Manufacturing Disaster Assistance Program to help Georgia companies prepare for natural disasters

Manufacturers in seven Georgia counties can participate in new program

offered by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

 

Head shot of Ben Cheeks

Ben Cheeks is GaMEP’s manager for the Coastal Georgia region.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is seeking eligible manufacturers to participate in a disaster assistance program designed to help companies that are located in the state’s coastal areas assess their preparedness and develop operational solutions to minimize the impact of future hurricanes and other natural disasters.

 

 

The $173,859 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funds the GaMEP’s Manufacturing Disaster Assistance Program (MDAP), which was developed to address the needs of Georgia manufacturers.

 

 

The funds for the two-year effort are specifically designated toward assisting manufacturers with operations in Coastal Georgia in Camden, Chatham, Charlton, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh counties. It also includes Coffee County, which is not on the coast, but was also severely impacted by flooding during 2017’s Hurricane Irma. (Eligible manufacturers are encouraged to email Ben Cheeks, GaMEP’s coastal region manager at ude.hcetag.etavonninull@skeehc.neb.)

 

 

The counties are home to 408 manufacturing facilities that employ 23,000.

 

 

The MDAP creation follows a devastating 2017 hurricane season in which Hurricane Irma led to a mandatory evacuation of the coast’s nearly 540,000 residents and business owners, and resulted in estimated damages of more than $670 million. That’s on top of a 2016 evacuation of the Georgia coast following Hurricane Matthew, which caused more than $500 million in damages.

 

 

The goal with this tailored approach to help manufacturers on the Georgia Coast is two-pronged, Cheeks said.

 

 

“First, we want to assist as many manufacturers as possible and get them operating at pre-Hurricane Irma levels — that includes employment and fully contributing to the regional and state economies,” Cheeks said. “The second part of this effort is to help them develop plans that they will already have in place to address future hurricanes and other natural disasters so they will positioned for as little disruption as possible in resuming operations.”

 

 

As part of the offering, GaMEP will leverage its expertise and resources at Georgia Tech, as well as its local, state, and federal economic development partners, including the Technical College System of Georgia and the MEP network, among other organizations, Cheeks said. Pooling resources at all levels ensures maximum impact for the affected companies and communities, he added.

 

 

The MDAP initiative will include assessments of the manufacturers’ needs, helping prioritize opportunities for sustainability and growth. It also will incorporate the development of pre and post-natural disaster protocols that address challenges manufacturers will face following hurricanes and other natural disasters, such as supply chain and infrastructure disruption, labor displacement, and financial constraints.

 

 

“We’re taking a 360-degree approach with this effort,” Cheeks said. “It’s designed to help position our coastal manufacturers proactively and ahead of the likely after-effects we will see in future storms that will affect the Georgia Coast.”

 

 

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.

Modernizing Manufacturing with Georgia Tech Assistance

When managers at Delta Metals, a Savannah manufacturer of commercial and industrial sheet metal products, were thinking of ways to modernize their business and increase productivity, they had a pretty good idea of what would work. But since their idea involved purchasing half a million dollars worth of equipment, they needed to be certain it would work. To assist, they called on experts from Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

“Over the years, Delta has participated in many seminars offered by Georgia Tech, and we have always had the highest regard for their innovation and research capabilities,” said Ben Wells, the company’s president. “Orjan Isacson, region manager for coastal Georgia, has been very helpful in keeping our management team aware of Georgia Tech’s assistance capabilities for small business.”

In 2007, EI2 began offering growth services assistance through the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to help Georgia companies develop new strategies for growth. The seminar helped to confirm that Delta needed to expand its existing processes by modernizing a sheet metal production facility that, for the most part, had not been updated for more than 30 years. Wells and other Delta staff attended a seminar on growth strategies for manufacturing companies.

“We had already researched a piece of equipment that’s been around a while, but it is continually improved with new software. That really made it more do-able,” Wells explained. “Scott Rasplicka, vice president of Delta Metals, suggested we hire Georgia Tech to examine our numbers to convince our board of directors to get the project going.”

Isacson and EI2 project managers provided Wells and Rasplicka with market research to substantiate a need for the product beyond Delta’s then-existing market area. They also confirmed that the new process would result in substantial cost savings through an increase in productivity.

“Bringing in Georgia Tech to conduct this research gave management much greater insight into both the company’s customers and competitors,” said Ann O’Neill, an EI2 project manager. “This really increased confidence in making the decision to invest in new equipment and a new business model.”

