by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC
In past articles I’ve mentioned that NWIRC’s mission is focused on improving competitiveness for small to mid-sized manufacturers in northwestern PA. And, also that our project work with manufacturers includes identifying resources who can address a company’s key business issue, developing a scope for the project, and seeing it through for desired results. In the coming months and beyond, we will continue that work specifically with projects pertaining to advanced manufacturing technology (AMT).
Some recent examples of projects that companies have embarked on with NWIRC to advance technology include:
- Tapping into the capabilities of an M1 enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that had the capability to do much more than accounting. The result was working with a service provider for additional programming to improve data accuracy, monitor inventory, and job costing/estimating. The improved data provided more accurate information for key decision making
- Welcoming a robotic arm to work along-side an operator to increase efficiency of high-volume production and improve safety, with assistance of a special grant
- Developing cost adjustment programing to efficiently and easily update an ERP system that comprised of over 30,000 raw material items that needed constant monitoring
- Enlisting an ERP support program for JobBoss to learn more about current capabilities, and options for increased capabilities in the future and develop skills for accessing quoting and scheduling components.
- Developing requirements, vetting service providers, and decision analysis for a new ERP system integration
The great news is that these types of projects produce significant impact for companies, including tens of thousands in increased revenue and cost savings, and ability to create new jobs.
However, technology also relies heavily on access to the internet and for many small, rural manufacturers who are looking to advance their technology, this can present another problem altogether. This is an important issue throughout many regions of PA, so there is now a Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives, led by Acting Executive Director, Sheri Collins. She is responsible for advancing this initiative to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to high speed internet by the end of 2022. She has traveled the Commonwealth talking with manufacturers, educators, and other business owners about their concerns related to broadband access. She recently stated, “From a business perspective, companies in rural areas are having trouble recruiting, marketing themselves, and even completing day-to-day operations without reliable high-speed internet, which hurts their ability to grow. That needs to change – and that’s why Restore Pennsylvania is so critical for these areas.” A maple syrup manufacturer she recently visited in Potter County very poignantly said (as tweeted by Sheri), “high speed internet is as important as having wheels for your car.”
NWIRC looks forward to continuing the mission of helping small and medium-size manufacturers (especially in the vast rural areas of our region) to move their technology forward as we are fast approaching another new year. Take a look at some brief videos on our website that outline basics of the 9 disciplines of AMT (Cloud Computing, Big Data, Cybersecurity, 3D Printing, Software Integration, Internet of Things, Robotics, Simulation 3D Modeling, and Augmented Reality). Find them at www.nwirc.org/amt.