Saturday, December 1, 2012

Loans Available for Real Estate, Machinery, and Equipment

The New York Job Development Authority recently announced a program that provides direct loans for the growth of manufacturing and other eligible New York businesses. This funding is to assist in financing a portion of the cost of acquiring and renovating existing buildings or constructing new buildings or for purchasing machinery and equipment (“M&E” projects). Funds to make loans are derived from the sale of state-guaranteed bonds.

Program Highlights
In most cases, JDA Loans can be for up to 40% of the total project cost of new buildings (“Real Estate” projects) or for M&E projects, or up to 60% for projects located in Empire Zones or economically distressed areas. The combination of a bank loan and a JDA Loan allows up to 90% financing of a project with a typical financing structure that might consist of:
  • 50% Bank Loan
  • 40% JDA Loan
  • 10% Borrower Equity
A JDA Real Estate Loan is normally a second mortgage loan, subordinate to a first-mortgage loan provided by a bank; M&E Loans are secured by a first lien, co-equal with the bank’s lien, on the M&E being financed.

Real Estate project costs include the cost of an existing building and renovations, purchase of land and construction of a new building and soft costs normally associated with a real estate transaction. M&E project costs include the cost of the machinery and its delivery, installation costs solely attributable to the machinery being purchased and soft costs related to the M&E acquisition.

EligibilityFacilities to be used for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and certain service businesses are eligible for JDA Loans. Loans for retail facilities, which customers must personally visit in order to obtain the goods or services being sold, are not eligible for JDA Loans, nor are loans for hotel or residential facilities.
JDA does not make loans for motor vehicles, nor does JDA make Working Capital Loans.

RequirementsThe Borrower must secure a letter of commitment from the bank providing the 50% financing portion of the project cost.
The Borrower must provide at least 10% of the project cost as an equity contribution to the project.
Personal guarantees are required from any person owning 20% or more of the Operating Company for whose benefit the JDA Loan is being made.

To explore how this loan program might help your company grow, and to learn how to apply, contact Jim Cunningham, 607-725-1225.
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The Importance of Goals & Direction for Growth & Profitability

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” said the cat.

Lewis Carroll
Are you like Alice or do you care about the future and the direction you want to take?

2012 is winding down already and it’s time to prepare for 2013.

If you don’t take the time to define your future, someone else will.

AM&T has helped hundreds of Southern Tier manufacturers develop and implement meaningful Strategic Plans.

Give us a call and let’s discuss how we can help you:
  • Examine your current state
  • Define your desired future
  • Develop a roadmap and actions for growth & profitability
  • Develop the right metrics to monitor progress

Contact Jim Cunningham at 607-725-1225 or
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Excellent Quotes on Collaboration

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

"If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless." - Darryl F. Zanuck

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford

"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

"It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear." - Henry David Thoreau

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." - George Bernard Shaw

"Politeness is the poison of collaboration." - Edwin Land

"I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively." - Golda Meir

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Eight-Step Problem Solving Workshop

Manufacturing today is under tremendous pressure to find new and innovative ways to improve performance and reduce costs. Recognizing the need for Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is crucial. The effectiveness of any CPI effort is only as good as the problem solvers implementing and executing the plan, and the need is recognized for the majority of all personnel to be schooled in a disciplined, proven problem solving methodology.

In this one-day session, AM&T will train participants in a modified 8-Step Problem Solving process, adopted from the Toyota Production System and tied directly to the Six Sigma DMAIC model -- Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.

Personnel charged with project management, process improvement, Lean initiatives, and anyone else interested in problem solving.

  • Learn how to utilize 8-step problem solving process
  • Learn why objectivity, alignment, coherency, and distilling data down to the most salient points is important to successful problem solving
  • Solve problems faster using a proven methodology
  • Attain lasting results by using sustainment tools
  • Gain in-depth knowledge to identify and resolve true root causes instead of symptoms
  • Provide the organization with methods to share best practices
  • Learn to understand the nature of a problem before jumping to solutions
  • Learn to set clear objectives and metrics
  • Understand the importance of cause and effect analysis in problem solving
  • Create a culture of logical problem solving

To have this class delivered at your facility,
call Jim Cunningham at 607-725-1225

Meet your Instructor: Carol Miller has over 25 years of experience in the manufacturing and service sectors. She has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York, College at Buffalo, and an M.S. in Management of Technology from Polytechnic University. She is a member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a NIST certified trainer and implementer of Lean Manufacturing techniques, and has received certification as a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt from Villanova University. Carol leads AM&T’s Lean effort.

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Four Reasons Why Questions are a Leader’s Best Friend

By Art Petty

The best leaders I know wield questions like a surgeon wields a scalpel…carefully, precisely, respectfully and always with an objective in mind.

Four Reasons Why Questions are a Leader’s Best Friend:
  1. Questions teach. They encourage those around us to think through and around issues. Helping people see things beyond their role or their function…and encouraging them to look at the bigger picture is best accomplished through deft questioning, not lecturing.
  2. Questions promote innovation. I was on the receiving end of this one after spending a considerable amount with my team working through a problem to arrive at a solution: If it turns out that this approach is not acceptable, how else might you solve this problem? The new solution…a very different one turned out to be a much better approach.
  3. Questions promote performance. Just the knowledge that the boss asks tough, non-judgmental questions motivates people to think harder and deeper about their ideas and approaches. A good boss wants as much gray matter of his/her team as possible!
  4. Questions promote improved decision-making. Similar to the question for innovation above, effective leaders ask questions that encourage their team members to reframe situations when evaluating a decision. Something perceived as a problem might well be approached in a different manner when framed as neutral or even as an opportunity.
The Bottom-Line:Learn the art of asking questions, but remember to wield them like a surgeon: carefully, precisely and respectfully. Emphasis on the “respectfully” portion, or, you risk crossing the line from positive to intimidating.

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Associates Corner - Incodema

Incodema is a prototype and short run sheet metal stamping provider that produces prototype sheet metal stampings, intricate metal forming, short run production stamping, laser cutting, photo chemical machining (PCM), CNC machining, and wire EDM (electrical discharge machining)

According to Sean Whittaker, CEO, the Ithaca company uses complex 3D designs from client-supplied CAD files to transform those ideas and designs into reality. “Our reputation hinges on our team’s ability to produce high-quality, sheet metal prototypes with very rapid turnaround times. We have redefined “rapid” by offering same business day delivery of prototype metal stampings. Customers can routinely request and receive an E-Quote in minutes and receive the parts in five business days or less.”

Whittaker said the company’s success and growth is the result of optimizing ordering and production processes, focusing on quality, being innovative, and expanding capabilities.

Incodema redesigned and renovated its 30,000 sq.ft. facility to better accommodate lean manufacturing principles and 5S procedures, and to accommodate expansion with a capital equipment acquisition program. Whittaker explained that Incodema has selected tools and methodologies that assist in identifying and eliminating waste. This, in turn, improves quality reduces production time and costs.

5S (Sort, Set-in-order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain) is a method for organizing a workplace and keeping it organized. Whittaker said that Incodema’s entire workforce has become committed to the principles of Lean and 5S, with the result that work centers are running more efficiently, tools are always available when needed, and pride in the workplace and products is self evident.

One example of innovation at the company is the first U.S. commercial installation of a new European developed precision water jet cutting technology. The MICROCUT process was specifically designed to machine two-dimensional, high precision and micro parts with a substantially smaller kerf width (0.012 in.) compared to traditional cutting processes (0.045 in.). This cutting process quickly and accurately removes material to produce a finished piece with little to no burr and no heat deformation. This makes it an ideal solution for soft materials such as rubber, plastics, or silicone, and it works equally well with hard alloys.

Incodema’s capabilities have also increased with the acquisition of a 22-employee company in Newark, NY that specializes in photo chemical machining (PCM). PCM is the process of fabricating sheet metal components using a photoresist and etchants to corrosively machine away selected areas, and can produce highly complex parts with very fine detail accurately and economically. Whittaker explained that the PCM process can offer economical alternatives to other machining processes for thin gauge precision parts. The tooling is inexpensive and quickly produced, thus the process is useful for prototyping and allows for easy changes in mass production.

PCM can be used on virtually any commercially available metal or alloy, of any hardness. It is limited to materials with a thickness of 0.0005 to 0.080 in (0.013 to 2.0 mm). Metals include aluminium, brass, copper, inconel, manganese, nickel, silver, steel, stainless steel, zinc and titanium.