The management team took Georgia Tech’s report to its board of directors meeting, along with a marketing survey that identified potential new customers. According to Wells, the Georgia Tech team verified the predicted cost savings and return on investment, prompting the board to approve the project.

The Pro-Fabriduct coil line that Delta Metals purchased has modernized and automated the duct fabrication process. Wells estimates the company has already realized savings from the investment and has increased productivity. Not only have the automation processes improved, but there is also a better flow of materials throughout the plant.

“This piece of equipment actually reduces the number of people you need for labor. Typically when that happens, people think there are going to be layoffs,” Rasplicka explained. “But because our product is labor-intensive, the new equipment freed those employees up to go to other jobs and bring more work in. Last year at this time, we had 68 employees and now we have 93.”

Both Wells and Rasplicka credit Georgia Tech with providing objective marketing research, thereby validating their decision to purchase the piece of equipment.

“Sometimes when you’re that close to a project, you can be myopic,” said Rasplicka. “Georgia Tech provides a valuable resource to businesses wanting to expand or change product lines. Now we are much better positioned to be competitive on future projects.”

Photo caption: Jamie Sullivan, shop foreman, and Ben Wells, president and CEO of Delta Metals, stand in front of the company’s new equipment that has modernized and automated the duct fabrication process.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright


Luring Manufacturers to the Coast

The Georgia Tech campus in Savannah was a key incentive for Firth Rixson, a manufacturer of forged metal products.

Firth Rixson Limited, a provider of highly engineered forged metal products, recently announced its expansion to Midway in Liberty County, citing the new location’s proximity to Georgia Tech Savannah as a significant incentive. The 200,000-square-foot facility will provide components for the aerospace industry, and will create at least 200 local jobs.

In Midway, Firth Rixon Forgings will have convenient access to the pipeline of talented graduates and research expertise at Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus. Ranked among the top 10 public universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Georgia Tech is an active partner to aerospace and other industries, providing them a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Working with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Partners Office, Firth Rixson officials learned about a broad range of resources and expertise at Georgia Tech, in collaboration with the Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP) of the University System of Georgia. Strategic Partners Officer Greg King provided information to the company about Georgia Tech’s capabilities in industrial and systems engineering, management, metallurgy and materials, tribology, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace structures.

In addition, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute will assist the company through its statewide network of field staff with expertise in process improvement, production design, sustainability and automation.

“The Strategic Partners Office at Georgia Tech will link Firth Rixson to campus resources, applying faculty know-how, specialized facilities and student talent to such goals as university talent acquisition, product development and improved manufacturing systems,” said King. “We can help the company identify the appropriate resources and make the right connections to develop a collaborative partnership that meets its needs.”

Firth Rixson’s Midway operation will be known as Firth Rixson Forgings LLC, and will be the company’s largest greenfield investment. The new facility will also become Firth Rixson’s fourth closed die forging facility. The majority of the more than 200 anticipated jobs will be filled from the local community, with hiring for human resources positions beginning immediately.

“One of the many benefits of locating in coastal Georgia is the opportunity to establish a lasting relationship with Georgia Tech. Our vice president of human resources, Jeff Hughes, and vice president of technology, Dave Hebert, have already engaged Georgia Tech’s Ralph Mobley, director of career services and Cynthia Jordin, associate director, in preliminary planning meetings,” said Andy Blanda, manager of mergers and acquisitions for Firth Rixson Limited. “We will soon be in contact with Yvette Upton, director of outreach and student affairs at the Savannah campus, as well. Together, we are looking forward to building a robust process for the identification of talented students at Georgia Tech, and the development of solid employment candidates for Firth Rixson.”

The aerospace industry plays a significant role in Georgia’s economy, and provides more than 80,000 jobs for aircraft manufacturers and aerospace suppliers.

“The coastal Georgia region has been successfully attracting world-class manufacturing companies to establish a presence in the region. The combination of synergies with other companies, the breadth of higher education opportunities and the outstanding quality of life make coastal Georgia a very competitive option,” said David Frost, director of Georgia Tech Savannah and a Georgia Tech vice provost. “The opportunities for close collaboration with Georgia Tech Savannah in hiring intern, co-op and permanent engineers, as well as the ability to leverage the continuing education and research capabilities of the institution, are important considerations for many companies.”

