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Ways to be Successful in 2017

February 27, 2017

Business success in 2017, 3d render, white background

In business when a new year begins it is important to make sure to take the time to review the previous year, and make plans for success in the new one.  2016 was a great year for Mid-West Screw Products, and we would like to take the time to offer some advice on the best way to make 2017 successful.

Taking advantage of tax breaks and grants: 

Making sure you take advantage of all tax breaks and write offs is very important in the continuing growth of a business.  Many times you have until the end of the calendar year to write off new machines and equipment.  Once that is done, the money saved can then be reinvested for more machines or other improvements to the facility itself.  Taking advantages of grants that are available to you from city, state, and federal government agencies is also important as it is money that is available for things like employee training certification programs, and facility and building upgrades.  While the process to obtain the grant can be long and time consuming, the benefits of additional money is well worth it to your company.

Investing in equipment and infrastructure:

Investing in new machines and facility improvements from money you have saved with tax breaks will lead to better efficiency for your business, and improve production and on time delivery.  Even taking out loans to buy new machinery is a worthwhile investment that can help you make money long term, as the new machines will allow more products and parts to be produced, therefor growing your business.  This expansion, if done properly could have significant long-term benefits for your business.

At Mid-West Screw products we are taking advantages of all the grants, write-offs and tax breaks that are available to us.  Plans for 2017 also include obtaining a new certification that will expand the industries we work with to bring more business in, as well as some improvements to our facility.  To learn more about our capabilities and the services we provide our customers, contact us.

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The Overseas ISO Problem

January 2, 2017

When a customer is looking to purchase a product, two factors they look at when deciding what company to do business with is cost and quality.  Many customers choose to buy their products overseas based on the original price they are quoted.  When doing that though, there is no guarantee on the quality of the products because there is no way to track ISO certification with these overseas companies.  At Mid-West Screw Products we have heard many stories of the difficulties customers have had with getting quality products form companies overseas.

quality control vector banner

When dealing with companies overseas, it is tough to determine the quality of the product you will receive.  In the United States if a company is ISO certified, that means there are certain processes and procedures they have in place to provide quality products. A KANBAN system can also be implemented. When put in place this allows customers to make changes and revisions to parts during each production run.  This is not the case when ordering from overseas as you will get one delivery of all the parts, instead of having multiple production runs where the customer can make changes based on the customer updated revisions to their parts, that they realize, during their PO that is currently open.

ISO works by having strict regulations that must be met to ensure quality.  Sometimes big companies try to change the way smaller companies do business in ways that go against your ISO.  Remember, your certification is based on how YOU do business to assure quality parts and on time deliveries. Things like how you stock inventory and how parts move through plants must be done in a way that meets your ISO, not in any way a big company wants.  They have their unique, in-house requirements and how they are met within their own standards. Also ALL verbal orders MUST be avoided.  Every order should have proper documentation to make sure it meets ISO certifications and its requirements.

Even if an overseas company states it is ISO certified, and it quotes cheaper prices than companies in the U.S., it is important to remember the potential extra costs and difficulties you may face.  Extra costs to get the item out of one country and into the U.S. are common, as well as dealing with middlemen who may charge a fee.  When doing business with ISO certified companies in the United States, you know what you are getting, as opposed to the uncertainty you face when doing business with an overseas company.  We are ISO certified at Mid-West Screw Products and can provide you top quality parts.  Contact us here for more information.

The Importance of Applying For Business Grants

December 5, 2016

Running a business or company is an expensive venture.  To be successful you must always be looking to upgrade your facilities and knowledge to the highest levels.  From making improvements to your building and facility, to making sure your employees are trained with the highest certifications and programs, it is important not to fall behind your competitors.  While you may think that you can’t afford to make any of these upgrades, at Mid-West Screw Products we want to tell you about grants, and how they have made a huge difference in our company.

Business Grants

Grants are available from many different areas including local government, the federal government, and non-profit organizations.  The goal of grants is to provided money for specific upgrades and training that you may not be able to afford, but will be a huge benefit for you.  Grants can be from 50 cents on the dollar to 100 cents on the dollar to save companies money.  They also can help a business stay in a city or county in the situation where they were looking to move to an area with cheaper costs of doing business.  Certain requirements must be met to obtain these grants, but doing so will be worth it in the long term.