Leveraging expertise that remained from a company that left Syracuse, Whittaker recently created a subsidiary called IwinRP that specializes in Stereolithography (SLA), an additive manufacturing process which employs a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer “resin” and an ultraviolet laser to build a part’s layers one at a time. For each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below.

Incodema and its new sister companies are registered under the U.S. Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which allows all three locations to fully support all military and homeland security projects in the U.S.

The company now employs 52 people in Ithaca, 22 in Newark, and 5 at the new startup group in East Syracuse. For more information visit

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Basic Project Management Training

A "train and do" workshop introducing the basics of Project Management, including classroom presentation and exercises on how to organize and manage projects and bring them to a close – on time and on budget.

This training is for manufacturing, engineering, and installation personnel with project leadership responsibilities, whether in a new role or just in need of a refresher.

  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Individual Roles and Responsibilities
  • Defining the Mission & Approach
  • Methodology Overview
  • Work Plan Review and Sign-off
  • Project Tracking (Working the Schedule)
  • Action and Contingency Plans
  • Project Status Reporting
  • Book shelving Project Management Data

(Course materials are based on methods described in the Program Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), published by the Program Management Institute)

Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Time: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
      Sign-in and continental breakfast at 7:30, lunch also included
Location: Treadway Inn, Owego, NY
Cost: $250 ($200 for AM&T Associates)
Register on-line at or contact Kathy Peacock at 607-774-0022 x308

Meet your Instructor: Lloyd Johnson is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a B.S.E.E. and an MBA. Lloyd has over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, quality and program management. Lloyd is a Professional Business Adviser (PBA), a certified Project Management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute, and is certified to teach Training Within Industry (TWI).

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How Effective Coaching Helps Hold Down Key Employee Turnover

By: Colleen Bracken

Today’s professional sports teams protect their investments. When they’ve paid, say, $110 million for a player, they don’t give up on him easily if he goes into a slump. What do they do? Berate and humiliate him? Make him run stadium steps until he drops? No. Usually, they coach him. And arguably, the most successful teams boast the most skillful coaches.

State of the team
Which invites the question: "What’s the state of your team?"

Do your managers know how to coach your talent so as to minimize their slumps, maximize their hot streaks and make them want to stay with the team for a long time?
The comparison isn’t outlandish. You may not spend multi-millions on your best people, but you know turnover can easily cost a year’s salary - not to mention the headaches of recruiting and re-recruiting.

A matter of training
As an HR pro, you probably either head up or have a lot of say in your company’s training efforts. So it’s up to you to ensure line managers acquire the coaching skills they need to keep valued employees growing, and put them back on track if they get off.

To help you, we’ll lay out a five-step coaching method you can share with managers - and maybe use yourself.

And by the way: Coaching isn’t teaching - rather, it’s helping a person learn by unlocking her potential. Coaching contains elements of training, psychotherapy, mentoring and consulting, but isn’t identical to any of these.

The Method:

1. Create a safe environment
A coaching conversation needs a safe and trusting environment, to encourage communication and foster a willingness to try new things.

The coach creates this atmosphere by:
• Seeking permission: "Would you like some coaching in this area?"
• Stressing confidentiality: "Everything we discuss will remain 100% confidential." (Remember, this isn’t an evaluation or a disciplinary session.)
• Eliciting concerns: "Do you have any issues about our coaching?"

2. Decide agenda and outcome
The employee may want to choose the topic, or the manager may see a need for coaching in a specific area.
In the latter case, the manager asks the employee - ahead of time, not on the spot - if he’d like to be coached on the topic.
The desired outcome is decided at the start. The manager can ask the employee what outcome she desires, or suggest an outcome the manager would like to see.

3. Explore
The next step is for the coach to gain a broad and deep understanding of the employee’s situation.
This can be accomplished by open-ended questioning, using phrases like:
• "Can you describe the situation now?"
• "Describe how you want it to be."
• "What have you tried so far?"
• "What has/hasn’t worked?"
• "What strengths do you have that you can apply?"
• DON’T ask, "Why," which can make the employee defensive.

4. Collaborate and solve
Now the coach and employee are ready to generate ideas and solutions. Here, too, the key lies in open-ended questioning. The coach can ask:
• "What are three possible or impossible solutions?"
• "What obstacles might get in the way, and how can we reduce them?"
• "What else would make it better or easier?"
• "What’s most important to you here?"
Note: Often the coach won’t give advice, but let the employee figure out a solution. If advice is called for, the coach should seek permission to give it.

5. Plan for action and support
The idea of coaching is to drive observable change.
So in the last stage, the coach moves the employee to action steps, by asking questions like:
• "Which of the solutions you’ve come up with are you ready to act on?"
• "By when will you take these actions?"
• "What support will you need to follow through?"

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10 Tips for a Simple and Effective Business Plan

From an article by Marty Zwilling

If you want people to invest in your idea, then my best advice is to first write a business plan, and keep it simple. Don’t confuse your business plan with a doctoral thesis or the back of a napkin. Keep the wording and formatting straightforward, and keep the plan short. For minimum content, see the article "These 10 Key Elements Make a Business Plan Fundable" at http:\\

The overriding principle is that your business plan must be easy to read. This means writing at the level of an average newspaper story (about eighth-grade level). Understand that people will skim your plan, and even try to read it while talking on the phone or going through their email.

But don’t confuse simple wording and formats with simple thinking. You’re keeping it simple so you can get your point across quickly and effectively to team members and investors. With that in mind, here are some specifics updated from an old article on simple plans by Tim Berry:

1) Keep It Short. You can cover everything you need to convey in 20 pages of text. If necessary, create a separate white paper for other details and reports. The one-page Oprah plan is a good executive summary, but it’s not enough to get the investment.

2) Polish It. Aside from the wording, you also want the physical look of your text to be inviting. Polish the overall look and feel. Stick to two fonts in a standard text editor, like Microsoft Word. The fonts you use should be common sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, Tahoma or Verdana, 10 to 12 points.

3) Break It Up. Don’t use long complicated sentences. Short sentences are the best, because they read faster, and reader comprehension is higher in all audiences.

4) Don’t KISS It. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms. You may know that NIH means "not invented here" and KISS stands for "keep it simple, stupid," but don’t assume anybody else does.

5) Keep It Simple. Use straightforward language. Stick with the simpler words and phrases, like "use" instead of "utilize" and "then" instead of "at that point in time."

6) Use Bullet Points. They help organize and prioritize multiple elements of a concept or plan. But avoid cryptic bullet points. Flesh them out with brief explanations where explanations are needed. Unexplained bullet points usually result in questions.

7) Don’t Overwhelm. Pictures and diagrams can effectively illustrate a point, but too many graphics and flashy colors come across as clutter.

8) Use Page Breaks. This will separate sections of the document and can also separate charts from text and highlight tables. When in doubt, go to the next page. Nobody worries about having to turn to the next page.

9) Use White Space. Include one-inch margins all around and open up the space between lines of text. Always use your spell-checker. Then proofread your text carefully to be sure you’re not using a properly spelled but incorrect word.

10) Include Table of Contents. No investor likes searching every page for key data, like executive credentials, or exit strategy. Most word processors these days can automatically generate a table of contents from your section headings. Use it.

Investors hear from too many entrepreneurs who envision a great business opportunity, but don’t have any written business plan at all. They think they can talk their way to a deal. It won’t work. On the other end of this spectrum are entrepreneurs who present long product specifications with a few financials at the end. This is a failing strategy as well.

If you’re not the type who can connect with people based on a simple message, told succinctly, then hire someone who can. In fact, simplicity and readability is one of the most effective strategies for selling even the most complex proposal. A business plan that is easily understood and looks professional is already half sold. Simple is not stupid.

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Associates’ Corner - North Point Technology, LLC

North Point Technology, LLC provides industrial automation and control system engineering services, including consulting, programming, and commissioning for a variety of industrial and municipal clients in North America, the Caribbean, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

Celebrating its 10th year in business, North Point Technology has grown significantly in size and scope of supply since its inception. The firm, founded by Robert P. Lee, P.E. and Lisa W. Lee, employs a staff of engineers who serve clients from North Point’s offices in Johnson City, New York and Park City, Utah.

Lisa Lee pointed out that their clients benefit from the depth and breadth of North Point’s knowledge and experience as they work to implement new products, solve difficult process problems, and achieve higher manufacturing efficiency and quality. She explained that North Point has developed proprietary software, which is a competitive edge and gives them capabilities unique in their field. This software affords clients more cost effective software solutions, resulting in shorter development and commissioning periods.

