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

Supporting NCR’s Move to Georgia

The Enterprise Innovation Institute collaborated with Georgia Tech’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering to support development of the NCR Corporation’s advanced manufacturing facility in Columbus. Shown discussing the facility are Professor Dave Goldsman (right) and student Thomas Teyrasse.

Adhesives Manufacturer Taps Georgia Tech’s Resources for Energy Savings

Bostik is a world leader in adhesive and sealant manufacturing. In 2008, the company employed 5,000 people across 48 manufacturing sites and 12 research centers, and generated nearly $2 billion in business. With such an expansive and diverse company, it made sense that Bostik’s parent company would mandate an energy reduction program to keep costs under control.

In Calhoun, Ga., the 23 Bostik employees operate on a smaller scale, but they still need to use energy efficiently. Ray Davis, plant manager, and Dan Conetta, production manager, selected Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) to help implement their energy reduction program because of its expertise in energy reduction and lean manufacturing. EI2 offers Georgia manufacturers a three-step program to identify and implement operations for immediate energy cost savings, adopt a system of best practices to sustain energy cost reductions and assist with certification in ANSI/MSE 2000-2008, a national standard for energy management adopted by the American National Standards Institute.

“The level of expertise and the availability make the Enterprise Innovation Institute a valuable resource for any company,” Conetta said. “We needed to move to a more sustainable mode of operation, and wanted to use energy conservation as a means to justify a four-day, ten-hour work week schedule.”

Jessica Brown, an energy specialist with EI2, visited the Calhoun facility to identify areas where energy improvement could be realized, communicated industry best practices and provided advice and consultation on the procurement of diagnostic tools for energy reduction purposes. She made a number of recommendations for Bostik, including utilizing more efficient fluorescent bulbs, reducing peak load by staggering equipment startup, relocating the air compressor intake from indoors to outdoors, discontinuing the unnecessary use of compressed air, reducing boiler blow-down in the summer, recovering steam condensate and properly insulating the boiler and steam piping.

“The Calhoun facility was using outdated and inefficient T12 fluorescent bulbs to light the office areas,” Brown explained. “T8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts produce equivalent light output with less power input and have become the standard for new fixtures and retrofits in this application.”

According to Conetta, the results of Brown’s assistance have been significant: Bostik has reduced its energy consumption by an estimated 56 percent, saving $40,000. Employees have expanded their knowledge of energy reduction practices and Georgia Tech continues to be a resource to facilitate continuing education in energy reduction. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program, Georgia Tech can provide energy, waste and productivity assessments at no charge to small- and mid-sized manufacturers.

Conetta also notes that the energy audit yielded non-monetary results: a “cultural shift” towards energy reduction awareness and a reduced corporate energy footprint.

“Although the intent was not for Calhoun to be a model or pilot plant, many of the best practices which originated at this facility were leveraged and other facilities benefited from our experience with Georgia Tech,” noted Conetta. “Additionally, some of the other Bostik facilities approached universities in their areas that are part of the same national energy reduction partnership and had energy audits conducted.”

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 in Georgia at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute – 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. On average, recommended actions from an assessment result in annual cost savings of $55,000. The assessments are performed by teams of engineering faculty and students from more than 26 participating universities across the country. 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

Lean Consortium Expands to North Georgia

The Georgia Tech Lean Consortium, a forum for organizations to advance their knowledge and effective use of lean principles, is expanding into northeast and northwest Georgia. Organizations from any economic sector – including manufacturing, service, government or health care – are welcome if they have a vision for lean within their organization, a strategy and commitment to its implementation and successful experiences to share with the consortium.

Lean principles are a set of tools widely used in manufacturing to help identify and steadily eliminate waste from an organization’s operations. Already, 11 south metro Atlanta companies and 17 Augusta area companies are participating in the Lean Consortium through shared training and peer-to-peer relationships.

Member companies rotate hosting the group at their facility, where they present their vision for lean and the challenges and successes to date. After a plant tour, the group provides feedback to identify areas of success, as well as opportunities for further improvement. Members are also offered exclusive training classes in areas that they help to select.

