Faster. Cheaper. Better.
Every manufacturer continually seeks improved efficiencies. It’s not just the time it saves, but the materials and labor costs, as well.
Your company probably holds monthly if not weekly meetings featuring brainstorming sessions on how to improve efficiencies.
But in the Lehigh Valley, you don’t have to brainstorm alone. There are several organizations that specialize in helping manufacturers improve efficiencies, and at reasonable consulting costs. Ben Franklin Technology Partners offers some grants to pay for their consulting while services from the Small Business Development Center are entirely free.
These organizations can help with Lean and other industry-specific certifications, streamlining processes, improving products and developing new operational capabilities.
Manufacturers Resource Center
The Manufacturers Resource Center helps manufacturers with training, consulting and financial resources.
The center’s chief consulting services include management training and lean manufacturing and other certifications. Other consulting services include lead generation, market research and strategic planning.
The MRC also works with partner consultants on planning efforts including plant layout and marketing, including website rebranding.
The center offers two low-interest loans to pay for their consulting services, including one that is interest-free if paid within a year of the project completion date.
The local Ben Franklin division offers significant resources to established manufacturers through its Solutions Network.
The Ben Franklin Solutions Network is comprised of college and university resources and other experts with proven experience in helping manufacturers succeed. Ben Franklin provides funding to pay for half the cost of projects with established manufacturers.
The organization’s 1:1 matching grant is used for enterprise-wide solutions, including enhancements to a company’s manufacturing process, developing new products, or improving existing products. The grant specifications include:
- The grant is up to a maximum of $50,000. For example, if the project costs $100,000, the company pays $50,000 and Ben Franklin grants $50,000. If the project costs $150,000, the company pays $100,000.
- The maximum duration of a project is 12 months.
- A project may be continued for up to two additional years. The maximum amount that Ben Franklin grants totals $150,000 over three years.
- All funding goes to a Pennsylvania college or university, which provides technical support to the client company.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners helps manufacturers streamline processes, develop new operational capabilities, improve their products and expand their market. By identifying and applying innovation on an enterprise-wide level, Ben Franklin client companies are more competitive.
Enterprise Systems Center at Lehigh University
Lehigh’s Enterprise Systems Center has helped many Lehigh Valley manufacturing companies improve efficiencies and save money through its low-cost, high-quality consulting services.
The Center’s Senior Fellows are semi-retired executives from major corporations who work with Lehigh PhD, graduate and undergraduate students on high return-on-investment consulting projects.
The Center’s consulting rates start at $65 an hour, and the center also undertakes semester-long projects offering 36 mentor hours and 144 student hours at a total cost of $9,000, or $45 an hour.
The Enterprise Systems Center only takes on projects with at least a five times return on investment.
The Center’s areas of expertise include:
- Supply chain
- Additive manufacturing
- Predictive analytics
The Center is sometimes successful in obtaining matching funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance, MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center or Ben Franklin Technology Partners to pay for their consulting projects.
Small Business Development Center
The Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University can help manufacturers with production and inventory control, layout analysis, new product scheduling, and project management. All SBDC services are free.
How to Apply
Concannon Miller is personally acquainted with the key personnel at these organizations and can help you navigate with various agencies and programs to determine the route for maximizing your opportunities to get your business on the path for greater success. Many of these organizations provide manufacturers with free or discounted assistance. Contact us here for more information.
Looking for more grant and tax credit opportunities? Check out our Lehigh Valley Manufacturers’ Guide for Growth, which offers details on more than 30 tax strategies, grants, credits, low-interest loans and other business resources to help manufacturers grow. Download your copy here.