Delegates from Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech Meet with Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill

Tim Israel, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in Washington, D.C. for the 2020 “Hill Day” at the U.S. Capitol.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) convened with members of the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) during its annual “Hill Day” in Washington, D.C.

 

The two-day event, held on March 3 and 4, was an opportunity for ASMC members and their manufacturing clients to meet with their respective Congressional delegation and educate them about the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program during the annual appropriations process.

 

The MEP National Network works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers through designated MEP Centers, including the GaMEP at Georgia Tech. They are charged with assisting manufacturing clients to help them, to help create and retain jobs, increase profits, and promote innovation and growth for the future.

 

The intent behind Hill Day is to call attention to the importance of small and medium-sized manufacturers’ effect on rebuilding the economy.  By showcasing the achievements of this sector to elected officials, ASMC members are able to demonstrate a return on investment of the federal funding generated through the MEP program.

 

“As a part of the MEP National Network, the GaMEP works with manufacturers throughout the state offering solution-based approaches to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “We have a unique responsibility to boost Georgia’s economy by enhancing our clients’ competitiveness. I was excited to share these results with our congressional leaders so they can see our key successes this past year.”

 

In Georgia, the GaMEP worked with more than 700 manufacturers across the state to increase manufacturing sales by $317 million, reduce clients’ operating costs by $121 million, invest more than $159 million back into their plants, and create or retain 2,074 jobs.

 

As a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the MEP offers its clients resources centered on five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce, and continuous improvement. In 2019, MEP generated a 14.4:1 return on investment, according to an Upjohn Institute for Employment Research study.

 

Nationally, in 2019, MEP clients reported $15.7 billion new and retained sales and the creation or retention of 114,650 jobs. Considering that the average U.S. manufacturing worker earns more than $87,185 in wages and benefits per year, MEP clients are economic drivers in their communities. MEP clients are also increasing their capacity for the production of goods. MEP clients reported $4.5 billion in new investments directly attributed to their work with MEP.

 

“The MEP National Network continues to significantly improve the productivity and competitiveness of America’s small and mid-sized manufacturers,” said Dave Boulay, ASMC board chairman and president of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center.  “Hill Day provides us an opportunity to showcase those impacts to our congressional representatives and allow our clients to share their stories directly.”

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)
The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

About the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC)
The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) is a trade association of manufacturing extension centers that work to improve the innovation and productivity of America’s manufacturing community. ASMC advocates for legislative and programmatic resources that allow our small manufacturing clients to better compete in the global marketplace. The Coalition and its members do this by increasing awareness of the importance of American small manufacturers, the challenges which they face, and the federal legislation and programs that affect them. Learn more by visiting smallmanufacturers.org.

For the state’s food manufacturers, a Georgia Tech partnership is the secret ingredient to growth

Just add engineers to the mix.

 

Damon Nix inside the facilities of Project Open Hand, which prepares and delivers 4,500 freshly meals a day to seniors and people with chronic diseases. GaMEP helped the nonprofit reduce the time it takes to find and prep a meal in their cooler from 45 minutes to 1 minute.

By Michael Baxter

You would expect a building where vinegar is made to have a sour smell, highly pungent, perhaps with a whiff of apple. World Technology Ingredients (WTI) smells nothing like this. Their manufacturing facility, off a county two-lane in Jefferson, Georgia, has a vaguely mineral aroma. More dry than dank, and not altogether unpleasant.

 

Maybe that’s because the vinegar made here isn’t destined for grocery store shelves, but for food preservation. It’s called buffered vinegar, an all-natural additive that protects meats and other products from microbes. WTI makes a lot of this vinegar, more than they used to in fact, and that’s partly because of Damon Nix.

 

On this Friday afternoon, Nix is taking a visitor through WTI’s plant, pointing out its sectors and stations. Here’s the wet vinegar, seven titanic tanks and even more smaller ones, emitting a hiss-and-motor chorus of mechanized blending. Over here’s the powdered version, mixed in towering contraptions on chalky floors (that will later be cleaned), then heated, blended and bagged.

 

Nix stops at a white board with dry-erase markings that tell another story of what’s going on inside the plant — one of continuous improvement. Sketched out are five days of the work week, four areas of focus (safety, performance, schedule, issues) and an assortment of metrics. One of WTI’s workers happens by, and after glancing at the white board, Nix congratulates him.

