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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.


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.

Veterans-Top Workforce Candidates

June 15, 2016

In today’s world it can be hard to find good, quality, responsible employees to hire in machine shops and manufacturing plants.  Many people don’t realize a viable long-term career is available for them in these industries.  Hiring managers often have to think out of the box to find people who would be good employees for them.  In our blog last month we discussed the need for more qualified workers.  This month we want to talk about the group that is often overlooked when it comes to hiring and that is our great veterans, who served our country so well.

Veterans Day Soldier Saluting

Veterans of the armed forces coming home from active duty many times do not know what they are going to do when they transition back to everyday life.  They have spent years in the service where their everyday life was planned and organized for them.  In the armed forces they have learned skills that made them successful in the military, to me it is obvious in how they can transfer to a better life after the military.  Many times they do not have college degrees, which may be necessary for working in an office job, and that can put them at a disadvantage.  At Mid-West Screw we believe these skills they have developed could be easily transferred over to working in the machining industry and at machine shops, making them great candidates for employment.

Hiring managers are always looking for people who have the skills and ability to be successful in their organization.  Veterans are a group that has the characteristics these managers are looking for.  These traits include the ability to follow orders and directions, the willingness to take on tasks; is extremely capable to work under pressure and the mindset of the importance of doing a good job.  They are used to working in a team environment to complete tasks and goals, and understand the need to go the extra mile to make sure their work is done at the highest level of acceptance.

Here at Mid-West Screw we want to hire veterans to come work for us.  We are thankful for all they have done for us and think they would be an asset to our company.  They will make our company better, and we think the manufacturing and machining industry, as a whole, should be looking at veterans as prime candidates to fill their employment needs.  Please contact us if you are a veteran, of the armed forces, looking for a job or career, we would love to speak with you.

New Technology Changing the Manufacturing Industry

May 18, 2016

Manufacturing and machine shops are the backbone of the American economy.  These industries produce the products the country needs and wants.  Over the years, many companies moved their manufacturing operations overseas due to the rising costs of manufacturing products in the United States.  Recently though, manmid west 1y technological advancements have been made that are making the manufacturing process cheaper, and allowing for companies to bring their operations back to America.

The new equipment that is being installed by manufacturing and machine shop companies helps to save costs and expenses for the long term, as new people will not have to be hired to perform the work these machines do.  These new modular robotics can be put in front of machines and will robotically load or unload them.  A big advantage of them is that they are not permanently set in their spots, and can be moved around the shop floor providing more versatility.  In the past these robotics were dedicated to a specific machine, but now they can be moved or changed to fit different machines on the shop floor.

For inspection purposes these new robotics have camera sight vision.  This special optical vision can look at the shape of a part and immediately check all of the dimensions.  This is important for quality control as multiple inspections can be done very quickly to provide inspection statistics to the customer.  In the past it used to take a long time with a human inspecting each part by hand, and measuring the specs of the part to make a report for the customer.  This new technology speeds up the process and can post the information from its software, directly into spreadsheets that can be sent to the customer.  It also takes the frustration out of the same common mistakes occurring on an ongoing basis.  If the camera finds a bad part, in an advanced application if so desired, it will kick it off the conveyor into the scrap bin without slowing down the overall inspection process at all. Other wise in the smaller Job shops the QC Department just has to load and unload the parts seconds apart to achieve their report.

The new camera robotics that are available are now feasible and affordable for manufactures and average machine shops.  It is an investment for smaller operations that will pay off long-term dividends.  At Mid-West Screw Products we see that this is the way of the future, and are ready to be at the front of this movement that will bring manufacturing back to the USA and help business be profitable and successful for our next 70 years to come.

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