Recent projects have included work with water treatment facilities, food and beverage manufacturers, precision discrete parts manufacturers, and OEM machine builders. In 2012, the firm’s continued success resulted in hiring additional engineering talent and a further diversification of its client and project base to include material handling systems, power plant operations, boiler control, and emerging energies.

North Point has recently been honored for several consecutive years with both the Central New York Fast Track 50 Award and the Economic Champions Award. “In these times of economic uncertainty, we are proud to be a thriving part of the Upstate economy”, said Bob Lee. “We offer our gratitude to AM&T for all their efforts to keep our manufacturing sector strong.”

For more information, contact Robert Lee, P.E., Principal 530 Columbia Dr, Suite #102 Johnson City, NY 13790 866-885-3377 x901

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Associates’ Corner - Swift Glass

Swift Glass Company is a privately owned worldwide leader, in the manufacturing of quality fabricated glass parts. Since 1937, Swift Glass has applied its experience and knowledge, combined with state-of-the-art technology and processes, to provide total solutions delivery to its customers’ manufacturing challenges.

Swift Glass provides complete engineering capabilities for all types of glass fabrication. Processes include CNC machining and cutting; ultra-high pressure water jet cutting on hard-to-machine materials; polishing of all types of glass including sapphire and super hard ceramics; heat treating of glass as well as chemical strengthening of glass. No size or thickness is too large or too small and no job is too complex, or too small.

Quality is the byword at Swift Glass and starts at the beginning of a project. From prototypes and specialty quantities to large volume production, every order passes through several extensive levels of quality control. An understanding of their customer’s project intricacies well beyond the basic specifications is developed because Swift doesn’t just try to meet the specifiations – they do it. At Swift Glass "when it comes to quality, we deliver the first time."

Swift Glass provides product solutions for Biomedical, Appliance, Industrial, Optical, Commercial, Defense and Aerospace applications.

For more information please visit their website at http:\\

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Got a Big Idea? Speak Up!

By: Idea Champions

You have a BIG idea. A HOT idea. An INSPIRED idea -- one that will make a difference. Maybe it’s an idea for a new product... or a new service... or a process improvement. Or maybe you just want to move away and join the circus.

You cannot shake this idea. It shakes you. But you have not told anyone about it. At least not recently. I’m not sure why. Maybe you think you’ll be ridiculed... or there’s no budget for it... or you don’t have the time. So what? If you don’t speak up, nothing will happen and you’ll only end up cranky and wondering "What if?"

Tell someone! Let go of your doubts! Get the ball rolling! “If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?”

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The 7-Basics for Manufacturing Performance Management

By Bill Gaw

1) The Strategic Plan: The strategic plan is the result of a business process that many companies employ to identify their critical success targets that set the course for future growth and profits. Lewis Carroll in “Alice in Wonderland” makes a good case for it: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where…,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

2) The Balanced Scorecard: Financial numbers may tell us we’re winning the war, but it takes a balanced scorecard to focus our energy and efforts to win each of the battles along the way.

3) Overcoming Objections: Let’s not forget that we’re in the business of promoting improvements. There are many reasons why positive change is difficult, the most significant is all the objections and obstacles that are placed in the way of your progress. Don’t become a member of this negative force, they are the losers. Remember, there can be no status quo; if you are not gaining, then you are losing!

4) Information Integrity: Bottom line expectations will not be achieved when day-to-day production and business training programs are driven by inaccurate, untimely and uncontrolled data and/or documentation.

5) Team Dynamics: It is extremely important to understand that results gained from a Strategic Planning Program will be in direct proportion to the amount of empowerment granted to self-directed work teams.

6) Structure & Deployment: There are three types of business managers: Those who track the score and know that they are winning the competitive battle… those who track the score and know that they are losing the competitive battle…and those who don’t track the score and are not even in the competitive battle.

7) Kaizen Management: If your manufacturing team can handle only one strategic initiative at a time, then let it be the implementation of a "quick-hitting" kaizen management program. There just isn’t any other more important program in our pursuit of profits.

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How We Help

• Conducted a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) to implement Lean methods in the Circuit Board Assembly area. Facility renovation, workplace layout, and work flow changes will be implemented before the end of 2012.

• Conducted an ISO 9001:2008 gap assessment and baseline audit at one company. The company has gaps and deficiencies that will need to be addressed in order to achieve an ISO compliant Quality Management System.

• Conducted a four-hour Lean Thinking training session focused on identifying production and administrative wastes. The training was attended by 32 people, and it identified dozens of actionable high impact, low effort opportunities.

• Conducted an 8-hour Lean for Office workshop, training participants in Lean Thinking and how to apply Lean tools & concepts to support and administrative processes. The training was attended by 12 people and identified numerous potential opportunities.

• Completed a 5-day Cellular Flow Manufacturing event. The team designed a cell that incorporated all machining, inspection, and assembly operations. The cell design will result in better flow and quality, and less WIP, distanced traveled and floor space.

• Implemented a visual scheduling system to substantially improve due date performance and reduce WIP.

• Implemented a pilot supermarket replenishment system for purchased parts and work-in-process. The simplified system will result in fewer stock-outs, less inventory, lower space requirements, higher productivity and greater flexibility.

• Created a production and office layout to improve workflow and address a need for additional space for new equipment and personnel.

• Assisted a company in looking for a manufacturing partner, provided mentoring in conceptualizing and negotiating a successful partnership.

• Worked with a company to create a business growth plan and continuing with Sales Training and implementation assistance, and guidance in content and focus of website development.

• Coached a company in pursuing funding required for survival and growth. Project is expected to expand once funding has been secured.

• Co-hosted a Solutions Fair event that brought companies together with technical and business resources from universities, research institutes, and Regional Technology Development Centers.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

8 Step Problem Solving

Manufacturing today is under tremendous pressure to find new and innovative ways to improve performance and reduce costs. Recognizing the need for Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is crucial. The effectiveness of any CPI effort is only as good as the problem solvers implementing and executing the plan, and the need is recognized for the majority of all personnel to be schooled in a disciplined, proven problem solving methodology.

In this one-day session, AM&T will train participants in a modified 8-Step Problem Solving process, adopted from the Toyota Production System and tied directly to the Six Sigma DMAIC model -- Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.

Personnel charged with project management, process improvement, Lean initiatives, and anyone else interested in problem solving.

  • Learn how to utilize 8-step problem solving process
  • Learn why objectivity, alignment, coherency, and distilling data down to the most salient points is important to successful problem solving
  • Solve problems faster using a proven methodology
  • Attain lasting results by using sustainment tools
  • Gain in-depth knowledge to identify and resolve true root causes instead of symptoms
  • Provide the organization with methods to share best practices
  • Learn to understand the nature of a problem before jumping to solutions
  • Learn to set clear objectives and metrics
  • Understand the importance of cause and effect analysis in problem solving
  • Create a culture of logical problem solving
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Time: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm - sign-in and continental breakfast at 7:30 - Lunch also includedLocation: Treadway Inn, Owego, NY
Cost: $250 ($200 for AM&T Associates)

Registration Deadline: October 18th

Register on-line at or contact Kathy Peacock at 607-774-0022 x308

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How We Help

  • Completed a 4-day office-centered, value stream mapping event on a quarterly financial performance review process. Implementation is targeted to be complete within three months and will result in a significant reduction in rework and overtime.
  • Completed a multi-day 5S and Visual Workplace event. The team created a workplace where everything is visually clear and controlled. As a result, the workplace will produce fewer defects, less waste, fewer injuries, and fewer breakdowns. These improvements will translate into lower costs and improved quality.
  • Completed a multi-day Pull / Kanban event. The team established a Pull system for purchased parts, work-in-process and finished goods. The system will result in a simplified process, fewer stock-outs, less inventory, lower space requirements, higher productivity and greater flexibility.
  • Assisted a company in qualifying for a TAAC grant focused on website development with a website development company and company growth project with AM&T. Worked with the company to create a business growth plan and am continuing with Performance Benchmarking and Transformation Planner, Sales Training and implementation assistance, and guidance in content and focus of website development.
  • Assisted a company in creating a Strategic Plan, pursuing funding required for survival and growth, provided guidance in project pricing and quotation management, and leveraged AM&T Lean specialist in maximizing workflow. Project is expected to expand into significant work once funding has been secured.
  • Conducted series of meetings with Economic Development Agencies and Chambers of Commerce in eight counties to highlight the importance of manufacturing to the Southern Tier economy and to encourage those organizations to focus on providing services that are needed by that sector.
  • Conducted an ISO internal audit at one company in preparation for their upcoming compliance assessment by an ANAB Registrar. With AM&T’s support, the company has developed and implemented an effective Quality Management System that will allow them to become ISO certified.
  • Conducted a Training- Within-Industry (TWI) Job Instruction workshop at one company to train their trainers in using a simple 4-step method to provide effective on-the-job training to employees.

