Most Sustainable Building in the Southeast Built Using Recycled Bricks From NC Manufacturer

Charlotte businessman James Kolodziey, noticed his customers were throwing away tons of industrial-grade ceramic every month. He wanted to turn one man’s trash to another man’s treasure. Thus, the inception of Green Leaf, a brick manufacturer that makes the world’s only fired masonry brick and paver line composed of 100% recycled content with up to 31% post-consumer waste-streams. Green Leaf’s 100% recycled brick was used to build the most sustainable building in the world, the Kendeda Building on the campus of Georgia Tech. Learn More→

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A Few Good Robots—4 Types of Robots Every Manufacturer Should Know

Contrary to popular belief, robots have the ability to help manufacturers without hurting their human workforce. There are four types of industrial robots every manufacturer should know: Articulated Robots, SCARA Robots, Delta Robots and Cartesian Robots. Each robot has a specific uniqueness. The Articulated Robots are flexible, SCARA Robots are cost-effective, Delta Robots are lightweight and Cartesian Robots were built to accommodate a large range of workplace sizes. Learn More→

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Winston-Salem, NC – The North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP), the official representative of the MEP National Network™ and NIST MEP in North Carolina, today announced the winners of its 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards at mfgCON in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The NCMEP awards program recognizes manufacturers for their commitment to the North Carolina manufacturing sector, as proven by outstanding performance in the areas of manufacturing excellence, sustainable manufacturing, innovation, workforce development, economic development/developing markets and continuous improvement.
“These special awards give NCMEP the opportunity to recognize the commitment to growth, community, and excellence among our NC manufacturers,” says Phil Mintz, NCMEP Director and Executive Director of NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (IES). “We honor those who are often not readily visible as they provide leadership in best practices and advanced technology application.”
The winners of the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards include:
McCreary Modern is an OEM manufacturer of private label upholstery, occasional, dining and bedroom furniture. They are a vertically integrated ESOP and family owned, Made in America manufacturing company, utilizing locally sourced materials. They focus on supporting area suppliers and machinery manufacturers, creating jobs and reducing the carbon footprint of the company. McCreary Modern has grown organically and now employs over 1000 employee-owners in six factories, all located in North Carolina, totaling over one million square feet.
Their culture embraces continuous improvement and has embraced change management often referred to as “The Handwriting on the Wall” methodology for over 20 years. They incorporate numerous visual management techniques from dying their assembly glues to color coded production tickets. McCreary Modern was an early adopter of RFID technology, tracking their materials and products from raw materials through packaging and shipping of their made to order products. One of the newest innovations allows production and specification data that can be sourced remotely by an iPhone. 
McCreary Modern was instrumental in the creation and support of the Caldwell Community College Furniture Institute and the family has donated many dollars to local charities, hospitals and universities. 
McCreary Modern has always approached sustainability as a core value of its company. A strong social conscience, along with reasonable business stewardship, has guided their decision-making process. Long before sustainability was used as a marketing tactic, McCreary Modern understood the multiple benefits of valuing social and natural capital for both moral and economic reasons. Their business culture embraces the concept of sustainable development. Recycling has been their standard for over 20 years. The company recycles more than 3,700 tons of wood waste, 715 tons of fabric/ leather waste and 100 tons of paper and cardboard annually.
Enviva is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, a renewable and sustainable energy source used to generate electricity and heat. Enviva owns and operates wood pellet processing plants and deep-water export terminals in the Southeastern United States. They export their wood pellets primarily to power plants in Europe and Asia. Enviva’s pellets are made using sustainable practices that protect Southern forests. They employ about 1000 people.
Enviva sources wood from more than 1,000 private landowners and provides an additional market for their low-grade wood — increasing the profitability of timber harvest activities and creating an incentive to keep forests as forests. Enviva does more than make wood pellets — they help small towns participate in and benefit from the global economy, connecting local businesses to international markets through exports.
Enviva recently received an air permit for the Northampton plant that will allow it to:

Install additional air emission controls equipment to further minimize air emissions;
Increase the permitted production volume by about 235,000 metric tons of pellets per year; and
Increase the permitted percentage of softwood (pine).

