Thursday, March 13, 2014

What is NIST MEP?

NIST MEP and AM&T:  A Public-Private Partnership

The Manufacturing Extension Parthership is a public-private partnership working across government and industry to identify the needs of manufacturers, present opportunities for growth, and foster a competitive industry.  At a regional level, AM&T was established as an MEP Center in 1988. Between 2000 and 2013, AM&T's work with Southern Tier manufacturers has lead to $909 million in increased and retained sales and $28 million in cost savings. Our work has helped create or retain more than 5,424 jobs, and has helped generate more than $80 million in total investments. 
  • As part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is focused on solving manufacturers’ challenges and identifying opportunities for growth.
  • MEP has local centers positioned throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico with more than 1,200 technical experts in the nationwide system.
  • AM&T is the MEP Center for the Southern Tier Region of New York State.
  • MEP, in coordination with the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, supports legislative and programmatic resources that allow small manufacturers to better compete in the global marketplace.

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AM&T Passes ISO 9001:2008 Re-Assessment/Recertification Audit

Certified since 2002, AM&T successfully passed the Reassessment audit conducted by NSF in January 2014.

AM&T Quality Policy
To satisfy our client’s requirements with continuously improved services and assistance to ensure their success.

AM&T believes the ISO 9001 Standard is not just about creating meaningless compliance rules to which organizations must adhere. The bottom line is that ISO 9001 is a management tool used to continually and incrementally improve organizations in several ways; streamlining processes and documentation, improving competitiveness, and improving how all members feel about their role in the organization. These are all important benefits that can be gained though sincere efforts to implement ISO 9001.

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Material Analysis Tools Available at Cornell

Many engineers and managers in the Southern Tier don’t realize that they have local access to world-class materials analysis and processing equipment, including:
* Electron & optical microscopy
* Spectroscopy & electronic measurements
* Surface analysis & characterization
* Soft matter/polymer analysis
* X-ray & diffraction analysis
* Thin film deposition & materials processing
* Mechanical properties, testing & analysis

These and other resources are available at the Cornell Center for Materials Research in Ithaca, and the best way to learn how to take advantage of them is to attend a one-day course on April 3rd.

Facilities 101 is the title of an industry-focused introduction to the shared equipment, laboratories, and staff associated with the CCMR. This course provides an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the technical staff who manage the facilities, take walking tours of the labs, see equipment demonstrations, and discuss your particular interests with an expert.

The program is recommended for technical directors, product managers, engineers, technicians, and consultants looking to better understand Cornell’s capabilities in materials analysis, processing, and problem-solving.

The first ten registrants receive a free sample analysis, focusing on properties such as 1) Chemical analysis - Identify unknown materials; determine a sample’s structure, compound, phase, or morphology, 2) Micro and surface analysis - Obtain images of your sample’s surface, and analyze its composition at the nanoscale, or 3) Physical properties analysis - Measure the surface roughness or thickness, determine the viscosity or shear strength of a material.

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Binghamton University Helps High-tech Ideas Become Companies

Can I start my own company? That's one of the bi8ggest challenges faced by researchers and inventors is figuring out whether or not their idea actually has the potential to develop into a business. Finding answers to that question was the focus of a workshop sponsored last month by Binghamton University. Seven teams from BU and SUNY Broome brought ideas ranging from a more efficient clothes dryer, to chemical dyes, to complex algorithms.

The Pre-Seed Workshop is an established program that has been offered over 60 times at universities throughout New York, and more recently in other locations in the U.S. and Switzerland. The term "seed" refers to seed capital, an essential component of the early-stage financial investments that are necessary to launch most high-tech companies. The workshop targets individuals whose ideas have matured to the point that they can be examined and evaluated for commercial potential.

The programs, originally created by consultants Mark Wilson and Judy Albers, are managed in the Southern Tier by AM&T. Michael Meador, AM&T Principal Consultant, is a certified facilitator for the workshops and led the recent program at BU.

Well in advance of the workshop, BU staff solicited applications from "idea champions" within the university and from SUNY Broome. Once selected, each idea champion became the center of a team of 4-7 people who were recruited by BU staff and that included consultants, attorneys, business students, tech transfer staff from BU, and others whose education and experience were relevant to the team. Most team members work in the program on a volunteer basis.

The workshop consists of two full days of work, scheduled a week apart from each other. For nine hours on the first day, the teams are given a series of assignments to explore various aspects of commercializing their technology. The first modules include defining the product and identifying any intellectual property involved.

Next, the team defines the market need — what products currently exist in the space, and what problem the technology solves. Then comes competition analysis, where the team is asked to identify existing and potential rival products, and create comparisons the their technology. Additional topics and assignments are covered during both days of the workshop.

One key individual on each team is the coach — a management or senior level person from industry who helps team stay focused on the assignment for each breakout session. Another resource for the teams is a BU librarian who was available through the workshop period to assist with research.

One specific product of the workshop is a 15-minute presentation that each team gives to a feedback panel of investors at the end of the second full day. The teams begin creating content for the presentations in the first hours, but with the fast pace and intensity of workshop, the teams typically finish the first day with a lot of open questions and incomplete data. Thus the workshop participants are expected to continually refine their work during the next week and have most of their presentation completed when they arrive for the second full day.

Another element of the workshop looks at typical personality characteristics of entrepreneurs and prompts inventors to consider how well their personality traits and personal goals match those of an entrepreneur. The inventors learn, for example, if they would be good at assembling an effective management team, what function for them might be the best fit, and whether it could be best to take a backseat role in the company.