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Solutions Fair - Southern Tier

Take advantage of regional and statewide resources. Meet one-on-one with technology & business experts who can help your company
  • innovate
  • fix processes
  • solve problems
  • accelerate growth

This happens at a Solutions Fair, a series of state-wide workshops that match manufacturers with a broad range of technical, educational, and economic development resources – experts who can help identify and solve an existing problem in your company.

Solutions Fairs have been held in Binghamton, Albany and New York City, and the success of these events is built on a simple idea – eliminate the boring presentations and cut to the chase. In other words, as part of the event registration process, attendees complete a brief questionnaire to identify one or more specific problems needing solutions. The event organizers use the responses to assign short, one-on-one meetings with representatives of the organizations listed below. The discussion focuses on the preidentified problems, enabling the attendees to quickly assess the solutions available and decide how and when to follow up.

Participating Resources:
  • Cornell Center for Materials Research
  • Cornell Center For Technology Enterprise and Commercialization
  • Cornell Nanoscale Science & Technology Facility
  • Cornell Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies
  • Cornell Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development In The Life Sciences
  • Cornell Johnson School Consulting (BRC), Legal Counsel (BRL), and Capital (BRV)
  • Binghamton Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging
  • Binghamton Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence and Industrial Outreach
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center for Automation Technologies and Systems
  • Syracuse Center Of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems
  • Syracuse Clean Tech Center
  • Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology
  • Center for Economic Growth
  • Hudson Valley Technology Development Center
  • High Tech Rochester

Available Solutions in Ithaca will include:
  • Analytical Services
  • Product and Process Improvements
  • Complex Modeling Capabilities
  • Technical Expertise
  • Innovation Engineering
  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Analysis
  • Workforce Training
  • Funding and Grants
  • Access to Student Interns

Date: October 18th, 2012
Time: 8:00 am to 12:30 pm
Location: Cornell University - G10 Biotech Building
Cost: No cost to attend
Registration Deadline: October 5, 2012
More Info & Registration:
Questions: Call Michael Meador at 607-342-3208

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Innovating for Growth

Mention the word “innovation” and most people will think of extraordinary inventions created by solitary geniuses.

However, the majority of business innovations today are quite the opposite. The companies that generate them thrive on collaboration, a free exchange of ideas and regular interactions with customers and other stakeholders.

They innovate not necessarily to revolutionize their industry but to meet specifi c objectives and carve out a competitive edge.

Perhaps most important is that innovative companies do not outsource this function to a department or committee. Nor do they hastily come up with an innovation plan when the corporate strategy calls for it. For them innovation is a way of life. It is what they do.

To do it well, companies change whatever needs to be changed including:
  • Organizational structure
  • Business processes
  • Core products or services

This doesn’t happen randomly: leading companies do follow a process to innovate. Our research has found that this tends to be a spiraling, iterative approach. This approach embeds innovation in every aspect of the organization.

It is not enough just to be innovative. It is essential to be innovative all the time.

by: Maria Pinelli

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The Benefits of Obtaining ISO 9001 Certification

What can you expect in return for your investment in an ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System (QMS)?

Feedback from ISO 9001:2008 Registered companies shows what you can expect as the payoff from all of your hard work.

Because of the responsibilities called out in the ISO 9001:2008 Standard, organizations often see an increased involvement of top management with regards to the Quality Management System.

This starts with the setting of the Quality Policy and Quality Goals and Objectives. It continues with Management Review looking at data from the QMS, and taking actions to make sure that Quality Goals are met, new Goals are set, and continual improvement is achieved.

In a study conducted by researchers from UCLA results showed that “U.S. publicly held companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange that receive certification under the ISO 9000 Quality Standard show significant improvement in financial performance compared to those companies that have not pursued the standard.”

When ISO 9001:2008 is implemented in an organization:
  • Well defined and documented procedures improve the consistency of output
  • Quality is constantly measured
  • Procedures ensure corrective action is taken whenever defects occur
  • Defect rates decrease
  • Defects are caught earlier and are corrected at a lower cost
  • Defining procedures identifies current practices that are obsolete or inefficient
  • Documented procedures are easier for new employees to follow
  • Organizations retain or increase market share, increasing sales or revenues

Top reasons given for registration:
  • Internal operational efficiency
  • Lower production costs because of fewer nonconforming products, less rework, lowered rejection rates, streamlined processes and fewer mistakes
  • Access to new markets
  • Some markets require ISO 9001 Registration, some markets favor companies with ISO 9001 Registration
  • Customer request
  • Many organizations are asked by a customer to obtain registration as a requirement to continue or to start doing business with them.
  • Reducing costs
  • Organizations are recognizing that an effective Quality Management System leads to reduced costs and greater operating margins

What will ISO 9001:2008 do for my organization?

A well designed and implemented Quality Management System, based on ISO 9001 has been shown to provide organizations with the following benefits:
• Reduced costs
• Improved product reliability
• Better process control and flow
• Better documentation of processes,
• Greater employee quality awareness
• Reductions in product scrap, reworks and rejections

Why do companies want ISO 9001:2008?
  • Market Pressure
  • Many organizations decide to Implement ISO 9001 and obtain registration because it assures customers that the company has a good Quality Management System (QMS) in place. An organization with an effective QMS will typically meet customer expectations better than an organization that does not have an effective QMS. Many organizations require their suppliers to have ISO 9001 Registration.
  • Internal effectiveness and productivity benefits
  • Other organizations implement an ISO 9001 QMS because it has proven over the years that it leads companies to better operations, improved performance, and improved profitability
If you’re considering certification to the ISO Standard Call Jim Cunningham at 607-725-1225

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Associates’ Corner - C&D Assembly

C&D Assembly is an electronics manufacturing services company located in Groton, NY. Founded in 1992, C&D specializes in low to mid-volume, high-mix production requirements that rely on the company’s core manufacturing services:
Turn-key Surface Mount Technology (SMT) assembly
Thru-hole assembly
Mixed Technology assembly
Box Build, and
Functional Testing

Services such as product programming, burn-in, and adjustment/calibration are also available. A complimentary prototyping service includes a Design For Manufacturing review that enables customers to facilitate product realization from concept through production while optimizing manufacturability.

C&D serves a range of markets including Industrial Controls, Fiber-optic Telecommunications, POS Printers, Peripheral Devices, Refrigeration/HVAC Controls, Lighting Controls, Bio-Science, and Coin-Bill-Card Control Systems.

According to company president Jeffrey Cronk, “The key to C&D’s 20 years of success is their dedicated workforce that embraces a do-whatever-it-takes attitude while maintaining focus on product quality and customer satisfaction. C&D’s customer service philosophy is to treat the customer as they would expect to be treated.” Each C&D customer has a dedicated contact who follows through on quotations, new order confirmation, and current order status.

Cronk explained that continual re-investment in manufacturing technology and company infrastructure has enabled C&D to meet the changing demands of the industry. The company is currently in the process of implementing a new ERP software system, and recently had all manufacturing personnel trained as Certified IPC Specialists.

AM&T was instrumental in C&D’s 7,800 sq ft facility expansion in 2005, providing project planning assistance and integration of Lean manufacturing principles. C&D is currently working with AM&T on Quality Management System review and improvement with plans for ISO 9001:2008 certification by the fi rst quarter of 2013.

See the company’s capabilities and facility at:
C&D’s 20th Anniversary Open House
9:00am – 4:00pm, Thursday, October 18th, 2012
107 Corona Avenue, Groton NY

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Associates’ Corner - Audiosears

Audiosears is the premier manufacturer and supplier of handsets, headsets, and components for the telecommunications industry, including handsets, cradles, handheld microphones, acoustic elements and a variety of components including cordsets, switches and custom circuitry.

Their extensive knowledge and experience in the industry allow them to provide innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of their customers. By consistently delivering high quality products supported by outstanding customer service, they have earned the respect and loyalty of their customers.

In-house capabilities at Audiosears include engineering, machining, custom fabrication, and electronic/mechanical assembly. Strong relationships with industry partners enable them to offer turn-key solutions for their customers.

For over fifty years Audiosears has gained increasing recognition and acceptance as a leading domestic manufacturer of high quality telecommunications.

