Amy Fitzgerald

Recent Posts

Industrial Cybersecurity for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (Whitepaper)

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Apr 5, 2018 8:30:17 AM

Whitepaper and executive summary provided by the ISA, a technology and workforce training partner of IMEC.

Effective cybersecurity management is essential for all organizations, regardless of size. There are many standards and guidance documents available to help organizations determine a way forward.

The ISA whitepaper “Industrial Cybersecurity for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses” is intended to provide a starting point for SMBs, particularly those that manage industrial processes and employ some level of automation. Specific examples include SMBs in the chemical, water, or wastewater treatment sectors.

While it is generally accepted that Operational Technology (OT) system security requires different or additional measures than general-purpose Information Technology (IT) system security, it is also true that smaller companies might have difficulty implementing much of the available guidance.

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Employee Safety, Workplace Risk Management the focus of the new ISO 45001

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 30, 2018 8:15:00 AM

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently released the new ISO 45001 standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS). Published on March 12, 2018,  ISO 45001 provides a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better and safer conditions for workers everywhere.

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Is Your IT System Living Up To Its Capabilities?

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 27, 2018 4:35:26 PM

Companies that purchase a new manufacturing information system do so to better manage the business, cut costs, and improve customer relationships – i.e. the “strategy”.  However, when it comes to implementing the system – the “art of execution” – many companies settle for a less than fully-functional solution.  An audit, or gap analysis, of your existing system may yield substantial opportunities for improvement, especially if your company:

  • Does not have an IT manager or other personnel intimately familiar with the system.
  • Is upgrading an existing system but wants to pinpoint the potential benefits first.
  • Experiences disruptions because of underutilized or incapable systems.
  • Is in an industry where customer requirements or regulations change frequently.
  • Is on a lean journey.
  • Has concerns about system fault-tolerance and/or disaster recovery.
  • Is experiencing very large year-over-year growth patterns.
  • Customer or supplier information exchange interfaces have changed.
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Retro Commissioning Proves 'Blessing' to Quincy Hospital

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 21, 2018 10:45:00 AM

The following case study highlights the efforts of one Ameren Illinois customer, showcasing the available implementation incentives for energy efficiency measures with a payback period of one year or less. Ameren Illinois is an energy efficiency partner of IMEC.

By all accounts, the folks at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, run a tight ship. So, they were understandably skeptical when Sitton Energy Solutions, an independent energy management and consulting firm, proposed a retro commissioning survey of the 307-bed facility.

“We were tentative at first — it seemed like spending dollars in the hopes of saving dollars,” says Jerry Melching, Project Specialist for Blessing Hospital. “And we had already taken care of the low-hanging fruit.”

That skepticism did not deter Erik Merker, Director of Energy Services at Sitton Energy Solutions.

“We hear that all the time — that ‘there are no opportunities here’ — but why not have an expert validate that when the initial survey doesn’t cost the owner anything?” he says. “There are golden opportunities in retro commissioning — and Ameren Illinois incentivizes it very well.”

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The Bottom Line on Plant Layout: Efficient flow of goods can save you money

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 19, 2018 12:45:18 PM

Imagine this scenario: Altimax Manufacturer, founded 20 years ago, operates out of rented warehouse space in a large industrial complex.  The warehouse is a metal building and has had three additions, all of different size, shape and roof height over the past 15 years.  Business is good and Altimax expands, hiring more people, renting additional space, adding new products, and using new technologies.  Rather than reorganizing space to incorporate each new operational segment, however, the plant layout has evolved irrationally as the company has grown.  Top management realizes it's got a problem, but the cost of removing walls, cleaning up old stock and moving equipment inhibits the adoption of a more rational plant layout.  Sound familiar?

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Why do businesses translate their websites and marketing material?

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 12, 2018 10:37:00 AM

Written by Rick Wysocki, President of Language SI

What language do you speak? 75% of internet users have reported they search using their native language even though they may speak English as a second language, and likely speak it very well.  Let's look at a few of the benefits of offering multiple language options on your website for your current/future customers.

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"Manufacturing" Success in the Craft Beer Industry

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 8, 2018 10:37:31 AM

Manufacturing in Illinois doesn't necessarily mean only metals and machining. The market space is so much bigger! Today, there are more than 180 craft breweries representing this fine state and providing an opportunity for commerce and jobs, as well as tourism and leisure activities.

The domestic craft beer industry in 2016 represented a $23.5 billion market - a more than 10% growth from 2015.  This unique group of small manufacturers also represents a nearly 22% market share of the total US beer market (in dollars) and growing! 

Through the entrepeneurship of their founders and the ingenuity required to develop new beer styles and brands, the craft brewers of Illinois and across the U.S. are paving their own path to success. Learn more about the breweries in your neighborhood by visiting the Brewers Association online: https://www.brewersassociation.org/directories/breweries/

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Employee Involvement Key to Improving Productivity

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Feb 16, 2018 3:33:42 PM

Companies today are learning the key to reducing workplace inefficiency is right in front of them - their employees. Workers who are included and involved in a company's improvement process are more likely to buy into that process‑ especially when it involves change.

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Develop a global sales strategy and unlock your export potential with ExporTech

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Feb 13, 2018 10:09:31 AM

Calling all South Suburban Cook County manufacturers with an eye on global sales!

Are you struggling to take advantage of growth opportunities in global markets?

Are you re-actively selling to international customers who find you, rather than taking a proactive and strategic approach to international sales?

If YES… ExporTech could be the answer.

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Made in Illinois Featured Company: Focal Point LLC 

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Feb 1, 2018 3:17:51 PM

Focal Point is a Chicago-based family owned and operated architectural lighting manufacturer that focuses on creating great luminaire designs that stand the test of time.  Their mission is to deliver beautifully simple forms to complete customers' architectural statements and optimal illumination to comfortably define the space and its purpose.

Focal Point believes that great lighting isn’t just about meeting technical design requirements. It’s about people. It’s about creating a more beautiful, functional environment wherever people live, work or gather. They are proud to call themselves lighting people – an independent provider of sustainable, American-built lighting products that make a difference for beautiful architectural spaces and the people who inhabit them. 

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