Feyen Zylstra selected to establish innovation center
Feyen Zylstra (FZ), a Walker-based industrial technology and electrical services company, has received funding to establish a center that will accelerate the development and adoption of smart manufacturing principles in small and medium-sized businesses.
FZ was recently selected by the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute (CESMII) to establish a Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center with $250,000 in funding from the US Department of Energy.
CESMII exists to “rapidly accelerate the development and adoption of smart manufacturing principles to increase sustainable manufacturing efficiency, improve energy consumption, and achieve real-time business improvements.”
Because of their shared goal of raising awareness of smart manufacturing and developing the next generation of workforces, FZ said CESMII is an ideal partner.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, CESMII is a network dedicated to raising awareness, understanding, and adoption of smart manufacturing through the use of Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers (SMICs), which are autonomous, innovative and value-driven centers that reinforce the mission of CESMII in a practical and learning-centered way.
Four other SMICs currently exist across the country. FZ’s is the latest, and it will be known as the Innovation Center.
“Our team is excited about the opportunity our Innovation Center will provide small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) located in the Midwest,” said Ryan Cahalane, President of Industrial Technology at Feyen Zylstra. “With many SMMs intimidated by the cost and scope of smart manufacturing and supporting technologies, our goal is to educate (companies on) how practical solutions and approaches can drive real, achievable results.”
Scheduled to open in the spring of 2022, the FZ Innovation Center will be based at FZ’s current headquarters, 2396 Hillside Drive NW in Walker. Some of the offerings will take place virtually and others in person, Cahalane said.
The center will invite local manufacturers to learn, experience and interact with smart manufacturing technology through experiential labs, interactive training workshops and showcasing implementation success stories.
The Innovation Center will work to make these principles accessible and understandable to all manufacturers, regardless of their size, type of manufacturing and the products they make.
CESMII CEO John Dyck said FZ won the tender to create the network’s fifth SMIC because it “embodies an underrepresented part of the CESMII ecosystem – the systems integrator”.
“Their experience serving multiple industries in factory automation, robotics, manufacturing information systems and digital transformation consulting services helps shape the tangible value that manufacturers can leverage,” said Dyck.
“They have the ability to guide customers through an often confusing vendor landscape while delivering packaged solutions. Putting smart manufacturing solutions into practice is about domain expertise and experience and value creation, but it is also about contributing to the greater good and advancing the state of the industry. We are proud to partner with FZ in this important endeavor, highlighting these important capabilities. »
Cahalane said the FZ Innovation Center will be the only center in the CESMII network not located in an academic setting, which he says will help transform learning from theory to practice.
“Academia tends to serve clients who think theoretically, who work on research projects that span 10 years (into the future), and we felt there was a gap in that good many of these technologies are far more feasible than they are futuristic. Most of this feasible business transformation has been locked away in Fortune 500 companies that can afford to have a large think tank. … Part of the evolution of this technology is that it’s much more accessible You almost have a DIY capability where we can allow the skilled trades – your plant engineer, your frontline workforce – to make a fundamental difference in their operations,” Cahalane said.
“FZ’s project experience, methodologies, and day-to-day interactions with manufacturers place us in a unique position to help SMMs meet the workforce challenge with innovative training workshops to improve skills in manufacturing workforce.Beyond manufacturer outreach, FZ is also able to provide advice and services to help SMMs accelerate their ability to rapidly implement smart manufacturing solutions that are more sustainable and resilient.
FZ said it will have partners and customers who, as part of the Innovation Center, will share best practices and knowledge to help transform the industry, and the company may also invite retirees with of particular expertise.
Although FZ hasn’t fully worked out its program plan, Cahalane said much of the learning will likely be offered by topic, such as sessions on modernizing the press or increasing the workforce. work, and that the length of the sessions could vary from two hours to full-day workshops.
He said the training will be relevant for many sectors of the manufacturing industry, such as food processing, beverages, automotive, furniture, medical devices or chemicals.
FZ has already held workshops on some of these topics over the past 18 months, but Cahalane said with the creation of the Innovation Center, it will likely ramp up throughout the spring before a grand opening in the summer.
More information is at feyenzylstra.com.