Blog posts from July, 2016

Designing for Manufacturability: Value Engineering

July 25, 2016 by Liz Fox

Successful manufacturers are hardly strangers to innovation. By improving products and processes, companies not only boost their top and bottom lines, but they also provide a better experience for the consumer. The advent of better, more effective output opens doors of opportunity for any company, and value engineering – an irreplaceable part of the innovation phase - is no exception. Defined as a systematic and structured approach designed to improve processes and products, value engineering is used to analyze existing products/processes and achieve balance between required functions. These functions typically include performance, quality, safety, and scope with the cost and other resources necessary to accomplish requirements. According to notable value-engineering group SAVE International, the process is also divided into six stages: Information Phase – gathering information to better understand the project Function Analysis Phase – analyzing the project to understand and clarify its required functions Creative Phase – generating ideas on all possible ways to accomplish required functions Evaluation/Judgment Phase – synthesizing ideas and concepts by selecting feasible ideas for development into specific value improvement(s) Development Phase – selecting and preparing the best alternatives for improving value Presentation Phase – presenting the value recommendation to the project stakeholders MAGNET has

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Partnering for Growth: Tap into the Power of Your Supply Chain

July 18, 2016 by Liz Fox

Small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMEs) face tremendous disadvantages vs. larger competitors — from financing to production efficiencies to distribution channels. But SMEs also have a secret weapon: their supply chains. Suppliers and customers offer a vast array of capabilities (intellectual property, talent, strategies, ideas) that can be leveraged into profits for your company — and theirs. For example, a customer in need of new material will often finance a small manufacturer’s R&D, especially if they can share the rewards with limited risk. If you’re a small customer in need of new components or materials, it can work the other way; a larger supplier might finance the required R&D and tooling, in exchange for a long-term contract. These partners — or others — might also offer as-needed production capacity, for seasonal demand spikes or unexpected orders. Unfortunately, for most manufacturers, “partnership” is an unfamiliar term. Only 25% of manufacturers report that their relationships with suppliers are “partnerships” in which they share resources, intellectual property, etc. Among smaller manufacturers — less than $25 million in revenues — more than half have a “buy and sell” relationship with suppliers. Relationships with customers are just as bad (or worse) (see Infographic). These low-value relationships

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MAGNET client receives grant to develop new system for healthcare patients and providers

July 12, 2016 by Liz Fox

Cleveland startup and MAGNET Incubator tenant iRxReminder has received a $125,000 grant from the North Coast Opportunity Technology Fund to move forward with an innovative product used in the healthcare industry. The money will be used to enhance the existing iRxReminder System, which helps medical professionals manage aftercare through a cloud-based application that includes symptom monitoring, data capture, and patient education. Funds will also go toward the iLidRx, a new automated dispensing and verification system that can help patients and care providers track and store their medication. The pods will also be utilized during a clinical trial at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center this fall. iRxReminder CEO Anthony Sterns, who founded the company in Akron in 2009, says much of his success is due in part to the assistance of MAGNET experts and consultants. “Being a client in the MAGNET accelerator program has been essential to our progress,” Sterns said. “MAGNET staff have helped with coaching and strategy, and I know our Angel Investors were impressed with the MAGNET facilities when they visited as part of the due diligence process. Now MAGNET is helping us with MPaCT funding to complete the initial manufacturing of our medication management technology.”

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5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan

July 11, 2016 by Liz Fox

Many consultants, service providers, and industry experts have their own advice when it comes to business plans. Some opt for flashy presentations that revolve around target markets, and others are more detailed and central to various parts of the company. But one element remains consistent: a business plan should be a dynamic document that not only receives attention from company leadership, but also reflects a strategic plan that can be adapted to forever-evolving business and economic conditions. Below are some key elements of planning that owners, management, and other key personnel should always take into account (regardless of industry). Products and Services - List unique features, differentiators, patents, copyrights, lists of suppliers, etc. Thorough Market Analysis - Think about your market space. List current and prospective targets, existing clientele, feedback surveys, letters of intent, and competing companies or ideas. Market Strategy - Discuss how you're planning to sell and market your product. This part of your business plan often includes product pricing plan, business cards, marketing collateral, methods of selling, and credit-and-collection policies. Describe where, when, and how often you plan to touch these markets (and include the cost of sales). Current and Future Management Plans - Not only is it

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Back to Basics: How to Make More Money Now

July 05, 2016 by Liz Fox

There’s lots to talk about in manufacturing these days — the Internet of Things, cloud computing, additive manufacturing, robotics, etc. And there’s no question these new technologies could transform your company — but only if you’re ready for them. Alas, there’s the rub: Many manufacturers — especially smaller firms — ignore the improvement strategies that could put more money in their pockets now, while positioning themselves for an more lucrative tomorrow. In fact, 17% of manufacturing companies have no improvement methodology in place at their plants. Sadly, two-thirds of those facilities belong to small manufacturers (revenues of less than $25 million). Make no mistake: These “No methodology” facilities woefully underperform vs. their improvement-minded peers: They lag in sales per employee by $105,315 per year — $168,844 (average) vs. $274,159 at plants with an improvement methodology in place - and they’re much less likely to lower production costs: 22% reduced manufacturing costs (excluding purchased materials) over the past three years vs. 37% of plants with an improvement methodology. It doesn’t have to be this way. Small manufacturers have major advantages and opportunities in adopting improvement principles. First, the scopes of their efforts are smaller — which means fewer people to train and

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