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Q&A with Retiring CIRAS Director Ron Cox

CIRAS Director Ron Cox is retiring after more than 25 years at CIRAS. We sat down with him to discuss what he has seen develop over the past quarter of a century and where he thinks things might be headed.   Q: How did you get your start at CIRAS? A: I was returning to … Continue reading Q&A with Retiring CIRAS Director Ron Cox

7th Annual CIRAS Holiday Gift List

In need of some last-minute gift ideas? We’ve compiled a short list of Iowa-manufactured products that make great gifts! Upgrade their truck with accessories from Putco or their semi from Iowa Customs Help kids discover physics while having fun with race tracks using Blu Track Gift some of Tiefenthaler’s skinless brats! Give your favorite athlete … Continue reading 7th Annual CIRAS Holiday Gift List

1st Annual Construction Diversity Accelerator – Hosted by Turner Construction & CIRAS

An international construction company is partnering with CIRAS to increase the participation of underrepresented contractors on its projects. Turner Construction, the largest domestic contractor in the U.S., and the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) are offering a free five-week program designed to enhance the ability of Underrepresented Business Enterprises (UBEs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises … Continue reading 1st Annual Construction Diversity Accelerator – Hosted by Turner Construction & CIRAS

11th Annual ILC Conference Provides Education & Community

The Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) continues to draw large crowds to its annual conference. More than 95 companies and organizations were represented at the 11th annual event held October 24 and 25; 300 people participated in-person and online. The goal of the conference was to reconnect attendees with each other, share practical suggestions for improving … Continue reading 11th Annual ILC Conference Provides Education & Community

Watching Iowa’s Economy – November

Here is CIRAS’s quick look at major economic indicators for Iowa. For an introduction and a description of the indicators used, see our first post. Indicator Status Underlying Data Notes ISM Manufacturing PMI® Indicators were mixed, all remaining close to neutral. Mid-American Index Prices continued sharp increases along with strong growth in new orders in … Continue reading Watching Iowa’s Economy – November

Watching Iowa’s Economy – October

Here is CIRAS’s quick look at major economic indicators, our assessment of Iowa’s industrial economy, and recommendations for you as a business leader. For an introduction and a description of the indicators used, see our first post.   Indicator Status Underlying Data Notes ISM Manufacturing PMI® Nearly all indicators remained above neutral, demonstrating continued moderate growth … Continue reading Watching Iowa’s Economy – October

Getting the Most from Tradeshows

Attending a tradeshow can pay big dividends for even small companies. The right show can provide networking opportunities, give insights on competitors, and update you on developments in your industry. But tradeshows can be overwhelming, especially if you decide to attend a large-scale event. To maximize the experience, consider these suggestions from CIRAS staff members: … Continue reading Getting the Most from Tradeshows

2022 MFG Day

On October 7 (and throughout the month), manufacturers, community colleges, and universities around the nation will open their doors to show the next generation the amazing careers available in manufacturing as part of MFG Day. This is a big deal. Today’s manufacturers face two major issues: workforce and supply chain. While we can’t predict exactly … Continue reading 2022 MFG Day

New Ticket Options Available for ILC Annual Conference

Registration remains open for the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) Annual Conference on Tuesday, October 25, at the Meadows Event Center in Altoona. The conference is the state’s largest event for continuous improvement professionals. It includes pre-conference workshops and tours on Monday, October 24, followed by a full day of keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and break-out … Continue reading New Ticket Options Available for ILC Annual Conference

One-Person International Music Business Benefits from CIRAS Research, Contract Expertise

Being a one-person show hasn’t stopped Eduard Mato from securing multiple federal contracts for his musical instruments and music education business. From his office in Centerville, Eduard Mato runs U.S. Music, an international business that provides musical instruments, music lessons, and coordination of performing arts events. A highly trained professional musician himself, Mato started the … Continue reading One-Person International Music Business Benefits from CIRAS Research, Contract Expertise

ISU President Tours Mason City Plant

Cardinal and gold pride was on full display when Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen toured a Stellar Industries plant in Mason City this past August. The company, which manufactures hydraulic truck-mounted equipment, accessories, and specialty trailers, invited employees who were ISU graduates and current interns to join the tour, giving President Wintersteen a chance … Continue reading ISU President Tours Mason City Plant

Did You Know? Agencies Buy Benefits Not Features

Every product or service has features and benefits, but did you know that you should never mention a feature without explaining the benefit of that feature?  Why?  Because not every feature is a benefit to your target customer.  For example, if your target customer lives in Florida, heated seats (the feature) of a product would … Continue reading Did You Know? Agencies Buy Benefits Not Features

Watching Iowa’s Economy – September

Here is CIRAS’s quick look at major economic indicators, our assessment of Iowa’s industrial economy, and recommendations for you as a business leader. For an introduction and a description of the indicators used, see our first post.   Indicator Status Underlying Data Notes ISM Manufacturing PMI® Strong data with indications of price easing and availability … Continue reading Watching Iowa’s Economy – September

CIRAS Supplier Scouting Program: A Year of Reflection

During the past couple of years, we have seen major disruptions and changes in how we conduct business. It’s not a stretch to claim that all of us have experienced some impact from supply chain disruptions, whether professionally or personally. In 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, CIRAS and other Manufacturing Extension Partnership … Continue reading CIRAS Supplier Scouting Program: A Year of Reflection

Internships Key to Recruiting Young Talent

When Marlene Hernandez graduates from Iowa State University next spring, she’ll do so with newfound self-confidence and a resume packed with experience. As an intern with CIRAS, Hernandez delved into everything from employee compensation issues to safety and health. “It has made me feel more confident in my capabilities and has helped me develop professional … Continue reading Internships Key to Recruiting Young Talent

Impact of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, signed into law on August 9, will inject up to $280 billion in critical and emerging technologies. The bill provides more than $52 billion to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing, including tax benefits and other incentives to encourage U.S. businesses to build new chip manufacturing plants in the U.S. The … Continue reading Impact of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022

