The new Coolest Thing Made in Indiana competition celebrates the state’s long manufacturing history. It’s for companies who make all kinds of things. Businesses that have been around for decades or budding entrepreneurs. Companies entered in the tournament face off in a single-elimination bracket format. Winners are chosen through public fan voting. Each winner goes to the next round until we reach the coveted final four teams and an ultimate Coolest Thing Made in Indiana champion. The competition starts in late 2021, but businesses can sign up now to be notified when they can enter.
November 17, 2020 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Beacon Health and Fitness, 200 E. Jackson Blvd.
To stay competitive, modern manufacturers have to streamline costs and keep their workers focused on the most important tasks. What if you could divert some of your factory’s more mundane duties, such as moving material inside a factory, to a cart that worked on its own?
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are helping Indiana manufacturers reduce costs and increase productivity. AMRs can transport raw materials, intermediary product, and finished goods across the factory floor and warehouse automatically.
In this two-hour event, you will learn what AMRs are, what they can do, and how they can be used to free up employees for more valuable work. We will discuss their safety features, capabilities, and limitations. We will also share how other companies have used them successfully to save time and become more efficient.
This event will feature a live demonstration where you will see how an AMR is able to move around obstacles automatically to deliver goods and materials.
Join us and learn how to begin your journey in robotics with the help of Purdue MEP and our network of robotics experts.
Intended audience: Business Owners and Plant Managers wanting to improve operational reliability and better utilize employee time.
That was the consensus Wednesday morning (Sept. 10) at the official groundbreaking on the Ivy Tech campus in Elkhart, where leaders from the community college and the community at large celebrated the impact they foresee, as well as how fast the project, proposed last summer, is moving.
The iFlex Lab, located immediately east of the existing Elkhart campus building, will allow Ivy Tech to embrace new technologies that local employees will need to learn for Elkhart County to lead the nation in manufacturing, according to several speakers. One of those speakers was U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2, who spoke via video link.
“By the charge of who we are, we obviously want to lead and not follow when it comes to manufacturing, and the iFlex Laboratory is right on point to be able to do that,” she said. “Our present and future workforce will require advanced technical and computer skills to remain second to none.”
The threat automation poses to workers is real, she said. But by embracing technologies such as mechatronics and robotics, the local workforce can stay ahead.
Photo by Gregg Fore
Ivy Tech’s new 10,000-square-foot facility will offer training for people seeking to follow those and other paths, including industrial maintenance and computer-aided design. The space will also allow Ivy Tech to “flex” over the next 10 to 15 years and become more future-focused, especially as Industry 4.0 and the “internet of things” expands.
Construction of the iFlex Lab is estimated to cost $3.8 million. The Community College has received funding for the project from multiple sources, including the tax increment finance fund of C.R. 17 and C.R. 6, from which the project received $1.47 million. From the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network, funded by the Lilly Endowment, the project received $1 million.
The hope is to have the facility fully operational by the fall of 2021, according to the chancellor for the South Bend-Elkhart campus, David Balkin. Meeting that goal has required the community college and its collaborators to work at an unusual speed, he said.
“No Ivy Tech building, since the founding of the college in 1963, has been conceived, designed and constructed faster than the one that’s going up behind you,” he said. “We’re moving so fast, I’m thrilled that we’re able to squeeze in this groundbreaking before the building opens for classes.”
Elkhart County Commissioner Suzie Weirick praised the collaboration between the many involved community stakeholders who all see the need for keeping the local workforce ready for the future.
Elkhart County, known as the RV capital of the world, is dependent on RV manufacturing to a point that many local leaders share a belief that the local economy must become more diverse. The RV industry offers many employment opportunities in good times but was hit hard during the Great Recession, resulting in high unemployment rates locally. Weirick said that, with the workforce being developed at Ivy Tech’s new facility, Elkhart County will further its ability to attract new businesses, which should result in a more diverse economy.
Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said the project is not just about the community as a whole, but also the individuals who will come through the iFlex Lab programs. “Together we really are changing lives, one student at a time, while building a stronger workforce, stronger industry, stronger employers, stronger local economy,” she said. Though construction had already begun, officials “broke ground” for the new iFlex Lab at Ivy Tech in Elkhart on Wednesday.
Utilimaster, a go-to-market brand of The Shyft Group’s Fleet Vehicles & Services business unit (NASDAQ: SHYF), a North American leader in specialty vehicle manufacturing, assembly and upfit for the commercial, retail, and service specialty vehicle markets, is hosting its third drive-thru job fair of the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 5 at 603 Earthway Blvd., in Bristol, Ind., in response to COVID-19 health concerns.