 

“I think y’all are doing great,” he says. “These are good numbers.”

 

Nix doesn’t work for WTI. He’s an industry manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or GaMEP, a Georgia Tech-based, engineering-centric program that helps small and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the state perform better. As the partnership’s food and beverage point person, Nix applies his industrial engineering education from Tech to help manufacturers up their game and lower their costs.

 

“What I really do is facilitate problem solving,” says Nix (B.S., ISyE, ’01). He is careful to emphasize the facilitation part. He doesn’t arrive as the dreaded efficiency expert, handing down mandates and new processes to those on the floor. Rather, he operates as the quintessential engineer — conducting research, listening to people, and fostering ownership of change. When he introduces new knowledge, such as time-tested principles of lean manufacturing and quality control, it’s more as a coach guiding a player who’s motivated to improve.

 

“In organizations that really succeed, teams are empowered by top management,” he says. “The team has to own the process. I could go to a meeting and offer a bunch of ideas, but half of them wouldn’t be nearly as good as what people inside the company put forward and act on.”

 

Rise of an engineering partnership

 

Georgia Tech has been in the game of helping small and mid-sized manufacturers for a long time. A century ago, the idea of creating an engineering counterpart to America’s agricultural experiment stations was being debated in Congress. But the Georgia General Assembly didn’t wait for the debate to conclude — it voted in 1919 to launch an “engineering experiment station” (EES) at Georgia Tech.

 

Curiously, lawmakers didn’t fund the new enterprise. It wasn’t until 1934, midway through the Great Depression, that EES got its first state allocation of $5,000 and was assigned an acting director, Harry Vaughn, who described the experiment station as “Georgia’s first agency designed to aid in a comprehensive development of industry.”

 

In 1960, the General Assembly ratcheted up Georgia Tech’s assistance to industry, passing a bill to form an Industrial Extension Service as part of the earlier EES. That authorized Georgia Tech to create field offices around the state to provide “technical advice and assistance to local development groups and to establish(ed) business and industry.” The new service was the forerunner of today’s GaMEP. The partnership sharpened its focus on manufacturing in 1988 after Congress passed a national program, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The Industrial Extension Service was later designated GaMEP as one of 70 MEP affiliates. (EES, by the way, later became GTRI, the Georgia Tech Research Institute.)

 

GaMEP, which turns 60 next year, is today housed inside Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute — a good fit, given its economic development focus. With 10 offices throughout Georgia, it now has a solid track record of helping small and mid-sized manufacturers grow. One of these is Dalton-based Precision Products, which manufactures a wide range of parts to order and has achieve two crucial ISO certifications that opened the door to new customers and industries. Sales grew by more than $3.5 million. And Goldens’ Foundry and Machine Co., a 130-year-old enterprise, wanted to strengthen employee communication and problem solving. GaMEP helped them introduce a management system designed to bring company conversations to the plant floor and improve information flow.

 

Packaging insight into food processing

 

One area historically underserved by GaMEP is the food and beverage industry. “It’s the state’s top manufacturing sector,” Nix says, “yet it had not been our number one customer.” So, in 2016, he was assigned to develop an initiative to broaden and deepen partnerships with businesses in the industry.

 

Driving much of the food and beverage industry’s growth in Georgia are companies of 50 or fewer employees. These are the makers of local craft beers, hometown jellies and artisan mustards. Nix says about eight of 10 food processing companies fit that size profile, though they are dwarfed in sales by the other 20 percent, the larger manufacturers.

 

So he developed a market analysis and concluded that super-sizing a commitment to food and beverage would be a good fit. The demand was there, too. Food processing employs nearly 70,000 Georgians and accounts for $12 billion of the state’s GDP every year, according to a 2016 report from Georgia Power. Since GaMEP stepped up efforts to serve the industry in 2017, the average number of projects with food and beverage companies more than doubled, from 20 to 45.

 

When asked to describe the greatest problems facing these manufacturers, Nix quickly cites compliance with safety regulations, which, to a small food business, run from complex to bewildering. “If you’re in a business of 10 to 20 people, you may not have a food scientist on staff,” he says. “So, you’ve got to figure out compliance on your own, or else bring in consultants.”