Staff Update: Meet Emily Betz

Emily Betz has joined CIRAS as a project manager specializing in process improvement. Emily has over 10 years of experience using Lean principles to help companies solve their business challenges. She has helped hundreds of organizations examine their processes to gain efficiencies and improve productivity. Emily has worked in multiple sectors including manufacturing, construction, finance, … Continue reading Staff Update: Meet Emily Betz

ILC Annual Conference Announces Keynote Speakers

The Iowa Lean Consortium’s (ILC) Annual Conference, the state’s largest event for continuous improvement professionals, will return this year on October 25, 2022 at the Meadows Event Center in Altoona. This year’s ILC conference will be a hybrid format, allowing participants to attend sessions, network, and engage with vendors in-person or virtually. The keynote addresses … Continue reading ILC Annual Conference Announces Keynote Speakers

Watching Iowa’s Economy

To say that the current economy is unpredictable is an understatement. One of the most frequent questions we get from businesses in Iowa is whether we are going to have a recession. There are countless approaches to analyzing the economy and whether there will be a recession. Even highly technical approaches have a lot of … Continue reading Watching Iowa’s Economy

For Employers Experiencing a “Labor Shortage,” There is a Simple Solution: Make Workers a Better Offer

Written by CIRAS Workforce Programs Manager, Brenda Martin The workforce shortage isn’t a recent phenomenon. It’s 20 to 30 years in the making and may worsen in the coming years. The CIRAS workforce team has identified 7 Top-Tips in making employees a better offer: Invest in technology. Automation reduces the need for employees to do … Continue reading For Employers Experiencing a “Labor Shortage,” There is a Simple Solution: Make Workers a Better Offer

Did You Know? The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program

By: Justin Niceswanger In past years, federal agencies have established contracting goals to award at least 5% of their prime contract spend to small disadvantaged businesses.  In December of last year, the Biden Administration announced the goal would substantially increase. How much was the increase?  Can your company qualify as a small disadvantaged business, and … Continue reading Did You Know? The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program

The Powertrain Supply Chain is Transforming. Are you ready?

We’re at a rare inflection point that will change the landscape of American manufacturing over the next 50 years: the transition from internal combustion engines to electrified motors in vehicles. As the automotive industry transforms, very few hardware manufacturers will be unaffected. In 2016, just under 300,000 electrified (battery, plug-in, and hybrid) vehicles were produced … Continue reading The Powertrain Supply Chain is Transforming. Are you ready?

Call for Breakout Presenters – 2022 Annual ILC Conference

The Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) is seeking presenters for breakout sessions for the 2022 Annual ILC Conference, which will be held Tuesday, October 25, in Des Moines. The ILC Annual Conference draws hundreds of continuous improvement practitioners and teams from all sectors of our economy. We are seeking presentations that engage, inform, and provide actionable … Continue reading Call for Breakout Presenters – 2022 Annual ILC Conference

NEW Cyber Threat Hacking Industrial Control Systems: Take Action Today to Protect Your Business

A new cybersecurity risk with direct impacts on most manufacturers has recently been discovered. The Department of Energy (DOE), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) on Wednesday. The CSA warns that specific advanced persistent threat (APT) actors have … Continue reading NEW Cyber Threat Hacking Industrial Control Systems: Take Action Today to Protect Your Business

Innovation at Work: Strengthening Iowa Communities

Innovation At Work is a series of stories, photos, videos and audio highlighting the new approaches Iowa State University is taking to big challenges that affect Iowa’s communities and landscape. A new entry in the series will be published every Tuesday between April 5 and May 3. To learn more about the impact CIRAS and … Continue reading Innovation at Work: Strengthening Iowa Communities

Protecting Your Business From a Cyberattack

Most companies use computers to manage at least some part of their business operation so ensuring that data remains safe is a priority. Data breaches that expose sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information can be costly…and not just in terms of the immediate monetary impact on productivity and sales revenues. Additional damage to intangible assets like reputation … Continue reading Protecting Your Business From a Cyberattack

White Paper: Managing Supply Chain Risks

The ongoing pandemic has contributed significantly to disruptions and changes in the global supply chain. Many small and medium manufacturers (SMMs) have been harder hit by these interruptions than larger companies because SMMs rarely have the leverage and market presence to access supplies and transportation when resources are constrained. While there is no single answer … Continue reading White Paper: Managing Supply Chain Risks

Connecting with Government Buyers

Selling your products or services to government agencies begins with building a network of potential buyers. CIRAS can help with that with “Meet the Buyers” events that offer opportunities for both sides of the government procurement process to learn about each other. Government procurement officials and federal prime contractors will describe what they buy and … Continue reading Connecting with Government Buyers

Staff Update: Meet Adam Lathrop

Adam Lathrop has joined CIRAS as an account manager for southwestern Iowa. Adam has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Drake University. He joins CIRAS with a wide variety experience. Most recently Adam has worked with business and industry across the state to improve their … Continue reading Staff Update: Meet Adam Lathrop

Act Now! There is Still Time to Renew Your ILC Membership

Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) members can still renew their membership for 2022. Members of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) have the opportunity to learn through tours, workshops, webinars, and networking events. In addition, the ILC has increased the offerings in the on-demand library, which includes past webinars, workshops and conference breakout sessions from previous years. … Continue reading Act Now! There is Still Time to Renew Your ILC Membership

CIRAS News: Meet Mark Facile

Mark Facile has joined CIRAS as a project manager specializing in productivity. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Iowa State University and a master of business administration from Drake University. He joins CIRAS after spending more than 27 years in manufacturing, using his broad engineering experience to improve process efficiencies and drive … Continue reading CIRAS News: Meet Mark Facile

Marketwise Helps Leaders Face Challenges Together

A networking group launched seven years ago by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in partnership with CIRAS continues to help its members learn from people who do the same work they do. MarketWise provides marketing and sales leaders opportunities to expand their skills through education, shared experiences, and best practices with their peers. … Continue reading Marketwise Helps Leaders Face Challenges Together