Located in the small village of Stamford, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains, Audiosears currently employs a staff of 72. The plant is certified to the ISO 2001:2008 Standards and is in the process of implementing lean manufacturing processes throughout the facility.

For more information, visit: or contact Shawn Hartwell at 607-652-7305 or 1-800-533-7863

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Associates’ Corner - Tarco Steel, Inc.

Why do customers buy from Tarco Steel, Inc.? The answer for over forty years is that Tarco Steel, Inc. and its subsidiary, Metal Fab, LLC solve the everyday issues that arise in the metals purchasing and fabrication industry. Located in Binghamton, New York Tarco Steel maintains an inventory of steel, aluminum and stainless in a wide variety of shapes and sizes ready for next day delivery, or same day pickup in stock sizes or cut to size.

Tarco Steel prides itself on having the knowledge and contacts to locate a customer’s special order steel requirements. With the inception of Metal Fab in 2000, Tarco can add welding, rolling, bending and machining to the list of available services. In addition to the steel service center offerings, Tarco Steel has a rebar fabrication division with the ability to provide a fabricated rebar job from estimate to delivery of cut, bent and tagged bars. Previous jobs include Binghamton University Center of Excellence, Tompkins Street Bridge, and Jenny F Snapp School.

The key to Tarco Steel’s and Metal Fab’s success is their greatest asset, their employees. President, Janet Beal believes that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. With an average longevity of over fifteen years, the sales team understands the treasure that each customer represents. The family-owned, WBE certified business creates a “can do” environment that leads to loyal customers who know they will get what they need at a fair price and be treated with respect.

Service is the one word that describes Tarco Steel and Metal Fab. With a full range of equipment, customers including contractors, manufacturers, welding shops or municipalities can order material cut or fabricated and delivered to their specifi cations. At the end of the day, Tarco Steel, Inc. and Metal Fab, LLC can provide steel ready to be used on the job.

Contact them at, phone: 607-775-1500, Fax 607-775-1400 or check them out on the web at

Associates' Corner - Bennett Die & Tool, Inc.

Brothers, John and Richard Bennett, journeymen Tool & Die Makers, founded the business in 1954 as Newtown Tool & Die Co. It was later incorporated as Bennett Die and Tool, Inc. – Newtown Die and Tool Div. and Glendale Manufacturing Div.

After approximately eight months of operation, one employee was hired. After two years, seven were employed.

They are presently at forty-three employees, which has remained the same for several years. They have found this to be the best size staff to provide a great amount of personal attention.

For more information, contact James McMillen at 607-739-5629.

Associates' Corner - Cameron Manufacturing and Design

Cameron is located at 727 Blostein Blvd. in Horseheads, NY, is dedicated to being a good neighbor and a positive influence on the community as well as a leading supplier of custom fabrications of typical or exotic metals, custom built machinery and engineering services.

Cameron provides a full range of Mechanical, Chemical and Electrical/Controls Design and Engineering services, including Contract Engineering. Additions have been made to Cameron’s engineering staff that gives them the capability to handle almost any automation project.

Projects range from: Process machinery or equipment design and build, upgrade / refurbishment of existing equipment, to Field Installation or Modifications. Cameron can furnish components and assemblies to your custom specifications, in sizes ranging from hand-held to large scale. In addition, Cameron’s manufacturing facility can efficiently produce volumes ranging from sample quantities and prototypes to high volume production runs.

Cameron is also one of the few ASME Code Certified Facilities in the Northeast, holding “PP”, “U””, and “R” Stamps. Products provided include: Pressure Vessels and Pressure Piping: designed, fabricated, or repaired, including fi eld installation.

Providing innovative solutions, quality products and services that always meet or exceed their customer’s requirements are Cameron Manufacturing & Design’s goals.

Visit Cameron’s website at or call 607-739-3606

Manufacturing Day - October 5th

“IT’S TIME TO LET ALL THE PEOPLE THAT YOU KNOW, including the people in your business, that manufacturing is cool. What we do is really cool. We don’t think about it because we live and breathe it every day. But start getting your neighbors, your teachers, your political leaders, your government officials, your county officials into your facilities and show them how much you contribute to the economy. Show them how important manufacturing is not only to your community but to the county, the state and the federal government. It’s time to re-educate the people that what we do matters, in a big way.”
~ Grady Cope, chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association, Feb 14th at the North American Manufacturing and Invention Expo in Cleveland

Promote Your Company With An Open House

To help boost awareness of the importance of their businesses, manufacturers are encouraged to host tours and open houses on October 5. Please consider participating in this opportunity to showcase your manufacturing plant. Manufacturers can sign up at

The goal is to have as many open houses as possible around the country on October 5 to raise awareness about what modern day manufacturing looks like and to spark interest in manufacturing careers.

The initiative is being produced by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, NIST MEP, and (to be officially announced soon) the National Association of Manufacturers.

It is sponsored by several MEP Centers, SME Foundation, and The Reshoring Initiative.

For more information, visit or contact Zara Brunner at 301-975-2001.

Manufacturing Industry Is Leading The Economic Recovery

“CONTRARY TO PUBLIC PERCEPTION, the manufacturing industry is leading the economic recovery,” says Carlos Cardoso, CEO and chairman of Latrobe, PA - based Kennametal.

“It is time for our industry to reintroduce itself to the American people in a manner that encourages them to understand the vitality and importance of U.S. manufacturing to the global economy.”

At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Cardoso implored executives to speak up about the good things happening in U.S. manufacturing.

Attention Manufacturers - Looking for Help to Reduce Energy Costs?

NYSERDA’s Industrial & Process Efficiency Program may be for You
IPE program highlights include:
  • Incentives are available for a variety of capital improvement and process related measures upgrades, as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) measures.
  • Electric incentive rates of $0.12/kWh for upstate facilities.
  • Natural gas incentive rates of $15 MM BTU for upstate facilities.
  • Free technical assistance and application development support.
  • Gas and/or electric measures may be bundled together on a single application, therefore maximizing the incentive opportunity.
  • A facility can receive up to an incentive maximum of $6 million/facility/year and are cost-capped at 50% of total project costs (which can include in-house labor).
  • Once an application is submitted, customers have two years to complete installation.
If you are interested in discussing the IPE Program, call Mike Meador at 607-342-3208.

Want Greater Growth And Profitability For Your Business?

The Problem: Innovation can be slow & ricky

The Solution: A system that increases innovation speed (6x) and decreases risk (30 to 80%) with tools to help your team think smarter & more creatively.
Join other business owners and manufacturers from around New York and our neighboring states for the:

Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute
September 10-12, 2012 in Rochester, NY

At the end of the three days, you will have the tools and confidence to get started on a process for profitable innovation and sales growth: generating ideas, vetting and prioritizing, knowing when to kill a project and when to move it forward, and driving it down the development pipeline through commercialization. You will leave the Institute with an action plan for turning your ideas into reality.

The 3-day program includes:
  • 20 hours of interactive classroom work
  • A one-year membership to the Innovation Engineering Labs portal of advanced tools
  • Breakfast and lunch during the conference
  • Three continuing education units (CEUs) from the University of Maine
  • Six hours of company coaching (for companies who send four or more employees).

For more details, visit

UVANY Ithaca Capital Forum

Panel Discussion: “The Innovate NY Fund”
Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 5:00 - 9:00 pm
Sponsored by Upstate Venture Association of New York
Museum of the Earth
1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, NY
Current confirmed panelists will be attending from: Cayuga Venture Fund, Excell Partners, SCP Buffalo Incubator and Stonehenge Growth Capital
Introducing a new feature for Entrepreneurs:
Investor Office Hours: 3:30 - 5:00 pm
  • Entrepreneurs can apply to have a one-on-one conversation with an early stage investor.
  • Bring your questions, concerns and problems to an expert.
  • This is a unique learning opportunity, not a pitch session.
  • Applications must be received by Tuesday, September 4 in order to be considered.
  • Apply when you register for the evening event.
The event will also offer an opportunity to personally network with Upstate and NYC capital providers; legal and accounting firms; and others interested in venture and private equity transactions.
More info and registration at:

Mirion Achieves Milestone - ISO 9001:2008

Disciplined management of product quality is a core element of successful manufacturing companies, especially in an era of customers who demand it all – high quality, competitive prices, and timely delivery. A number of companies in the Southern Tier have tackled the quality issue by implementing quality management systems (QMS) that adhere to the principles established by the ISO Standard.