 

Safety, he notes, is more than just following protocols in production. It involves attending to details in reporting and paperwork, all the way down to the product label. Nix shares the cautionary tale of an Oregon maker of seasonings that neglected to include hazelnuts in its list of ingredients on the label. “Of course, nut allergies are a huge issue,” he says. “That one mistake could have ruined their entire product distribution. The damage to the brand, and the cost of bringing back the brand, is so significant.”

 

While GaMEP knew it could help food companies in an array of ways — from process management to energy usage to business growth — leaders found they had a gap in food science expertise. Food science determines the safety profile of every jar, tin, box and bag of product. So they brought in a food manufacturing safety whiz, Wendy White, who had experience overseeing a portfolio of food products. White is now leading a new GaMEP program on safety, funded by a three-year grant totaling nearly $1 million.

 

For the ingredients company WTI, the primary challenge has not been safety but improving processes and efficiency. When asked what impact he’s seen from GaMEP’s help, Stephan Georg, the company’s director of strategic sourcing, recounts a conversation between a shift foreman and consultant in front of one of the Gemba white boards.

 

“The foreman said the plan was to make two batches of a product,” Georg says, “but the consultant answered, ‘Well, I think you can do five batches. The foreman thought that was unrealistic. So we brought in Georgia Tech, and the first thing Damon does is conduct time studies. It gave us that baseline information we needed. After that groundwork, we determined that three batches would be a good goal.”

 

Since then, Nix has visited with workers from WTI’s round-the-clock shifts and consulted with management. Together, they work through improvements born out of lean manufacturing, which are processes engineered to reduce waste and improve customer satisfaction. The goal is to reach 40 percent overall equipment effectiveness for producing buffered vinegar, a metric built on several components of the manufacturing process.

 

More recently, Nix introduced a new tool to these efforts: A software platform called Impruver, developed out of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). It’s designed to help small and mid-sized manufacturers of consumer products spot trends in metrics, track performance and monitor ongoing issues. “It’s great to have another entity inside ATDC working with us and our clients,” Nix says.

 

While all of GaMEP’s contributions are welcomed, Stephan Georg has special praise for the non-engineering side of Damon Nix. “While he looks at the facts and explains things in a scientific way, he also treats people here with respect,” Georg says. “They see that he’s not here to get them fired. He’s the guy who’s here to help.”

Tim Israel named director of Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Tim Israel

GaMEP Director Tim Israel.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, has named Tim Israel, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

 

Israel, who had been GaMEP’s associate director and group manager of process improvement, will be responsible for the manufacturing resources and regional staff located across Georgia.

 

He succeeds Karen Fite, who was named interim vice president of EI2in July of 2019.

 

The GaMEP, EI2’s longest running and largest program, works with manufacturers across the state to offer innovation- and solutions-based approaches via consulting, couching, and education.

 

A member organization of the National MEP network and supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the GaMEP’s main goal is to help manufacturers increase top line growth and reduce bottom costs.

 

“Tim has done an outstanding job in leading our efforts to work with Georgia manufacturers in increasing their efficiencies and process improvements, especially in waste reduction, streamlining operations, and quality control systems implementation,” Fite said. “His experience and expertise, as well as his vast and deep relationships within Georgia Tech and with our GaMEP partners ensures continued success of our mission.”

 

Israel, a 30-year veteran at Georgia Tech, began his career as a project engineer in Tech’s Gainesville Regional Office. He also served as a project manager in Georgia Tech’s Georgia Productivity and Quality Center (GPQC) and the Center for International Standards and Quality (CISQ).

 

An expert in lean manufacturing, quality management systems, and supplier development, Israel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership taps Wendy White to Lead Statewide Efforts in Food Safety Program

Wendy White headshot

Wendy White is a food safety project manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Wendy White, a nationally known food safety expert, has joined the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) as a food safety project manager.

 

In that capacity, she will provide educational outreach and support to help Georgia food manufacturers improve their food safety and quality systems.

 

Prior to joining the GaMEP, White was director of corporate food safety and quality at Golden State Foods, a food manufacturer and distributor in the industry with more than 35 sites around the world.