6th Annual CIRAS Holiday Gift List

With all the uncertainty of global supply chains, 2021 is the year to buy local and buy early. So, we’re excited to offer our 6th annual CIRAS holiday gift list! Keep warm with an insulated jacket from Dickson Industries. Take up a new sport with Party Boy Skateboards. Complete your backyard with a kids picnic … Continue reading 6th Annual CIRAS Holiday Gift List

CIRAS News: Meet Eric Higgins

Eric Higgins is the most recent addition to the CIRAS staff, and he will be working alongside the Industry 4.0 team. Over his career, Eric has gained experience surrounding automation implementation by working with industrial scale manufacturers. He has a background in Lean management and facilitation, which makes him a valuable member of our ever-growing … Continue reading CIRAS News: Meet Eric Higgins

CIRAS News: Meet New Hire Kelly Freel

Kelly Freel has recently started as the newest counselor for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at CIRAS. Most recently, she worked with ISU Purchasing as a Senior Contract Manager, where she helped to procure medical and scientific equipment for a number of federal research projects. Considering her background with state procurement practices and federal acquisition regulations, is … Continue reading CIRAS News: Meet New Hire Kelly Freel

CIRAS Generates Economic Impact of Over $3 Billion

The work done by CIRAS to strengthen businesses and communities across Iowa has generated an economic impact of over $3 billon in the past five years alone. Since 2016, CIRAS and its partners have helped more than 4,100 businesses in every Iowa county with solutions that have led to new or retained sales, new investments, … Continue reading CIRAS Generates Economic Impact of Over $3 Billion

PTAC Counselor Expands Territory Southeast Iowa

A CIRAS government contracting specialist will soon have an expanded role. Samantha Ferm will take over the territory covered by Melissa Burant, a counselor in the CIRAS Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) since 2014, is transitioning into a new position leading strategic supply chain initiatives. Ferm has been with CIRAS as a PTAC counselor … Continue reading PTAC Counselor Expands Territory Southeast Iowa

CIRAS News: New Hire Rachel Hahn

Rachel Hahn has joined CIRAS as the account manager for the food industry. Rachel has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iowa. She joins CIRAS after spending the past decade in food and food ingredient manufacturing. She has extensive experience in plant maintenance and capital equipment, including leading cross-functional teams on … Continue reading CIRAS News: New Hire Rachel Hahn

Jake Behrens Takes on Capstone Project Manager Position

Jake Behrens, who has worked with the CIRAS Technology Group on Industry 4.0 services, will now take on the role of capstone project manager. He replaces Carey Novak, who recently retired from the position. Behrens’ previous industry experience will ease the transition of roles within CIRAS. The work he has done on Industry 4.0 provides … Continue reading Jake Behrens Takes on Capstone Project Manager Position

Retirement of Capstone Project Manager, Carey Novak

After eight years, Carey Novak has retired from CIRAS as a project manager, where his work focused on serving Iowa State University’s College of Engineering Capstone program. Carey came to Iowa State from Bradly University, and has previous experience at Iowa State supporting companies with technology transfer. Throughout his career, Carey’s work has been beneficial … Continue reading Retirement of Capstone Project Manager, Carey Novak

ILC Annual Conference to be Largest Ever

The Iowa Lean Consortium’s Annual Conference will be coming to all corners of the state this fall, as CIRAS expands its efforts to make Lean management techniques more accessible in an Iowa facing severe concerns about workforce availability.

The Annual Conference, traditionally the ILC’s largest and most extensive yearly opportunity for Lean advocates to network and learn, was shifted online in 2020 because of the pandemic.

This year, as the world restarts itself in the wake of COVID-19, availability of people has become the number one discussion topic among Iowa leaders. How do you support growing businesses while Iowa’s population growth continues to be lower than the national average and statewide unemployment already is rapidly approaching pre-pandemic levels? How can you grow if there simply are no more people?

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.

Assisted & Augmented Reality: Not as Sci-Fi As You Think

It’s a common misconception among many manufacturers that assisted and augmented reality technology are outside their reach – mystical, gimmicky technology that really has no place on their production floor.

We get it. We’ve all read science fiction novels and seen the movies. These technologies are portrayed as “space-age” bits of hardware and software that certainly cost a fortune and probably require a PhD to operate. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Augmented and assisted reality (AR) technology is so accessible that it might already be something you use every day.

Let’s break it down.

CIRAS Staff News: Martin and Burant Shifting Roles

Two longtime CIRAS employees are taking on new roles in an attempt to serve Iowans better.

Did You Know?… More changes coming to and

They saying goes, “The only constant in life is change.” If you have been working in the federal contract market during the past couple of years, there seems to be no truer statement.

The long-awaited, much-anticipated integration of and occurred on May 24.

As of May 24, legacy, as you know it, was retired. Its registration, excluded parties listing, and other functionalities were moved to But the “beta” also went away, and it is now called This is an entirely new, consolidated system.

CIRAS Awarded $133,000 to Develop DBEs

CIRAS has received a $133,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT)to help economically and socially disadvantaged businesses develop as companies so they are better able to compete for highway construction projects and other DOT-funded projects.

As part of the grant, CIRAS will provide one-on-one assistance to companies who qualify as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) – generally defined as small business that are at least 51 percent owned by women or minorities – about the best ways to position themselves for government bidding opportunities and market themselves to prime contractors and government agencies

ILC Annual Conference to offer Virtual, In-Person Options this Fall

The Iowa Lean Consortium’s Annual Conference will take a step closer to its familiar format this fall – but this time, it will be as part of a new hybrid model designed to accommodate a variety of different comfort levels related to COVID-19. The Annual Conference, traditionally the ILC’s largest and most extensive yearly opportunity … Continue reading ILC Annual Conference to offer Virtual, In-Person Options this Fall

New Consortium to Support Tech Training for Iowa Manufacturers

For Immediate Release:

As business and industry evolve at an ever-increasing pace, the next wave of change in the form of digitalization and automation, known as “Industry 4.0,” will require new processes for businesses and new skills for employees. Today, Iowa’s Community Colleges and the Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) announced a new consortium to support the manufacturing sector in adapting to these changes. The training and awareness initiative includes partners from across the state.

