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eNews Services for Iowa businesses

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.

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. 

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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?)

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.

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?

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.

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.

Meseke joins CIRAS as Point Person for Finance

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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?

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.

Your Company Needs to Forge a Foul Weather Plan

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

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