 

“I will work to help Georgia food manufacturers comply with government regulations for food safety and to be in compliance with those rules to avoid heavy fines, delays, and shutdowns,” White said.

 

She also will lead GaMEP’s new Food Safety Cohort Program, helping companies achieve compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA,) through a series of six 1-day group training sessions and additional one-on-one coaching sessions.

 

“Wendy brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise which will be especially critical for our small- to medium-sized food manufacturers in Georgia,” said GaMEP Associate Director Tim Israel.

 

Many large companies have the resources to devote strictly to their compliance activities, but our small companies, don’t always have that, he said.

 

“Through her efforts, Wendy will help those smaller Georgia food manufacturers develop and expand robust compliance activities so that they’re sustainable over the long term as well as, easy to understand and implement into their operations,” Israel said.

 

Georgia is among the nation’s leading agriculture states and the industry accounts for nearly $75 billion of the state’s economy each year.

 

Food manufacturing, or food processing, is a related and growing segment of the Georgia economy. This sector, which includes 69,000 jobs across Georgia, generates $11 billion to $12 billion each year in total output.

 

White has overseen food safety operations at multiple facilities where she implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and related quality programs.

 

Her experience also includes overseeing internal audits, implementing corporate programs, ensuring regulatory compliance, elevating food safety culture, and supporting global supply chain management. She successfully implemented multiple Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) Certification Programs and is on the editorial board of Food Safety Magazine.

 

White is also a highly sought-after speaker at food safety conferences and is very involved in the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP). She’s held multiple leadership positions, and currently serves as vice chair of the Meat and Poultry PDG and sits on its Foundation Committee.  White is past president of the Georgia Association of Food Protection (GAFP) and currently is an IAFP board delegate.

 

She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in food science from the University of Georgia.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP): 

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership recruiting companies to participate in new energy management improvement program

Federal award supports targeted focus on energy management system implementation and improvements for manufacturers in six southern states.

 

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech has launched a new program to help manufacturers boost their competitiveness by implementing energy management best practices in ISO 50001.

 

A 12-month effort, the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program is being funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

 

“The program aims to help companies in the Southeast accelerate their energy and cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating best practices as outlined by ISO 50001,” said Bill Meffert, the GaMEP’s group manager for energy and sustainability projects.

The ISO 50001 Energy Management System — an international standard in which the GaMEP had a role in developing when first drafted in 2011 and its 2018 revisions — provides business and industry with an energy performance improvement framework.

“That’s the focus of the ISO 50001 training and coaching. We’re assisting companies in their efforts to bring energy costs under control and make smart energy usage part of their daily processes,” Meffert said.

 

Participants in the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program will take a series of classes and webinar sessions, and receive on-site coaching over a 12-month period. Completing the program allows them to be certified by the U.S. Department of Energy as 50001 Ready by showing they’ve implemented the standard into their operations. They can also take an additional step to become certified, Meffert said.

The class for the first cohort launches in early 2019 and applications are being accepted at this link: https://gamep.org/southeast-energy-management-program/.

 

The federal grant covers most of the cost for the training, but participating companies will pay about 25 percent of that. As part of the grant, the GaMEP will partner with MEPs in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas. Those sister MEPs will find clients in those states to work with them to implement the ISO 50001 management system.

“For many companies, energy use is a critical component of their ability to maintain a competitive edge,” Meffert said.

 

A medium- to large-sized company with 250 employees or more could spend more than $1 million a year on energy, including electricity, natural gas, fuel, and water.

 

“What we see with the companies that we’ve worked with to adopt the ISO standard in the past is that they achieve energy performance improvements that go beyond the typical approaches,” he said. “Roughly 70 percent of the savings achieved are through operational controls and behavior change.”

 

Since the ISO standard’s adoption in 2011, the GaMEP has helped more than 70 facilities in North America to implement ISO 50001, with most becoming certified, including nine in the Southeast.

 

“This energy management system is applicable to a whole host of industries from textiles and floor coverings to food and beverage to automotive manufacturing,” Meffert said. “One of the reasons we sought to get more companies in the Southeast to adopt this energy standard is because we have such a strong manufacturing presence in all of these sectors.

