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Matchmaking for Local Manufacturers at CCC's IAM


Wednesday, June 27, 2018


From the Press Republican
Published June 24, 2018
By McKenzie Delisle

New technologies are not one size fits all. 

That's what Marilyn Freeman told local manufacturers at a FuzeHub solutions forum held at Clinton Community College's Institute for Advanced Manufacturing.

The director of the Center for Advanced Materials Processing at Clarkson University was the event's keynote speaker and highlighted disruptive technologies and the importance of researching their effectiveness for a specific business. 

"You can't just replace a human with a robot," she said. 

'NOT ALWAYS EFFICIENT'

Freeman defined disruptive technology as a new form of technology that replaces a pre-existing one — the personal computer's replacement of the typewriter is one example.

The director warned businesses to be selective when choosing updated forms of manufacturing. 

It's not always efficient, she said. Some processes could cost more or a low cost product might not be worth expensive manufacturing. 

"It's OK to be disruptive if you have a positive impact," Freeman said. 

"Don't just grab the bright, shiny thing or what everyone else is doing."

STAYING COMPETITIVE

FuzeHub, a nonprofit based out of Albany, aims to help New York state's small-to-mid-sized businesses stay competitive and grow.

As another state-funded organization, the Center for Advanced Materials Processing, looks for ways to help New York companies solve manufacturing challenges through advanced materials, products and processes.

FuzeHub has hosted 30 solutions forums for manufacturers statewide. 

Executive Director Elena Garuc said Freeman was selected as the event's speaker because of her organization's alignment with the FuzeHub mission.

"She has a really good background and expertise in manufacturing and disruptive manufacturing — the things that we are trying to let the companies that come learn about," Garuc said. 

MATCHMAKING

Prior to Freeman's presentation, local product developers met individually with resource representatives who also attended the event. 

Using a matchmaking process, FuzeHub put local manufacturers face to face with an organization that could have the answers to their business woes. 

"Our whole point is to help these companies get access to these resources," Garuc said. 

The process starts with a questionnaire sent after registration.

Garuc said FuzeHub always follows receipt of the responses with a phone conversation. 

"A lot of the time, what folks put into the system and what they really need are kind of two different things," she said.

BEST USE OF TIME

Once FuzeHub grasps the needs of the manufacturers, they have a conference call with the attending resource organizations. 

If an organization believes it can help a business solve an issue, they agree to meet with that manufacturer at the forum. 

"We encourage them to meet with as many as they can, but based on what they need, we align them with certain resources that are in the room to make the best use of their time," Garuc said.

Some of those needs, she continued, center around a company's lack of funding, need for training or difficulty finding hires.

"Companies with workforce issues were connected with the Clinton Community College Career Center and SUNY Canton," Garuc said as an example. 

ALL OVER NYS 

Approximately 15 businesses attended the forum, most from the North Country region.

Among them were the tech company Potsdam Sensors and also Create Orthotics & Prosthetics from Lake Placid. 

The state-funded resources, however, traveled from all parts of the state. 

"We had one from Long Island and Cornell — that's how much they want to help these manufacturers," Garuc said.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE

RIT Center of Excellence in Advanced and Sustainable Manufacturing, Workforce Development Institute and the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University were a few of many resources at the forum. 

"I hope we were able to provide them with new information that they weren't aware of prior and introduce them to resources and assets that the state provides," Garuc said of the firms that participated.

"As long as these companies are growing, they are adding jobs, and it's really helping New York stay ahead of the curve in economic development."