“Iowa has the right mix of relationships and resources to help our manufacturers remain competitive through a global technology revolution that is transforming factory floors and jobs,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. “This important partnership addresses a critical need identified in the state’s Manufacturing 4.0 strategic plan by uniting key education and industry stakeholders in a comprehensive effort to prepare workers with the skills they need in an increasingly digital economy.”

ABI Taking Care of Business Conference is June 8-10

Are you ready to gain valuable insights that can help your business? If so, CIRAS recommends that you plan to attend the annual Taking Care of Business Conference next month in Coralville. The yearly conference, which is hosted by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, is a valuable way for Iowa manufacturers to invest … Continue reading ABI Taking Care of Business Conference is June 8-10

CIRAS Staff News: Meet Tim Miller

Tim Miller has joined CIRAS as a manufacturing engineering project manager.   Tim has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati, as well as a graduate certificate in system design and management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He comes … Continue reading CIRAS Staff News: Meet Tim Miller

Come Tell Your Story at ILC’s 2021 Annual Conference

Do you have a Continuous Improvement story to tell? If so, we want to hear about it.

The Iowa Lean Consortium is pleased to issue a call for presentations for our 2021 Annual Conference to be held on October 26-27.  This will be a hybrid event, with the main conference taking place Prairie Meadows Events & Conference Center in Altoona. There will be satellite locations throughout the state for smaller gatherings, and there will be a virtual option.

Gilcrest/Jewett Finds Success in Bringing Lean to Lumber

A 165-year-old Des Moines lumber company has gained new efficiencies, better customer service, and a tangible reduction in injuries after its employees embraced continuous improvement. Rick Kyser, operations manager at Gilcrest/Jewett Lumber Company, said company leaders have seen a massive cultural shift since the lumberyard took its first steps toward Lean management at the end … Continue reading Gilcrest/Jewett Finds Success in Bringing Lean to Lumber

Virtual Matchmaking Session on April 8

Government contracting can be an excellent path for a business to diversify its customer base and build a stable source of revenue. But the pool of available opportunities can expand dramatically when large prime companies team with small businesses. How do companies of different sizes with complementary capabilities find each other? To help with that, … Continue reading Virtual Matchmaking Session on April 8

Have You Hired Your Summer Engineering Intern?

Spring is here, and that means summer won’t be far behind. Is your summer workforce where it needs to be? If not, Engineering Career Services at Iowa State University is eager to work with any company interested in hiring engineering interns during the coming summer. As of April 5, registrations are still being accepted in … Continue reading Have You Hired Your Summer Engineering Intern?

Plan Now to Be Ready for Bad Weather

April showers in Iowa quickly can turn dangerous thanks to flash flooding.

CIRAS wants to take this opportunity to remind you yet again about the potential peril that can come with severe weather season. Are you ready?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, Iowa companies always come out better when they plan for the worst and take steps ahead of time to identify what should happen if trouble strikes

Ready for In-Person Events? Let us know.

CIRAS, like most of the rest of the world, called a halt to in-person educational events last year when the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold. We didn’t like it. We didn’t want to. But we did what we thought was best for your health and the health of our staff – and in the process, we launched hundreds of detailed video webinars that since have been viewed by thousands of Iowa business people.

Now, as vaccines roll out and the case counts fall, we’re starting to ponder what the future will look like for CIRAS events

STAFF UPDATE: Meet Jeff White

Jeff White has joined CIRAS as an account manager for southeastern Iowa.

Jeff has a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa. He joins CIRAS after 30 years in marketing, business development, and sales, primarily in Iowa manufacturing.

New Weekly Webinar Series Focuses on Post-COVID Business Resiliency

COVID-19 has taught Iowa companies many things about their businesses – from the importance of understanding their supply chains to the strengths and limitations of Zoom. You’ve learned to be flexible, to plan ahead, and to lean on your employees. But is your business ready for what comes after the pandemic?

To help you focus on the future, CIRAS is launching a new Business Resiliency webinar series.

Participants Needed for Study on Stress & Safety at Work

Researchers at the Occupational Safety program at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University are looking into how stress is affecting decision making on safety in manufacturing. The results from this study will be used to assist in developing programs and policies to reduce the negative impact that stress has on … Continue reading Participants Needed for Study on Stress & Safety at Work

Digital Lab: New Tech Brings New Possibilities

Iowa State University’s Digital Manufacturing Lab is adding new tools to give Iowa companies more minimal-risk ways to experiment with new technology. Chris Hill, director of the CIRAS Technology Assistance Program (TAP), said two new 3D printers will give the lab greater flexibility to produce detailed prototypes for Iowa companies looking to experiment with new … Continue reading Digital Lab: New Tech Brings New Possibilities

Construction Webinars: Tips for Government Contractors

Government agencies spend an enormous amount of money each year on construction projects for the public. These projects follow their own particular lifecycle and pose unique challenges for contractors when it comes to issues things such as site conditions, scheduling changes, or wage requirements.

Wouldn’t you like some help navigating the complexities of this complicated world?

Thank You for Renewing your ILC Membership

The Iowa Lean Consortium would thank all of our members who have renewed for 2021. We’re extremely grateful for your support and for recognizing the value we provide.

Announcing ‘Food Talks’ Forum for Food Manufacturers

Food manufacturing is complicated. Wouldn’t you like a place where you can get a little help?

We thought so. That’s why CIRAS next month is launching Food Talks, a new roundtable discussion to give food manufacturers a place where they can collaborate and exchange ideas.

Experts: Start Planning for the COVID-19 Vaccine Now

COVID-19 wrought havoc on America’s economy in 2020, but the new year and new vaccines are bringing new hopes for return to normal in 2021.

However, Iowa experts have two messages for business leaders who are looking over the horizon and anxiously awaiting their shots: Start planning now, and be prepared for things to change.

