Blog posts by Liz Fox

How to Leverage the Internet of Things to Impact Plant Profits

September 06, 2016 by Liz Fox

A strong majority of manufacturing executives say the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to plants and production will increase profitability in the next five years. Some 26% expect profit boosts of more than 5%. Unfortunately, many of these imagined profits will never materialize. Why? Because nearly a quarter of manufacturers have no companywide understanding of the IoT and how to apply it to their businesses. Another 43% have only limited understanding. Even worse, only 11% of manufacturers have implemented a strategy to apply IoT technologies to their processes. Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) are even less likely to have companywide understanding or IoT strategies. Yet gloomy as these numbers might seem, they offer insights into improving your IoT prospects: Develop IoT knowledge: Spur awareness and understanding of the IoT throughout your company by focusing on how embedded intelligence and smart devices can drive improvement — on the plant floor and in the office. For example, real-time data on production can allow for delivery updates to customers. Or maintenance staff can monitor key equipment to predict failures, and prevent line stoppages. Communicate an IoT vision: Establish a collaborative, integrated plan for your company to help managers and employees understand

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Tap into the Power of Real-Time Production Information

August 29, 2016 by Liz Fox

Manufacturing executives are keenly aware of the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) — and its potential to improve plant performances. Most manufacturers (85%) plan to deploy IoT technologies and increase their company’s application of smart devices in production equipment and processes over the next two years. Moving forward with IoT-enabled processes can improve plant quality, speed, and costs — more than half of manufacturers cite those as IoT objectives — and generate competitive advantage. But not all IoT opportunities yield the same returns. The applicability of the IoT to various production processes varies widely, with shipping, warehousing, and document management topping the list of excellent or good opportunities (Figure 1). But every plant is unique. A labor-intensive plant will surely apply the IoT differently than an asset-intensive facility.     Excellent opportunity Good opportunity Fair opportunity No opportunity Shipping/logistics/transportation 27% 36% 22% 15% Warehousing 22% 36% 21% 20% Document management 22% 41% 22% 15% Assembly 18% 28% 27% 26% Packaging 18% 29% 27% 27% Additive manufacturing 9% 21% 23% 48% Fabrication/stamping 7% 24% 20% 49% Welding 6% 14% 24% 56% Heat-treating 6% 13% 20% 62% Plating or painting 4% 16% 19% 61%   To identify the best IoT

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Youngstown/Warren Chamber, MAGNET partner to assist valley manufacturers

August 25, 2016 by Liz Fox

MAGNET and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce have partnered to offer new growth opportunities to manufacturers in Mahoning and Trumbull counties that would enable small- to mid-sized companies to take advantage of the many resources MAGNET offers in Northeast Ohio. Sarah Boyarko, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Regional Chamber, and Linda Barita, Director of Strategic Alliances at MAGNET, will serve as the primary liaisons between the two organizations. With the help of MAGNET’s Growth Advisory team, the Chamber’s Economic Development outreach team will work to strengthen the region’s manufacturing community. For more than 20 years, Youngstown/Warren Chamber staff have conducted daily business retention and expansion visits with local companies in an effort to ensure they are aware of the resources available to assist in their growth. Currently, Anthony Catullo and Genna Petrolla, the Chamber’s managers of Business Development, are responsible for those visits in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, respectively, and will include information about MAGNET’s services in their conversations and presentations to manufacturers. “As a friend, colleague and collaborator of MAGNET, I am pleased to partner with the organization to support manufacturers in the region,” said Boyarko. “Our community is growing, and MAGNET has clearly demonstrated the knowledge,

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It's a Small World - Even for Small Manufacturers