One of these companies is the Imaging Systems Division (ISD) of Mirion Technologies, located in Horseheads. Mirion designs and manufactures a range of closed circuit camera systems for inspection, surveillance, and monitoring of hazardous processes and environments. Mirion’s radiation-tolerant systems are used primarily by the nuclear power industry, and their high-temperature systems are installed in rotary kilns, recovery boilers, power boilers, glass furnaces, and other similar applications.

Mirion engaged AM&T to assist with a complete review, revision, and development of their QMS, resulting in the company recently being certified (or “registered”) by an independent auditor as being in conformity with the ISO 9001:2008 standard.

David Stewart, Senior Site Executive, explained his reasons for wanting the division to adopt an ISO standard. “My goal was that every employee would be able to integrate their daily activities into our quality system, and that this would result in improved products and customer satisfaction, and ultimately in more sales. Personally, I never cared about being able to hang an ISO certification banner on the wall -- that might be a bonus, but the point was to have everyone embrace a program that helps us continuously improve our efficiency and quality.” According to Stewart, Mirion’s Imaging Systems Division in the U.S. had previously begun work on creating a formal QMS, but found that relying only on internal resources did not produce the desired results. “I felt that if we got outside help, we’d have the benefit of fresh eyes along with the broader expertise of someone who has helped many different companies with their ISO certification process.”

After initial discussions to determine the scope of the work, AM&T Principal Consultant Bob Mann began work with the Mirion team in early 2011. He provided an ISO process overview to all employees, and scheduled weekly meetings to begin reviewing and revising all the company’s operational procedures, such as Purchasing, Design and Development, Monitoring and Measurement, etc.

Tangible benefits to Mirion began showing up immediately. For example, the company had developed a sense that the customers were not satisfied with the packaging of their products and were trying to figure out ways to improve it. Since the ISO 9001:2008 standard has a strong customer focus, creation of a quality manual involved customer surveys. These revealed that, in fact, customers were very happy with the existing packaging, freeing up the company to work on other improvements.

A successful ISO 9001:2008 project also depends heavily on the ISO Management Representative – the person in the company who is responsible for the QMS implementation, reporting results to management, and ensuring that customer requirements are communicated throughout the organization. At the Imaging Systems Division that job was assigned to David Potter. “At first, long-time employees were a little dubious about the benefit of this initiative. But when they realized that David (Stewart) was fully committed to making it work well, and that all employees’ input and job functions were being seriously incorporated, they bought into the process.”

Potter explained that communicating to all employees about the QMS is essential to its ongoing success. He created a new bulletin board in a central location in the production area that includes a large flat-screen display that’s used for QMS information as well as timely company announcements. He also noted that, “Developing this system compelled management to be more involved in all aspects of our operations. This contributed to employee buy-in and also means that management review meetings are now much more focused on how we can improve.”

Stewart said a significant factor in their success was Bob Mann’s leadership. “Bob kept us on track while being flexible and adjusting the schedule to accommodate other business demands. Bob was willing to listen and debate – enabling us to create a system that reflects our way of doing business.

After the new system was in place and functioning for several months, Mann conducted an internal audit to make sure everything was functioning as designed, and to prepare the company for the visit from an accredited ISO Registrar. That independent auditor verified that the system met the ISO 9001:2008 standards and ISD was issued a certificate in the spring of this year.

Stewart explained that with their old system, many aspects of production were left to individual interpretation. “The work got done, but the methods were locked in the employees’ minds. Developing the ISO-required documentation enabled us to capture, refine, and share that information in ways that made it a real institutional asset.”

He gave an example of how the QMS provided an immediate return. “Since we do a lot of product customization, design changes are a constant part of our business. Using the system enabled us to discover a problem with how these changes were being communicated and documented. ISO provided a framework in which to capture the problem and input the necessary changes, and we had a process to verify that the changes were working correctly. It was huge. The data that is now available enabled us to do the analysis in a matter of hours – it might have taken weeks with our old system.”

Potter, the person at the center of the ISO project, concluded that, “The ISO standard can be vague and could lead you down many different paths, so it’s really helpful to have a resource like AM&T to walk you through the process and develop a quality system that’s appropriate for your unique operation.”
Find out more about how your company might benefit from adopting a quality management system or obtaining ISO 9001:2008 certification. Contact Jim Cunningham, 607-725-1225 or

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Free Energy Audits

Manufacturers - if you occupy more than 50,000 sq. ft. and are interested in a “light-duty” energy audit at no cost, call Mike Meador at AM&T, 607-342-3208. Includes utility bill comparisons to other similar buildings, a site visit and recommendations on lighter-duty improvements.

Associates’ Corner - Vergason Technology, Inc.

Vergason Technology, Inc. (VTI®) is a leading provider of vacuum-based processes, equipment and components for surface treatments, and provides toll coating services producing metal, ceramic and polymeric thin film coatings.

Founded by Gary Vergason in 1986, VTI has grown to an internationally recognized leader in vacuum coatings and equipment with nearly 200 coating systems installed worldwide.

VTI uses thermal evaporation, cathodic arc vapor deposition, magnetron sputtering and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition to produce a wide variety of tribological, decorative, reflective and electronic shielding coatings for the automotive, aerospace, medical, electronic and manufacturing markets. Coating thicknesses range from 20 angstroms to tens of microns.

VTI carries ISO 9001:2008, ITAR and Federal Firearms registrations.

For more information, contact: Gary Vergason or Mark Fitch at 607.589.4429 or visit

Associates’ Corner - Astrocom Electronics

Astrocom Electronics began in 1961 with three employees, and today produces their communications equipment in a modern plant in Oneonta, NY, with more than 65,000 square feet of design and manufacturing space. The Astrocom staff has the means and ability to develop and produce superior communications equipment for a sophisticated market.

Astrocom Electronics was founded on the concept of specialized electronic design and manufacturing using the newest techniques and ideas in producing communications equipment to better service their customers. That concept continues today and enables Astrocom to provide such equipment to space programs, the military, municipal police departments, and industry in a worldwide market.

One of the keystones of success at Astrocom in developing and manufacturing outstanding communications equipment is its use of lean manufacturing techniques. One of the uses for these techniques at Astrocom is for quick modification of existing designs and/or drawings in response to customer needs.

The production capabilities of Astrocom combine all the efforts and talents of engineering design, R&D and quality control systems to produce the products that make Astrocom the innovators in communications. As with all Astrocom employees, production workers are carefully selected and trained to perform the accurate and demanding work to produce quality products. Every individual must know and do his job accurately to achieve the end product.

In 2008 Astrocom’s management indicated that they believed it was advisable to pursue certification to the ISO 9001:2008 quality system to add to the quality of their products.

Starting in February 2008 Astrocom began the process to meet the ISO 9001:2008 standard. Using AM&T and DLS Quality Technology Associates, Inc. (DLS) in August 2009 Astrocom was successful in becoming certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard.

Astrocom’s proven methods, coupled with the active and enthusiastic search for the newest and best ideas of communication, will continue to make Astrocom products the standard by which others are judged.

For more information, visit: or, contact: Doug Lifgren at 607-432-1930 doug.lifgren@astrocomelectronics. com

Actions to Ignite Never-Ending Innovation

By Doug Hall

Leadership Actions
  1. Constancy of Purpose: Constancy of Purpose means that the Leader is taking responsibility for the long term future of the organization. The leader is not distracted by the “noise” of today - but rather leading the company in the never ending innovation required to restart the business life cycle with the products, services, customers and markets that can enable good jobs, profitable growth and long term hope for the organization. One challenge with Constancy of Purpose is that it often means that the Leader needs to take responsibility for decisions that will take affect after he or she is retired.
  2. Meaningfully Unique: Every organization - for profit or non-profit - exists on a continuum running from commodity to monopoly. The simple way to determine where you are on this continuum is to compare the price customers are willing to pay for your offering versus competitive offers. It’s the leader’s job to lead the organization in a process of never ending change - to transform commodity offerings into meaningfully unique ones. Sometimes it’s done with a new technology - sometimes it’s about hundreds of small innovations that collectively make for a meaningful difference that customers are willing to pay more money for. IMPORTANT: If you as CEO don’t set the new mindset - that focuses on offering products and services that are so Meaningfully Unique customers will happily pay more - then you will not realize the level of change required to become a culture of Never Ending Innovation.
  3. Systems Thinking: The Leader is responsible for banishing silo thinking and the “blame game.” Innovation Leaders use Constancy of Purpose to inspire workers to focus on the long term focus not petty fights, egos or whining. As Dr. Deming found - 94% of problems are due to the system - just 6% are due to the people. If people are failing on a continuing basis - make a systemic improvement to their tools, training and methods of operation. Only the leader can “be the bigger person” - and lead the culture in a search for solutions instead of a search for the guilty.

