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New institute plans to link manufacturers with needed resources

Manufacturers have been forced to go "lean," meaning they must take cost out of the parts they make or lose their customers. The resulting focus on internal efficiencies has often hamstrung their ability to develop new processes, new technology and new products.

That's one of the catalysts behind the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, based at Ohio State University's College of Engineering. Another is that universities -- which have the resources to do what manufacturers increasingly can't do in house -- haven't always been good at interfacing with manufacturers, says OMI Director Glenn Daehn.

OMI is just getting its legs. Daehn describes the institute's formation as a "soft launch," with a website, some initial partnerships and some big plans.

OMI views one of its important roles right now as "priming the pump" with short-term projects as a bridge to long-term relationships. It also is acting as broker to bring manufacturers together with needed expertise.

"What I'm hoping is five years from now we have faculty engaged from across the state, bringing along their expertise and local physical resources. Faculty from the University System of Ohio will work with other state resources like Battelle, EWI, MAGNET and TechSolve, who network together," Daehn says. "When projects come in we have project managers and others who assess what (manufacturers) need, we align them with the right resources and they are able to generate new technology to generate more efficient manufacturing processes. A small professional staff will assure that these projects take place at the 'speed of business.'"

In the meantime, OMI has also launched a light structures initiative geared toward the next generation of lightweight vehicles.

Source: Glenn Daehn, Ohio Manufacturing Institute
Writer: Gene Monteith

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