August 22, 2016 by Liz Fox

The United States is a huge market — and offers domestic SMEs a familiar and comfortable sales destination. But big as it is, it only represents a third of manufactured goods consumption on the planet. That’s a problem for SMEs, especially since only 46 percent have a global strategy. SMEs can successfully go global, by focusing on three key opportunities: Sales: There are markets for your products outside the United States, and you don’t need to move there to tap them. Find a trusted distributor or partner with local experience, and craft a deal that gets your goods into foreign markets while protecting your intellectual property and brand. Production: It may seem overwhelming, but the best global option for your company may be an operation abroad. Where are your biggest customers located around the world — or planning to expand? Would they like to see your facility next door? Can they help you set up shop? Procurement: Most SMEs buy goods and services in the United States that could be sourced abroad. You won’t want to procure everything (especially critical components) overseas, but you should understand your options. Which non-core components, materials, or services could be sourced more cost-effectively abroad? The

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MAGNET Welcomes Terrence Robinson as ECEC Executive Director

August 15, 2016 by Liz Fox

MAGNET is pleased to announce the addition of Terrence S. Robinson to the organization as Executive Director of the new Early College Early Career apprenticeship program. Modeled after European-style apprenticeships, Early College Early Career (ECEC) equips high school students in Northeast Ohio with a skill set highly sought after by the region’s manufacturers. Participating students receive college credit as well as industry certifications that open doors for them upon graduation. The program will also provide ample opportunities for other forms of learning, such as workplace visits, job shadowing, and on-site training. For employers, ECEC builds a continuous pipeline of students and engages local high schools to maintain a strong and steady interest in manufacturing. “Terrence is a key player in helping Early College Early Career launch the creation of a new and skilled manufacturing workforce,” said MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp. “With his unrivaled experience in leadership and academia, he will provide ECEC with the direction and vision that it needs to flourish, and MAGNET is proud to have such an invaluable asset on our team.” “I believe that my experiences in education and academia allows me to bring a voice and perspective to the leadership team at MAGNET and ECEC

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NEO Employers: Hire new engineers through Cleveland State University!

August 09, 2016 by Liz Fox

Are you looking for new engineering talent with fresh ideas that can help solve an engineering challenge your company is facing? Have an R&D problem but don’t have the time or resources to tackle it? Want to introduce prospective new employees to your company while supporting the next generation of engineering professionals? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then the Senior Design Program at CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering is for you! Senior Design is the culmination of students’ engineering education at CSU. The two-semester long capstone course gives student-teams the opportunity to incorporate engineering principles they have learned over the course of their academic careers into one final project. At the conclusion of the two-semester course, teams provide their sponsors with a solution (or prototype) to the problem presented to them, along with a written report. For the past two years, the College has partnered with local industry to provide real-world projects for students to work on. Industry partners have ranged in size from large multi-national corporations to small manufacturing shops. Past program sponsors include Parker Hannifin, Lincoln Electric, Rockwell Automation and the Dan T. Moore Company to name a few. There are many examples

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Real-Time Information and Insight for Manufacturers

August 08, 2016 by Liz Fox

Information powers improvement — yet many manufacturers are powerless. Most manufacturing leaders don’t know what’s happening in their plants right now. The information vacuum is even worse at SMEs: executives at these companies can rarely get their hands on real-time information regarding critical metrics. For example, less than a third of SMEs have a real-time capability to monitor and measure process-specific safety within their plants. Worst of all, a staggering percentage of SMEs have no information about key performances (Figure 1). A full 11 percent have no capability to track safety. Capability to monitor and measure    No capability Real-time capability Process-specific quality 8% 36% Process-specific safety 11% 29% Location-specific inventory levels 12% 26% Process-specific pace or speed 12% 22% Process-specific productivity 12% 21% Individual equipment or machine performance 11% 20% In-plant material handling performance 19% 18% Process-specific sustainability performance 21% 14% Supplier performance 12% 10% External logistics/distribution performance 16% 8%   Respondents rated capability on a scale of 1-5, where 1=No capability and 5=Real-time capability. Imagine working at one of the SMEs that don’t know if equipment is operating (11 percent), or how much inventory is lying around (12 percent), or internal cycle times (12 percent). Leaders at SMEs often

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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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