ILC Webinar Week: January 19-22

This month, the Iowa Lean Consortium is offering you a week’s worth of intensive learning – and you won’t even have to leave your desk.

Written by Tracy Schuster
ILC Program Director

The ILC’s 2021 Webinar Week begins on January 19 – the day after Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday – and includes four days of intensive presentations covering various aspects of Lean. The webinar topics will include:

Start 2021 by Re-checking Where You Stand on COVID-19

COVID-19 upended nearly all American businesses in 2020. Now that 2021 is here, where do you stand in dealing with the pandemic? Do you have a good handle on how the coronavirus has impacted your business and what might lie ahead in 2021?

CIRAS is urging any Iowa company with lingering questions about COVID-19 to start the new year off on a good foot by checking with us to see how CIRAS can help.

Act Now: Last Chance to Renew your ILC Membership!

Iowa Lean Consortium members need to act before January 15 to renew their memberships for 2021. After that date, membership benefits will begin to be removed for anyone who hasn’t yet renewed.

What to Watch for as Flu Season Combines with COVID-19

What does COVID-19 have in common with influenza? The foundation for keeping both from overwhelming your workplace starts with education, regular disinfection, and keeping a close eye on your employees so you can spot any outbreaks quickly.

That was the message to Iowa manufacturers in November when Emily Law, infection prevention coordinator at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, spoke to participants in the weekly CIRAS Roundtable for Iowa manufacturers.

Reshoring Webinar on December 10

Offshoring your components can come with a great deal of cost and risk. This is true now more than ever in the middle of a pandemic. Iowa manufacturers understand the difficulties that can come with managing an unpredictable supply chain.

CIRAS would like to help. Together with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Area Development Group, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and the Greater Des Moines Partnership, we’re sponsoring a one-hour webinar on December 10 explaining the benefits of bringing your production home.

Start Your Shopping with Iowa-Made Gifts

It is time for our 5th annual CIRAS holiday gift list!

This year buying products made right here in Iowa carries even more significance as it supports our businesses and their employees that have kept our economy running through the pandemic. Here are just some of the great Iowa gifts you can give:

ILC Virtual Annual Conference Builds Lean Leaders

Good leadership should be purposely developed in yourself and others by building strong relationships with those on your team, an Iowa-born Army colonel told more than 200 Iowa business leaders in October.

Col. Candice Frost was the keynote speaker for this fall’s first-ever Annual Virtual Conference by the Iowa Lean Consortium. The event, customarily the largest single educational event put on by the ILC, was held online in 2020 for the first time due to COVID-19.

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). 

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.

Iowa State Lab Tours Turning Virtual This Fall

Iowa State University uses a wide variety of equipment and technology for testing and scientific research. With proper coordination, this same equipment and personnel can be used to help Iowa companies test or analyze their products – but first you have to know what’s possible.

Throughout October, CIRAS experts will be leading a series of four virtual tours to help Iowa manufacturers get more familiar with the tools and capabilities available in various Iowa State labs.

Explaining CMMC and DoD’s ABCs of Cybersecurity

If your company works anywhere within a Department of Defense supply chain (or hopes to), the new CMMC cybersecurity standard will soon be part of your life. Are you confused by the alphabet soup and uncertain about what it all means?

Here’s what you need to know:

COVID Update: Changing Two Ways CIRAS Serves You Online

It’s been six months since COVID-19 forced CIRAS to temporarily halt in-person educational events. Since then, we’ve been working hard to meet your educational needs in cyberspace, opening up roundtable discussion groups and hosting more than 80 webinars involving thousands of people.

Recently, to help you better, we made some changes in how we’ll handle webinars and roundtables going forward.

Celebrate National PTAC Day on Sept. 16

We’re inviting you to learn more about a major part of CIRAS programming.

Ninety-four Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), including CIRAS, form a nationwide network of more than 600 dedicated professionals who work to help local businesses sell their products and services to government agencies.

If you’d like to know more about the network, we invite you to join a special webinar on Wednesday, September 16, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to celebrate National PTAC Day.

Doing Enough? CIRAS COVID Assessment Helps You Make Sure

Like most responsible companies navigating a pandemic, Larson Manufacturing worked hard to secure its Lake Mills manufacturing facility against COVID-19. Among other things, the company posted signs, upgraded its cleaning procedures, and installed social distancing barriers. ut was that enough?

To make certain, Larson this summer became one of Iowa’s first companies to receive a free CIRAS virtual COVID-19 Preparedness Assessment.

Register now for ILC Virtual Annual Conference

Attention continuous improvement practitioners!

Get ready to take advantage of another quality, daylong learning and networking opportunity, this time without leaving your desk.

Registration is now open for the Iowa Lean Consortium’s Annual Virtual Conference – the ILC’s first attempt at taking its popular yearly educational conference and reformatting it for cyberspace.

Pandemic Prompts Collaboration Among Iowa Manufacturers

The call came toward the end of March. The state of Iowa was projecting that it would come up at least 500,000 face shields short of what was needed to provide front-line medical workers with personal protective equipment in the battle against COVID-19.

Would Adam Gold be willing to help?

Gold, president of The Dimensional Group, a Mason City custom packaging company, soon found himself in a flurry of CIRAS-arranged calls, emails, and meetings. A plan quickly formed to pair Gold’s company, which had no previous experience producing medical equipment, with Ottumwa-based Angstrom Precision Molding. Within two months, the team would produce more than 1.3 million medical face shields.

CIRAS Will Stay with Online Events in 2020

See you (in person) next year.

As a response to COVID-19 and the still-spreading pandemic, CIRAS has decided to cancel all in-person events through the remainder of 2020. We simply don’t believe it’s practical to schedule face-to-face events in the current environment.

However, that doesn’t mean we intend to stop educating Iowa businesses.

Sponsorships Now Available for ILC Virtual Annual Conference

Notice: Here is a perfect opportunity to get your organization’s name and logo in front of hundreds of Lean practitioners.