Worker Actions

To achieve Constancy of purpose resulting in good jobs and growth opportunities the worker needs to commit to three things.
  1. Stimulus Mining: Stimulus Mining is about continual learning and the acquisition of new knowledge. It’s about studying, searching, finding new ways of thinking, new options and, new wisdom for how to approach the work. Stimulus takes many forms - from Customer Insights to Competitive Benchmarking to Technology Mining and Future mining to anticipate future opportunities.
  2. Diversify Thinking: Diversify Thinking is about cooperation and collaboration. It’s about rising above the personal ego to the higher order Constancy of Purpose of the organization. It’s about a willingness to listen and learn from others. It’s a willingness to simultaneously engineer total solutions. It’s a focus on what’s right for the good of the total system - not simply what’s right for your department, division or personal gain.
  3. Drive Out Fear: This is the hardest of all of the six principles. What makes it hard is that it requires a willingness to say “I don’t know, I need help and I fail a lot”. Admitting these three simple things is difficult for adults whose self image is based on -- knowing the answers, not needing to ask for help and never failing. The easy way to Drive Out Fear is to embrace and celebrate the Deming cycle of Plan, Do, Study, Act or as we call it - Fail FAST Fail CHEAP. Fast and cheap cycles of learning drive away fear and build courage to take action on the kinds of Meaningfully Unique ideas that enable Constancy of Purpose.

Sustaining, Leadership, and Why?

By Kevin Meyer

A good friend of mine recently sent me a photo of what his team found while cleaning one of their production areas:

Yes, a certificate lauding completion of various 5S activities… except the last one: sustain. And from the mess in the background of the picture I can see what happened.

Sustaining improvement – lean or otherwise – is difficult. How many of us are on a diet... again? Needing to clean the garage... again? In fact, sorting and straightening and all that is really the easy part. Doing it day after day is tough.

Three sources of the difficulty come to mind. The first is the lack of a plan to sustain the improvement. How often will it be done? How will it be monitored? 5S is often sustained through audits and daily checklists, even after it becomes ingrained in expectation and even culture.

But such plans are meaningless if there isn’t also leadership commitment. Are managers and supervisors holding themselves and others accountable to the sustaining plan? What happens when the plan isn’t followed?

However, ultimately there won’t be leadership commitment if there isn’t a solid understanding of why the improvement program is happening in the first place. I’ve seen innumerable organizations, including mine, go down the path of “we must do this or that program”… without understanding why. I even know of one organization that I won’t identify (cough… mine… cough) that once long ago had a goal to implement two lean tools per year. We learned our lesson. What is the problem or opportunity, what is the desired future state, and what is the best tool or program to achieve that future state?

To sustain an improvement program you need a solid plan. For that plan to be effective you need leadership commitment. For there to be leadership commitment there needs to be a solid reason and understanding of why the improvement is needed – and important – in the first place. The power of Why.

Business Conditions Pick Up for NY Manufacturers in July

by Rick Seltzer

New York’s manufacturing sector bounced back from an early summer slowdown in July, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The general business conditions index in the New York Fed’s July Empire State Manufacturing Survey rose 5.1 points to 7.4. The increase is a reversal in course from June, when the index fell 14.8 points.

In July, 32.1% of survey respondents indicated business conditions improved, compared with 24.8% who said conditions worsened. The final 43.1% reported conditions that stayed the same.

Not all of the survey’s current indicators climbed, however. Its new orders index, which measures the number of new orders manufacturers received, turned negative for the first time since November 2011. It fell 4.9 points to -2.7.

Manufacturers also pulled back on their expectations for six months into the future, as the survey’s future general business conditions index slipped 2.9 points to 20.2. It has been falling steadily since January.

Still, the future general business conditions index is firmly in positive territory. In July, 37.5% of survey respondents predicted better conditions in six months, while just 17.3% anticipated worse conditions. The remaining respondents expect conditions to remain the same.

The New York Fed polls a set pool of about 200 New York manufacturing executives for its monthly survey. About 100 executives typically respond, and the Fed seasonally adjusts data.

Leadership and The Power of Listening

by Mike Myatt

Great leaders are great listeners, and therefore my message today is a simple one – talk less and listen more. The best leaders are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening. Have you ever walked into an important meeting and wondered who the smartest person in the room was? If you mull this over for a moment you’ll find the smartest person in the room is not the one doing all the talking – it’s the person doing all the listening.

You’ll also notice that when intelligent people do speak-up, it’s not to ramble-on incoherently or incessantly, but usually to ask a question so they can elicit even more information. The quiet confidence of true leaders has much greater resolve than the bombastic displays of the arrogant.

Following are 6 tips for becoming a better listener:

  1. It’s not about you: Stop worrying about what you’re going to say and focus on what’s being said. Don’t listen to have your opinions validated or your ego stroked, listen to be challenged and to learn something new. You’re not always right, so stop pretending you know everything and humble yourself to others. If you desire to be listened to, then give others the courtesy of listening to them.
  2. You should never be too busy to listen: Anyone can add value to your world if you’re willing to listen. How many times have you dismissed someone because of their station or title when what you should have done was listen? Wisdom doesn’t just come from peers and those above you – it can come from anywhere at anytime, but only if you’re willing to listen. Expand your sphere of influence and learn from those with different perspectives and experiences – you’ll be glad you did.
  3. Listen to non-verbals: People say as much (if not more) with their actions, inactions, body language, facial expressions, etc., as they do with their verbal communications. Don’t be lulled into thinking because someone isn’t saying something they’re not communicating. In fact, most people won’t overtly verbalize opposition or disagreement, but they will almost always deliver a very clear message with their non-verbals.
  4. Listen for opportunity: Intuitive listeners are looking for the story behind the message, and the opportunity beyond the issue. Listening is about discovery, and discovery can not only impact the present, but it can also influence the future. Opportunities rarely come from talking, but they quite frequently come from observing and listening.
  5. Let listening be your calling card: One of the best compliments you can be paid is to be known as a good listener. Being recognized in this fashion will open doors, surface opportunities, and take you places talking never could. Listening demonstrates that you respect others, and is the fi rst step in building trust and rapport.
  6. Recognize the contributions of others: One of the most often overlooked aspects of listening is thanking others for their contributions. If you glean benefits from listening to someone, thank them. Even if no value is perceived, thank them for their time and input. Never forget to acknowledge those who contribute energy, ideas, actions or results. Few things go as far in building good will as recognizing others.

Allow me to leave you with one final thought to reflect on – if you’re ready for advanced listening skills, don’t just listen to those who agree with you, but actively seek out dissenting opinions and thoughts.

What We’ve Been Up To...

  • Completed current state Value Stream Maps (VSM) for one company and analyzed the processes to identify best practices, non-valued added activities, gaps and deficiencies. The analysis will be used to develop a future state VSM for standardizing processes.
  • Conducted a four-hour Lean Thinking training session for 6 employees and then conducted a three-day “Order to Delivery” value stream mapping event on a major product family. It is anticipated that when implemented, the plan will result in a significant reduction in lead times, inventory, and floor space, and an increase in productivity.
  • Conducted Training-Within-Industry (TWI) Job Relations training at one company to assist their supervisors with improving employee relations and handling change and conflict.
  • Conducted Basic Project Management training at a company to educate key personnel on the use of tools and techniques for initiating, planning, executing, and controlling service-based projects.
  • Presented ISO 9001:2008 briefings to management and general workforce of a company who has made the decision to pursue certification. Began development of operating procedures which will form the basis for their 2nd level documentation.
  • At company request, participated in a two-day ISO 9001:2008 re-certification audit.
  • Performed AS9100 Rev C internal audits at two clients who have achieved certification
  • Assisted a company in conceptualizing a strategic business partnership that was key in business expansion, created a plan to articulate key points, and mentored them in negotiating a successful partnership.
  • Assisted an inventor of patented medical devices in business plan development, applying for grant assistance, obtaining assistance from NIH, market identification and development, partnering with manufacturers, and will continue into implementation phase.
  • Provided advice to inventors and would-be entrepreneurs during a multi-day workshop for pre-seed companies. Assisted teams in creating pragmatic assessments of the viability of six entrepreneurs’ business plans, including market research, financial projects, and likelihood of attracting venture capital.
  • Met one-on-one with multiple high-tech entrepreneurs to provide start-up advice and recommendations on a variety of subjects, including technical assessment of envisioned product/ service, sources of funding, intellectual property, market research and idea viability, professional service providers, etc.