 

About Firth Rixson Limited

Headquartered in Sheffield, UK, Firth Rixson serves customers worldwide in market sectors such as aerospace, defense, power generation, transportation, petrochemical, medical and general industrial. Firth Rixson owns 11 operating facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. Firth Rixson Limited (www.firthrixson.com) is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners (www.oakhillcapital.com).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Saving Energy in Savannah

Savannah, the “Hostess City of the South,” is known for its southern hospitality and charm, but it is also making a bid to be known as environmentally friendly. Already, the City has implemented a number of initiatives, including converting all of its traffic lights to more energy-efficient and long-lasting LEDs, expanding use of treated wastewater for irrigation and implementing a much-anticipated single-stream curbside recycling program.

In August 2008, Mayor Otis Johnson held a town hall meeting to pledge that the City of Savannah will be a more environmentally sustainable community and to launch a new sustainability initiative, dubbed Thrive. However, Johnson wanted to focus on leading by example rather than making policies that force citizens to get on board with the program.

“There’s a lot of talk about being green and sustainable,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to lift up being environmentally healthy, we have to walk that walk.”

Rachel Smithson, Thrive coordinator for the City of Savannah, began collecting data to establish the City’s carbon footprint. The City conducted employee commuter surveys and analyzed electricity consumption, fuel usage and gas emissions. By plugging all of this data into a formula created by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Smithson realized that Savannah city government produces roughly 75,320 tons of equivalent carbon emissions per year.

“Now we had a baseline and we just needed to set an emissions reduction target,” Smithson recalled. “Just about that time, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority came up with the Governor’s Energy Challenge that invited statewide business, county and city governments to reduce their energy consumption 15 percent by the year 2020.”

After studying the carbon footprint data, Smithson noticed that city government buildings were the number one source of energy consumption, a trend that coincides with national data. The Thrive Committee decided to focus its initial efforts on buildings, and through its connection with the Georgia Environmental Partnership, called on Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute for assistance. One of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation, the Enterprise Innovation Institute has a local office on Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus.

“We wanted to have an energy audit because we didn’t want to randomly start replacing lights and windows; we wanted to make sure that we were going to have the greatest impact on our electricity and energy consumption,” Smithson said. “The City was really excited about using Georgia Tech because it isn’t trying to sell us a particular product; the staff there gives us a good, third-party, neutral analysis of what we need.”

Mike Brown, an energy specialist with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and two Georgia Tech co-op students conducted energy audits at three government buildings: City Hall, the Thomas Gamble Building and the Broughton Municipal Building. All three are designated historic buildings, and house the mayor’s office and council chambers, human resources, information technology, auditing, utility services and revenue, among others.

Brown and the students placed data loggers in each of the buildings, measuring temperature, lighting and energy consumption, even over nights and weekends. They studied each building’s energy consumption history and measured the major energy-consuming equipment.

Among the recommendations that the Georgia Tech specialists made were: replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps, improve fluorescent lighting efficiency by replacing T-12 lights with T-8 lights, and manage the building plug-load. They also recommended installing occupancy sensors in restrooms, vending machine controllers to reduce lighting and cooling, a building automation system to automatically control HVAC systems, and variable-air volume fans to match air flow with cooling needs.

According to Smithson, the biggest challenge now is implementing Georgia Tech’s recommendations. As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the City was able to establish a revolving loan with its stimulus funding. Although the City cannot implement all of the recommendations immediately, Smithson says that as soon as one investment is paid back, another project can begin with the energy savings from the previous project.

“Other challenges we face include changing the mindset of our employees, but behavior modification and organizational and culture shifts take time,” she said. “We also don’t want to harm the historic integrity of our facilities, but at the same time we don’t want to be so concerned that we’re throwing energy out the window because we’re using single-pane glass.”

Already, the benefits are outweighing the challenges. Georgia Tech’s assistance allowed the City to have an energy conservation strategy in place, a requirement of the stimulus funding application that some cities have spent more than $250,000 to obtain. And although a lot of investments have yet to be made, electricity expenditures were $350,000 below what the City had targeted through May 2009, something Smithson attributes to changing employee behavior alone.

“Having Georgia Tech on board doing the energy audit has helped us transform our messaging from ‘this is good for the environment’ to ‘this is good for the bottom line,’ and that has helped us sell this larger Thrive initiative to our elected officials and the community,” said Bret Bell, director of Savannah’s Public Information Office. “We’re taking it seriously enough that we want to document where we started and where we are going. It has given us credibility.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Savannah-based Urban Planet Mobile joins ATDC

Urban Planet Media & Entertainment, Inc. (Urban Planet Mobile), the leading provider of education and information products created specifically for delivery via mobile phone, has joined the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech’s award-winning technology incubator.