The Iowa Lean Consortium is searching for companies to sponsor this fall’s Virtual Annual Conference. This is a great opportunity to place your brand in front of continuous improvement professionals who are dedicated to building Lean cultures in their organizations.

Iowa State’s ABE Department to Host Virtual Tour

Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering is hosting a virtual open house on Wednesday, August 5, so interested companies can learn more about the technology available on campus.

Interested businesses can participate in three 40-minute sessions covering Industrial Technology, Ag Engineering and Ag Systems Technology, and Biosystems Engineering.

Pandemic Pushing ISU Job Fairs Online

Career fairs at Iowa State University are going digital this fall.

University officials say the change is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides an option that still will allow employers to network with many students and alumni during the events. It also eliminates the time and expense of travel.

Our COVID-19 Site has Expanded

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we wanted to remind you of some of the many additions we’ve made over the last few weeks to the CIRAS COVID-19 website.

CIRAS is committed to bringing you the best information possible to help you make necessary decisions about your business. Toward that end, we’ve been regularly adding content and refocusing our efforts to answer the questions that Iowa businesses tell us they’re concerned about.

Schuster to lead ILC; McMahon to new workforce efforts

In case you missed it, we want to remind you that leadership is changing hands at the Iowa Lean Consortium.

Tracy Schuster took over as program director of the Iowa Lean Consortium in May.

Help CIRAS Plan the Future of Live Events

July marks the fifth month without any in-person CIRAS gatherings on the CIRAS schedule. We cancelled our entire schedule of educational trainings in March as part of a nationwide effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As of now, that cancellation runs through the end of July. But we just wanted to remind you that … Continue reading Help CIRAS Plan the Future of Live Events

All-Electronic: The newest CIRAS News in Online

Attention CIRAS News readers:

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all corners of Iowa industry. CIRAS exists to help Iowa companies overcome problems like these, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

Toward that end, we have decided to only send an electronic version of the spring 2020 edition of CIRAS News so you can download it on your schedule and hopefully, share it with others you think may benefit from the content.

ILC Moving to a Virtual Annual Conference this Fall

This is a complicated world we’re living in, but Lean practices require us to say it simply:

The ILC Annual Conference that was scheduled to take place October 27-29 in Des Moines has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, we will deliver a Virtual Annual Conference online on October 28.

Preparing for Getting Back to Work

After more than two months of reeling from the effects of a deadly pandemic, many Iowa communities are now on their way back to work. But what exactly should that look like?

CIRAS experts suggest you focus on two things as you press to get back to normal – going in phases and being thorough.

ILC Virtual Lean Government Exchange is June 2

The Iowa Lean Consortium’s annual event focusing on continuous improvement in government is moving online.

Lean management techniques have the power to transform a variety of industries, but the process can face different obstacles depending on the industry involved. Government and nonprofit entities face unique challenges within their Lean journeys. The ILC created this event several years ago as a way to help you overcome them.

Pandemic Places Lean Coffees Online

It’s the same Lean Coffee conversation you’re used to, only a lot closer to your kitchen.

Last month, as part of the CIRAS response to COVID-19, the Iowa Lean Consortium was forced to cancel all in-person Lean Coffee events through the end of July. Instead, we’ve moved the discussions online to offer a robust virtual forum for anyone interested in sharing ideas and personal experiences with Lean.

Reminder: New CIRAS Services Can Help you Handle COVID-19

April was a disruptive time for Iowa businesses, and the challenges are not yet finished.

CIRAS has been honored to play roles in many of your COVID-19 stories over the past month. We wanted to take this chance to remind you that we’re still here to help you as those stories continues to develop. CIRAS has added new services in recent weeks to help with your pandemic response and recovery needs, and, as a part of the MEP National Network, we’re offering our traditional services in new ways to help your company get through this disaster.

Iowa Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19; CIRAS Adapts to Assist

Thousands of face shields are scheduled to be delivered to Mary Greeley Medical Center this month as part of a CIRAS-coordinated effort to help Iowa manufacturers meet this state’s tremendous demand for personal protection equipment.

That’s just one of many instances where Iowa industry is coming together to overcome COVID-19.

Government Contracting Amid COVID-19

A federal disaster has recently been declared for the State of Iowa, allowing local, state and tribal authorities in Iowa to receive federal funding in response to COVID-19.  This leaves many businesses wondering how they can get in on the action and provide goods/services during a disaster.

CIRAS Survey: Business Impacts of COVID-19

MARCH 1, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future for small- to medium-sized businesses. CIRAS, with a mission to enhance the performance of Iowa industry, has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.  

Here is what we’ve learned so far:  

CIRAS Status: Our Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 27, 2020

At CIRAS, our mission is to Enhance the performance of industry through applied research, education, and technical assistance. During times of crisis, we do everything we can to continue serving Iowa industry while ensuring the health and safety of our team and your team.

In order to serve you while minimizing risk to our team and Iowa industry, we are operating with some changes to our services:

Internet Marketing Boot Camp Brings Big Benefits

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?

CIRAS Launches New Web Page with Coronavirus Advice

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.

ILC Seeking Presenters for Annual Conference

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.

Webinar Week – A Special Series Spotlighting Government Agencies

Government contracting is about relationships. You have to know which government entities are in the market for the particular product or service that you provide, and they have to know you – where you are and exactly how you’re capable of helping them.

But how do you get in the game if you don’t understand the players?

ILC to Tour Kentucky Toyota in May

Sometimes, you just want to see for yourself.

If you’ve ever had a moment of curiosity about how Lean is practiced at the company that helped create it, then CIRAS has a trip that should fan the flames of your interest.

CIRAS Staff News: Meet Behrens & McGraw

We would like to announce that two new faces joined CIRAS at the end of 2019. (And watch this space for more staffing news in the days to come.)

Here are your brief introductions to the new CIRAS additions:

CIRAS is Sponsoring Winter Conference of Master Builders of Iowa

Iowa’s leading organization of construction contractors will hold its annual meeting next month, and CIRAS plans to be there helping companies learn how to advance their businesses.