Local Industrial Retention Initiatives (LIRI) Councils are city-contracted non-profits that provide economic development services to companies located in industrial corridors.  They work with businesses to help them find out what grants they are eligible for, and to help companies go through the approval process to obtain these grants.  It takes some time and work to go through the grant approval process but the LIRIs are a big help in getting a business through it.

Grants are beneficial in helping a company reduce its overhead costs for things that might not be in your budget.  Grants usually have time limits for when they are available, so if you stay in touch with your LIRI you can be first in line for the grant when it becomes available.  The city and local government want you to be successful and grow your business, as that will have a positive effect on the local economy.  Getting these grants for things like AS9100 certification makes your business more attractive to your customers, and will bring more business in for you.  That is why it is important to research all the grants available to you and take advantage of them.

At Mid-West Screw Products we have seen firsthand how beneficial using grants can be to a business.  In our previous blog “Going Green” we discussed the efficiency changes we made to our facility.  This was possible by using green grants that were available to us.  Our recommendation is to do the research in what grants are available in your area, and to take advantage of them!  We have and they have been a huge boost to our company!

Doing Business Overseas Isn’t Always Worth It

November 14, 2016

Many companies have been looking overseas to order parts due to what at first glance seems like much lower costs.  This isn’t necessarily the case, because of many different factors that can add time and money to your order process.  When doing business with companies in the United States, including us at Mid-West Screw Products, there are many advantages that you will not get if you are dealing with overseas companies.

happy traveler waiting for the flight in airport

One of the biggest differences between doing business overseas and in the U.S.  is the demand for smaller inventories on the customer side and higher inventory on the vendor side, which is more difficult to manage when working with offshore companies.  In the U.S., manufacturers use a KANBAN systems so the customer can release only what they need and do not receive more parts than they currently need bases on what they originally ordered.  Flexibility in production run is very important to the customer, and in the U.S. that can be accommodated.

When customers put in orders for parts, they expect to take in increments of parts. An example is 500 pieces per Kanban, but the manufacturer must have 2500 pieces on shelves at all times.  However, that quantity of 2500 could be the amount that the Customer establishes on their PO of 10,000 parts. This is because they do not want to be stuck with parts that may have a Revision change during the length of their PO. This is a win win for the Customer. Here we quoted 10,000. However, we only get to run 2,500 at a time. The increment system allows the customer to request changes to parts if they realize improvements need to be made between runs.  This requires a juggling act by the supplier as they must make sure they have enough parts on hand to meet each delivery date, but do not want to have too many parts made that would go to scrap if a customer requires changes to the design that would make the parts useless.  When going offshore for parts, the price you are quoted may be cheaper than in the U.S., but you will receive the total order at one time, which means you the customer will have to stock all those parts somewhere, and you cannot make adjustments if changes are needed.  This could lead to the customer having to place a whole new order if they realize the original parts they ordered did not meet their needs.

While the price for parts, they are given may be initially low; many times it goes up as the process moves forward.  Extra costs for air freight services, shipping, and customs can all be a part of unexpected added costs, as it is expensive to move large amounts of product from one country to another.  Many times you must also work with multiple middlemen, as they are many times necessary to do business with a foreign company / country.  This can all lead to increased costs.

At Mid-West Screw Products we believe in the ISO and Kanban process.  We work with all our customers to make sure they get the correct parts they need for their projects, when they need them.  Please contact us for more information on how we can meet your manufacturing needs.

Lean Manufacturing

October 17, 2016

In today’s manufacturing world, being lean and following ISO can make the difference between a successful business or one that will soon be out of business. At Mid-West Screw Products, we recognize this, and have taken the necessary steps to follow lean manufacturing and ISO principles.  We understand how important it is for a company to follow these guidelines in today’s marketplace.

Lean Manufacturing

One key concept that we believe in and follow is that quality and productivity increase when everything is centralized in one area.  It is much easier when machining centers are situated correctly.  This means that horizontal and vertical tools and fixtures that go into those machines are situated right near each other. Everything should be identified and everything should be labeled as that keeps employees from wasting time looking for things that they need to complete their work.