In 2002, ATDC launched a Savannah initiative that focuses on assisting new ventures arising from Savannah’s diverse technology community and a growing number of startups. Selected companies are fully associated with ATDC but receive the added benefit of local personal assistance and attention.

Urban Planet Mobile was chosen based on the attractiveness of its business model that merges advanced technologies with high-demand content in an innovative way to reach billions of potential subscribers worldwide.

Brian OliverSmith, Urban Planet Mobile CEO, brainstormed the idea of delivering simple audio lessons through text messaging two years ago. His team has since built a library of more than 4,500 lessons in 11 languages. With Urban Planet Mobile’s unique offering, the burgeoning mobile content market is taken one step further through the development of Urban English™ anytime, anywhere learning that can be accessed by more than 90 percent of mobile phones worldwide.

With distribution agreements in place to deliver short audio English lessons to the United Arab Emirates through T.A. Telecom, Urban Planet Mobile is poised for exponential growth. The Urban English business line is also in development for Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

OliverSmith describes Urban Planet Mobile’s innovative product line of short audio English language lessons as “providing the world with a native American English speaker in the palm of its hand.”

By signing up for the Urban English line of English lessons, the subscriber receives mobile daily audio downloads of lessons via Short Message Service (SMS). The lessons are available by clicking on a link to the lesson embedded in the text notification, which requires only a basic data plan. Alternatively, each SMS will provide a local country number routed to Urban Planet Mobile’s servers that play the lesson via interactive voice response technology.

The three- to five-minute lessons, which have been engineered to retain exceptional audio quality, use the same data for delivery as a 30-second ringtone. In this way, the more than 1.4 billion people worldwide actively learning English can affordably access quality audio English lessons anytime, anywhere with Urban Planet Mobile.

“In a world in economic turmoil, Urban Planet Mobile’s business model is of particular interest as the content they offer is in high demand and their delivery allows for unlimited scalability at an incredibly low cost, which in turn enables them to sell affordable subscriptions,” said Orjan Isacon, a venture catalyst with Savannah ATDC.

Member companies of ATDC have attracted more than $1 billion in venture capital since 1999, while more than 70 percent of the 122 firms that have graduated from the incubator are currently operating or have been acquired. Urban Planet Mobile is closing out a second round of investment at the end of August 2009.

ABOUT URBAN PLANET MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Urban Planet Mobile is the premiere language learning content developer for mobile delivery. The Urban Planet Mobile management team is extensively experienced in audio content development, production, distribution and marketing. Additionally, a team well-versed in developing learning curriculum is actively involved in all stages of building the entire family of products. The group is rounded out with international mobile content delivery and global business development experts on the sales and marketing side. Urban Planet Mobile is poised for exponential growth in a growth market. For additional information: moc.em-punull@sserp, www.UrbanPlanetMobile.com.

ABOUT ATDC
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 120 companies have graduated from the ATDC.

In collaboration with the Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Savannah Economic Development Authority, Coastal BETA and other local organizations, ATDC launched its Savannah initiative during spring 2002. The program assists new ventures arising from Savannah’s diverse technology community and a growing community of startups. For additional information: Orjan Isacson, venture catalyst, 912-963-2519, www.atdc.org.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (john.toon {at} innovate.gatech(.)edu).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Balaya Bridges Gap between Social Media and Business Solutions

As businesses search for better ways to remain engaged with their customers and employees, social networking tools have offered attractive options. But most of these tools were never designed as business applications.

Bob Nunnally, CEO of Savannah-based Balaya, says his company is poised to address that shortcoming by providing a new venue for a business-centric social media solution that improves organizational communication and collaboration.

“Businesses are desperate to stay connected, and the most promising activity for that is social media – things like wikis, blogs and social networking sites – that have seen triple-digit audience growth,” he noted. “However, none of those tools were built as a business solution. Instead of a new Web site, businesses need an entirely new venue.”

Balaya’s first application is tick-it™, an interactive communication tool that runs like a news ticker across the screen of a computer or mobile device. According to Nunnally, tick-it enhances team collaboration and cultivates customer engagement while offering an option for generating new revenue.

“We can help any organization with a need to communicate instantly or constantly improve efficiencies and their bottom line,” he added.