CIRAS is a sponsor of this year’s Annual Winter Conference of the Master Builders of Iowa (MBI). Founded in 1912, MBI is one of 89 chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America, the most influential and widely respected construction association in the country. The Iowa chapter’s annual gathering is scheduled for February 24-26 at the Prairie Meadows Event and Conference Center in Altoona.

Our Annual Iowa-Made Holiday Gift Guide

One of our favorite times of the year is here!

‘Tis the season  to remind everybody once again that there are awesome Iowa-made products to give as gifts!

Develop Talent through Internships

Internships can feed the talent pipeline for many small- to medium-sized manufacturers facing serious workforce gaps as their senior employees near retirement. But internship success (finding, engaging, and retaining talent) requires strategy and planning to locate and groom qualified job candidates. As the Program Manager of Apprenticeship and Workforce at the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), I … Continue reading Develop Talent through Internships

MarketWise Offers Insight, Advice in NE Iowa

Once every other month for five years, Donna Bruesewitz has taken a day away from her office and driven somewhere to learn from others who do what she does.

Bruesewitz is one of five original members who still attend regular meetings of MarketWise NE. The northeast Iowa business networking group was founded five years ago by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) in partnership with CIRAS.

ABI launched the group—along with others such as LeanWise, the CFO Roundtable, and the Operations Excellence Roundtable—by partnering with CIRAS and numerous other experts across the state. The goal was to help functional managers develop through the sharing of experiences, lessons, and best practices with colleagues just down the road.

Learn the Secrets of “Writing Federal Proposals”

Government contracting is a complicated and detailed process with many precise steps that must be followed. For companies that are new to the government sector, it sometimes can be overwhelming.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to practice before you submitted that first bid?

We thought so, too.

Avoid the Rush! Renew your ILC Membership!

Now that our Annual Conference has ended, it’s time to being planning for next year:   It’s almost time to renew your Iowa Lean Consortium Membership! 

“Meet the Buyers” Builds Relationships

No one will buy your product or service until they become convinced that it will meet their needs. But before that can happen, potential customers have to somehow learn that you exist and what you can offer. CIRAS wants to help with that. Next month’s “Meet the Buyers” event in Johnston is designed to be … Continue reading “Meet the Buyers” Builds Relationships

CIRAS Advice Makes Mobilis Home Medical Self-sufficient

Colleen Brabec believes CIRAS has made her smarter about government contracting. Brabec owns Mobilis Home Medical Equipment, a 17-person Council Bluffs company that sells wheelchairs, scooters, and related equipment throughout western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Mobilis used to deliver equipment for U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals in Iowa and Nebraska, but the company lost that contract … Continue reading CIRAS Advice Makes Mobilis Home Medical Self-sufficient

Now Open: 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.

CIRAS Wants Every Day to be MFGDay – (but especially in October)

More than 8,000 Iowans attended an estimated 150 events last October as the industry’s annual celebration of American manufacturing.

It’s not too late for Iowa businesses to get involved in the 2019 festivities.

ProCircular helps MetalCraft Toughen its Cybersecurity

Jonathan Heinz acknowledges that it took a while for his company to get moving on cybersecurity. But Metalcraft, a nameplate and ID tag manufacturer in Mason City, is now behind no longer.

Iowa Program Helps Companies Afford Extra Expertise — by Matching the Cost of Interns

Interns at ALMACO get much more than an overview of the company’s custom-built agricultural equipment. They become part of the team.

Brian Carr, ALMACO’s vice president of engineering, said student employees at the Nevada-based company get directly involved in completing projects—from initial design, through problem-solving challenges, to the eventual result.

 “We ask them to participate in every aspect of the development of a product,” Carr said. “It’s all collaborative engineering, and they’re just one more voice in the game.”

ILC’s 2019 Annual Conference is October 29-31

Are you anxious for inspiration? Excited to learn more about techniques that will help your company continuously improve and grow? Then you need to make plans to be in West Des Moines at the end of October.

How to ID Your Company’s Cybersecurity Risks

According to a 2018 IBM-sponsored study by the Ponemon Institute, the global average for a data breach is $3.86 million. That breaks down to almost $150 per stolen record. If you’re a small or medium-sized manufacturer, you may not think statistics like these apply to you. But out of 17 industries represented in the report, the most impacted sectors were financial, service, and wait for it — manufacturing.

Northeast Iowa Conference to Address Manufacturing Workforce Challenges

Northeast Iowa manufacturers struggling to modernize and grow will have the chance to learn new strategies designed to improve their bottom line in any economy.

Did you know?… How to Sell to Iowa Public Schools

Summer is ending, which means parents everywhere are beginning to shop for Back To School. Have you ever considered what may be on the school’s shopping list?

Polymer and Food Protection Consortium Adds Expert for Outreach

Iowa State University’s Polymer and Food Protec­tion Consortium has added a plastic manufactur­ing expert to help Iowa companies deal with their growing focus on the safety and effectiveness of food packaging.

Genesis Safety Group sees Benefits of Lean Safety

A Davenport maker of robotic systems is rethinking how material flows through its factory after participants in a spring Lean Safety event outlined a list of ways that the company could improve.

CIRAS Helps Walsh Door & Security Unlock Inventory

A Des Moines commercial door and security company improved efficiency and shaved roughly $200,000 off its costs after CIRAS assistance helped the company upgrade its inventory handling.

Dave Hunt, hardware inventory control manager for Walsh Door & Security, said his company went from carrying roughly $600,000 worth of door hardware at its Des Moines warehouse to roughly $430,000. The difference was made possible by a 2017 CIRAS class that helped Walsh become more professional about calculating what the company really needed on hand to meet its customers’ needs.

It All Started Almost a Year Ago…

Happy Birthday to us!

The end of June will mark the Iowa Lean Consortium’s first full year as a part of CIRAS, and we just wanted to give you plenty of warning so you can commemorate that anniversary properly. {Perhaps by attending one of the many Lean Coffee events across Iowa?)