“The Lean Consortium here in Augusta has provided an excellent opportunity for me to exchange ideas and learn about best practices at other manufacturing facilities in my local area,” said Chuck Sabo, quality and safety manager at Purification Cellutions in Waynesboro, Ga. “The consortium allows this to be done without the need to invest in costly travel and I have found my colleagues at other companies to be very open with both their successes and failures.”

To learn more about the Georgia Tech Lean Consortium, please contact Larry Alford (404-895-5237); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@drofla.yrral) or visit www.gtlean.org.

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

Athens Manufacturer Goes Lean, Green with Georgia Tech Assistance

When entrepreneurs Sherrie Ford and Steve Hollis purchased an Athens manufacturing facility previously owned by the Swiss conglomerate ABB six years ago, one of their first items of business was to realign the company’s mission. Founded in 1958 by Westinghouse, the 400-employee company now known as Power Partners continues to manufacture the pole-type distribution transformers that help bring electric power to homes and businesses throughout the world, but with an innovative business angle.

“Our mission is no longer just to make the best transformers on the market, but also to not be put out of work ever. We can make anything as long as we’re able to keep the employment base,” stated Ford, chairman and executive vice president of culture. “Adding a breakthrough technology product that addresses global warming fulfills our ‘reinventing manufacturing’ promise to the work culture, a step toward securing at least these 400 manufacturing jobs, and creating a role model for others to consider.”

In 2007, Power Partners expanded its product line to manufacture solar water heater systems, which use solar energy to heat water and can provide up to 85 percent of the energy needed to produce domestic hot water. Systems are composed of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system that moves heat from the collector to the point of usage. According to commercial operations manager Scott Childs, Power Partners is initially marketing the systems to utility companies and dealers.

“The solar water heater system is going to provide hot water mainly in the summer, when electricity is most valuable to a utility, and the system will use more electricity in the winter when there is plenty of electrical capacity,” he noted. “We think that situation will marry well with our product, in addition to the utilities’ increased focus on green.”

In addition to the distribution transformers and the solar water heater systems, Power Partners has the exclusive North American rights to begin manufacturing adsorption chillers, a product that can substantially reduce operating costs by converting waste heat into cool air. Ford says she is excited about the new product’s potential.

“When combined with other technologies, adsorption chillers create about as low an impact on the environment as you can get. This is really going to revolutionize the way architects and construction firms think about their designs,” Ford said.

With all of the focus on manufacturing environmentally responsible products, it made sense for Power Partners to examine its own manufacturing processes. After working on projects in lean manufacturing and quality standards with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, Ford contacted the organization again to conduct an energy assessment.

In July 2008, Bob Hitch, a project manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, evaluated Power Partners’ process heating systems – annealing, welding, drying and painting – for potential energy-saving opportunities, an estimated energy savings of 30 percent. As a result of the recommendations, Power Partners is replacing its water-cooled bearings with high-temperature graphite bearings. Earlier assessment of the general facility energy usage by Hitch and the Power Partners engineers led to the update of lighting in the plant to T5 and T8 high-efficiency units, and replacement of outdated air compressors.

“By changing the bearings and the lighting and the compressors, we have saved an estimated $600,000 easily,” said Mike Stonecipher, vice president for technical services. “Those are realized savings and we now have a whole philosophy and set of tools to move us forward.”

Power Partners also participated in a November 2008 project for the Green Supplier Network, a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership. In addition to Hitch, the project was facilitated by Bill Ritsch of the Enterprise Innovation Institute and Dan Loudermilk of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Pollution Prevention Assistance Division. The work was sponsored by Power Partners’ customer, Pepco Holdings, Inc.

“The primary objective of this three-day project was to identify opportunities for reductions of waste energy, material and inventories by creating a value stream map, which is a diagram used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product to a consumer,” recalled Hitch. “A team of key players was chosen, and this group was effective in seeing beyond the current processes by proposing a future state map that included some impressive gains in productivity, material usage and environmental reductions.”

The improvement ideas included operating the paint line during one shift only, creating a single point of contact for ordering tanks, rearranging the tank wall inventory to minimize travel, reconfiguring conveyors to improve material flow, minimizing repair stations by combining repairs where possible, and re-using the waste water from the paint area. However, Stonecipher says that the most significant improvement was completing a “green” value stream map for all plant processes.