 

“Incorporating these standards and changing processes for energy usage can really make a difference to the bottom line, while also helping companies meet their competitiveness and sustainability objectives,” Meffert said.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in 10 regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, please visit gamep.org.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech awarded grant for food safety modernization program

U.S. Department of Commerce award will support targeted 

focus on small food and beverage manufacturers in four states.

 

GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech was awarded a $986,805 grant to create a food safety program that will serve small food and beverage manufacturers in Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, and Oregon.

 

This four-state MEP effort, led by the GaMEP, is aimed at helping these small manufacturers comply with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements. The law, enacted in 2011, seeks to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting regulators’ attention to contamination prevention to reduce outbreaks.

 

The grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)will support the effort over a three-year period. The award was part of $7 million in total grants NIST gave to MEP centers in seven states and the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico.

 

The GaMEP is designing an affordable FSMA compliance and food safety management system implementation program with its partners for small and very small food and beverage manufacturers within each state.

 

“Agriculture and industries related to food are critical to the economies of Georgia and to the states that we’re partnering with, both in direct financial impact, and jobs,” said GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

 

“But as large as the sector is, it’s chiefly comprised of small companies or very small family-run businesses or partnerships that don’t always have the resources or expertise to meet all the requirements for safety compliance.”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017 it monitored between 18 and 37 potential food poisoning cases and clusters each week and almost 200 weekly cases of outbreaks affecting multiple states.

 

Protecting the nation’s food supply chain is critical, but even more so for small and very small food processors that are responding to consumer taste trends, are often processing high risk foods that include fresh produce, dry ingredients, and dairy, he said.

 

“All of those types of foods have experienced outbreaks in the last few years and most of the small food processing businesses in Georgia and those of our partner states simply can’t afford the financial toll of a recall or disruption,” Israel said. “This is one of the reasons this critical need has to be addressed.”

 

The program services will first target FSMA compliance in the development of food safety management systems for human consumption, Israel said. It would then potentially be expanded to support manufacturers of pet food, as well as food safety management system certification, third-party certification audits, food defense compliance, and technology insertion for hazard controls.

 

“Agriculture contributes $73 billion to Georgia’s economy each year, and food processing manufacturing adds another $11 billion to $12 billion each year to it,” he said. “That’s why it’s imperative we focus our efforts on ensuring these small companies and very small companies have the tools, resources, and training to be in compliance.”

 

About Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

GaMEP exists to serve manufacturers and advance Georgia manufacturing. GaMEP is a program within Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). With offices in 10 regions across the state, GaMEP has served Georgia manufacturers since 1960. Through coaching and training, GaMEP offers solutions-based approaches designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

Dalton machine shop expands to serve aerospace industry

Precision Products Inc. increased its annual sales by more than $3.5 million

after working with Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

 

manufacturing, parts making

Precision Products Inc. is a high precision parts manufacturing company based in Dalton, Georgia.

DALTON, Ga. Precision Products Inc. obtained a new quality management certification that has allowed the Northwest Georgia-based company to serve the aerospace industry, invest in its plant, and create jobs.

 

The certification — AS9100C — followed Precision Products’ work with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), which helped the company create and continuously improve its quality management system.

 

A program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, GaMEP works with manufacturers across the state to help them reduce costs and increase growth.

 

AS9100C certification is part of a widely adopted and standardized quality management system for the aerospace sector.

 

Since the AS9100C certification, the company has increased annual sales by more than $3.5 million, invested in excess of $1.5 million in new equipment, and hired several new employees specific to the aerospace market to help meet the increased demand.

 

“The quality management system implementation process allowed us to work with Precision Products to help analyze and problem solve their daily operations, communication systems, and documentation efforts,” said Craig Cochran, a project manager at GaMEP, which has worked with Precision Products for the past 10 years.

 

The GaMEP was instrumental in Precision Products obtaining an earlier certification — ISO 9001 — which allowed the company to then pursue the AS9100C designation.

 

ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management systems that helps organizations ensure they are in compliance with the needs of their customers while simultaneously adhering to statutory and regulatory requirements related to a given product or service.

 

That certification led to more opportunities for new customers in several different industries, including the aerospace sector for Precision Products.