This program is targeted at such an early stage in technology commercialization -- before the inventors go for seed money -- for two reasons. One is that that it can help promising businesses chart a more effective and efficient path to success.  The other reason is that is can save time and money by weeding out weaker technologies that would likely never survive an investor’s criteria for funding.

At several times during the workshop, teams share portions of their results with all the participants who ask questions and make suggestions. This helps the presenters anticipate the kind of questions and comments that might come from the feedback panel at the end of the workshop. The panel members are typically venture capital investors who are charged with providing comments that help the inventors understand what else might be necessary to make their endeavor an investable opportunity.

Participants leave these workshops with a new perspective on their product, and a new understanding of what their next steps are -- whether that is beginning to pitch and further refine their idea or to put it on the shelf and re-direct their efforts. They get a good picture of the reality of starting a company, after which they can make a thoughtful decision.

Pre-Seed Workshops are also being held this spring in Long Island, Buffalo, and Ithaca; and another one is planned at BU on 2015.  For more information about the workshops, contact Michael Meador at AM&T or visit

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

MEP System Today

MEP remains a valued program of the U.S. Department of Commerce and continues to help manufacturers become more innovative, profitable and globally competitive.
  • Nationwide - System of Centers serving American manufacturers in each state.
  • Over 1,200 - Local MEP Experts aimed to solve manufacturers’ challenges.
  • 76,563 - Total MEP Clients impacted by MEP since 1988, resulting in jobs and economic growth.
  • Increase in Profits
  • New and Retained Jobs
  • Investment in Capital
  • Cost Savings
As the global economy continues to evolve, the MEP nationwide network strengthens the U.S. manufacturing community by:
- Forging partnerships with other agencies for increased funding opportunities.
  * Exporting programs help manufacturers enter foreign markets and increase international sales.
  * Sustainability programs guide manufacturers on “going green” in response to environmental changes.

- Emphasizing the importance of U.S. manufacturing to the economy.
  * Make It In America highlights the importance of U.S. manufacturing by showcasing the contributions of manufacturers nationwide.
  * National Manufacturing Day highlights the exciting and diverse career opportunities in manufacturing to youth.

- IdentifYing emerging and expanded opportunities for American manufacturers.
  * Initiatives help manufacturers with supply chain effectiveness and leverage technological enhancements.
  * Helping clients build a strong future for their businesses, workers and the nation.

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Growing our Economy by Helping Small Manufacturers Succeed.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, cut costs and improve competitiveness.

Small manufacturing is a critical component of the manufacturing industry, and the MEP supports national strategies to improve exports, accelerate technology adaption, improve supply chains and accelerate economic sustainability which in turn:

  - Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.4 million jobs in the U.S. — about one in six private
    sector jobs (or 9 percent of the workforce).
  - In FY2013, the MEP created or retained 62,703 jobs.
  - Manufacturing workers earn significantly higher wages ($77,505 annually, including pay and benefits)
    than non-manufacturing workers ($62,063 annually, including pay and benefits).

  - For every one dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates nearly $19 in new sales growth and
    $21 in new client investment. This translates into $2.2 billion in new sales annually.
  - In FY2013, MEP partners reported $2.5 billion in new investments.

  - U.S. manufacturers perform two-thirds of all R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any
    other sector.
  - Taken alone, U.S. Manufacturing would be the 9th largest economy in the world.

* Statistics above are from NIST-MEP Client Impact Survey data and

AM&T and MEP
Proudly Serving U.S. Manufacturers since 1988!

After 25 years, MEP is going strong and still innovating, developing new programs and services to help manufacturers grow and succeed in the 21st century economy.

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Associates’ Corner - Swift Glass

Swift Glass is a family-owned business that makes high quality fabricated glass parts, primarily for the lighting, chemical processing, and diagnostic imaging industries. For example, their parts are used in the medical field in PET and CAT imaging devices, and in high-resolution mammography.

Founded in 1937, the Elmira Heights company 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 such as titanium, nickel alloy, steel composites, quartz and glass. The company provides services for industries that include Biomedical, Appliance, Industrial and Commercial, Optical and Aerospace.

Other specialties include bending, strengthening, decorating and silk screening, drilling, grinding, polishing and tempering for float glass, PYREX® brand glass, VYCOR®, BOROFLOAT® and polished plate glass; polishing of all types of glass including sapphire and super hard ceramics; heat treating of glass as well as chemical strengthening of glass. The company’s diverse capabilities are reflected in its statement that no size or thickness is too large or too small, and no job is too complex or too small.

In recent years, the company underwent an extensive quality improvement program that resulted in achieving ISO:9001-2008 certification. This means that a third-party auditing firm has certified Swift Glass as conforming to internationally accepted quality management standards.

AM&T assisted the company in achieving that certification in a number of ways, including taking the lead in creation of a new quality manual, an expanded collection of work instructions, and a set of procedures designed to insure continuous quality monitoring and improvement. This process eventually involved all employees, both through briefings and through their direct involvement in creating the new processes and documentation.

Once the new system was implemented in daily production, AM&T helped the company develop an audit process to insure that everyone was actually following the updated quality procedures. After the company operated for several months under the new system, an independent “registrar” organization visited the company to perform an extensive compliance assessment. Based on this third-party assessment, Swift Glass was deemed compliant with the ISO 9001:2008 requirements and certified to the standard.

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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. The firm’s continued success resulted in hiring additional engineering talent in 2013. The company continues to diversify its client and project base that includes material handling systems, power plant operations, boiler control, and emerging energies.

North Point was awarded both the Central New York Fast Track 50 Award and the Economic Champions Award. “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.”

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