“As part of lean manufacturing, we were familiar with the value process map. But what we had not done was look at it in terms of the environment. That was the first time we had taken a process map of a section of the factory and done it in accordance to our waste streams,” he said. “Now when we do a process map, that’s a standard part of it. From a lean and practice standpoint, lean green is a new tool that’s been brought to the equation.”

Power Partners realized other benefits as a result of the Green Supplier Network Project. Tank inventory was reduced by 34 percent, total supply chain lead time for tanks went from more than 17 days to less than a week, water usage was reduced by 10,000 gallons per day, quality improved and productivity increased. Stonecipher notes that while not all of the results were measurable, they were all beneficial.

Power Partners, which was recognized in 2007 as the seventh largest woman-owned business in America as certified by the Washington, D.C.-based Women’s Enterprise Business National Council, plans to use Georgia Tech’s assistance in the future to focus on pumps and motors, as well as ways to capture waste heat and re-use it so it can install its own adsorption chiller.

“We are people who are continually looking for creativity and innovation, and doing things that are not business as usual,” said Ford.

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


Central Georgia Engineer Wins National Manufacturing Assistance Award

The U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has named Alan Barfoot “Practitioner of the Year,” one of only four chosen nationwide. Barfoot, the central Georgia region manager with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, accepted the award at MEP’s recent conference in Orlando, Fla.

MEP – part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology – is a national network of not-for-profit centers in nearly 400 locations that helps U.S. manufacturers compete globally by strengthening supply chains and increasing productivity. The practitioner award recognizes individuals whose leadership and contributions have made a significant economic impact on small- and medium-sized manufacturers, advanced industrial technology development and improved the competitiveness of American manufacturers.

“Alan has spent the duration of his career with Georgia Tech in rural middle Georgia where he has developed and demonstrated a passion for manufacturing and economic development,” said Chris Downing, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Alan has always demonstrated zeal for serving clients, learning new processes, transferring knowledge and, most importantly, doing the right thing.”

Barfoot, who holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech and an M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina, has been with Georgia Tech since 1989. He currently works as the central Georgia region manager for the Enterprise Innovation Institute where he provides technical assistance to manufacturers, assists community developers with infrastructure assessments and planning, partners with other educational institutions and government agencies and mentors professional staff and co-op students. He has expertise in economic development, ISO 9000, business assessments, industrial site location and development, lean manufacturing and new product development.

As a result of projects led by Barfoot and his team last year, clients in the central Georgia region reported more than $4.5 million in sales increases, $9.6 million in retained sales, more than $1 million in cost savings and more than $15 million in investments in facilities, information technology or workforce practices.

“This MEP award is a great recognition, not only for me, but for my staff and the bright economic future for the central Georgia region,” said Barfoot. “I am proud to be able to contribute to the impact that Georgia Tech is making in business and industry in rural Georgia.”

The Enterprise Innovation Institute helps enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. The central Georgia office serves the following counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Candler, Crawford, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Houston, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Jones, Laurens, Monroe, Montgomery, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Twiggs, Washington, Wheeler, Wilcox and Wilkinson.

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 Growth Services Manager Wins National Innovator Award

The U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has named Don Pital “Innovator of the Year,” one of only three chosen nationwide. Pital, the growth services manager with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, accepted the award at MEP’s recent conference in Orlando, Fla.

MEP – part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – is a national network of not-for-profit centers in nearly 400 locations that helps U.S. manufacturers compete globally by strengthening supply chains and increasing productivity. The innovator award recognizes individuals who have developed innovative techniques and services, made outstanding contributions to helping American manufacturers adopt improved quality practices and demonstrated economic and technical benefits from their work with small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“Don Pital has a long history of helping the Georgia MEP innovate its services and has often gone beyond the call of duty to get new programs off the ground,” said Chris Downing, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute. “He has always demonstrated a keen interest in trying new things, a fearless attitude for risk taking, an impatience for status quo and an ability to accomplish more than his defined role.”