 

The aerospace sector was a perfect business expansion target for Precision Products because the company’s core competencies of tight tolerances and exacting specifications are critical in aerospace.

 

However, the company soon realized some aerospace manufacturers require even more stringent controls depending on the types of parts being supplied. So, the company worked with GaMEP to pursue and obtain AS9100C certification.

 

“This additional certification opened up an entirely new market for us,” said E. Don Smith, Precision Products’ senior sales engineer. “It has increased our business substantially because it has allowed us to attend trade shows and get new customers we would not have been able to serve prior to the certification.”

 

Since the company had already adopted a mindset of continual improvement and employee involvement, “the aerospace certification was remarkably easy,” Cochran said. “Precision Products holds itself to much higher standards than any auditor would.”

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in 10 regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, please visit gamep.org.

 

About Precision Parts Inc.

Founded in 1993, as a family/woman-owned business in Dalton, Georgia, Precision Products Inc., is a high precision parts manufacturing company. They make parts to order, either based on provided specifications or through reverse engineering, to support manufacturing operations in a variety of industries. For more information, please visit ppiparts.com.

Georgia Institute of Technology hosts Colombian delegation in technology extension workshops

EDL Colombia

A team of engineers and business professionals from Colombia are visiting the Georgia Tech campus as part of a week-long series of training workshops with the Economic Development Lab and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Lab (EDL) and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) are hosting a group of 23 professionals from Colombia this week, consisting of engineers and business managers from the cities of Medellín, Cali, and Bucaramanga.

 

The group is accompanied by representatives of the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Confecámaras), and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism’s Program of Productivity Transformation. All are participating in a week-long training program in technology extension.

 

“This program is part of our ongoing collaboration with the Private Council of Competitivenessto design and implement a program of technology extension in Colombia,” said Mónica Novoa, an EDL program manager. “As part of the training program at Georgia Tech, the group is attending workshops facilitated by our GaMEPgroup in topics including lean manufacturing, energy management, innovation, and growth management.”

 

The program also includes a site visit to a manufacturing company in Georgia to observe its facilities and learn how it has implemented strategies to increase productivity and competitiveness.

 

EDL helps communities and organizations create jobs and become more competitive through the application of innovative ideas to economic development. Areas of expertise include business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

The GaMEP is a state and federally funded initiative and member of the national MEP network that is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). GaMEP works with manufacturers across the state of Georgia and offers a low-cost, solution-based approach through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce-bottom line costs.

 

Both programs are offerings of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which is Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.

GTPAC cybersecurity initiative wins ‘Outstanding Project’ Award

GTPAC received the Outstanding Project Award at APTAC’s annual training conference on Mar. 7, 2018.

GTPAC received the Outstanding Project Award at APTAC’s annual training conference on Mar. 7, 2018.

A Georgia Tech-produced free instructional video that provides step-by-step guidance to government contractors seeking compliance with Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity requirements received the Outstanding Project Award from the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).

 

The award, given annually, recognizes an accomplishment that stands out from the day-to-day activities that all PTACs organize and undertake.

 

The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), which produced the 20-minute video and related template for contractors’ use, accepted the award on March 7, 2018 at APTAC’s spring conference in Jacksonville, Fla. APTAC represents 98 procurement technical assistance centers across the United States and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

 

GTPAC is an economic development program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2). It helps Georgia enterprises identify, compete for, and win government contracts. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense, GTPAC’s services are available at no cost to any Georgia businesses that have an interest and potential to perform work — as a prime contractor or a subcontractor — for federal, state, or local government agencies.

 

The video is accessible at this link: gtpac.org/cybersecurity-training-video. Its accompanying resources include a cybersecurity template for contractors’ use.

 

The video and template were funded through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency, and created with the support of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The content of the video presentation does not necessarily reflect the official views of, or imply endorsement by, the DoD, the Defense Logistics Agency, or Georgia Tech.

 

Members of the GTPAC team proudly show off the national award.

Members of the GTPAC team proudly show off the national award.

Both PTACs, which counsel businesses, and businesses themselves have heralded the video and template as valuable one-stop resources for existing contractors and aspiring DoD contractors alike.  Since the 2017 launch of these training tools, 1,284 persons have viewed the video and downloaded the template 1,508 times.