Utilimaster is seeking to fill additional positions on its Bristol campus to meet increasing product demand from customers. In an extended effort to follow social distancing protocols, and for the comfort of applicants, interviews will be offered in both car-side and open-air sit-down formats, where masks will be required.
“We continue to experience growing demand for last mile delivery fleet vehicles, as more and more consumers are shopping online simultaneously increase the delivery of both essential and non-essential goods, direct to their doorstep,” said Chad Heminover, president, Shyft Fleet Vehicles & Services. “As a result, we’re looking for even more new team members to join us in Bristol and help us build the vehicles and upfits our customers need.”
Offering highly competitive wages, positions for hire include full-time, day and night shift general assembly positions with day wages starting at $15.50 an hour and night shift positions starting at $17.25 an hour. Both shifts include full benefits that will commence on the first day of work, which include tuition reimbursement, 80 hours of holiday pay, as well as traditional medical and wellness benefits.
This is the third drive-thru hiring event to take place across The Shyft Group corporation in the last month in support of continuing demand for its vehicles. This past June, the company — formerly known as Spartan Motors, Inc. — rebranded to The Shyft Group, to be more reflective of its next phase of business transformation and focus on high-growth commercial, retail, and service specialty vehicle markets, following the divestiture of its fire truck business. The name represents speed, efficiency, agility, and a high-intensity approach.
At a recent company gathering, Alliance RV, Elkhart, Ind., announced the production of its 500th Paradigm fifth-wheel.
During the gathering, Co-Founder Coley Brady noted, “We launched Alliance RV with a mission of providing a superior customer ownership experience and are thrilled with how the shift in business philosophy is resonating with both our dealer partners and product owners. To experience the validation that we have seen over the last six months has been very humbling.”
Co-Founder Ryan Brady continued the sentiments with a thank you to Alliance RV’s 150-plus team members as well as the Alliance product owners (known as Allies) who have been instrumental in driving the design of the Alliance RV product. Ryan went on to say, “A solid foundation has clearly been put in place to responsibly grow Alliance RV into the future. We will remain resolute in our mission of exceeding customer expectations with a guiding principle of ‘doing the right thing’”.
Located on 112 acres in the heart of Elkhart, Ind., Alliance RV began production in fall 2019 with the first product line focused on the luxury fifth-wheel market. The company’s vision is to “create a product driven by our customers, through their experience and input, and execute on those ideas at the highest level.”
For more information on Alliance RV, please visit www.AllianceRV.com or join the Alliance RV Facebook page at “Alliance RV Group.
Everything’s set for the 2020 RV Industry Power Breakfast on the morning of Dec. 3 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Northern Indiana Event Center in Elkhart, Ind., a popular annual event held in the heart of the RV-manufacturing center that was rescheduled from its original mid-May date due to pandemic considerations.
On tap for this year’s live-and-in-person breakfast – now planned for the same week that the industry’s traditional Lousiville Show was held for 54 years prior to its 2017 cancellation — are presentations by the RV Industry Association (RVIA) and Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) plus an “RV Executive Summit” featuring the chief executives of Thor Industries Inc., Forest River Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc., the industry’s three highest volume manufacturers.
Also on the agenda – with Congress in session — is a remote interview with U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, a southern Indiana Republican whose family-held firm, Meyer Distributing, is an aftermarket parts and accessories distributor in the automotive and RV industries. Plans also call for a short video visit from U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski, a 2nd District South Bend Congresswoman with close ties to the RV sector.
Tickets for the Power Breakfast, which now follows by a month the presidential elections, go on sale Oct. 26, with details to follow.
“Ordinarily, you’d never really have to post a reminder at a time like this that an event like the RV Industry Power Breakfast is indeed being held as planned,” said BJ Thompson, an Elkhart, Ind.-based marketing executive who coordinates the Power Breakfast in conjunction with an ad hoc oversight committee and RVBusiness magazine.
“However, these aren’t ordinary times, as everyone knows, and significant events are being cancelled right and left,” he added, “and we just want everyone to know that that’s not the case with the Power Breakfast, where things are very much in place.”
This year’s Power Breakfast is sponsored by Airxcel, Cummins Inc., Winnebago Industries Inc., Dometic Corp., Wells Fargo CDF, Forest River Inc., KOA, Spartan Motors Inc., RVIA and Thor Industries.
Genesis Products Inc., a leader in RV interior components, has introduced Solid Surface Countertops as the newest addition to its RV Interior product line, according to a release.
“Showcasing an expansive selection of color and textures, the addition of solid surface countertops enhances the flexibility and design options for each RV Interior,” said Trenton Miller, product manager at Genesis. “We have expanded our manufacturing and technical expertise to provide the highest quality product to our customers.”