In January 2008, Pital was chosen to start the growth services group to identify growth opportunities for manufacturing-related clients. As a business growth coach certified by the Eureka Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio, he routinely coaches companies on organizational growth through ideation process management. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 1998, he served in the telecommunications manufacturing industry in a variety of key areas including quality, operations and engineering management positions for more than 12 years. He has a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in ceramic engineering from Georgia Tech and is a member of the American Society for Quality.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work in an organization that allows me time and flexibility to work on projects that impact the organization’s internal processes in a positive way. The freedom given to question, organize and continually improve functions within the Enterprise Innovation Institute allowed my creativity to flourish and was enhanced by ongoing management support and coworker teamwork,” Pital said. “I am truly honored and thankful for the recognition from fellow Georgia Tech staffers and the larger MEP system.”

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.

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

 

Insulation Manufacturer Improves Business with Georgia Tech Assistance

Thermal Ceramics, an Augusta-based insulation manufacturer, has always been at the forefront of its industry. It is a world leader in the production of ceramic fiber products and insulating firebricks, as well as specialty insulation products. With more than 3,000 employees in more than 30 locations worldwide, Thermal Ceramics supplies customers in the petrochemical, chemical, automotive and power generation industries.

In the early 1990s, the Augusta, Ga. facility became ISO certified, meaning it was independently audited and certified to be in conformance with quality management standards maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). However, by 2005 the system had begun to lose its relevance.

“In 2005, we recognized that our ISO system was the old version and it wasn’t functioning for us anymore. It was burdensome,” recalled Sherri Pettigrew, environmental health and safety/quality assurance manager for Thermal Ceramics. “We contacted Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to see if it would help us revamp and streamline our ISO system to meet our current needs with our current level of staffing.”

Elliot Price, Deann Desai, Don Pital, Holly Grell-Lawe and Dennis Kelly, all Georgia Tech quality specialists, assisted Thermal Ceramics with re-tooling its quality management system. ISO 9001 is an international quality management system standard that presents fundamental management and quality assurance practices applicable to any organization. Companies that are ISO 9001 certified have a demonstrated baseline of managerial discipline and control, and they also have higher rates of customer satisfaction.

Throughout the process, the Georgia Tech team reviewed the company’s documentation, developed a system that had a more value-added process and identified training needs. Team members also conducted a gap audit, helped with the development of an implementation plan, assisted with initial internal audits and management review, conducted a pre-assessment audit and corrected any system issues prior to the registration audit.

“We threw out almost everything and started from the ground up,” Pettigrew said. “Then we decided we were going to be ISO 14001 certified, so Georgia Tech built that system from scratch for us as well.”

ISO 14001, the international specification for an environmental management system, helps organizations develop a process to reduce negative environmental impacts caused by their operations while also complying with applicable laws and regulations. Like ISO 9001, ISO 14001 focuses on the process rather than the end product. The Georgia Tech team helped Thermal Ceramics integrate the two standards into one, and served as the company’s internal auditors.

“Our employees thought of our ISO system as just a bunch of paper and manuals sitting on a shelf, and they didn’t understand the value. Truthfully, there really was no value in that old system,” Pettigrew noted. “The big hurdle that we overcame was getting people to understand that the new system was going to be helpful to them. We actually went from a burdensome paper system to something that’s online and totally electronic, so it’s easier to maintain.”

Pettigrew estimates that as a result of becoming ISO 9001 and 14001 certified, Thermal Ceramics was able to increase its sales by $6 million while saving $2 million in costs. The company, which employs a total of 450 people at its Augusta facility, was also able to add seven employees.

On the heels of its quality and environmental standards success, Thermal Ceramics also sought assistance from the Enterprise Innovation Institute in the area of lean management principles, a set of tools that helps organizations identify and steadily eliminate waste from their operations. Paul Todd, a Georgia Tech lean specialist, led an executive introduction to lean, a 5S overview and planning session and 5S training and implementation. 5S refers to five Japanese words: seiri (remove what is not needed and keep what is needed); seiton (place things in such a way that they can be easily reached whenever they are needed); seiso (keep things clean and polished); seiketsu (maintain cleanliness after cleaning); and shitsuke (sustain the improvements over time). In English, the steps become sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.

