Manufacturing Innovation Blog

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help the>m create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. The nationwide network provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to green manufacturing. MEP also works with partners at the state and federal levels on programs that put manufacturers in position to develop new customers, expand into new markets and create new products
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Recent Posts

NIST/MEP's Workforce Tips for Manufacturers

This article written by Mary Ann Pacelli at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on November 12, 2015.

As a manufacturer, you don’t want workers – you want company ambassadors. Workers are individuals who show up and get their tasks done. Company ambassadors are a team of employees who are enthusiastic about their careers, and they are inspired and empowered to proactively help your business grow.

Company ambassadors are innovative and are confident in their ability to achieve excellence. They serve as cheerleaders for your company to the outside public. You can guide your workers into becoming company ambassadors through workforce development initiatives.


Five Benefits of Embracing Sustainability and Green Manufacturing

This article written by Brian Lagas at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on September 10, 2015. 

Embracing sustainable and green principles is not just a trend. Cultivating sustainable and green practices helps organizations become more efficient, competitive and profitable. It’s more than simply “a good thing to do.” Manufacturers are realizing the many practical short-term and long-term financial benefits to implementing environmentally conscious improvements.

The Difference Between Sustainability and “Going Green”

“Going green” is not the same thing as sustainability, albeit they are related. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, green is more frequently associated with a singular product or process. Examples include improving a specific operation so that it does not harm the environment or creating a product made entirely out of recycled materials.

Sustainability is typically more associated with an organization’s holistic approach; it takes the entire production process and logistics into consideration. For example, you may purchase a green product made out of recycled goods. However, if that product was made overseas, and environmentally harmful methods were used to transport that product to the United States, this would not be adhering to sustainable principles.

In the manufacturing world, it is advantageous to focus on both green and sustainability. While targeted improvements can be beneficial to your company, looking at the “bigger picture” maximizes the perks of an environmental focus. Here are five critical ways to embrace sustainability and green to positively impact your organization:

1. Reduce Energy-Related Costs

Energy and water costs are a prime concern for manufacturers. Focusing on improvements can reduce these expenses. Often, these improvements are realized as annual savings as opposed to quicker, short-term cost reductions.

Switching to energy-efficient lighting and adjusting lighting levels in accordance with your production schedule will reduce your long-term electrical costs. Regular equipment inspections will also prove beneficial. For example, air compressor leaks can be a waste of energy and increase expenses. Changing how you package your products and supplies can provide cost reductions and free up space at your facility. Solar and wind energy, along with energy efficient equipment and machinery, will greatly reduce monthly utility bills. Implementing strategies such as recycling and going paperless will also save on supply costs. Sustainability can improve your bottom-line.


Recruiting the Next Generation on Manufacturing Day

This article written by Mark Schmit and Zara Brunner at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on July 9, 2015

Lebanon, Missouri’s population is a few hundred people over 14,000. To put that number in perspective, 1,120,000 people ride the commuter train on the average New York City weekday. In Lebanon, people welcome you with open arms, parents interact one-on-one with school teachers and real estate remains inexpensive. Lebanon represents every possible allure of small-town America. All that charm may have its perks, but what good is small-town appeal when you are an 80-year old manufacturing company with an inability to find new employees inhibiting your business’s growth? In some ways, that appeal has everything to do with it…you just have to show it off!


5 Spring-Cleaning Tips for U.S. Manufacturers

This article written by Mark Troppe, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at NIST/MEP, originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on April 17, 2015

Spring has always been my favorite time of year. The flowers are out again in full bloom, it’s time to plant the garden, and baseball season is here again – Go Nationals!
My absolute favorite is spring-cleaning. Spring-cleaning provides me with the perfect opportunity to address all of the chores punted throughout the winter, go through and organize all the piles, and give my house a makeover. Spring-cleaning 2015 is proving to be a great success; the household is refreshed and renewed! 


What Keeps You Up At Night?

This article written by Ken Voytek, the Chief Economist at NIST/MEP, originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on January 21, 2015

I often keep myself up at night by noodling over some obscure question or asking myself why I ate that spicy lunch item. This got me thinking. What keeps MEP clients up at night? It turns out there’s already data for that so I can rest easy and get some sleep.

Learning by Example from Manufacturing Success Stories