The social media market, composed of enterprise, consumer and advertising social, is worth nearly $40 billion in all. Balaya will target a $14 billion segment of that market via a three-part strategy: direct sales, a focus on select marquee media clients and the establishment of channel partners. Revenue will be generated from setup and customization fees, subscription fees and shared advertisement revenue.

“There are two target markets for us: an enterprise solution and a consumer-centric application. Our launch partner for the enterprise solution is a major aerospace corporation that believes this type of tool can connect engineers more effectively and efficiently across multiple time zones and locations,” Nunnally said. “Our launch partner on the consumer solution is a major print media company. They will license tick-it from us and give it free to the community as the preferred way to get newspaper headlines and create their own messaging content.”

Competitors in the marketplace are currently providing Web-centric solutions or social media tools as an add-on to SharePoint, Microsoft’s browser-based collaboration and a document-management platform. Nunnally says Balaya has a competitive advantage over competitors because of its patent-pending technology, its ability to move early into both enterprise and consumer markets, and its rapid scalability, solid architecture and security provisions.

Balaya, which is located in Savannah, Ga., began its operations in 2007 and currently consists of four full-time and two part-time employees. The team has more than 130 years of experience, including Nunnally’s background in international and domestic operations; President Ian Bramson’s expertise in marketing, sales and product development; and Director of Technology Blake Ellis’ experience with technology startup companies.

Supplementing the years of team experience, Nunnally will take advantage of the resources available through the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a nationally-recognized science and technology incubator based at Georgia Tech. Balaya, one of seven ATDC member companies in Savannah, was accepted as a member company in January 2009.

“There is something very salient here for what a technology startup is doing. The faith and backing of ATDC and learning from our fellow entrepreneurs is priceless,” Nunnally said. “Being able to connect with other entrepreneurs, being introduced to business opportunities and having access to educational resources are critical to advancing our company.”

Howard Morrison, a self-described “community organizer,” is excited about what Balaya will add to the Savannah area. Morrison is the chair emeritus of the Georgia Tech Savannah campus external advisory board, a co-managing partner of Energy Launch Partners (renewable energy projects), and former chair of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation.

“Savannah’s biggest business is education and our greatest asset is students, so companies like Balaya represent an essential consumer of our most important ‘product.’ Retaining these talented students in the Savannah area is the basis of our knowledge-based future,” noted Morrison. “Companies like Balaya only solidify and enhance our reputation in and commitment to this arena.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

About Balaya: Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Balaya develops social media tools that provide businesses tangible results and a competitive advantage. The company’s Web-enabled products and services move a brand beyond a Web site to an interactive desktop and mobile device presence that improves communication with employees and customers. For more information visit www.balaya.com or contact Michelle McWhinney at 202-361-2891.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia Tech Helps Midway Manufacturer Cut Energy Costs

Saving energy is important to Terry McCormick. As executive vice president of Elan Technology, Inc., a technical glass and ceramics manufacturer in Midway, Ga., he has seen energy costs rise dramatically, with no end in sight. The 62-year-old company, which employs 51 people, makes ceramic components for electrical and thermal insulation and glass components for hermetic seals.

“We were benefiting from a 10-year energy contract with really good rates, but last year our rates went up 33 percent, and we expect the rates to go up again this year,” he noted. “We’ve seen a tremendous increase in electrical costs, and we also consume a lot of natural gas. Over the years, those prices have trended upwards.”

To address the situation, McCormick consulted with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and was directed to Georgia Tech’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC). Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, this Center at Georgia Tech can provide energy management, waste minimization and productivity assessment at no charge to small- and mid-sized manufacturers.

Mike Brown, a Georgia Tech energy specialist, visited the Elan plant to evaluate the company’s challenges, problems and solutions. He studied the facility’s energy consumption history and measured the major energy-consuming equipment. Along with several Georgia Tech co-op students, he produced a report that included a number of recommendations, including repairing compressed air leaks, turning off the sintering ovens on the weekend, installing outdoor lighting, replacing standard V-belts used in the pressing machine, and changing the timer on entry doors to prevent infiltration of outside air into the air-conditioned building.

“Immediately, we implemented changing the timing on some of the doors so they didn’t stay open as long,” McCormick said. “We also located and repaired all of the compressed air leaks. It was a real eye-opener to us to see the impact of compressed air leaks on our energy usage.”

Elan Technology purchased an ultrasonic leak detector and then developed and implemented a maintenance plan for future detection and repair of compressed air leaks. The company also switched out machine V-belts to increase energy efficiency.

