New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership: NH MEP
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2003

For more information please contact:
Zenagui Brahim
NH MEP
Tel: (603) 226-3200

NH MANUFACTURERS SHARE IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP) has instituted a Plant Tour Exchange program, designed to bring New Hampshire manufacturers together to share ideas and promote Continuous Improvement Initiatives among the state’s manufacturers. The mission of this free program is to provide an open forum among the state’s diverse group of manufacturers and provide a cost effective means to enhance their own business operations.

“The premise behind this program is to get New Hampshire manufacturers to share their experiences, good and bad, with the different types of improvement programs that they have put into place,” said Sean Jordan, NH MEP Project Manager. “Often, NH MEP is asked about how other companies in the state are implementing continuous improvement programs. The Plant Tour Exchange program gives participants a chance to see what is going on at other shops and to share ideas on the best ways to implement improvement programs like ISO certification or Lean Manufacturing initiatives.”

The pilot plant tour took place at The Markem Corporation in Keene at the beginning of September. The group included representatives from low-tech and high-tech companies from across the state that toured Markem’s facilities and discussed manufacturing methods the maker of coding and labeling solutions implemented that have or have not worked. Companies from circuit board makers and brush manufacturers shared ideas on cost-effective changes they can make to improve their businesses.

Manufacturers that Participated in the inaugural Plant Tour Exchange:
Felton Brush, Londonderry Benchmark Electronics, Hudson
Eptam Plastics, Northfield Page Belting, Concord
Sunset Tool, Keene Markem, Keene
GenTex, Derry LSI, Lebanon

“We’re going through some lean manufacturing refinements with the NH MEP and this tour was very helpful because we got a visual representation of what the changes look like and how they work,” said Roy Wirth, Vice President of Manufacturing for Felton Brush Company in Londonderry.

Attendees from the first event look forward to hosting a tour because it gives them an opportunity to receive suggestions from other participants on how to improve their business and the share their best practices. (The NH MEP ensures that companies trade secrets are protected by requiring all participants sign confidentiality agreements).

Another goal of the program is to include employees from every level of manufacturing, from the shop floor all the way up to management.

“I brought five other people from different levels of our company and that worked out very well because we had a chance to split up and see more things,” said Wirth. “Just the dialogue we had in the car driving from Keene to Londonderry was wonderful because we shared our experiences and how we thought we could implement things we learned from the tour.”

“All types of employees were at the event, not just senior management needs to see and learn what is going on across the state,” added Jordan. “The employees on the shop floor can have their creativity increased by observing the solutions created by other shop floor associates.”

NH MEP is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2,000 manufacturing and business “coaches” whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits and enhanced global competitiveness. NH MEP works in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development. For more information on the services NH MEP project managers provide, contact the Concord office at (603) 226-3200.


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