 

Specifically, the video explains Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clause 252.204-7012, including its key definitions and cyber obligations, including its primary requirement that defense contractors which process, store or transmit “covered defense information” must address 110 individual cybersecurity controls outlined in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171.

 

The 20-minute-video not only provides information on these requirements, but also provides specific guidance on how government contractors can achieve compliance with the DFARS clause and the NIST standards.  The video guides government contractors on how they can perform a “self-assessment” of their information system using NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Cybersecurity Self-Assessment Handbook.

 

One of the most creative and innovative aspects of the project is the 127-page cybersecurity template GTPAC created in conjunction with the video. The template provides step-by-step instructions on how government contractors can create a “Systems Security Plan” and “Plan of Action” — documentation necessary to achieve compliance.

 

“The resources we created come just as the DoD’s recent warning that it plans to request and evaluate cybersecurity plans from businesses as a part of the contract award decision-making process,” said GTPAC program manager Joe Beaulieu. “By providing the video and cybersecurity template, GTPAC’s objective is to make the process of achieving compliance much easier, especially for small defense contractors who may not have the resources necessary to develop such plans from scratch.”

 

The template makes the process of drafting the required documentation easier, as contractors merely have to fill in the blanks and answer specific questions, rather than work from a blank slate. While it is ultimately up to the contractor to meet the requirements and to fill in the blanks, GTPAC’s video and template provide contractors with an excellent starting point for assessing, achieving and documenting compliance.

 

In honoring GTPAC with the Outstanding Project Award, APTAC encouraged other PTACs to make use of the video, template, and resource materials. NIST recently provided similar encouragement to its nationwide MEP network — including the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — in their work with U.S. manufacturers.

 

GTPAC coordinated the creation of the cybersecurity materials with GaMEP, which is a sister economic development program offered through Tech’s EI2.

 

What automation means for economic development

Karen Fite Automation GaMEP

GaMEP Director Karen Fite (standing), moderates the Automation Panel at the 51st Annual Basic Economic Development Course. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Automation.

 

The word and what it represents is driving a lot of discussion about what that means for manufacturers and for those in economic development tasked with bringing industry — and jobs — to their communities.

 

But automation is not the boogeyman people think it is, said Mark Ligler, vice president of Factory Automation Systems. The Atlanta-based company is a systems integration resource for many of the top manufacturers in the United States and supports them in programmable controller and drive systems, robot integration, and information solutions.

 

“Automation is not a job killer,” Ligler said. “It’s a job creator and it’s keeping people here employed.”

 

Ligler made his remarks as part of a panel discussion, “What Automation means for Your Community” at the 51st annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) held Feb. 27 through March 2.

 

The interactive professional development course is produced by the Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and offered in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). It provides seasoned economic development professionals and those new to the field with the core fundamentals of business attraction, workforce development, retention and expansion, and entrepreneur and small business challenges, as well as transformative trends in the industry.

 

Basic Economic Development Course

Sixty-five economic development professionals from across the country attended Georgia Tech’s Basic Economic Development Course at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. (Photo: Special)

The 2018 BEDC theme — “Automation and Economic Development” — centered on how that is changing a number of industries and drove the panel discussions and other events for the 65 attendees who came from across the country.

 

“The research tells us that in roughly 60 percent of current occupations that at least a third of tasks performed in those jobs could be automated,” said Karen Fite, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

 

A federally funded program at Georgia Tech, GaMEP works with manufacturers in the state to increase their competitiveness and efficiency and boost productivity.

 

Fite, who moderated the panel, said the question for those in economic development and manufacturers is to understand how automation will affect business and industry and how to best prepare for the jobs and skills it will require.

 

It was a sentiment echoed by other panelists, which included Josh Benton, executive director of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Tom Sammon, a GaMEP project manager specializing on implementing Lean manufacturing practices and helping companies develop capital equipment applications, and John Fluker, president and chief sales officer of Grenzebach Corp. in Newnan, Ga.

 

“Automation, when you look at it from a longterm perspective, is all about competitiveness,” Fluker said.

 

“Competitiveness and demographics are driving automation,” he said, adding the technologies behind it are helping create a new landscape with jobs that demand new skills.

 

“It’s not a job killer,” he said. “It’s a skills changer.”