“We were very aggressive with the lean implementation. We had four teams that represented each of the three manufacturing areas plus a warehouse/shipping group,” Pettigrew explained. “We did everything from painting the lines for hoppers and pallets to getting rid of the clutter to implementing visual cues and labeling. We did it all.”

Currently, Thermal Ceramics is conducting lean projects in the areas of energy reduction, downtime reduction, safety, increasing melting efficiency, and shipping error reduction. Weekly 5S meetings are also held to maintain the momentum.

In December 2007, the Augusta operation of Thermal Ceramics – which spans 58 acres and 10 buildings – sought Georgia Tech’s assistance in the high-impact area of energy management. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center program, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute can provide energy, waste and productivity assessment at no charge to small- and mid-sized manufacturers.

Mike Brown and Pierpaolo Baldisserotto, Georgia Tech energy specialists, visited the Thermal Ceramics plant to evaluate the company’s challenges, problems and solutions. They studied the facility’s energy consumption history and measured the major energy-consuming equipment. Along with several Georgia Tech co-op students, they produced a report that included a number of recommendations, including recovering fiber waste, recovering heat from the kiln exhaust, repairing air leaks and replacing desiccant air dryers with refrigerated dryers. The report estimates that Thermal Ceramics could save more than $1.8 million – 22 percent of the facility’s annual energy costs – by implementing its recommendations.

“Having Georgia Tech come in and assist us in these different areas has really worked for us,” said Pettigrew. “We’re better now than we have ever been.”

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

Georgia Tech Helps South Georgia Pump Manufacturer Attain ISO Certification

Thomasville, Ga. is known as the City of Roses, but it is also home to the North American headquarters of Wilo-EMU, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of water and wastewater pumps. Founded in 1872 by Louis Opländer as a copper and brass goods foundry, the company is now represented in more than 70 countries and employs 6,000 people worldwide. The innovative company – which files up to 20 patent applications annually – plans for Thomasville to be its technology center in North America.

When the Thomasville facility was asked by its German parent company to attain ISO 9001 certification, an international quality management system standard, it turned to the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the nation’s top research universities. Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute provides comprehensive services to improve the competitiveness of Georgia’s business and industry, including technical and engineering assistance, continuing education courses, facilitation of networks and connecting companies to Georgia Tech resources.

“Some of the customers asked for us to be ISO certified and we figured it was better to go ahead and do it. We wanted to show potential customers that we have ISO 9001 certification and that we already have a process in place and that it’s controlled,” said Paulina Tompea, Wilo-EMU’s Thomasville plant manager. “It’s a benefit for us. It disciplines and teaches employees the processes and the flow to have a good system in place and send a quality product out of the door.”

Craig Cochran, a Georgia Tech quality specialist, assisted Wilo-EMU with developing and implementing its quality management system. Together they reviewed the company’s documentation, developed a system that had a more value-added process and identified training needs. Team members also conducted a gap audit, helped with the development of an implementation plan, assisted with initial internal audits and management review, conducted a pre-assessment audit and corrected system issues prior to the registration audit. Nine Wilo-EMU employees, including Tompea, were certified as internal auditors.

“I had worked with ISO 9001 before, but I looked at it through a manufacturing lens. I had never actually built a system,” recalled Tompea. “Craig conducted the gap analysis in June 2008 and determined we were 50 percent ready, so we had another 50 percent to work on. Craig was a very good trainer and mentor, and he knew how to motivate.”

Wilo-EMU received its ISO 9001 certification in November 2008, less than a year after beginning the project. As a result of the ISO certification, the company expects big results, including a sales increase of between $2 million and $4 million. The company will also add five jobs over the next two years as part of its natural growth.

“When a customer comes in and they see that we are ISO certified, they know they’re going to get something that is consistent,” said Terry Rouse, president and CEO. “I expect it to have a definite impact on our sales, especially out west where we’re not as well-known. It does make a difference.”

The ISO 9001 certification project was not the first time Wilo-EMU had worked with Georgia Tech, however. When the company moved into a 60,000-square-foot facility in Thomasville, lean specialists Sam Darwin and Tom Sammon developed an optimal plant layout by examining space utilization, work flow, processes, material handling and shipping.

