking the quality of their work. “We needed a way to interact with the unit at different times throughout the assembly process, and the plugs that we needed weren’t available off the shelf,” he said.

An intern had designed a new guide that could be used to help assemblers test connections at multiple locations on the line. The new “plug” would provide a more ergonomic grip for employees, meeting safety and other agency requirements. But there seemed to be no way to get it built.

Tours of Digital Manufacturing Lab Offer Peek at Possibilities

Trent Walters knew his purpose.

“I’m learning the possibilities,” said Waters, an engineer with Dee Zee truck accessories in Des Moines. “You come here and look at all this, and then you start thinking, ‘We can do that…’ ”

Waters is one of dozens of Iowa manufacturers who have visited Iowa State University’s Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy since it opened in September at the ISU Research Park.

Quadyster Finds Success by Broadening Government Expertise

As far as Hari Banda is concerned, it all comes down to getting a good education and having a better reputation.

Banda is the owner of Quadyster, a Bettendorf information technology company that struggled for years to find the right approach to doing business with the government. Contracts seemed always out of reach. Then, two things happened: the company found CIRAS, and it found a new source for electronic equipment.

Government buyers noticed.

Grand Opening: Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy

Dozens of Iowa manufacturers got their first glimpse of a path to new technologies on September 26, as CIRAS formally opened its new Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy.
Representatives from CIRAS, Alliant Energy, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) were joined by Iowa State University and Ames leaders for opening remarks and a tour.

Digital Manufacturing Lab set to Open in September

Doors will formally open next month on a new facility that CIRAS hopes will help take the risk out of new technologies for Iowa manufacturers.

Metal 3D Printer Helps Prove a Robot’s Tanker-cleaning Viability

An eastern Iowa manufacturing company landed an important job providing parts for a railcar-cleaning robot after CIRAS helped the company prove its design under a tight deadline.

CIRAS Teaches Cobot to Clean at Miracle Tools America

Multiple times each day, the skilled workers at Miracle Tools America in Davenport must stop what they’re doing and clean. Making drill bits can be a dirty business, and the tiny water channels that keep tools from overheating have a tendency to clog.

Hence, the company decided to begin experimenting with a new type of employee—one that wouldn’t mind the monotony.

One made out of metal.

Grover Joins CIRAS to Oversee Digital Manufacturing Lab

Abhay Grover has joined CIRAS as a project manager focused on new technologies.

Cleaning Cobot is Coming to Miracle Tool America

Dozens of times each day, the skilled workers at Miracle Tools America in Davenport must stop what they’re doing and clean. Making drill bits can be a dirty business, and the tiny water channels that are used to keep tools cool have a tendency to get clogged.

Hence, the company decided to begin experimenting with a new type of employee – one that wouldn’t mind the monotony.

One who is made of metal.

Legacy Manufacturing Reshores Jobs Using Robot Turntable

Legacy Manufacturing in Marion has added seven new employees (with at least three more coming soon) after a CIRAS-assisted automation program helped the company reshore production of one of its most popular products.

Update: Future of Manufacturing Series

About 18 months ago, CIRAS announced its new “Future of Manufacturing” series to help manufacturers become ready for what is “next” in manufacturing. While this was a significant leap, it was based on a simple premise: changes in technology, workforce, and business models were moving so fast that we needed to help get Iowa manufacturers out in front.

The Future of Manufacturing is Happening Today

Every day we see something “new” in manufacturing. 3D Printed food, connected everything, cobots, and the list goes on. In fact, we’ve heard of these possibilities for decades. But something about these things seems a bit more real now than in the past. Like something important is happening

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