Alotech is a contract manufacturer located in Goldston, North Carolina, providing contract manufacturing services to small businesses. In addition to re-manufacturing prototyping and product development services, they make investments in companies seeking to expand and improve their processes. 
For example, an Alotech remanufacturing customer had been using a manual process to remove rivets from an assembly. Not only was this labor intensive, but the customer experienced an average of 15 reportable injuries each year directly related to the process. Alotech was subcontracted and automated the process, reducing the labor time by 80 hours per week and, more importantly, annual OSHA reportable incidents were reduced from 15 to 0. 
Another key customer was experiencing low yields on its remanufactured product line because parts were being discarded due to cosmetic defects. To maintain production of its remanufactured assemblies, the customer was using a high percentage of new components, resulting in a profit margin of less than 9%. Alotech’s engineers collaborated with the customer to develop a process that differentiates between cosmetic and functional defects. This resulted in a drastic improvement in yields and reduced the use of cosmetically perfect parts in the remanufactured assemblies. The customer’s profit margin increased from 9% to 38% with no capital investment required. Alotech’s innovation solution was able to increase the client’s annual profit by $366,000.
3M Pittsboro’s Plant Engineering Manager Chuck Jarrell is in charge of developing a workforce pipeline for 3M’s operation that employs about 55 people in Pittsboro. He is also heavily involved in helping to develop corporate workforce programs for 3M sites outside of Pittsboro. Their workforce maintenance strategy is a three-fold approach: technical, strategic and cultural. On the technical and strategic side, the organization offers maintenance apprenticeships, which allows the technicians to better understand the theory behind maintenance techniques while applying them on the job and using them to further their career. 
3M often hires talented individuals who might not know exactly what career path they want to take, and partners them with experienced, tenured technicians to expose them to a variety of career options. They also hire college students and expose them to various industries to help both them and the company get a look at each other with the possibility of longer term relationships after they graduate. 3M builds its culture around training and support to all new hires and at all stages of their careers at 3M. 
Altec is a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs and contractor markets. Their  Burnsville, North Carolina plant specializes in manufacturing custom bodies built to exact customer specifications. The only manufacturer in the industry to offer aluminum, fiberglass and steel body options, Altec Burnsville has built bodies for multiple industries since 2006. 
Since opening its Burnsville facility in 2006, the company has continued to expand and enhance its operations in the community. Altec has twice expanded its Burnsville facility making it the largest manufacturing company located in Yancey County. The resulting stimulus to the economy has been evident, contributing significantly to Yancey County’s recent dramatic reduction in unemployment, rise in the prevailing median wage in the community and Yancey County’s rise from a Tier 1 economically distressed county to a Tier 2 county in 2019. 
Altec continues to be dedicated to growing and expanding their business and footprint in Burnsville. They recently partnered with local officials in secring a $500,000 building reuse grant through the NC Department of Commerce and has announced its most recent expansion, the opening of a second manufacturing facility in Yancey County and the creation of fifty new full time jobs. 
Since 2007, Equilibar has grown from a basement start-up with one part-time employee to a dynamic employer of 25 highly skilled team members who design and manufacture specialty fluid control valves. On average, the company has been growing revenue at 25 percent a year and in 2019 received the Presidential “E” Award for Exports, the highest recognition a US entity can receive for making a significant contribution to US exports. Equilibar’s Continuous Improvement process asks for the entire team to participate and provide feedback, with quarterly management review. The process turtle diagram is used as a visual. Continuous Improvement efforts are meant to produce effective, improved processes, policies, performance and company culture. These are often enacted as a solution for customer cases, complaints, customer survey results, NCP/CAR(s), suggestion box feedback, risk analysis reviews, and management goals and visions. Categories include training, changes to processes, updates to / new procedures, new tools, purchases, building/equipment upgrades and webinars.
All Equilibar team members are asked to participate in identifying recent Continuous Improvement items. The process owner and backup are responsible to review, sort and score the team input for approval. Points are scored based on the worth of each individual Continuous Improvement item.
To score the items, the company uses the Fibonacci Sequence method. The items with the most weight are based on time spent / labor hours consumed and the cost associated. Equilibar has a company culture of auditing their 23 processes annually to continually make changes or verify success as needed. They maintain a quality management system that meets the requirements for ISO 9001:2015 certification. 
The North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) is the official representative of the MEP National Network™ and NIST MEP in North Carolina. The MEP National Network™ is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing.

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Happy Manufacturing Day, North Carolina!

October 4 is the 7th annual National Manufacturing Day, a day created to celebrate manufacturing and its huge, positive impact on our economy and workforce.
The problem, though, is what we hear and read: we don’t make things in this country any longer. It’s all overseas in China or some other country in Asia, maybe even Mexico. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. We still make things in this country and in this wonderful state. We make many things.
Manufacturing in North Carolina
Manufacturing remains a huge part of North Carolina’s economy through (at a minimum) output, exports, contribution to GDP and employment. You can read more about the statistics here, in Governor Cooper’s proclamation of North Carolina’s Manufacturing Week, and delve deeper into the data here if you are a data geek like I am.
North Carolina is home to many manufacturing companies that make a variety of products (from tortilla chips to microchips as we like to say). The companies that comprise our state’s manufacturing base aren’t only big companies with well-known names such as Caterpillar, Campbell’s and GE Aviation – far from it. Most of the manufacturers are very small with fewer than 100 employees.
These manufacturers, the backbone of our state’s economy, often operate with little fanfare or visibility. Did you know the company that makes the patches for the astronauts is based out of Weaverville and has partnered with NASA for nearly 60 years? Or that one of only two companies in the country that provide parachutes to the Department of Defense and the warfighter is located in Asheville?
Manufacturing All Around You
If you look carefully in your local grocery store and specialty stores – even in the RDU airport! – you can find gourmet food items made in this state. Gourmet nuts, teas, jams, jellies, candies, drink mixes, grits, breading, salsas and BBQ sauces (we love our BBQ!) proliferate. Some of the brands are well known, but many are not and represent the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps NC’s food manufacturing sector strong and may lead to the next big-name brand.
I recently toured Hangar6, a prototyping and design assistance space that is a First Flight Venture Center program. Talk about toiling in obscurity. From the outside, it looked like a couple of sheds and a garage but inside were state-of-the-art machines: 5 different types of 3D printers (including 2 made by Fusion3, a company located in Greensboro), lathes, CNC machines, laser cutters, and many more. Hangar6’s purpose is to provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs and small companies to have a way to affordably develop functional and accurate prototypes for their products before they seek mass production and doing so on the latest technology. 3D Printing (or additive manufacturing) has huge potential to disrupt manufacturing and provide a competitive advantage, and I salute Hangar6 for enabling small business to innovate affordably.
I could go on and on with examples – parts for Toyota and Honda as well as tires are made in this state. Camping gear, bicycles, jeans, bags and even fishing rods are made here too.
So, yes, we do still manufacture in this state. What we do today is amazing, but what we are going to do tomorrow is even better.
Happy Manufacturing Day, North Carolina. And thank you to our thousands of manufacturers who contribute so much.