In addition, Rouse and Thomas Halstrick, senior vice president of Wilo’s North American operations, visited the Georgia Tech campus to hear about hydraulics research being conducted in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. The connection was made via Greg King of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Partners Office, an “industry-centric” doorway that can link companies to leading-edge resources, applying Georgia Tech faculty know-how, specialized facilities and student talent to such goals as new product development, improved competitiveness and transformation of industrial processes.

“We spend about three percent of our revenue on research and development, and we utilize universities in Europe,” said Rouse. “We wanted to make a connection here in the states because there are issues that will be different here than in Europe. It’s been a good relationship so far with Georgia Tech.”

The next step for Wilo-EMU is to become certified in ISO 14001, the international specification for an environmental management system that outlines requirements for a company’s environmental policy. The standard exists to help organizations minimize their impact on the environment and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Tompea said she has already contacted Cochran about providing assistance in this area.

“From the beginning, Wilo-EMU’s focus was on creating a system that drove customer loyalty and that would support additional business growth,” noted Cochran. “The workforce embraced the common-sense control and discipline of ISO 9001 without missing a beat.”

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

Jump-starting Growth in Glennville

Rotary Corporation, headquartered in Glennville, Ga., literally began from a car trunk when J.D. Nelson began selling replacement parts to auto parts stores and lawnmower dealers in 1956. By 1971, the company’s volume had increased to the point where Rotary began considering manufacturing its own lawnmower blades. To make an informed decision, it enlisted experts at Georgia Tech to conduct a feasibility study.

“They came back to us and suggested that we begin manufacturing lawnmower blades, so we found a company for sale in Toledo, Ohio, bought it, moved it down here and started making lawnmower blades,” recalled Ed Nelson, Rotary’s president. “I don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t done that, because when we started manufacturing our business really started growing.”

Today, Rotary employs 450 people and delivers parts to 20,000 customers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Australia and Africa.

“When my father bought the business from my great-uncle in ’66, we had seven employees and were selling $250,000 a year, and now we sell that before lunch on a good day,” Nelson said. “Last year we marked two milestones – our fiftieth year in business and our 150 millionth lawnmower blade.”

To support that growth over the years, Nelson continued to turn to Georgia Tech for assistance and guidance. Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute provides comprehensive services to improve the competitiveness of Georgia’s business and industry, including technical and engineering assistance, continuing education courses, facilitation of networks and connecting companies to Georgia Tech resources.

Since the initial feasibility study on lawnmower blade manufacturing, Rotary has tapped into nearly every service offered by the Enterprise Innovation Institute. In the mid-‘70s, Georgia Tech conducted another study to determine the best steel for blade manufacturing. Energy and environmental specialists have performed air sampling, noise monitoring, general safety audits and environmental audits, and assisted the company on better managing its energy costs.

Rotary has also thoroughly utilized Georgia Tech’s services in lean manufacturing, a process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System and known for reducing wasted time and effort. Alan Barfoot, a lean specialist and central Georgia region manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, led Rotary staff in a lean overview, helping participants learn the principles of lean manufacturing and how to apply them.

During a series of simulations, they applied lean concepts such as standardized work, visual signals, batch-size reduction and pull systems, among others. They experienced how lean improves quality, reduces cycle time, improves delivery performance and reduces work-in-process. The team also developed value stream maps – diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer – to determine Rotary’s current and future states. Nelson estimates that Rotary’s available warehouse space increased by 20 percent as a result of these projects.

“When Georgia Tech has a long-term relationship with a client like Rotary, there is better synergy between us and the company,” noted Barfoot. “We are much more familiar with the business and are able to be a more valuable set of outside eyes to provide feedback.”

In 2007, the Enterprise Innovation Institute – through the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – began offering a program to help Georgia companies develop new strategies for growth. “Eureka! Winning Ways®,” an award-winning three-step process that includes idea engineering, success screening and action-plan coaching, was developed by Doug Hall, former master marketing inventor with Procter & Gamble and former host of the ABC television series American Inventor.