Genesis currently provides thermoformed and lightweight countertops to the RV Industry. With the addition of solid surface to the countertop product line, Genesis now offers a complete selection of high-quality, design-forward countertops, creating a unique interior for each RV.
In August 2019, Genesis increased capacity with a 108,400 sq. ft. state-of-the-art manufacturing plant as part of its existing campus in Goshen, IN.
“We are remodeling our design center to provide the ultimate one-stop design experience, resulting in seamless and luxurious custom interiors,” explained Miller. “The addition of solid surface allows us to meet all customer needs from design to function to cost. Creating a unique experience for our customers is what we strive for daily. This takes us to the next level”
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this upcoming free workshop, you’ll learn how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn about tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress. This is a condensed training session of our full managing stress training.
To participate in this online offering, please complete the registration form to the right. All participants will receive webex instructions the day of the event.
The Governor announced that majority of the state will begin to enter what he refers to as Stage 2 of a 5-phased reopening of the economy on Monday, May 4th. Marion and Lake Counties may move to Stage 2 on May 11th. Cass County may begin move to Stage 2 on May 18th.
At-risk Hoosiers, including those over age 65, should remain at home at this time. Stage 2 requires a gradual elimination of restrictions, depending upon a variety of circumstances.
Even upon reaching Stage 5 on July 4th, the Governor indicated that social distancing will still be required and remote work will still be encouraged. The Governor is still working on a plan for the next school year.
All remaining manufacturing businesses may open upon moving to Stage 2. Detailed guidelines and timeframes for the Governor’s plan may be found at the Back on Track Indiana website.
Purdue MEP – Providing direct support to help plan, prepare, protect, and recover manufacturing operations
Since March 2020, Purdue MEP has worked via our Critical PPE Manufacturing Initiative with real-time information, resources, and tools related to the efforts to manufacture urgently-needed medical PPE during this evolving global pandemic. Every day, we are helping companies remove barriers to PPE production to get critical supplies into the hands of front-line healthcare workers and their patients.
Over 100 companies are utilizing these services and we plan to assist more in the critical days and weeks to come. For examples of our work, visit our Success Story page.
Success Spotlight – Purdue MEP – A National Resource
Purdue MEP is not only helping with COVID-19 PPE efforts here in Indiana – we are also collaborating with MEP Centers across the nation to provide PPE to frontline healthcare workers.
Purdue MEP recently worked with the Virginia MEP Center to assist a hospital in their state. Purdue MEP connected the hospital with suppliers who were able to provide them with coveralls, face shields, and infrared thermometers.
A North Carolina medical organization recently needed a source for goggles. Purdue MEP was able to provide them with a local Indiana company that had the ability to supply them with the needed items.
Free Webinar Next Week from the Indiana Manufacturers Association
Success Spotlight – Continuing Direct Assistance to Indiana Hospitals
An Indiana hospital needed a supply of fingertip pulse oximeters to provide to discharged COVID-19 patients to monitor their health as they continue to recover. Purdue MEP was able to successfully connect the hospital to a company with an available supply of these useful diagnostic tools.
Resource List Available on Purdue MEP Site for Employers
Purdue MEP is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Our greatest concern is for the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, our clients and their staff, and our communities. In this current state, we remain fully committed to our mission of serving Indiana manufacturers.
If your organization is in need of PPE to operate, please submit your company’s information on this form, and one of our staff members will be in touch to assist your company.
Managing Stress Webinar by Purdue MEP, May 11th 1pm to 1:30pm – FREE
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this workshop, you’ll learn about how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress.
To participate in this online offering, please complete this registration form. All participants will receive WebEx instructions the day of the event.
Purdue COVID-19 MEP Resources:
Online Problem Solving Course
In any workplace, problems arise every day that need to be solved. In a manufacturing environment, solving problems can be challenging due to the large number of interrelated systems that exist in the typical manufacturing plant. For example, is a high defect rate due to issues with incoming materials, operator techniques, machine settings, or all of these?
In this course, you’ll learn about how the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of problem solving, the A3 problem solving tool, and the root-cause analysis technique form a foundation for effective problem solving. You’ll also learn how to use additional problem solving tools, including Pareto charts and fishbone diagrams. Together, this new knowledge and skill will help you solve problems in a more streamlined and efficient manner, making you a valuable resource within your organization.
In manufacturing environments, a proactive approach to safety, with involvement from employees at all levels, can increase employee productivity and commitment, save money, and improve the organization’s reputation. In this course, you’ll learn how lean manufacturing concepts, such as eliminating the eight wastes, can be used to improve safety; you’ll also learn the fundamentals of building a culture of safety commitment as opposed to compliance.