The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs

Executive Summary - ESA Report

The role of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. economy is more prominent than is suggested solely by its output or number of workers. It is a cornerstone of innovation in our economy: manufacturing firms fund most domestic corporate research and development (R&D), and the resulting innovations and productivity growth improve our standard of living. Manufacturing also drives U.S. exports and is crucial for a strong national defense.

The current economic recovery has witnessed a welcome return in manufacturing job growth. Since its January 2010 low to April 2012, manufacturing employment has expanded by 489,000 jobs or 4 percent— the strongest cyclical rebound since the dual recessions in the early 1980s. From mid-2009 through the end of February 2012, the number of job openings surged by over 200 percent, to 253,000 openings. Coupled with attrition in the coming years from Baby Boomer retirements, this bodes well for continued hiring opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

The rebound in manufacturing is important, not only as a sign of renewed strength, but also because manufacturing jobs are often cited as “good jobs:” they pay well, provide good benefits, and manufacturing workers are less likely to quit than workers in other private sector industries. In fact, analysis finds evidence in support of these claims. Specifically, this report shows that:
  • On average, hourly wages and salaries for manufacturing jobs were $29.75 an hour in 2010 compared to $27.47 an hour for non-manufacturing jobs. Total hourly compensation, which includes employer-provided benefits, was $38.27 for workers in manufacturing jobs and $32.84 for workers in non-manufacturing jobs, a 17 percent premium.
  • Even after controlling for demographic, geographic, and job characteristics, manufacturing jobs maintained significant wage and benefit premiums.
  • The educational attainment of the manufacturing workforce is rising steadily. In 2011, 53 percent of all manufacturing workers had at least some college education, up from 43 percent in 1994.
  • The innovative manufacturing sector relies more heavily on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education than the non-manufacturing sectors. In 2011, nearly 1 out of 3 (32 percent) of college-educated manufacturing workers had a STEM job, compared to 10 percent in non-manufacturing sectors.
Higher educational attainment for manufacturing workers carries higher premiums, and the size of the premium, including or excluding benefits, increase consistently with educational attainment.
Furthermore, the compensation premium has risen over the past decade across all levels of educational attainment.

In sum, manufacturing jobs provide benefits to workers with higher overall compensation than other sectors, and to the economy through innovation that boosts our nation’s standard of living.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Associates’ Corner - Sarnicola Simulation

Sarnicola Simulation Systems (SSS) is a full service motion simulation company specializing in custom testing and building of motion platforms. Since its inception in 1991, Sarnicola Simulation Systems has grown considerably. Within 9 months the first patented motion platform was designed, fabricated, tested, and completed for sale.

The expanding business required more space and SSS moved to its new and present headquarters at 970 Conklin Ave, Conklin, NY. The State of the art facility is now the home to one of the most experienced motion simulation teams in the world. The space allows for a more suitable working environment and has room for expansion as the business continues to grow.

The services and product lines have continued to expand as customer requests and market demands have dictated. Sarnicola Simulation Systems has provided motion systems for entertainment, advertisement, defense and special effects. The market for Sarnicola Simulation Systems products and services has come from Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Sarnicola caters to both small and large businesses. Larger companies have included Lockheed Martin, Hughes-Link Training, General Motors, Chrysler Motors, and the United States Government. The strength of Sarnicola Simulation Systems continues to be the ability and willingness to meet the custom requirements of the customer at a fair price.

Sarnicola Simulation Systems looks forward to building upon the knowledge and experience of their dedicated employees, helping you create your next custom motion system. They will custom fabricate motion systems to your requirements and specifications. Success is often attributed to a few individuals. In this case, it is achieved through the efforts of many individuals working together. Sarnicola Simulation Systems, assisting the World in Motion.

For more information, contact: Dr. John F. Sarnicola 607-724-4021

Associates’ Corner - Samscreen

Samscreen, Inc. manufactures piano wire screens for all makes and models of portable screening plants, and can custom manufacture screens for “special” applications and machines.  Piano Wire and Shape Wire screens are classified as non-woven wire screens and offer unique benefits and solutions because they are not woven. They are in fact a collection of individual wires, which allows each wire to act independently of each other, setting up its own harmonics and frequency, which, in turn, impedes the material being screened from ‘bridging’ from wire to wire, which is the necessary starting condition for ‘blinding’.

Samscreen, Inc. can provide you with a wide selection of openings in high carbon, oil tempered, stainless steel, and Maxwear™ wire, which is a special alloyed steel providing wear resistance to impact and abrasion leading to reduced maintenance.

All types of crusher liners for JAWS, CONES and IMPACT crushers are made with Samscreen's own Maxwear™ 400, special analysis steel, which has been developed to give exceptional wear life in aggressive, highly abrasive crushing conditions.

The Kleenskreen™ Finger Deck System is made for difficult-to-screen material where binding, clogging, matting, and pegging cause problems with traditional screening media. The Kleenskreen™ can be retrofitted to existing portable and stationary screening plants, giving the producer a viable and very economic choice of not having to purchase a new piece of equipment similar to a StarScreen or Trommel.

When dealing with the dual problems of Blinding and Pegging and use of Samscreen’s piano wire screens is not feasible due to ‘flats’ or tight specifications, Shape Wire screens offers the solution and advantages of producing tighter specifications and having the ability to self clean.

Samscreen, Inc., founded in 1994, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company. To the best of their knowledge, they are the only piano wire screen manufacturer to receive such certification.

For more information contact: Fintan Fleming at 607-722-3979 or visit

The Good About Visual Management

By John Shook, Chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.

Visualization is a good thing. We all know that. And many of us in the Lean Community practice it, to greater or lesser degrees of effectiveness.

Among other benefits, making visible such things (see examples below) as pace or quality of work makes it easier to solve problems and sustain gains. To quote Dr. Thoralf Sundt of Mayo Clinic, “If I can see it, I can fix it.” The reverse must also be true – it’s hard to fix what you can’t see. This past month I ran across a good example of visualization to share with you.

This case involved a young woman doing a quality check at the end of an assembly line of electromechanical components. For two years she had been collecting the same quality information. Performing a series of checks, she would confirm that all connectors were firmly attached, components all assembled and in working order. As she found problems, she recorded them into a computer database, which was then compiled into a larger database. The database was reviewed, analyzed, and results fed back to the production group and others.

There was no direct connection between the workers making the errors and the inspector finding the errors, and the information that was eventually shared followed a long and irregular time line. Management began looking at the situation because of a perceived “lack of motivation” in the workers and inspectors. As plant management explored various means of increasing worker engagement and motivation, a quality engineer noticed the disconnect between the workers and feedback on their performance. Problems that could have been fixed right away took days and weeks to even surface, and the time required for errors to be corrected could take much longer. The engineer wanted to fix his technical problem.

It was the woman doing the inspecting who made the suggestion. “How about,” she offered, “instead of me just entering the error information into a database, I tick off each example as they occur on this unused white board?” She found it easy to simply make a quick note of each problem on the board, and to enter it later into the database.

What happened next was unplanned. The production line leader started noticing what she was doing. He was a little nervous, seeing the performance – the mistakes – of his team members displayed for all to see. The next suggestion was his. “How about,” he offered, “if I bring my team over to take a look at the board at the end of each day, so we can see how we are doing?”

What happened next was interesting. As the inspector and the workers looked at her board together, they started to talk about it. Turned out, one of the workers who had been committing many of the mistakes mentioned that he had always had a problem with one of the connectors. The two ends of the connector were very small, his hands weren’t, and the space he had to work in was very tight. A recurring problem had been uncovered, its cause identified, and the engineer was delighted as he knew he could make the situation better with a relatively easy engineering adjustment. Other problems that got raised were often even easier to remedy, often right on the spot.

What happened next was even more interesting. As the inspector and workers got to know each other better, instead of waiting until the end of the shift, they started stopping by during their lunch break. They could see how they had done so far in the shift. Before long, the inspector and the team were engaged in a day-long exchange of how production was proceeding. Importantly, workers were struggling less while producing more and the inspector’s very role in the process had changed dramatically. Management had sought to improve motivation and they did. But not at all in the way they had expected. Turned out that what was needed to increase motivation among the employees was more effective support in helping them be successful and engaged in their work.

Visual Management is one of the many lean tools available to improve your business. AM&T has the lean experts that can help you move to the next level.