Eureka helps companies assess how to best jump-start growth through innovative and creative ideas. Projects, which are led by Georgia Tech experts who have been certified in the Eureka Ranch techniques, examine how companies can establish more effective marketing messages, capture new customers or markets, and develop new products, services or business models. In fall 2007, Rotary was invited to Eureka Ranch, Hall’s headquarters in Newtown, Ohio.

“We took 12 people from Rotary’s management team, sales people and trusted advisors to Eureka Ranch and we did the project from there. Doug Hall and his team were there, so we got to be in that environment,” recalled Bob Wray, a Georgia Tech project manager and Eureka specialist. “We went through the ideation day – a disciplined system for thinking smarter and more creatively about old and new ideas for top-line growth – and then tried to figure out which projects were worth pursuing. We came up with more than 150 ideas.”

Following the idea generation, the group refined and rewrote the top 12 ideas, and then senior management selected four to go into idea testing. That testing took place in the second phase of Eureka, which assesses ideas using Merwyn Research, a software program that evaluates the group’s ideas based on other ideas’ successes. The software generates a score for each idea and, based on that information, the client chooses two ideas on which to focus.

The third phase of Eureka – TrailBlazer – is a 30-day research-intensive coaching process to make a decision on whether to develop the two ideas. If the decision is “yes,” the idea will proceed into a development phase. Over time, the goal is for the company to have a continuous “idea pipeline,” with ideas in different stages of incubation and development.

“We saw a need for improvements on lawnmower blades within the industry, and we’re currently in the process of developing a unique blade,” Nelson noted. “However, that doesn’t happen overnight; it involves a lot of testing. Eureka really got us up and going with that project.”

Another project that was immediately identified by the Eureka process was an information technology project that remedied the problem of Rotary’s computer system being down during back-up. Now, the ordering system is always accessible, a big improvement for Rotary’s European customers in particular.

“The biggest advantage to Eureka is establishing a pipeline of ideas. With Rotary, there may have been 50 pretty good ideas out of those 150 that we identified at the Eureka Ranch. The next step was working through that list, prioritizing and executing,” said Wray. “Doug Hall says that if you’re not unique, you better be cheap. If you don’t have unique lawnmower blades, you’re selling commodities. But, if you have something no one else has, then you can charge a premium for it.”

Nelson says that Rotary has experienced a number of positive impacts as a result of the Eureka project, including $1.5 million in increased sales, $2 million in retained sales that would have otherwise been lost, 50 retained jobs and one job created. He also notes that Rotary avoided $262,000 in unnecessary investments as a result of Georgia Tech’s assistance.

“Eureka really opened our eyes to other ways of doing things, and helped us to take advantage of ideas as fast as we can. We’ve got a lot more ideas now than we had in the past,” Nelson said.

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

Rotary Corporation, headquartered in Glennville, Ga., literally began from a car trunk when J.D. Nelson began selling replacement parts to auto parts stores and lawnmower dealers in 1956. By 1971, the company’s volume had increased to the point where Rotary began considering manufacturing its own lawnmower blades. To make an informed decision, it enlisted experts at Georgia Tech to conduct a feasibility study.

“They came back to us and suggested that we begin manufacturing lawnmower blades, so we found a company for sale in Toledo, Ohio, bought it, moved it down here and started making lawnmower blades,” recalled Ed Nelson, Rotary’s president. “I don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t done that, because when we started manufacturing our business really started growing.”

Today, Rotary employs 450 people and delivers parts to 20,000 customers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Australia and Africa.

“When my father bought the business from my great-uncle in ’66, we had seven employees and were selling $250,000 a year, and now we sell that before lunch on a good day,” Nelson said. “Last year we marked two milestones – our fiftieth year in business and our 150 millionth lawnmower blade.”

To support that growth over the years, Nelson continued to turn to Georgia Tech for assistance and guidance. Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute provides comprehensive services to improve the competitiveness of Georgia’s business and industry, including technical and engineering assistance, continuing education courses, facilitation of networks and connecting companies to Georgia Tech resources.

Since the initial feasibility study on lawnmower blade manufacturing, Rotary has tapped into nearly every service offered by the Enterprise Innovation Institute. In the mid-‘70s, Georgia Tech conducted another study to determine the best steel for blade manufacturing. Energy and environmental specialists have performed air sampling, noise monitoring, general safety audits and environmental audits, and assisted the company on better managing its energy costs.