KeAnne Hoeg is manager of market research and reporting for NCMEP partner NC State Industry Expansion Solutions. Her group is responsible for managing required reporting to stakeholders, several internal applications, including the CRM system, the Manufactured in North Carolina website, knowledge management and data mining. Prior to moving into market research, she worked in IT and marketing as a web developer and social media manager, also at IES. KeAnne has a B.A. in English from Meredith College and a master’s degree in Library Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Aerospace Supplier Grows Business with AS9100D

A Heritage of Winning
Roush Yates Manufacturing Solutions (RYMS), a division of Roush Yates Engines, provides world-class CNC machining of complex parts for critical applications into the aerospace, defense, automotive and high-tech industries. The company, located in Mooresville, North Carolina, delivers expertise in multi-axis and waterjet processing of metal and plastic parts with complex geometries.
Formed in 2003, with roots in auto racing, RYMS has leveraged the experience and culture of winning to evolve into a world-class provider of machined parts. “We come from a heritage of winning. In racing, winning is paramount; our perspective is every day we’re running a race that we have to win,” explained Bob Ucman, Vice President of Business Development for RYMS.
The company is a Tier 3 supplier to the aerospace and defense industries. Their target customers are Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and in some cases, the OEM manufacturer of the product for the industry.
RYMS Turns to NCMEP Partner to Help Break New Market Barriers
Roush Yates Manufacturing Solutions had experienced a moderate rate of growth since its inception but wanted to grow and expand into new markets. “During the 2012-2013 strategic planning process, we decided to target the aerospace and defense industries, but found there were a number of barriers of entry into those markets,” said Ucman. “One of the barriers of entry was getting certified to ISO 9001 and AS9100 standards. That’s when we turned to NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (IES), a North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partner (NCMEP), to assist us in breaking through those barriers.”
RYMS believed the implementation of a quality management system based on the ISO 9001 and AS9100 standards was the path forward to ensure a more structured and reliable approach for expanding into new markets. The robust management framework enabled the company to meet its original objectives and achieve continuous improvement through better
monitoring and measuring of activities and a more accurate understanding of performance and identification of areas for improvement.
Fast forward to 2018. Although RYMS had developed a solid aerospace clientele and was certified to AS9100C, the aerospace industry required specific compliance to AS9100D in order to continue doing business with them. This new requirement could potentially put current business at risk. That’s when RYMS turned to IES again
for transition assistance to the new standard.
“What drew us to the NCMEP program and IES was the unbiased nature of the program, the confidentiality and the team’s thorough preparedness when they came to assess
our needs,” said Ucman.
IES provided on-site training that included: explaining the requirements, structure and purpose of AS9100D; explaining the requirements for documented information; identifying the changes between AS9100C and AS9100D; determining the gaps between AS9100D and their current QMS; assessing the overall impact on their current QMS; and determining the implications of the new requirements on management and internal auditors.
RYMS Realizes Multiple Benefits
“We have seen a number of benefits since implementing AS9100D,” said Shannon Hole, the AS9100 Management Representative for Roush Yates Manufacturing Solutions. “IES was very thorough; because of their coaching assistance, we passed the audit with no findings.”
Ucman added, “We have also experienced a reduction in the cost of trial and error we might have otherwise incurred without the coaching and support of IES. We have realized
cost savings through improved efficiency and productivity; areas of opportunities were highlighted — meaning we can continually improve. In turn, that means reduced waste and more customer satisfaction, a true win-win.”
RYMS has experienced improvements in both time saving and productivity through the continuous improvement of their quality management system. In addition, the continuous improvement of their quality management system came directly out of the recommendations and the advice IES provided.
“Because of the critical nature of our AS9100 certification and all the processes that go with it, if we had not had IES’s support to create that quality management system and
the processes, we would not have experienced revenue or growth in the aerospace and defense industries,” said Ucman. “Most, if not all, our customers require us to have the certifications IES helped us achieve.”
Listen to their video story here.



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