We understood when looking at our floor setup that organization and positioning of our equipment is key in being successful.  We reconfigured our machines to make our operation as efficient as possible.  Our floorplan is laid out extremely lean and has cells where all parts are done in the same area as the machines.  We have set up tool bins for particular part numbers, and include the operation and all its tooling in a particular bin so everything is ready.  We also make sure to have enough back up of these tools in case they are chipped, so that we have replacements ready to go so downtime is kept to a minimum.  Once again organization is key, because if everything is properly labeled and placed in the right spot, time will not have to be wasted in trying to find these items.

At Mid-West Screw Products we understand that you have to “spend a little money, to make money.”  That is why we took the steps to make sure all our machines and tools were positioned properly to be the most effective.  By taking these steps we have set our company up to be successful and we are firm believers in the principles of lean manufacturing.  Contact us here to learn more about the capabilities we can offer you.

Going Green

September 26, 2016

Improvements in technology have not just improved the machines we work with, they also have improved the efficiency of the building we work out of.  Over the last few years, at Mid-West Screw Products we have taken the steps to “Go Green” and convert our facility to a productive and more cost-efficient one.  While this was a big project, there were many incentives and grants available to us to make it worthwhile.

ceiling lamps with diode lighting in a modern warehouse

To improve and update our facility, we took advantage of a variety of different grants that were available.  The city, county, state and trade associations and organizations all offer different grants that helped us to be able to afford to pay for the changes necessary to go green.  Once we made these changes and upgrades, we 100% saw the cost savings coming back to us immediately.  By using these grants we were able to make green upgrades at 50 cents on the dollar sometimes.  Without these grants, making these changes would not have been possible for us, but the benefits since we have gone green have been great for us.

Using utilities and lighting grants that are available to us, we were able to install all new lighting and low powered ballasts.  These new LED lights and fluorescent lights allowed us to reduce our energy costs significantly.  We were also able to install a foam roof material with a white reflective coating that reflects the heat tremendously and makes the plant much cooler.  This has allowed us to enhance our work productivity as we no longer have to send people home because it became too hot in the work place. In our office and quality control room, we now use a centrally controlled air conditioning system that keeps the temperature even and uniform in each room.  We have also replaced all of our old windows with energy efficient windows that prevents us from losing hot and cold air depending on the season.  Easy fixes, like installing exhaust fans to draw in fresh air and remove the hot air near the ceiling was significant. We installed energy efficient laminates in our sky light windows to improve the R rating insulation factor. All of these changes have led to big cost savings for us.

Without taking advantage of the green grants that are available to us, we would not have been able to make these enhancements to our facility. In our next blog we will explore some of the other grants that are available and the benefits that are just sitting there waiting to be taken advantage of by companies like Mid-West and yours.

Language Should Not Be a Safety Barrier

September 9, 2016

When it comes to running a successful business, one thing that should not be forgotten in the profit driven world is the safety of all the business’s employees.  This is especially important in the manufacturing and machining industries where employees can face many hazards on the shop floor.  At Mid-West Screw Products we take the safety of all our employees very seriously, and have implemented rules and procedures to cut down and eliminate workplace accidents.

hires

Having our facility located in Chicago, Illinois, we have a diverse workforce, with many employees who are bi-lingual and who do not speak English as their first language.  When it comes to the safety of our employees we believe that language should not be a safety barrier.  To meet this language challenge, we have taken the step of putting all of our various safety policies and procedures into multiple languages.  We have created signs that are hung from the ceiling with our safety procedures written in English, Spanish and Polish so that all of our workers can understand them.  To make sure they are all accurate we had people who are bilingual write them.  Since safety is so important, we wanted to make sure that language barriers could not be used as an excuse on why proper rules and protocols were not followed.  On these signs we include safety procedures and ISO procedures to make sure all our employees were able to be aware of all policies.

Besides safety signs, at Mid-West Screw Products we also follow OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) regulations that determine what safety items we must have on hand for our employees.  These include first aid kits, and information on who to call and where to go in care of a medical emergency.  We want our employees to enjoy coming to work, and to feel safe while they are in our facility.  By making all these procedures available to everyone, no matter what language they speak, we are making a safer place for all our workers.

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