McCormick says that the company, which did not have a formal energy management system prior to the Georgia Tech energy assessment, has decreased costs and increased productivity as a result. So far, he estimates that the company has saved more than 11 percent of its annual energy usage, as measured in BTUs.

“Being able to reduce our energy consumption makes Elan more competitive and has a positive impact on the environment,” he noted. “The Georgia Tech engineers did an extremely thorough job in analyzing potential opportunities for energy reduction and presented their findings in a comprehensive manner. Their assistance and training programs provide Georgia companies access to specific knowledge that is often difficult or expensive to find elsewhere.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

About Industrial Assessment Centers:
Industrial Assessment Centers – like the one based at Georgia Tech – provide energy, waste and productivity assessment at no charge to small and mid-sized manufacturers. Assessments help manufacturers maximize energy efficiency, reduce waste and improve productivity. The assessments are performed by teams of engineering faculty and students from 26 participating universities across the country. On average, recommended actions from assessments conducted by the Georgia Tech IAC in 2007 have resulted in reported annual cost savings in excess of five percent of the plants’ net utility cost. Work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia Tech Helps Rincon Manufacturer Increase Productivity, Grow Business

Rincon-based Temcor designs and manufactures architectural and environmental structures, like this one seen in Taiwan. Photo courtesy of Temcor

Temcor, a designer and manufacturer of architectural and environmental structures and enclosures, has a long history with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. In 2000, when the company moved its manufacturing plant from California to Rincon, Ga., lean specialists with the Enterprise Innovation Institute developed an improved, one-directional flow layout for the facility and subsequently conducted an energy assessment and a lean manufacturing assessment.

In 2006, Temcor called on Georgia Tech again for assistance in assessing new machinery.

“After the economic downturn in 2001, business picked back up for us and we saw about a 50 percent growth in our business over the previous four years,” recalled Leland Sanders, vice president of manufacturing for Temcor. “We realized that without additional machinery we weren’t going to be able to increase our production capacity and grow the company.”

At the time, Temcor had just landed a five-building deal with Hyundai Steel in Korea, the largest contract in company history and one that would require significant additional productivity. The metal extrusions were processed on a vertical mill that required four setups and was unable to run other components simultaneously. Temcor also needed redundancy and increased capacity in processing sheet metal components.

Tom Sammon, a project manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, set up a line that would efficiently cut Temcor’s triangular aluminum sheets, evaluated the company’s processes and developed a number of machinery alternatives from which to choose. He even developed a design for a piece of automated metalworking equipment.

“We started talking about plasma cutting machines, and Tom came up with some basic designs of a machine that we could possibly build ourselves with the use of some sub-contractors. The concept was a good one, but it wasn’t quite automated enough to suit our needs,” said Sanders. “So we took what Tom provided for us in terms of technical specs of a plasma cutting system and started talking to machine manufacturers that specialize in plasma cutting systems.”

Temcor eventually purchased a plasma machine that cuts the sheet metal with an electric current without ever actually touching the surface. This machine, which can cut metal as large as 10 feet wide and 30 feet long, has augmented the sheet metal router providing not only increased production capacity but also redundancy that had previously been lacking. Sanders also purchased an additional high performance computer numerical control (CNC) routing system to address his extrusion milling and drilling needs and facilitate redundancy to the vertical milling center.

“I can do about 70 percent more work today than I could two years ago before we actually installed these two machines. We were able to grow the company 35 percent in 2006 and another 35 percent in 2007,” Sanders said. “This additional production capacity allowed us to bring in the largest contract in Temcor’s history – Hyundai Steel – as well as maintain another one of our major customers, CTS in the Netherlands.”

Sanders estimates a number of other impacts as a result of Temcor’s work with Georgia Tech. He says eight to 10 new jobs have been created, costs have been cut in half in one area of production, sales have increased by 22 percent and setup and changeover times have been reduced by 50 percent.

“Even though I didn’t implement exactly what Tom had envisioned when we were working together, his concepts were fantastic and rather than building the machine right here in the facility, it seemed more cost effective to go out and buy a machine,” he said. “The folks I’ve worked with at Georgia Tech are very professional, very knowledgeable and very cost-effective. Temcor would not be as successful as the company is today had we not utilized the expertise of the staff at Georgia Tech.”

Temcor’s product line is primarily clear-span domes and related buildings fabricated mostly from aluminum. Temcor structures, which are in 70 countries around the world, are used for covering tank facilities as well as for architectural structures such as arenas, gymnasiums, theaters and auditoriums.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

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Writer: Nancy Fullbright