Learn with Us: How to Develop and Coach Problem Solvers

Back by popular demand, author and Lean expert Jamie V. Parker is coming to Iowa in June for two events designed to help Iowa businesses take continuous improvement to the next level.

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.

Donald named Outstanding New Professional

CIRAS project manager Joy Donald will be honored with the Iowa State University Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award at a campus ceremony on September 23.

Your Company Needs to Forge a Foul Weather Plan

April showers appear poised to linger in Iowa for a bit longer.

What Our Peers Think:  Cybersecurity

Every day we hear another story about a hack. Terms like ransomware, two-factor authentication, data breach, botnets sound like they are from a science fiction movie, not the shop floor. Small- to mid-sized manufacturers are among the most frequent targets of hackers, driven in part by the perceived ease of beating your systems.The solution to cybersecurity risks is a complex mix of IT solutions, processes, and new cultural norms. Where do you start?

Lean Coffees – Conversations for Learning and Creativity

Spring is a time of new beginnings – both for you and for your business.

Are you looking for new ideas or a new way to get excited about continuously improving your company? Would you like to take part in regular conversations and share ideas with others about the benefits of Lean?

ISBF and IEDA Help Iowa Facilities Managers get a CEM

One key step toward making Iowa buildings more energy efficient is to place them into the hands of people who know how to find savings. Toward that end, two CIRAS partners have joined forces to help Iowa companies interested in reducing their energy costs.

Theisen Cleaners Grows by Systematically Soliciting Sales

Theisen Cleaners was born in 2016 when Jamie Theisen, after many years spent cleaning houses for herself and various employers, decided to launch a new residential cleaning service. Her husband, Joe Theisen, eventually joined her. By 2017, the couple was thinking of expanding the effort, possibly by branching out and cleaning area businesses.

CIRAS Seeks to Empower Government Contractors

The government sector is a vast ocean of possibility for Iowa businesses, but the waters can run treacherous if you don’t understand how it works.

To help with that, CIRAS experts have created a daylong training event to help Iowa companies take a deep dive into the world of government contracting and delve into advanced teaming strategies for business development.

It’s a Rainy Day. Does Your Business Have a Plan?

Portions of western and central Iowa were under flood watches and warnings Wednesday, with more rain expected though Thursday. Fast-moving ice jams also clogged the Des Moines River in Ottumwa on Tuesday, sparking fears that more low-lying and water-adjacent areas could face problems in the coming days, especially the Raccoon River near Des Moines.

Meseke joins CIRAS as Point Person for Finance

Jennifer Meseke has joined CIRAS as finance and strategic projects manager.

Market Research Tools + CIRAS = Growth

Smart manufacturers are continuously searching for new ways to diversify their customer base, expand into new markets, and grow. Are you ready to see what the future holds? CIRAS can help you find the path.

How Lean Works in the Iowa Prison System

So, you think Lean won’t work for you?

What if we showed you how it works behind bars?

CIRAS Will Help You Get Ready for the “Future of Manufacturing”

CIRAS is on a journey to help Iowa manufacturers discover and implement the future of manufacturing.

Winning Proposals Start with Understanding RFPs

Success in government contracting requires that you convince a government agency that you’re the best choice to fill any particular need. To get there, you have to know how the system works, who to deal with, what the rules are, and how to cast yourself in the best possible light.

CIRAS is planning a special event this spring to help you understand all of that.

Start your New Year with a Lean Coffee™

A new year means it’s time for a new beginning and new resolutions about how we’d like to improve. Would you like to talk about that? Are you looking to connect with other Lean practitioners and share ideas about continuous improvement? 

If so, we think you should put “attend an ILC Lean coffee” on the top of your 2019 resolutions list. 

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.

Our Third Annual All-Iowa Holiday Gift List

Every year around this time, we like to take a minute to remind everybody that we make great things here in Iowa.

Because You Know We’re Worth It: ILC Memberships are due

Attention: Iowa Lean Consortium members! The renewal process for ILC memberships will operate differently this year. 

Fort Dodge Finds Efficiency, Better Service Through Lean

David Fierke still remembers the 30-year public works employee who looked him in the eye at one of the city of Fort Dodge’s first Lean events in 2009 and asked what Fierke, the then-relatively new city manager, really thought he was going to teach a veteran about filling potholes.

Probably not much, Fierke acknowledged. But after Fort Dodge employees spent several hours that day looking for waste in the city’s pothole-filling process, they nevertheless managed to make it better.

Cox Honored for “Achievement in Economic Development”

CIRAS Director Ron Cox was one 15 College of Engineering faculty and staff who received Iowa State University’s highest honors during an annual awards ceremony on September 14.

Touring Tech – Manufacturers Find Value When They See What ISU Can Do

Nathan Meyer was no stranger to CIRAS, but he wasn’t fully aware of all the technical expertise available at Iowa State University until he took a CIRAS-led tour of campus research labs in the fall of 2017.

CIRAS Tech Scouting Helps VT Industries Open New Doors

A quick five years after its journey began, a Holstein, Iowa, door-maker’s quest to find new alternatives for one of its products has morphed into a massive new business and a new company-owned recipe for producing fireproof doors.

ANNOUNCING: Iowa Lean Consortium to Merge with CIRAS

AMES, IOWA – The Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC), a nonprofit founded eight years ago to promote business efficiency throughout the Iowa economy, will be merging with Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) effective July 2.

ePATHUSA pursues Government Contracting on the Path to Growth

Hari Nallure views his relationship with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) sort of like he’s found a trusted advisor.

Second Tri-State Procurement Conference on Tap for March

The reviews are in, and it appears to have been a hit: 
– “Broad range of information covered.  Wide variety of businesses represented” 
– “Got several ideas how to expand my business, the event opened up conversations and information in the tristate area” 
– “Tons of useful info” 
– “A very well balanced conference with a wide range of experts speaking candidly” 

Those are just a few bits of the feedback we received after the first Tri-State Procurement Conference held in Keokuk, IA this past spring of 2016.