Rotary has also thoroughly utilized Georgia Tech’s services in lean manufacturing, a process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System and known for reducing wasted time and effort. Alan Barfoot, a lean specialist and central Georgia region manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, led Rotary staff in a lean overview, helping participants learn the principles of lean manufacturing and how to apply them.

During a series of simulations, they applied lean concepts such as standardized work, visual signals, batch-size reduction and pull systems, among others. They experienced how lean improves quality, reduces cycle time, improves delivery performance and reduces work-in-process. The team also developed value stream maps – diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer – to determine Rotary’s current and future states. Nelson estimates that Rotary’s available warehouse space increased by 20 percent as a result of these projects.

“When Georgia Tech has a long-term relationship with a client like Rotary, there is better synergy between us and the company,” noted Barfoot. “We are much more familiar with the business and are able to be a more valuable set of outside eyes to provide feedback.”

In 2007, the Enterprise Innovation Institute – through the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – began offering a program to help Georgia companies develop new strategies for growth. “Eureka! Winning Ways®,” an award-winning three-step process that includes idea engineering, success screening and action-plan coaching, was developed by Doug Hall, former master marketing inventor with Procter & Gamble and former host of the ABC television series American Inventor.

Eureka helps companies assess how to best jump-start growth through innovative and creative ideas. Projects, which are led by Georgia Tech experts who have been certified in the Eureka Ranch techniques, examine how companies can establish more effective marketing messages, capture new customers or markets, and develop new products, services or business models. In fall 2007, Rotary was invited to Eureka Ranch, Hall’s headquarters in Newtown, Ohio.

“We took 12 people from Rotary’s management team, sales people and trusted advisors to Eureka Ranch and we did the project from there. Doug Hall and his team were there, so we got to be in that environment,” recalled Bob Wray, a Georgia Tech project manager and Eureka specialist. “We went through the ideation day – a disciplined system for thinking smarter and more creatively about old and new ideas for top-line growth – and then tried to figure out which projects were worth pursuing. We came up with more than 150 ideas.”

Following the idea generation, the group refined and rewrote the top 12 ideas, and then senior management selected four to go into idea testing. That testing took place in the second phase of Eureka, which assesses ideas using Merwyn Research, a software program that evaluates the group’s ideas based on other ideas’ successes. The software generates a score for each idea and, based on that information, the client chooses two ideas on which to focus.

The third phase of Eureka – TrailBlazer – is a 30-day research-intensive coaching process to make a decision on whether to develop the two ideas. If the decision is “yes,” the idea will proceed into a development phase. Over time, the goal is for the company to have a continuous “idea pipeline,” with ideas in different stages of incubation and development.

“We saw a need for improvements on lawnmower blades within the industry, and we’re currently in the process of developing a unique blade,” Nelson noted. “However, that doesn’t happen overnight; it involves a lot of testing. Eureka really got us up and going with that project.”

Another project that was immediately identified by the Eureka process was an information technology project that remedied the problem of Rotary’s computer system being down during back-up. Now, the ordering system is always accessible, a big improvement for Rotary’s European customers in particular.

“The biggest advantage to Eureka is establishing a pipeline of ideas. With Rotary, there may have been 50 pretty good ideas out of those 150 that we identified at the Eureka Ranch. The next step was working through that list, prioritizing and executing,” said Wray. “Doug Hall says that if you’re not unique, you better be cheap. If you don’t have unique lawnmower blades, you’re selling commodities. But, if you have something no one else has, then you can charge a premium for it.”

Nelson says that Rotary has experienced a number of positive impacts as a result of the Eureka project, including $1.5 million in increased sales, $2 million in retained sales that would have otherwise been lost, 50 retained jobs and one job created. He also notes that Rotary avoided $262,000 in unnecessary investments as a result of Georgia Tech’s assistance.

“Eureka really opened our eyes to other ways of doing things, and helped us to take advantage of ideas as fast as we can. We’ve got a lot more ideas now than we had in the past,” Nelson said.

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 100

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: Nancy Fullbright (404-894-2214); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@thgirblluf.ycnan) or John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright